35K Miles: 1985 Jeep Cherokee Pioneer

1,030 miles a year isn’t a lot to pile up on a 1985 Jeep Cherokee Pioneer, but this time capsule only has 35, 338 miles on it. It can be found here on craigslist in Windsor, Colorado, just southeast of Ft. Collins. They’re asking $5,500 for this nice Jeep. Thanks to Ikey H. for sending in this tip!

Colorado is Jeep country so it isn’t surprising to see a 4×4 Cherokee there but it is surprising to see such a nice one with hardly any miles on it. I drive more than 35,000 miles a year so for a 1985 Cherokee to have fewer miles on it after 34 years than I drive in one year is unusual. For the doubters, check out the underside photos and actually all of the photos. I hope that you’ll agree that it doesn’t have 135,338 miles. Not to mention that it has a six-digit odometer!

The Cherokee has a pretty interesting history, having been made under AMC, Chrysler, and DaimlerChrysler for 17 years with few changes to the design. My mom’s sister used to get a red two-door Cherokee every few years and then switched to a red four-door and they were great vehicles. I love the small size, it’s too bad that most SUVs today have to be so bloated and puffy.

The interior looks great in this little time capsule. The seats and everything appear to be in almost like-new condition. The seller says that everything is original and that as such there are a few areas in the paint that aren’t perfect. They have provided a lot of great photos, kudos to the seller for that. That’s a rare thing these days.

The engine is AMC’s 150 cubic-inch or 2.5L inline four with 105 hp. They say that even the AC works! This is one nice Jeep. Have any of you owned a Jeep Cherokee? How about anyone owning a two-door Jeep Cherokee?


  1. M

    Nice find, this is going to last about 15 seconds. That interior is immaculate

  2. Evan

    4WD in the heavier 5-door body with the 2.5 I-4 and an automatic? No wonder this doesn’t have many miles. What a slug, and even more sluggish with the A/C on.

    Like 11
    • Sandy Claws

      Geez, how fast do you need to go? This isn’t a performance vehicle, it is an all weather commuter. The 2.5 was perfectly adequate I guess this belonged to an elderly person that not only drove few miles, but they also had a great deal of maturity.. I would love this and the price is right, am giving this one serious consideration.

      Like 12
      • Ralph

        This is Barn Finds, where half the people pee their pants with glee whenever a 4hp French car shows up and the other half think anything with less than 700hp is “dangerous to drive on the highway”……..

        Like 7
    • That AMC Guy

      Unfortunately in 1985 the optional engine was a rather gutless and unreliable 2.8 V6 purchased from General Motors that didn’t really make much more power than the AMC 4-banger.

      AMC was basically owned by Renault when the XJ Cherokee was being designed. I’ve read that the French executive in charge of the XJ project (François Castaing) hated the “Rambler” six and deliberately designed the Cherokee engine bay so it would not fit.

      This changed with the 1987 model when the firewall was modified so the then-new 4.0 six could be shoehorned in. (It’s a pretty tight fit, though nothing like the Pacer travesty.) That year a very good 4-speed automatic transmission with electronic control (Aisin-Warner AW4) was also offered.

      I have a late-production Cherokee (1999) with the 190 hp six and AW4 automatic. While not a muscle car it moves out pretty well and you don’t notice a difference in pickup when the AC compressor kicks on.

      Like 8
  3. IkeyHeyman

    You don’t see many 30-some year old Cherokees that look this good. Maybe the “mileage police” can point out discrepancies but I don’t see any on first pass.

    Like 4
  4. Stevieg Member

    This is a nice unit…probably one of the slowest vehicles out there (maybe even dangerously underpowered) but a check of a nice unit none the less. Probably very unappealing to drive, hence the low miles. Usually these are great plow trucks, not this one.

    Like 1
  5. Stevieg Member

    Sandy Claws, I am not thinking in terms of straight line acceleration contests lol. I am definitely thinking of slalom racing either, just freeway driving. A body shaped like a sail, 4 cylinder engine, not even fuel injected, 4×4, automatic & air conditioning all makes me wonder about doing 70 mph (the legal speed limit on a lot of highways) and then you have some highways out west where the speed limit is even higher. You cab easily get trampled by an automotive stampede driving something like this. If only it had the inline 6….
    I also wouldn’t use this sweetheart as a plow truck. They make GREAT plow trucks, but this one is too nice to do that to. But with that 4 popper, I don’t think it could even push snow. Maybe I am wrong on that regard, but I wouldn’t even try it.

    Like 2
  6. KevinLee

    Geez, if a car has a hopped up V/8, half you guys say it would be much better with a six cylinder. If it has a six or four there’s complaining it’s not powerful enough! I’ve had my share of hot rods( actually want another), and I had a ’89 Cherokee Sport with the 4 banger. It was driven all over Texas with a/c on and got great MPGs. Oh yeah, mine was a 5 speed and would do smoky burnouts like crazy!

    Like 4
  7. Nick hockman Member

    Agree. My dad had one with theb6 as a kid. He always said he wished he would have got the better 4cyl.

    Like 1
  8. Kenbone

    Had an 82 with 5spd 4 door.Very nice enjoyable ride,fantastic in snow. Had 275,000 and still ran great when i sold it ,no smoke. Had the 2.5 ho. Still miss it

    Like 2
  9. daCabbie

    I had this same exact vehicle, back in 2002… I was involved in a 40mph head on collision with a Dodge sedan… no one won…

    This might not be the fastest vehicle on the road but I’d drive it into a brick wall.

    Speed kills…

    Like 3
  10. Stevieg Member

    It sounds like the 2.5 might be enough power in this. I never had one with the 2.5 so I didn’t know. I forgot about the 2.8 being in these but I probably forgot on purpose…those were just miserable lol. Going by other’s responses, I guess I would probably not get “traffic trampled” in one of these. Thanks for the insight.
    Either way, it is a nice unit. I never said it wasn’t.

    Like 1
    • John John

      I just bought this Jeep! It drives really nice. The driver door was a little tweaked but other then that, the entire Jeep is almost in new condition. There’s no rust at all. You have to pump the gas pedal to get it started. The carb probably needs cleaning. It actually can do 75 MPH fairly well. It just accelerates very slow.

      Like 3
      • lc

        Congratulations a little late though. lol. I used to have an 85 Jeep Wagoneer 4×4 with the 2.8 and 5spd. It was a little slow at take off, but it was a clean vehicle with a slight lift kit. I traded it for an 84 Mercury Cougar LS because I wanted the fuel injected 3.8 that the Cougar had. The Cougar is now sold after over a year of driving it. The fuel injection was very dependable, but I still like the utility and suspension of the Jeep Wagoneer a lot over the Cougar.

  11. kelly g

    One of my best friends got one of these new in 1984. His father had passed away when he was 14, and i think his mother was super smart and compassionate to provide him 2 years later with what was then the hottest rig out. Something for a 16 year old to fixate on instead of his fathers passing. We went everywhere in that 4 cyl automatic jeep, and never had a complaint. Truly a great vehicle! This one is a steal at 5600.00.

    Like 5
  12. Scott

    Bought this same vehicle brand new for my Wife in 85, loved it so much I bought a Comanche new the next year. We sold the Cherokee in 96 and bought a Suburban. I still miss that Cherokee, my son still owns the Comanche to this day and it still goes anywhere all while powered by the original 2.5L with over 325k on the clock.

    Like 1
    • John John

      Well if you ever want to buy it back, let me know. It’s in Minnesota at the moment. I keep it sheded and don’t drive it much. Gonna give it a tune up over the winter. Been having problems with the fuel pump. Truly a great Jeep. It was well taken care of over the years.

  13. Maestro1

    It’s a nice, clean straight car with decent power. Buy it, drive it, enjoy it.

  14. David Ulrey

    I’m late jumping on the bandwagon but here goes – perhaps it has to do with the elevation I live in. It’s approximately 5500 feet here. I’ve owned several of these XJ Cherokees, 2 of which had the 2.5 four cylinder but with carbs. With a manual transmission and stock or darn close to stock size tires they were ok. No speed demons but that’s okay because I didn’t buy them to be speed demons either. I’ve had more with the 4.0 inline 6 and AW4. Both engines are great but given where I live it’s hard to fathom this as a daily driver with an automatic for anything other than a grocery store car and snow occasionally. The highest speed limit any place within a 30 mile radius is a maximum of 65 with in town speed limits being 30 or 35 mph but with some of the gradual hills I think it would have to really work hard to even go 55 with a 3spd automatic and the fuel economy gears many of these had. I do love these but given where I live a 4cyl and automatic just wouldn’t cut it.

  15. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Someone must have grabbed this beauty, the CL ad has been deleted!

    Like 1
  16. '84 Cherokee

    In 1987, I bought a gold two door 1984 Cherokee Pioneer w the 4 banger and 3 spd auto. It was beautiful with gold window tint and it was a dog. K&N filter, maintained tune and flowmaster exhaust was still a dog. I killed the Chrysler tranny holding the gears out to get up to 55 on the flat. This car was made with a lots of different mfg’s parts. Most were really good. The headlight relays burned up with Hella 155’s, and the alternator couldn’t take high beams and fog lights. I figured that out at night in Ouray on 10mph switch backs on the way back to Pagosa in a light snow storm. I’m from north TX and that wasn’t the time for a flat lander to learn a new mountain road. The carburetor rattled loose, the rear window wiper gear stripped, the hatch struts crapped out, the flowmaster melted the rear carpet (my fault as were most of the problems but a home made heat shield fixed that) the vacuum 4×4 was difficult for me bc I didnt wrench at the time. With two light girls and too much luggage in the back, the ass squatted so much the tires scraped the fenders. I added rancho coil over helper shocks to sit level. Granted the BFG TA 255/60 – 15 on 8.5″ Progressive wheels were a bit much as was the smittybilt tube bumper but damn it got the looks. The lowback front seats were ok. The back seat was really comfortable. Lots of storage and easy packing. I dreamed about putting a built 60* chevy V6 in it or the 4.0. I followed the Archer Bros. racing so that’s why the street tires. Not much off roading in Dallas. Did I say it was a dog? But it could run over a 2×4 at 70 on the highway and take it like an expansion joint. I drove it up to 85 but you’d point it like a shotgun, not aim it like a rifle, if you know what I mean. It wandered a bit at speed after I’d put close to 100k miles on it. I put it places in river bottoms, quarries and down highway embankments and on that fire road in Ouray you shouldn’t drive on unless you know what you’re doing and prepared – I didn’t and wasn’t, stopped only by giant 5′ long icicles hanging off the cliff that would scare non wheelers. A u turn on a fire road on street tires and slipping toward the edge I just added a little power with a predictable and steady power slide and made it fine. White knuckled and stupid fine. What a beautiful truck. A true classic. That Cherokee Pioneer, the first modern SUV that kicked off the mid size craze, was a great partner for some wonderful memories. What a fantastic design. Love to have one again. I miss it. The girls?, not so much.

    Like 2

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