In 1984, the establishment of Beijing Jeep announced the birth of China’s first joint venture automobile company. In the same year, the second-generation Jeep Cherokee, internally code-named XJ, also officially debuted in North America. This is a model with epoch-making significance in the history of SUV development, because on the second-generation Jeep Cherokee, the car-like design has been explored.
Therefore, in the second year after the debut of the second-generation Jeep Cherokee, Beijing Jeep, which originally planned to introduce and put into production the Jeep CJ series, selected the Cherokee as the first batch of domestic models. In 1985, the Cherokee was officially put into domestic production, and a series of derivative models such as the Super Cherokee, High Roof, 7250, Jeep Star, etc. were launched successively in the following 30 years, becoming a household star. In the North American market, on the basis of the second-generation Cherokee, a pickup truck model that has not appeared in China – Jeep Comanche – was born.
Since the second-generation Cherokee is already a household name, when seeing Jeep Comanche, it really feels very fresh. This is also the original intention to talk about the history of this Jeep Comanche today. Let’s get back to the main story, let’s talk about the story of this “Cherokee pickup”——Jeep Comanche.
Since the mid-1980s, compact pickup trucks in the North American market have been recognized by the market, and a batch of Japanese compact pickup trucks represented by Toyota Hilux have become popular. After seeing the business opportunities in the market, the AMC Motor Company at that time was also planning to launch such a compact pickup to cope with market competition. In 1985, AMC Motor Company’s financial situation was already very poor, and they also urgently needed such a compact pickup truck to be put on the market to bring them enough profits.
In August 1985, the Jeep Comanche based on the second-generation Jeep Cherokee was officially unveiled at an AMC dealer conference. It is worth mentioning that at that time, AMC also recommended this Jeep Comanche to Beijing Jeep , hoping to produce and sell this compact pickup in the Chinese market as well. In the eyes of Americans, China, which is also vast in size, should have similar product demands as the United States. However, it is clear that AMC’s plan has not been able to continue.
In 1986, Jeep Comanche was officially launched in the North American market. In the North American market at that time, the starting price of Jeep Comanche’s entry-level two-wheel-drive model was US$7,049. If calculated according to the inflation rate, the US$7,049 at that time was about US$16,039 at the time, or about RMB 107,000. . The low-price strategy also made Jeep Comanche the lowest-priced model of the Jeep brand in the North American market at that time.
In fact, if Jeep Comanche is to be put into production in Beijing Jeep, there is not much technical difficulty. Based on the second-generation Jeep Cherokee, the position before the B-pillar of the Jeep Comanche is basically the same as that of the second-generation Jeep Cherokee. At the rear of the cab, Jeep Comanche uses a detachable rear cargo box, so there is an obvious gap between the separate cargo box and the cab, which also makes the overall image of Jeep Comanche It will be more in line with the look of a traditional pickup. It is worth mentioning that Jeep Comanche only offers a single-row version.
Why do we say that, we have to notice that the biggest breakthrough of the second-generation Jeep Cherokee compared with the off-road vehicles that appeared in the North American market at that time was the adoption of a load-bearing body design. This is also an important presentation of the sedan-like design of the second-generation Jeep Cherokee. However, due to the demand for off-road performance, the load-bearing body of the second-generation Jeep Cherokee also uses a longitudinal beam structure with an embedded girder to strengthen the rigidity of the vehicle.
In this way, the Jeep Comanche based on the second-generation Jeep Cherokee has naturally formed a semi-loaded body structure. After passing through the cab, the built-in girder structure extends backwards to form a frame, which serves as the load-bearing base of the detachable cargo box. This also makes the cargo box of Jeep Comanche have more modification possibilities, and it also makes it no longer need to be confused with sedan cards such as Volkswagen Caddy. Coupled with the breakthrough in positioning brought by the second-generation Cherokee, it quickly became a representative of North American casual SUVs. Therefore, the positioning of Jeep Comanche based on the second-generation Cherokee is full of leisure. Greatly expanded the younger generation of users.
In order to further strengthen the atmosphere of this casual pickup, Jeep Comanche also provides a large number of optional kits for consumers to choose from, including gantry, roof spotlights and so on.
Compared with the second-generation Cherokee, the positioning of the pickup has improved the wheelbase and rear suspension of Jeep Comanche to a certain extent. And depending on the model, Jeep Comanche offers two wheelbase versions. The Jeep Comanche, which debuted in 1986, adopted a long-wheelbase design with a wheelbase of 3045 mm and a corresponding cargo box depth of 2.13 meters.
In 1987, Jeep Comanche launched a short wheelbase version with a wheelbase of 2870mm and a corresponding cargo box depth of 1.83m. Under the single-row cab design, Jeep Comanche’s vehicle image combined with a longer wheelbase has indeed refined a very good sense of lightness and movement.
It is worth noting that the frame that extends from the cab of Jeep Comanche as the base of the rear cargo box does not adopt the layout of traditional pickups. Instead, it adopts a box-style design, and a large X-shaped structure is arranged above the rear axle to support the cargo box. This can basically be seen as a continuation of the load-bearing body. And this design also makes the rear cargo floor of Jeep Comanche has been greatly lowered, and the advantage it brings is that the height inside the cargo box will be higher than other traditional SUVs. At the same time, in order to ensure the strength, the thickness of the single steel rail of the frame reached 20 cm, which was larger than the standard 17 cm frame on the market at that time. This also ensures the off-road performance of Jeep Comanche under heavy load.
In terms of details, the Jeep Comanche grille that was put into production between 1986 and 1987 uses a ten-hole grille, which is the same as the Cherokee of the same year. Models from 1988 to 1992 featured an eight-hole grille. In terms of the layout of the front face, Cherokee’s classic square headlights have also become the most eye-catching part of Jeep Comanche. At the position of the B-pillar, Jeep Comanche widened the B-pillar to strengthen the strength of the cab, and added an additional black trim at the position of the B-pillar. The slightly widened B-pillar also provides an additional small storage space behind the driver’s seat. In addition, the color bars on the body of the four-wheel drive version are also one of the most representative designs of Jeep Comanche.
Inside the vehicle, Jeep Comanche’s interior design fully continues the design of the second-generation Cherokee XJ. So the image of the dashboard is very familiar. According to different configurations, the Jeep Comanche single-row seat cab configuration provides a three-seat structure with integral seats and normal two independent seats with a central armrest box.
In 1987, when AMC officially went bankrupt and was acquired by Chrysler, Jeep Comanche also made some detailed changes to improve its reliability, and strengthened the interchangeability of some parts with Chrysler’s models. This reduces the cost of the vehicle.
In terms of chassis, Jeep Comanche uses the same four-link non-independent front suspension as the second-generation Cherokee. Through the ingenious arrangement of coil springs and four-link structure, the front axle of Jeep Comanche and the second-generation Cherokee can have a larger suspension stroke, and at the same time ensure the balance between the ride comfort and off-road performance of the vehicle. This structure was subsequently continued by the Wrangler TJ and the first-generation Grand Cherokee.
As for the rear axle, because Jeep Comanche has to face greater load requirements, and the size of the rear suspension is also longer. So Jeep Comanche’s rear axle leaf springs are longer than those of the second-generation Cherokee. The extended leaf spring not only ensures the carrying capacity of Jeep Comanche, but also ensures the comfort of the rear axle to a certain extent, weakening the feeling of throwing away at the rear of the vehicle when passing through bumpy roads.
The rear axle of the standard model is the same Dana 35 rear axle as the Cherokee. However, for the sake of carrying capacity, Jeep Comanche, like all trucks, arranges the leaf springs of the rear axle under the axle, while on the Cherokee, the leaf springs are located above the axle. In addition, Jeep also provides a heavy-duty package for the long-wheelbase model, which includes heavy-duty leaf springs and tires with a higher load factor, and the rear axle is upgraded to Dana 44. Under the effect of this heavy-duty kit, the maximum load capacity of the heavy-duty version of Jeep Comanche has been increased from 635 kg to 1000 kg. It far surpassed other compact pickups on the North American market at the time, and the payload level even surpassed many full-size pickups.
In terms of power, Jeep Comanche, launched in 1986, provides three types of power for consumers to choose from. The entry-level model is equipped with AMC’s 2.5L inline four-cylinder gasoline engine, and the high-end model is equipped with GM’s LR2 2.8L V6 power. In terms of diesel power, a Renault 2.1L inline four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine is provided.
Among them, AMC’s 2.5L gasoline engine is the power that appeared on the second-generation Cherokee. The 2.8L V6 power also appeared on the Chevrolet S-10 pickup at that time. Compared with the version on the Chevrolet S-10, the maximum output power of Jeep Comanche has been reduced by 5 kilowatts, and it is matched with a twin-cylinder carburetor instead of TBI electronic injection technology.
In 1987, when Chrysler entered AMC, the 2.8L V6 engine was replaced by a brand new 4.0L inline six-cylinder engine with a maximum output of 128 kilowatts. Compared with the previous 2.8L V6 power, the 4.0L inline six-cylinder power is more powerful and economical. In the same year, the lower-selling diesel version was also officially discontinued. In 1991, Chrysler upgraded the 4.0L inline six-cylinder engine with the electronic engine control technology at that time, which increased the maximum output power to 142 kilowatts.
In the life cycle of Jeep Comanche, due to the change of AMC equity and so on. Therefore, it has been matched with six gearboxes from Aisin, Chrysler and Peugeot. Among them, Aisin has provided Jeep Comanche with AX-4 four-speed manual transmission, AX-5 and AX-15 two manual transmissions. In 1987, Aisin matched the Jeep Comanche with an AW-4 four-speed automatic transmission. After 1987, the AX-15 manual transmission was replaced by Peugeot’s BA-10 five-speed manual transmission. Before Chrysler took over AMC, the 2.5L version and the 2.8L V6 version briefly used Chrysler’s TorqueFlite A904 three-speed automatic transmission.
After AMC was acquired by Chrysler, Chrysler also conducted a round of combing for AMC’s product sequence. Under Chrysler’s master plan, Dodge will produce pickup trucks, while the Jeep brand will focus on SUVs. This basically announced the future of Jeep Comanche.
In 1988, Jeep Comanche reached the peak of sales, with annual sales of 43,718 units, and then fell rapidly in 1989, only completing sales of 25,311 units. In 1990, the sales and production of Jeep Comanche were greatly reduced to below 10,000 vehicles. By 1992, the Jeep Comanche was officially discontinued, and a follow-up model was unfounded. As a result, Jeep Comanche has officially entered history. In 1990, Jeep also introduced a limited edition Jeep Comanche Eliminator.
In the six years from its launch in 1986 to its discontinuation in 1992, a total of 190,446 vehicles were sold. And this car also has a good recognition in the circle of Jeep fans, so on the Moab Safiri in 2016, Jeep also launched a Jeep Comanche concept car based on the Freeman. In many conceptual designs , The Jeep Comanche concept car also continued the leisure positioning of Jeep Comanche back then, and it is worth noting that this concept car also adopted the soft top convertible design that was considered in Jeep Comanche but was not implemented in the end.