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1998 Jeep Cherokee

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starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown


Body style


Seating capacity

167.5” x 63.9”


Rear-wheel drive



8 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 1998 Jeep Cherokee trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best SUVs for 2024

1998 Jeep Cherokee review: Our expert's take

By Editors

A no-frills, four-cylinder Jeep Cherokee SE has all the appeal of a well-worn pair of hiking boots: Fancy it isn’t, but when you hit the trail there’s nothing else like it. Plus, it won’t wreck your wallet.

It’s somewhat ironic that the original Cherokee, which bowed in 1984, has been engulfed by the sport-utility vehicle (SUV) boom it helped create. Today’s SUVs are bigger, softer, more civilized; as cozy as a campfire and as comfy as your favorite chair. Most live in suburbia where they serve as family transport, and few turn a wheel off-road. The Cherokee, while updated last year with a new dash and other refinements, remains true to its roots as a rugged, functional vehicle that puts utility ahead of fashion, and that is clearly evident in the basic model I drove. Purists will prefer it for its simplicity.

It was refreshing to slide behind the wheel of a four-wheel-drive SUV that costs less than $20,000, has room for four people and gets reasonable gas mileage. It’s true that crank windows aren’t that handy, and manual door locks make it easy to leave a door unlocked by accident, but value-conscious customers will appreciate what they get for their dollar.

The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is adequate for chugging around town or puttering off-road. It only makes 125 horsepower, and if you want to do some towing it isn’t big enough, but it has a city rating of 18 mpg. You can keep up with traffic as long as you make good use of the manual gearbox, which is not the easiest to shift. The engine is fairly noisy and the transmission whines considerably, reminding the driver that this vehicle is much closer to a truck than a car.

That can be felt easiest on the highway, where the noise level rises in proportion to your speed. At 70 mph it lets you know that you are going fast enough.

While the optional three-speed automatic transmission would be quieter, it can only be ordered on four-cylinders with two-wheel drive.

Using four-wheel drive is simple: Yank the floor-mounted lever into four-wheel high or four-wheel low gear.

Last year the Cherokee’s interior was revamped to accomodate dual airbags, which means it got a new dash. The instruments in our test vehicle were as basic as the rest of it. There were only two dials, a speedometer and fuel gauge, and both were about the same size. Everything else is handled with a warning light, which makes it hard to know when the water is warm enough to turn the heater on. With the transmission in fifth gear the shift lever blocks the heater’s temperature control knob.

The front seats offer moderate support. They are separated by a console with dual cupholders and an ashtray. Room in front is not generous, but adequate.

In back, things are a bit tighter. Passengers have to wriggle through narrow doors and over the back wheels to get in. Once seated, legroom is limited because of the 101.4-inch wheelbase. The short wheelbase, on the other hand, enhances off-road mobility, so the trade-off is yours to make.

Of course, the back seat folds down, but the full-size spare intrudes on cargo space.

If a flat black grille, steel wheels and manual window cranks means less to you than a sub-$20,000 price (with air conditioning and AM/FM cassette), and if you want an SUV that has genuine off-road capability, then Jeep’s Cherokee SE deserves a look. It may be an old shoe, but it has a lot of trails left in it.


The base price of our test vehicle was $17,990. Options included air conditioning, power mirrors, rear washer/wiper, roof rack, rear defroster, AM/FM cassette, limited-slip differential and skid plate group.

The sticker price was $19,625.


The standard warranty is for three years or 36,000 miles.

Vehicles for The Star’s week-long test drives are supplied by the auto manufacturers.

Point: The Cherokee SE is plain, simple and effective It holds four people, can travel off-road and is priced at less than $20,000.

Counterpoint: The manual gearbox and small four-cylinder engine are fairly noisy and the back seat is snug.


ENGINE: 2.5-liter, 4-cyl.


WHEELBASE: 101.4 inches

CURB WEIGHT: 3,181 lbs.

BASE PRICE: $17,990


MPG RATING: 18 city, 20 hwy.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.0
  • Interior 4.3
  • Performance 4.3
  • Value 4.6
  • Exterior 4.6
  • Reliability 4.7
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Most recent consumer reviews


Toxic Love

I love my 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. It's like being infatuated by a bad boy. Lol. Even though there's been problems and I've sunk a lot of money into it I just can't get rid of it. The lady I bought it from bought it brand new. She hit a deer. I believe that's where all the problems started. Then she let her ex-husband work on it everything from the gas pump to the throttle body. I don't think he knew what he was doing. I took it to a known mechanic of my daughters. They replaced the entire exhaust system and the thermostat and after 3 years of not smogging it finally smogged. Now I've driven it another 3 years. I had to replace the radiator pipe and now the radiator hose is spongy. I now have a serpentine belt that I just had replaced. Have to have it adjusted constantly it just seems like it can't get tight enough and squeals all the time. I have a two wheel drive not a four wheel drive. I'm even considering flipping this baby instead of buying a new vehicle. I just don't know if that's a good choice. I have an inline straight six. I've noticed that all the new cars have this terrible transmission called the CVT. I don't like anything about the new cars. I just wish that I could turn my 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo went to a brand new one..❤️


Great & easy new Mom car.

This was my New Mom car. It was great, roomy & easy to fit all new baby stuff in. Car seat fit perfectly! I really enjoyed that Jeep!


Love my Jeep it has been a warrior will miss it

I love my Jeep first Jeep I've owned and it was a great lil truck but I got a new charger and I need room in my driveway so Jeep has to go.

See all 29 consumer reviews


New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Jeep
New car program benefits
36 months/36,000 miles
36 months/36,000 miles
Roadside assistance
60 months/100,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/less than 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
3 months/3,000 miles
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
125-point inspection
Roadside assistance
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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