Fellow Jeep Cherokee XJ fans around the world, I have bad news: We’ve been living a lie. The vehicle that we have long held as perfect is hiding on its interior door panels an egregious spelling mistake that may force us to sell our vehicles in shame.
The Jeep Cherokee XJ is history’s greatest SUV. Lightweight, powerful, incredibly capable, featuring two strong solid axles, an unkillable automatic or manual transmission, huge panes of glass offering great visibility and a timeless design — there really is nothing better.
But beneath the confidence it has gained by receiving accolades for the past 37 years, the Jeep has been hiding a dirty secret: It features on its door-cards, just under the armrests, one of the most pathetic spelling errors ever found in an automobile. Prepare yourself mentally before looking at this picture:
“5700 PIONEER - CHEIF.”
Jalopnik reader Brian and his two brothers own five Jeep Cherokee XJs between them. Brian and his middle brother were kind enough to check their 1996 and 1993 XJs, respectively, to confirm the widespread nature of a spelling error that I initially discovered years ago on my 1996 Jeep Cherokee known as Project Swiss Cheese (shown in the top photo). It turns out that my suspicion was right.
In addition to Brian’s brother’s 1993 Jeep Cherokee, Brian’s own 1996 Jeep XJ also featured this hilarious error — on both the driver-side and passenger-side doors. And also in the rear!:
The text is likely a holdover from way back in 1984, when the Jeep XJ launched in four trims: Base, Pioneer, Chief and Wagoneer (all shown below—note the spelling of Chief: C-H-I-E-F).
By the early 1990s, Pioneer, Chief, and Wagoneer trims were gone, replaced by Sport, Limited, Laredo, and Briarwood. So really, there’s absolutely no reason for Brian’s 1996 Jeep Cherokee Sport or his brother’s 1993 Jeep Cherokee Sport to feature any “Pioneer” or “Chief” text in the first place. This tells me that the error has probably plagued XJs for all 13 model years leading up to 1996, the year that the tough little unibody SUV received new interior door panels as part of a major refresh.
So, “how do we move forward given this knowledge?” you fellow Jeep XJ fans are surely wondering. “How can we ever look at our rectangular off-road machines the same way again?”
You’re asking the wrong man. I remain gutted.
I’ll be keeping my Cherokees, since they’re Laredo models with cloth door cards that lack the spelling errors found on vinyl door card-equipped XJs, but my respect for history’s greatest SUV has taken a major hit.