If you’ve ever wondered where the Jeep Cherokee SUV is made, you’re not alone. As an iconic American automaker with nearly 50 years of history, many Jeep fans are curious about how these popular Jeep vehicles are manufactured.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the past and present of Cherokee production – from the early days as a full-size SUV to the modern compact crossover. You’ll learn all about the Belvidere Assembly Plant where Cherokees are made today, plus get answers to frequently asked questions like “Why aren’t Cherokees made in Toledo anymore?”
Let’s start with a quick history of this storied Jeep nameplate.
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A Brief Look at the Cherokee Line and Its Origins
The origins of the Jeep Cherokee can be traced back to 1974 when the two-door version debuted, followed by a four-door model in 1977. During this first generation lasting through 1983, the SJ Cherokee was a full-size SUV competing with trucks like the Ford Bronco.
In 1984, Jeep introduced the more compact unibody XJ Cherokee which became massively popular on the American market. This second-gen Cherokee helped cement Jeep as a leading SUV brand and continued all the way through 2001.
The third generation Jeep Liberty (sold as Cherokee outside North America) ran from 2002 to 2012. This was followed by the most recent fourth-gen Cherokee line introduced for 2014 and still in production today.
Now let’s look at who actually makes these famous Jeep vehicles in modern times.
Jeep Ownership: Stellantis And The Cherokee Assembly Plant
Jeep as a brand is currently owned by Stellantis, a multinational automotive group formed in 2021 from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Groupe. This company also includes the Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Fiat brands.
Within Stellantis, most Jeep manufacturing takes place under the FCA US LLC subsidiary (formerly known as Chrysler Group LLC). Their Belvidere Assembly Plant, located in Belvidere, Illinois, was where all current generation Jeep Cherokees were produced until February 28, 2023.
The over 5 million square foot facility first opened in July 7, 1965. Belvidere has produced models like the Dodge Neon, Plymouth Neon, and Jeep Compass over the years.
Cherokee assembly began at the plant in 2013 following a major $700 million investment. However, as of my knowledge cutoff in 2021 and based on recent search results, the Belvidere Assembly Plant has been idled. Additionally, Jeep Cherokees for the Australian market used to be manufactured in the Changsha Assembly plant in China.
Details on Cherokee Production and Models
The current Jeep Cherokee comes in a wide range of trim levels from the Latitude to the high-end Overland. Available configurations include FWD or 4×4 drivetrains along with I4 or V6 engines.
For the 2023 model year, the Cherokee continues offering the latest tech features that buyers expect in a compact SUV. This includes a new 10.1-inch digital gauge cluster plus the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Cherokee production takes place exclusively at the Belvidere plant today. However, in previous generations, these Jeep SUVs were made in other manufacturing facilities.
Why Isn’t the Cherokee Made in Toledo Anymore?
During the long-running second generation from 1984 to 2001, Jeep Cherokee assembly took place in Toledo, Ohio. The Stickney Avenue Plant and Toledo North Assembly Plant built over 2.8 million Cherokees during this era.
So why did production shift out of Toledo? The main reason comes down to the Cherokee moving to a front-wheel drive unibody design starting in 2013. This allowed the smaller Fiat-based Compass and Patriot to also be built on the same architecture.
With this change, FCA invested in updating the Belvidere Assembly Plant to manufacture the new Cherokee generation as well as those other small Jeep SUVs.
Meanwhile, the Toledo facilities continue focusing on Jeeps with body-on-frame construction – mainly the Jeep Wrangler and larger Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. These iconic 4×4 models still make up a significant chunk of total Jeep production.
Are Jeeps Still Made in the USA?
The Cherokee, Wrangler, Grand Cherokee and other Jeep SUVs sold in America are all manufactured in the United States. Major plants are located in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois.
However, Stellantis does produce certain Jeep models internationally for European and other markets. For example, the Renegade subcompact and Compass compact SUV are built in Italy and Mexico in addition to the U.S. Some Wranglers for overseas are also assembled in India.
But when you buy an American market Jeep at a local dealership, you can rest assured it was manufactured on U.S. soil. The brand takes pride in its domestic roots stretching back to the original WWII-era military Jeeps.
When Will the Next-Gen Cherokee Arrive?
Jeep has not officially confirmed details regarding the next generation Cherokee. Rumors have suggested it may shift to share a platform with vehicles like the Alfa Romeo Tonale. This could allow for a more car-like ride and improved fuel efficiency.
There have also been reports that the next Cherokee may revive the Jeep Liberty name used from 2002 to 2012. Jeep could potentially introduce it as early as 2024 as a 2025 model year vehicle.
Analysts expect the future Cherokee to continue offering the latest tech and family-friendly features mid-size SUV buyers want. It remains one of Jeep’s best-selling vehicles so the next generation will be critical to the brand’s success.
Frequently Asked Questions About Jeep Manufacturing
Now let’s wrap up with concise answers to some common questions people have around Cherokee and Jeep production:
Where is the Jeep Cherokee made?
The current Cherokee is made at the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois after shifting from Toledo, OH in 2013.
What company makes Jeep vehicles?
The Jeep brand is currently owned by Stellantis, formed from the merger of Fiat Chrysler (FCA US LLC) and Groupe PSA.
Are Jeeps still made in America?
Jeeps sold in America are manufactured in U.S. plants. Certain models for overseas markets are produced internationally.
Why did Cherokee move from Toledo to Belvidere?
The unibody Cherokee moved to Belvidere after 2013 while Toledo focused more on body-on-frame Wranglers.
When is the next-generation Cherokee coming out?
Details are still limited, but rumors point to a 2024 introduction as a 2025 model year vehicle.
Where are other Jeeps like the Grand Cherokee built?
The Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, Gladiator and other Jeeps are built in Ohio and Michigan plants.
Hopefully this guide has answered all your key questions around Cherokee manufacturing and Jeep production in general. The Cherokee has a long history on the American automotive scene, and likely still has many more successful years ahead.