The Jeep Comanche (designated MJ) is a pickup truck variant of the Cherokee compact SUV manufactured and marketed by Jeep for model years 1986-1992 in rear wheel (RWD) and four-wheel drive(4WD) models as well as two cargo bed lengths: six-feet and seven-feet.
American Motors' Jeep designers based the Comanche MJ body, styling, engineering, and drivetrain on the XJ Cherokee, which had been introduced for the 1984 model year. The Comanche had a somewhat more conventional body-on-frame design behind the cab and a removable cargo box, but retained the unibody construction of the Cherokee in the front half of the vehicle.
In the United States where the Comanche and Dodge Rampage were sold they are both considered pickup trucks. By contrast, in other markets the Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup was called the Volkswagen Caddy and considered a coupe utility, not a truck because the cargo bed is an integral part of the body structure and not removable. However this is not the legal definition of truck in the United States where the Comanche, Rampage and Rabbit were all sold.
Two cargo bed lengths were used; one for the seven-foot long-bed model, which appeared first in 1986, and a second, shorter version for the six-foot cargo bed, which debuted for the 1987 model year. Unlike other pickups of the time that used C-channel frames, the Comanche's frame design (called a "Uniframe" by Jeep) under the cargo bed was fully boxed, with a large X structure centered over the rear axle. For strength, the rails were over eight inches deep (top to bottom), much deeper than conventional midsize truck frames (1983 Jeep J-10 full-size truck frame is 6.75 inches at the deepest point). This structure was pioneered by AMC for the 1971 "Cowboy" compact pickup prototype.
From 1986 to 1987, the Jeep Comanche grille had ten slots in a similar configuration to the 1984-1987 Cherokee XJ, while from 1988 to 1992, this configuration changed to eight slots to match with the SUV. A new "4x4" badge, similar to those found on the Cherokee and Wagoneer models, was affixed to the upper rear of the cargo box on all the four-wheel drive models.
After the Chrysler buyout of American Motors for $1.5 billion on March 9, 1987, designed to capture "the highly profitable Jeep vehicles ... and 1,400 additional dealers" the Jeep Comanche, like the similar Cherokee, received only minor changes. These were primarily to improve reliability and parts interchangeability with other Chrysler-built vehicles.
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