The Jeep Comanche was based on the Cherokee model and was sold between 1985 and 1992. The pickup truck was legendary for its sharp off road skills and for its bullet proof reliability.
The Comanche was available with both two wheel drive and four wheel drive configurations and came with two bed lengths measuring six-feet and seven-feet. At its time, the Comanche was the cheapest Jeep in the company’s lineup.
The vehicle was launched with a choice of three engines including the AMC 150 2.5 L, 150 CID I4, General Motors’s LR2 2.8 L V6 and the Renault 2.1 L I4 turbo diesel.
The Jeep Comanche’s exterior style was based on the Cherokee XJ model that was introduced in 1984. Unlike regular pickups, the Comanche used an innovative monocoque construction which gave it superior driving dynamics and better road stability.
The Jeep Cherokee’s unibody structure was modified using a special subframe to permit the Comanche to support the cargo box.
Up front, the Comanche was dominated by the classic Jeep’s signature grille and a set of square headlights which enhance the robust look of the truck. From 1985 to 1987, the grille had ten slots, but since 1988 the configuration changed to eight slots.
The hood continued the robust design language initiated by the headlights and underlined the rugged overall style. The front and rear wheel arches shared the same angular design and coped well with the straight lines of the body.
On the inside, the Jeep Comanche was pretty rudimentary, the cabin betraying the utilitarian nature of the vehicle. The dashboard had a basic design and was build of cheap, hard textured plastics combined with third class materials, most of them being chosen for their durability.
The interior build quality wasn’t something to rave about, but it was at par with what you’d usually got at that time. The center stack was fitted with a set of chunky controls, buttons and switches, but most of them were pretty easy to use and were placed within driver’s reach. We especially liked the gear knob position which was pretty ergonomic.
The steering wheel was thin and felt pretty flimsy. Though, it permitted you to maneuver the truck without too much drama.
The cabin felt fairly spacious with enough leg and head room for both the driver and passenger. Unfortunately, the storage department was pretty poorly represented as apart from a small glove box, a cubby hole nested between the seats and some space behind the seats there wasn’t anything else worth to be mentioned.
The seats however were deep and supportive and they were also available with leather upholstery. Thanks to a few smart adjustments, it was also pretty easy to find your favorite driving position and the seats felt supportive for both long and short runs.
The front road visibility wasn’t as great as expected but it wasn’t something to worry about either.
Engines and performance
At the start, the Jeep Comanche’s engines lineup included three units namely the AMC 150 2.5 L, 150 CID I4, the General Motors LR2 2.8 L V6 and the Renault 2.1 L I4 turbo diesel.
In 1987, the engine lineup received a few modifications and the V6 unit was replaced by a new 4.0 liter inline six which delivered a maximum output of 173 hp, being 63 hp stronger than the previous unit. Apart from the fact that it was stronger, the new engine was also more efficient. In the same year the 2.1 liter Renault turbo diesel unit was ditched due to the poor sales.
The 4.0 liter unit has received a new series of tweaks in 1991, when its power was boosted with 17 hp to 190 hp. The 2.5 liter unit was also upgraded from 117 hp to 130 hp.
Along the years, the Jeep Comanche was available with six different transmissions (including both manual and automatic units) which came from Aisin, Chrysler, and Peugeot.
Ride and handling
The Jeep Comanche shared the same front suspension setup with the Cherokee, being equipped with coil springs and control arms. The vehicle also used the innovative “Quadra-Link” suspension which offered a better mix between ride comfort and off road driving. At the rear axle, the Comanche used leaf springs, which were better suited for carrying heavy loads.
The Jeep Comanche was also available with the heavy duty “Big Ton” package (available for the long bed model), which included heavy duty leafs, bigger wheels and a more performant rear axle (Dana 44), permitting the truck to deal with maximum weights of up to 2205 pounds.
The truck handled pretty well, but its true talent was the off-road driving were it felt like a fish in water.
The Jeep Comanche was one of the most solid trucks from the market and its simple mechanics and the high reliability helped it conquer a lot of hearts.
The robust style was at par with what you’d usually found in this class, but the cabin was a bit too agricultural, even for a utilitarian pickup.
On the other hand, the 4.0 liter unit was a real gem and the truck was able to go head to head with the harshest road conditions without backing down.