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1997-2001 Jeep Cherokee

1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001

1997-2001 Jeep Cherokee

In a nutshell: This article is an overview of your Cherokee's audio system and its upgrade options. Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Jeep. 

Overview of the Jeep Cherokee

When it comes to compact SUV's, the "XJ" Jeep Cherokee was, and remains, one of the best of its era. The neat, tidy, totally capable design was basically right when it launched in 1984, so the XJ rolled along for quite a while with only minor updates. Jeep enthusiasts were perfectly happy with it as it was, but in an ever-more-competitive marketplace, updates were sorely needed. In 1997, they finally arrived.

The exterior and interior changes were an obvious improvement, but the stylists weren't the only team involved in the revamp. The engineering department got to work on the Cherokee's "NVH" (noise, vibration, harshness) issues by stiffening the frame and reducing wind noise. While it's still no match for a Lincoln Town Car when it comes to quiet and comfort, the 1997-2001 Cherokee is a practical, rugged truck that gets the job done on the road or off. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced, go-anywhere SUV that's ripe for modification, this Cherokee is a terrific choice.

Detailed installation instructions

MasterSheet image
If you're looking for step-by-step instructions on how to install a car stereo or speakers in your car, there's nothing better than our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™. This detailed, well-illustrated document is free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one separately for $9.99.

Factory stereo system

The revamped Cherokee dash contained either a standard AM/FM receiver or an AM/FM/cassette receiver. The basic speaker package featured two door speakers until 2000, the upgrade (which became the base model after 2000) added two rear roof-mount speakers, and the top-shelf Infinity package added an amplifier, which is located under the rear seat. That amp can be used with a new stereo, but considering its advanced age and not-so-advanced technology, you'll probably want to swap it out for a more powerful aftermarket unit.

Later Cherokees added front door tweeters, but (amazingly enough) we have yet to see a model that's so equipped. If you have one that is, feel free to tell us more. And send pictures!

Jeep Cherokee factory radio

The Cherokee's factory radio is a rather basic piece (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Replacing your factory radio

While your Cherokee's dash cavity isn't big enough for a double-DIN (4" tall) receiver, it will comfortably swallow a vast array of single-DIN (2" tall) receivers. You'll need a dash kit to help the new stereo fit the oversized opening, and it's included as part of the deeply discounted installation gear included with stereos purchased from Crutchfield. You'll also get a wiring harness to connect the stereo to your factory wiring, plus our illustrated, step-by-step MasterSheet™ installation instructions. The wiring harness works with both the base and the Infinity audio systems.

Removing the old stereo is relatively easy in the Cherokee. You'll start by carefully prying around the edges of the dash trim panel to release the retaining clips. "Carefully" is an important thing to keep in mind while you're working, because this is some relatively old, brittle plastic and you don't want to break it in a moment of irrational exuberance. Once you've removed the trim piece, remove the two 3/8” hex screws securing the factory radio to the dash, then disconnect the wiring harness and remove the radio.

You'll need to attach the new radio to the installation kit, following the instructions supplied with the kit, then connect the receiver wiring adapter to the receiver following the instructions included with the adapter.

Hold the receiver assembly near the dash and connect the Crutchfield adapter harness to the factory harness, then plug the antenna lead into the rear of the receiver and slide the entire assembly into the dash cavity. Secure it with the two 3/8” screws you removed earlier, then test the receiver to make sure everything's working properly. If it is, carefully reinstall the trim panel.

If your Cherokee is equipped with the Infinity system and you want to use that amp, you'll need to connect the power antenna lead to turn on the amplifier.

Note to hard-core off-roaders: These tips are oriented towards Cherokee owners who spend more time on the highway than they do in the hill country — i.e., most of them. If you're the kind of Cherokee owner who's really serious about off-roading, we'd suggest upgrading your stereo system with weather-resistant marine-rated receivers, speakers, and subs. The installation info is the same, but you'll be installing gear that's built to handle moisture and extreme temperatures.

Tools needed: Panel tool, 3/8" socket, ratchet and extension

Shop for car stereos that fit your Jeep Cherokee

Replacing your factory speakers

The Cherokee's factory speakers are located in the front doors and, if you have the 4-speaker system, above the rear hatch. There are some model year variations in the rear roof speakers, so depending on that situation, the overall speaker replacement process can be challenging. It's still well within the capabilities of the average DIY-er, though, so have no fear.

Jeep Cherokee front door

The Cherokee's front doors can house a variety of aftermarket speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Front door speakers

The Cherokee's standard factory front door speakers are Chrysler's somewhat ubiquitous 4-ohm 5-1/4" models. A wide variety of 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" aftermarket speakers will fit behind the factory grilles, but you'll need to re-drill the mounting screw holes. 

This isn't terribly difficult, but whenever you're drilling into anything, make sure you know what's around the spot you're working on and make sure you're wearing eye protection while you work.

In addition to the drilling, the speaker replacement process is complicated somewhat by a lot of "fiddly bits" that aren't difficult in and of themselves, but can be a bit tedious and confusing, especially for beginners. You'll be removing a lot of Phillips screws, so it’s a good idea to have a tray or old coffee mug handy to keep the screws from wandering off during the removal process.

Your Cherokee will have either power windows or old-fashioned manual windows with a crank. If you have manual windows, make sure you have a shop rag handy to release the C-clip that holds the crank in place.

Jeep Cherokee front door speakers

You'll need to drill new mounting holes for your speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)

And, as we mentioned when discussing the dash, use care when removing the plastic panels. The retaining clips on the Cherokee's door panels have a reputation for being rather firmly fastened, so work slowly and maintain your cool when you're removing them. Also, you'll want to test the speakers and make sure they're working properly before you re-install the panels.

This isn't as intimidating as we're probably making it seem, so if you're new to stereo installations, don't worry. Your Crutchfield MasterSheet includes a complete list of the tools you'll need and step-by-step instructions on how to do the job right. And our experts are only a phone call away if you run into a snag.

Note: The Cherokee's doors are thin and tinny, which will waste a lot of the good work you're doing by installing new speakers. Installing a set of foam baffles along with your speakers is an inexpensive way to get the performance you expect. If you’re really serious about sound, installing Dynamat in the doors — and, if you like, the floorboard and headliner — is a more extensive, but worthwhile way to decrease road noise and maximize sound quality.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver, shop rag, drill and 1/8” drill bit

Jeep Cherokee rear deck speaker

The Cherokee's 1998 redesign made these rear roof speakers a lot easier to work with (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Rear speakers

The 4-speaker set-up included two speakers mounted above the rear hatch. As with the front doors, the factory speakers are Chrysler's 5-1/4" models and you can replace them with aftermarket 5-1/4" speakers.

On the '97 models, the speakers are actually in a roof-mounted console that also houses the courtesy lights. The entire console must be removed to access the speaker mounting locations, and you'll need to cut some plastic rivets to remove the speakers. Speed clips and screws will be necessary to secure aftermarket speakers. This isn't hard, exactly, but it is kind of a pain. Complete, illustrated instructions in your Crutchfield MasterSheet will make it a bit easier than it would be otherwise.

For 1998, Chrysler redesigned this set-up and, intentionally or not, made it much, much easier to replace the speakers. You can replace the speakers with 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" models, and all you need to do is pry off the grilles and remove a couple of Torx T20 screws that hold the speaker in place.

Tools needed: ('97 models) Phillips screwdriver, small flat-blade screwdriver; ('98-up models) panel tool, Torx T20 driver

Shop for speakers that fit your Jeep Cherokee

Select Increments XJ-Pod sub enclosure

The Select Increments XJ-Pod enclosure will hold an 8" woofer

Bass in your Cherokee

No matter which variation on the factory system you have, the stock Cherokee doesn't offer a lot of bass. In fact, it offers very, very little. Thankfully, there are plenty of aftermarket fixes for that problem.

If you want a subwoofer box loaded with a couple of subs, you have plenty of space to work with in the Cherokee's cargo area. We measured below the bottom of the side window with the spare tire in place and found that there's a 39" W x 18" H x 32"/25" D space for a subwoofer box.

If you're looking for a simpler option that doesn't cut into your cargo space, you can opt for a compact powered subwoofer or go with the Select Increments XJ-Pod. This unloaded sub enclosure will accept an 8” woofer, and fits neatly into the far rear passenger’s side panel.

Shop for vehicle-specific subwoofers for your Jeep Cherokee

WeatherTech floor mats

Custom-fit WeatherTech FloorLiners

Other options for your Cherokee

There are, of course, lots of ways to improve your Cherokee. Here are a few ways Crutchfield can help:

Security

Installing a security system in your Cherokee isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's less complicated than it could be. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and security gear to a professional installer.

Floor mats

Going off-road gets messy, so a set of WeatherTech floor mats would be a good investment if you're an outdoor enthusiast. WeatherTech also offers custom-fit wind deflectors that can help quiet the still-audible roar of the open road.

Q-Forms

If you're looking for a massive improvement in sound quality, you can install a component speaker system in Q-Forms Kick Panel Pods. These unloaded enclosures will hold 5-1/4” or 6-1/2” speakers, and are available in a variety of colors to match your Jeep's interior.

Portable GPS

Just because a big touchscreen nav receiver won't fit in your Cherokee doesn't mean you can't have touchscreen nav. We offer a wide variety of portable GPS nav units that, quite frankly, might fit into the Jeep lifestyle a little better than the big-screen models.

Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck

Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/1/2018

    Adael, And we'd love to see them! Send your photos to vpinfo@crutchfield.com. JPG files are preferred, and if there are a bunch of 'em, you might want to break them into a few emails, just in case. Looking forward to seeing the pics. Thanks for your help!

  • Adael from Taberg

    Posted on 5/17/2018

    I also have a 99 XJ with the Infinity system... and the door tweeters! Unfortunately, my door speakers leave much to be desired- the driver's side does not work at all, the passenger's side been a up badly, but the rear roof speakers are holding up well! I actually have a CD & Cassette player. I took some pictures of the door and radio and I would love to share them!

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/5/2018

    Rhyno, Good to hear from someone with a tweeter-equipped Cherokee! Glad they're working, too. As for the amp, it's not bad, really, but it's also almost 20 years old and technology has come a long way. There are a lot of better options out there, so give us a call and talk to one of our Advisors about the system you want to build.

  • Ryhno from Rockford

    Posted on 3/4/2018

    I do indeed have the tweeters in my 99 xj with the infinity sound system...they are the only speakers that work consistently in the doors. Is the factory infinity amp any good? Is what id like to know. Seeking to do some speaker upgrades. I like to keep the dash looking stock though

  • easleybadboy

    Posted on 12/4/2016

    My 98 Cherokee Classic has the mounting locations for the factory tweeters molded into the front part of the door plastic at the point where the mirrors mount to the door and has the wiring for them but did not have any tweeters installed when I purchased it. I just yanked the factor radio which believe it or not was still working well except for the LED occasionally going out. There is also an extra unused plug in the factory radio harness behind the radio that I dont know the purpose of. I figured it might be the other end of another extra plug that is next to the amplifier under the rear seat but I the one next to the amp is hot with 12 volts going to it so it can not be the other end of wires on plug behind the radio. Im assuming the unused plug and wires behind my radio run to the tweeter pods in the door and that would make sense but to be honest I cant remember if there were plugs behind the door panel at the pods as its been a while since I last popped the door panels off. Seems to me like there were but I could be mistaken. As for the hot extra plug next to the amplifier Im going to assume its for a CD changer but that is speculation. Ill at least get some pics of the tweeter pods molded into the door plastic ASAP. I may yank the door panel to. Its supposed to rain here tomorrow so I might now but I need to do so soon anyway as I have recently fallen victim to the classic door locks not working and will need to pull the passenger side to change the lock relay.

  • Justin VanHaitsma from Ocala, FL

    Posted on 10/22/2016

    I'd like to interject and point out that my 1992 Jeep Cherokee Laredo came, from the factory, with 4 Jensen speakers. 2 in the front doors, and 2 in the hatch. If I remember correctly, in the next couple of model years, the factory gave option for a speaker bar mounted in the rear and secured by the trim panels and rear cargo light that housed the two speakers. I don't know if that was in ADDITION TO or IN PLACE OF the rear hatch speakers... either way, the XJ platform was not always cursed with only 2 speakers and no upgrade options. Good article, other than that. Sidenote for those that like to geek out about sound systems like me.... By the time I got my Jeep, however, the factory radio had long since been removed as had the factory speakers. The only remnants were the factory speaker grilles that had the "JENSEN" logo on the top of the grilles both in the front doors, and the rear hatch panel. I'm sure it wasn't the best sounding system (there was no factory amplifier when I got it, nor do I believe there was one), but it probably sounded "great" for its day. I have a Sony MEX-N5100bt in the dash, 2 6.5" Sony Xplods in the front, 2 Xplod 5.25s in the soundbar (I found a couple in the junk yard and ditched the speakers in the hatch), and will be soon installing the Xplod 400w 4-ch amp for the speakers. I have a Power Acoustik 300w amp for my subwoofer which is a Kicker Comp C10". The woofer is also currently out of the Jeep because I'm building a new enclosure fo

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