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Jeep Cherokee 2.8L Turbo Diesel Conversion - 2.8L CRD Swap

Custom Fabrication And A Factory-Like Conversion

Photography by Michael G. Cruzan

The ('84-'01) Jeep Cherokee and the Jeep Liberty both have something great to offer automotive enthusiasts. The Cherokee body and suspension benefit from a long production run where it received many refinements. Widely available aftermarket parts easily turn these vehicles into capable off-road machines and enjoyable daily drivers. The ('05-'06) Liberty came with a 2.8L VM Motori turbodiesel engine option and a 545RFE automatic transmission. The vehicle you see pictured is the perfect late-model Jeep combination. Garette and Aleaha Cruzan recognized this and decided to make this conversion a reality. Combined with the fabrication expertise of Josh Prindle, owner of Prindle Manufacturing and Performance, the swap went smoothly and looks finished and planned out to the last detail. The owners state they are more than happy with how the Jeep Cherokee CRD runs and drives. Performance and fuel economy increased with the swap, considering the Cherokee weighs almost 1,000 pounds less than the Liberty. The Jeep now gets between 21 and 27 mpg.

Custom-Fabricated Conversion Parts
The foundation of this project was Prindle's two-piece motor mounts. Due to the height of the diesel engine, the firewall was slightly reshaped. The 2.8L engine and the 545RFE automatic transmission out of the Liberty were connected by their computers, so putting a manual transmission in would have complicated the project. With the Liberty's transmission installed, the Jeep needed a new crossmember. Prindle created a tubular crossmember, which provided excellent skid protection against hazards. Matched with a stout front winch bumper, the custom pieces blend into the factory Cherokee nicely. Prindle said, "Building the radiator support was one the most time consuming parts when doing this conversion." The intercooler's dimensions are 3 inches x 12 inches x 30 inches and the radiator was made from aluminum. Both were made to fit with a factory-like finish. Another difficult section was wiring the engine. Cruzan tackled this, and his experience as a heavy equipment diesel mechanic definitely helped the situation. DP

Prindle Manufacturing & Performance
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Jason Carpp
Jason Carpp

I love reading Diesel Power Magazine. It's one of my favourite magazines. The 2.8 litre CRD diesel engine seems to make more sense to me than installing a hulking 3.9 litre Cummins 4BT diesel. While a Cummins may make more torque than a VM Motori diesel engine, it's so big that there'd barely be enough room to fit, and it's so much heavier than the 2.8 litre that you'd need to install a heavier front axle to withstand the weight.