Best Winch for Jeep Cherokee XJ

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Last Updated on August 26, 2022

Mounting a winch on a Jeep Cherokee is the first thing we do after getting one. But what is the best Winch for Jeep Cherokee XJ? I know which I’ll choose. If you are clueless about it, let me share a bit of knowledge from my research.

If you’re even a bit familiar with winches, then you must have heard about Warn, Smittybilt, X-Bull, etc., brands. They’re all fine winches for jeep. But in this article, I’ll also introduce you to a new gun in town, the China-made Zeak winch.

You can make up your mind after seeing what each of them brings to the table.

Best Winch for Jeep Cherokee XJ

WARN 103253 VR EVO Winch (Top Pick)


  • A better and more efficient motor
  • It draws 144 amps less than the previous generations
  • They gave it a balanced reduction gear ratio of 218:1
  • Maximum pulling capacity of 12000 lbs
  • IP68 rating for underwater functionality
  • The control pack is an Albright pack
  • Both wired and wireless control modes
  • Solid and thick 90-feet synthetic rope 


  • One of the pricier ones in the market
  • It has a slower pulling speed than X20 Comp winches 


Warn is one of the top-most winches that aren’t out of reach for most people. I feel it has a good balance between affordability and functionality. It’s especially true for the 3rd gen to WARN VR winches known as VR EVO. These are more efficient than their older cousins.

This specific Warn winch comes with a pulling capacity of 12K lbs. It can handle a vehicle with a maximum GVW of 3 tonnes. And that’s more than enough for your Cherokee XJ.

As far as I’ve seen, the Warn produces better control than the Smittybilt. At least, I can say that about the remote control since it usually works longer.

The gear ratio on this Winch has a good balance between speed and efficiency. Granted, it’s slower than the X20 from Smittybilt, but it’s more efficient and durable in the long run. 

This model has a solid waterproof design. You can expect it to work even in the mud since the solenoid will stay protected for a long time.

There’s more improvement to it. One crucial point is the synthetic rope instead of a steel wire. The benefit of having a synthetic rope is that it is repairable with standard braiding techniques. 

For the stated reasons, I think this is the best Winch for Cherokee XJ.

Smittybilt Gen 2 XRC Winch (Best Budget)


  • Winch has 9,500 lbs pulling capacity which is just enough for a Cherokee XJ
  • It comes with quite a long 94-feet steel wire rope
  • The Winch is rated IP67, which means it’ll stay completely functional underwater
  • 500 amps solenoid is a solid unit
  • You can position the control pack in 3 different spots on these XRC models
  • These are smaller and quieter than the X20 Comp models
  • An overall solid build quality


  • Only wired mode is available
  • A gear ratio of 168.25:1 isn’t ideal for speed
  • These XRC models do not have dynamic braking


Smittybilt has always been the go-to Winch for people who want to save up some money. The XRC models are the cheaper ones on their product line. They are pretty basic in terms of features and practicality. If you expect more, go back to the first Winch on this list.

It has all the necessary features that you need for off-road driving. For example, the waterproof rating for this model is IP67. However, it’s only for the solenoid since the design of the body is metal to metal.

You’ll be receiving everything you need to get it up and running on your Cherokee—no need to purchase anything externally.

I would have liked it if they used a synthetic cable instead of the steel wire. But they had to keep the price down. They also opted not to give it a remote control option.

These could be the limitations that make you stay away from buying it. But look at the price. It’s a pretty one. It costs almost $200 less than the X20 comp winch below.

For those who are on a tight budget, I’d recommend this Smittybilt XRC winch. It’ll get the job done, just not as smoothly as a Warn VR EVO winch.

Smittybilt X2O Winch (Honorable Mention)


  • Improved Smittybilt X20 2nd gen winches
  • A maximum pulling capacity of 10,000 lbs
  • You have the option for both wired and wireless control
  • Waterproof design and its rated IP68
  • The steel wire cable is almost 100 feet long
  • It’s pretty easy to install, and the instruction is clear to understand
  • Gear ratio is pretty high at 265:1
  • Pulls faster than Warn VR EVO winches
  • Cheap!


  • The included hook removal is complicated
  • It has a vulnerable crossbar


The Smittybilt X20 Comp is almost similar to the earlier Smittybilt Winch I mentioned. XRC is like the more standard version, and this one has a couple of extra features. It is a well-performing winch under $600. Not exactly a steal, but it’s good value for the dollar.

In terms of capability, it’s a good winch at 10,000 lbs pulling capacity. This capacity is sufficient to handle your Cherokee XJ in tricky situations, given the gross vehicle weight doesn’t go over 5,500 lbs.

They had to cut some corners to keep the price lower than the competition. And it shows up in the remote control. It has a history of failing after a short period. Then you have the hook. It’s a nicely built hook but taking it off is a hassle. You need to cut the rope to remove it.

About the wire, I have some reservations. Synthetic rope is the better choice in winches due to the easy repairing process. It’s also more durable.

And about the waterproof rating, it’s only for the solenoid. The body is penetrated by water since it’s metal to metal design. But the solenoid is solid.

If you aren’t willing to spend $300 bucks extra for Warn, this is a good alternative with similar features.

WARN 26502 M8000 8000-lb Winch


  • One of the better low profile winches on the market
  • Wired remote control
  • Pulling force of 8,000 lbs
  • 100-feet long steel wire rope
  • A good reduction gear ratio of 216:1
  • It has a sound braking system that is proven on the field
  • The damage-resistant finish on the exterior protects it from road gravel


  • On the pricier side
  • You need to buy a mount since it doesn’t come with one


This is another one of Warn winches. It maintains the top-notch quality that you see in other Warn winches. But this one is made for those who love a low-profile design. Before you go any further, I have to mention that this is not a budget-oriented winch since it is priced almost the same as the Warn VR EVO.

It’s a heavy-weight unit. There’s little doubt about it. It’s strong and durable with a steel fairlead. The rope on this unit is steel instead of synthetic cable. This is unexpected from such a high-priced winch. Steel wires are very hard to repair once broken.

Just like the Warn VR EVO, this one too comes with a remote controller. But it’s corded and has a reach of 12 feet, which is the standard as seen on the market. And the good thing is that it lasts long. I can see where the price went up in manufacturing and design.

In terms of speed, if you like the Warn VR EVO, you’ll be pretty satisfied with it. However, it is a power-hungry unit which means it eats more battery in an hour.

Who should buy it? If you want a low-profile winch, this is for you. Otherwise, the Warn VR EVO or even the Smittybilt XRC/X20 models are better options.

ZEAK 12000 lb Electric Winch


  • In my research, it provides the highest performance per dollar
  • A huge 12,000 lbs pulling capacity means there’ll be room left after pulling your XJ
  • The gear design has an impressive gear ratio of 236:1, making it faster than some of the Warn winches
  • You also get a spooling clutch
  • Dynamic braking system to protect the components inside from high temperature
  • Wireless remote control with a reach of up to 50 feet
  • It has a durable 84-feet long ⅜” thick synthetic cable


  • Poor instruction manual
  • The control panel can only be mounted in one place


You might not be familiar with the Brand in question. It’s a relatively new competitor in the market. And not many people have tried it out so far. I put it at the last because I wanted to put the proven winches at first. 

But hear me out, this Zeak Winch made and assembled in China might be the game-changer.

It’s such a cheap winch that I had to check many times if what I was reading or seeing was true. This Winch comes with all the good things that you see on a Warn winch.

You’re getting an IP68-rated winch. Not only that, since last year, they have started to add a wireless remote control with their winches. And you can use it from up to 50 feet away. The wire is 85 feet or so long.

The motor, as far as I could gather, is solid. It doesn’t get very hot, and it’s fairly fast. It’s faster than Warn winches, I tell you.

The only issues that I have with the Winch are its lack of control panel mounting options and a poor installation manual. But let’s be fair, for this price, nobody’s going to complain about it.

I can comfortably recommend this Winch to anyone. You need to have a little bit of faith since it’s new in town.


Putting that Zeak winch on this list took a lot of courage. But you have to keep your mind open to newer products if you want to see if the older winch brands are still enough for our Jeep Cherokees. The Warn VR EVO is the safest option for me. It’s still the best Winch for Jeep Cherokee XJ.

I’ve mentioned the more budget-friendly Smittybilt alternatives. But I can’t get rid of the feeling that the Zeak 12,000 lbs winch is going to be the popular choice.

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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