During the mid-1980s, according to AMC chairman W. Paul Tippett Jr.: "People are finding trucks a reasonable and sophisticated alternative to cars." To satisfy the demand and to compete with Japanese competitors, both AMC and Chrysler were preparing pickups for the 1986 and 1987 model years (respectively). Also at this time the financial health of AMC was poor and the automaker was in need of cash as it was preparing a new line of midsize vehicles (the Eagle Premier) scheduled to be produced at a factory being built in Canada (Brampton Assembly), but the best thing the company had going for it was its popular line of Jeeps and introducing a compact Jeep pickup truck in the fall of 1985 was expected to help.
The Jeep Comanche was introduced in mid-August 1985, at a lavish event staged at the ballroom of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino (currently Bally’s Las Vegas) for AMC’s over 1,500 North American dealers. American Motors included Chinese officials as part of the negotiations establishing Beijing Jeep (now Beijing Benz). The goal was to produce and sell Comanches in China through this joint venture.
The new trucks were unveiled by Jose Dedeurwaerder, an engineer and international business executive with 23 years of experience with Renault, and now appointed as AMC’s new president. The base price of the two-wheel drive model was $7,049 (adjusted only for inflation equal to US$15,457 in 2015 dollars), making it the lowest priced Jeep model for the 1986 model year