Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
KJ Test Drive (from SWB)
OK, I figure that it is never good to speak ill of something that you have never tried. So,
Sat 29June02 ...
Stop by Jeep dealer to take a look at the KJ (drive in in my 78 CJ-5 to intimidate the
salesperson a bit and hopefully invoke some honesty). Bring my girlfriend and mention
the impending engagement to bring some creedence to why I would be looking at the
Initial impression ... a bit too "cute" to be a Jeep, but the interior (though small) does
have a somehwat "rough" styling. The rear cargo area is absurdly small, and though the
back seats fold, you have to have the front seats forward to fit them down (stupid
headrests). Storage room under back seat (cool).
The salesman tells me a bout this new 3.7L engine, how it puts out 200 hp, but of
course doesnt know the torque rating or optimum rpm range. He also mentions the new
IFS and how the ride and handling are sooooo much better. Start the KJ up and it
sounds pretty good, almost like it has a pair.
Enjoying driving off road better than on I ask if there is a more rugged version. Maybe a
little higher suspension, some bigger tires with beadlocks, some diamond plate, a
standard winch, a 5 speed, somthing. Well, now we walk over to the this asparagus
colored thing with more plastic, a built in "light bar", and slightly bigger wheels, oh yeah,
some kind of nerf bar things too. He says its the "renegade" version and was built just
for people like me.
OK, now were getting somewhere (I act excited). I have to ask though, those nerf bar
things (painted the same horrible color as the KJ) look like they kill about 4 inches of
ground clearance. I am assured they they are not simply window dressing, they are
functional. They are made from steel and painted, they are mounted directly to the
frame and can easily support the weight (though its only 500 lbs less than the Grand
Cherokee) of the KJ and will protect the rockers from stumps and rocks when off road. I
again express my doubts, but am assured that this is one mean off road machine.
The salesman asks for my license, hands me the key and returns with a test drive slip.
He even asks me if an hour is long enough. Tells me to take it out, hit some back roads,
try the highway, doesn't even mind if i get it a little dirty. He, he, he (apparently doesnt
know what I consider a "little" dirty.
Well, my girlfriend doesn't want me to thrash it too bad so we drive around a bit on the
road (handles pretty well). Good turn radius, good power from the engine, not bad get
up for an auto. Of course I have to see a little of what this thing can do so we take it
to a local park in Charlottesville, VA. Drive it around on the gravel washboards and it is
as smooth as can be (wow, cant feel a thing, but the responsiveness is still good). I am
kind of impressed (though I kinda like to pick my teeth out of my lap after a good drive).
Now its time to see how it does over little bumps... hit some good potholes and am still
pleased, handling is good over little bumps.
Now for a little articulation test... have to start easy at the request of my girlfriend, so i
find a little railroad tie (maybe six inches thick) this is cake, hell my cruiser ('01 Crown
Vic) can clear that with out thinking. WRONG !!!!!! The "rocker guard" that can support
the weight of this machine hits the tie, the brackets holding it to the frame crunch and
it slides four inches backwards into the rear drivers tire. Of course my tools are in my CJ
so i go behind the back seat to get the jack tool and try to pry the thing forward so we
can still drive (no joy). So we call the dealer and he comes out and I think is more
embarassed than my girlfriend (if that was possible). He tries to pry it forward, I tell him
to bring me a 13mm wrench and a mallett and I'll fix it. So he leaves and sends the other
salesman back with the tools. I pull the stupid thing off and try to bang the brackets
back, but the clearance is so low that I cant get a good swing. So we throw the thing
in the back and drive back to the dealer.
As soon as we return he spends about ten minutes telling me how sorry he is and offers
me all kinds of sweet deals, then throws a brochure, and his card at me and shuffles us
out of the dealer before we can tell anyone else what happened.
My final assessment...
Not bad for a mini van, but it aint a Jeep.