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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I figure that it is never good to speak ill of something that you have never tried. So, I tried.

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 yupmobile.
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.

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Yeah, they gave me one for a loaner when the Wrangler was getting a little checkup.

My thoughts:

Hate the interior. Seats are weird and possibly harder than a Motel 6 bed. The rest of the interior is futuristic looking and not functional enough. Too much black, aluminum, and lumpy things all over a nice flat dash. Not enough useful things like gauges and levers.

Good for a minivan, and decent for Mom and Dad to pull a boat with. Never planning to own one for my own vehicle. If I wanted that sort of thing, I would get a Ford Excape or Toyota Rav-4.

I didn't buy a Jeep for the name, I bought it for the function. Sure, Jeeps are cool, but not because they have the Jeep logo on them. There is no other vehicle sold new in the continental US that does what a TJ does for the price.

Best regards

John
 

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The COPS in Eldon Iowa have a KJ for a cop car. They have had it up to a hundred and ten miles per hour just testing it, but they are much more comfy at lower speeds. They seem to like the transfer case.
By the way, did you see the new RUBICON in this months issue of FOUR WHEELER? At long last you can BUY a Jeep and have a "reasonably extreme off-road"......to distinguish it from "barely off-road"......vehicle, WITHOUT first throwing away the brand new axles, tranny and t-case, and then doing the tire and wheel upgrade and adding the anti-rock protection systems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I did ask the dealer about the Rubicon and he admitted that he really did not know much. Said that everything he knew about it was from magazines, etc. DC has been tight lipped according to him, but he did say I could order one and SHOULD have it by Sept. Of course I was like, "so you want me to pay how much money for a vehicle that dont know anything about (come to think of it thats normal for most car dealers)?" He changed subject again. Think I'll just work on my CJ. :)
 

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Yeah, the mags could not give many specifics about the Rubicon either because it will be introduced in August I think. They have lots of photos of the Jeep and of the drivetrain as well.
 
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