Category Archives: Jeep

2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4 (796)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4X4 SUV.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 79%

Assembly – Toledo, Ohio, USA

Class:  – SUV

Cars: – Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Patriot and Wrangler.

Opinion:

Have unions outlived their usefulness? Have unions killed the American Auto Maker? Have unions been too aggressive at raising the cost of labor to the car makers? Have the car companies caved in to their demands too easily?

Well I believe Unions had their day but that need has long passed. But the unions have become blood suckers. In prior columns of mine I have pointed out union wage was $78 per hour for US Automakers and $45 per hour for Toyota. Close enough to what others have computed. What’s important is the huge difference.

Bloated benefits for unions are sinking automakers
The Philadelphia Inquirer  November 16,2008 | Greg Lewis

According to a Wall Street Journal article, “…on average, GM pays $81.18 an hour in wages and benefits to U.S. hourly workers, including pension and retiree medical costs”.
You can’t ignore the huge labor cost advantage enjoyed by non-union Toyota. How much of an advantage?  According to that same article, “Harbour Consulting President Ron Harbour estimates Toyota‘s total hourly U.S. labor costs, with benefits, at about $35 an hour.”  That’s right, GM’s average labor costs are 130% higher than that of the US operations of its Japanese rival.  That translates into a $1,000/vehicle average labor-cost advantage enjoyed by Toyota. Thank you, UAW!

Well, it is clear to me that American car companies burdened with wages demanded by  greedy and irresponsible Unions has caused us tax payers to bail them out. Thank you Barak Obama.

These community and other organizers are worse than the Mafia. Ok, some would say Organized Labor is the Mafia. So why are we tax payers putting up with the craziness of bailouts of the automakers? If we as individuals were are irresponsible noone would bail us out. And granted the bailouts weren’t our doing.

Ok, I’m wrong again. When the kids are in trouble they come back home and we parents have to bail them out. But it’s our choice and our government is not forcing us to bail out the kids. Hope they don’t get any ideas about passing some law that we MUST bail our kids out. I think I’ll move and give no forwarding address, pay no taxes and become a mountain man. Just kidding about not telling the kids where I am, unless they work for the government of course.

Handling & Performance:

I love Jeep for what they are designed to do in the driving experience. That means the high profile is great off road but can be a hindrance in driving in freeway travel when the winds are strong. You get buffeted around a lot, so you will simply need to slow to a safe speed. But when there’s water and mud and debris you are at a great advantage over others in passenger cars. Friend Glenn swamped his engine in high water in his Toyota Avalon. “Can I use your Jeep?”

One of the complaints I’ve had over past years is the poor fuel economy of the Wrangler. Today that condition has improved. Wrangler now gets about 40% better mpg than just a few years ago. This 2010 Wrangler gets up to 19 mpg and that is better but I know it can always be better. But it does all this with increased power over the years and 205 hp is really more than adequate for off roading. The extra horsepower is great, however, for the highway.

Styling:

Consistently Jeep, but this wrangler has added utility with the addition of 4-doors and a much larger rear seat and storage. It is clear that this has always been the standard for what a serious off road vehicle should look like. If that were not true Hummer would have designed a complete new look. But they patterned it after the Jeep – the grand daddy of them all.

Fit and Finish:

Rough and rugged, and that’s just the way I like it.

Cost:

Competitive and a super competitor to the more expensive H3 Hummer.

Conveniences and comfort:

More than you need but thanks anyway.

Consumer Recommendation:

Every time I climb into a Jeep Wrangler I think of the ads of wet T-Shirt competition. Sorry but the image is indelibly etched on my memory. But I also think of the Jeep Jamboree’s I’ve had the pleasure of attending. If this is a part of your lifestyle I can’t recommend more highly the venue’s for Jeep Jamborees. They are a lot of fun and at the end of the day that is a part of the reason we buy these versatile vehicles. If you’re a Jeep guy or gal, look into it. http://blog.allthingsjeep.com/jeep-blog/tabid/53767/bid/22381/Jeep-Jamboree-USA-2010-Schedule-Announced.aspx

Those events have proven to me I wouldn’t spend the extra money for a Hummer. The H1 and H2 are much more money even than the H3 and the Jeep is so capable that it is as much knowledge on how to travel off road. I thought I was invincible in the H1 and found with all the hype of the Desert Storm Icon at over $100,000 it is no better than this Wrangler. I proudly entered an off road course and instantly found myself in mud up to the floorboards helplessly stuck. To make things worse I was pulled out of the mud by a really old $5,000 Chevrolet Blazer with a winch.

Recognized Competition:

Jeep Wrangler $21-32,000, Chevrolet Equinox $23-30,000, Ford Escape $21-27,000, Ford Escape Hybird $30-34,000, Honda CR-V $22-30,000, Hyundai Tucson $19-26,000, Hummer H3 $33-43,000, Kia Sportage $17-23,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $21-29,000, Nissan Xterra $22-30,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-27,000, Toyota FJ Cruiser $24-26,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-28,000.

Good News:

Grand daddy status, capable as demonstrated by REAL off road conditions, priced well.

Bad News:

Only acceptable fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter 205 HP V6 engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, front air bags, electronic stability program, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, traction control, Electronic roll mitigation, sill start assist, shift on the fly 4-wheel drive system, transfer case skid plate shield, fuel tank skid plate, cruise control, security alarm and theft deterrent system and sentry key, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring, air conditioning, radio with SIRIUS satellite, audio jack input for mobile devices, power windows and locks, 22.5 gal. Fuel tank, temp and compass gauges, tilt steering column, reclining front seats, 60/40 split folding rear seat, 18” aluminum wheels with on/ off road tires, two front and one rear tow hooks, fog lights, soft top, swing away mirrors.

Gas Stats:

$2.97/ Gal avg. January 23 ‘10

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

15 City and 19 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $28,905.

2010 Jeep Patriot Limited 4X4 (752)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2010 Jeep Patriot Limited 4X4 and whoever picked the color should be shot.

It’s interesting to note that consumer’s give Jeep a better rating than reviewers do. I align myself with the consumer because I have tested a lot of them and attended Jeep Jamboree’s and Jeep Camps that have convinced me this is the best off road / 4X4 value for the money.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 79%

Assembly – Belvidere, Illinois, USA

Class:  – SUV

Cars: – Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Patriot and Wrangler.

Opinion:

A driving hint we all know but we can all be reminded of conditions of the time of day. If you are driving with the sun behind you then it is in the face of oncoming traffic. It can be very blinding and thus you need to be extra defensive. Always be aware and be safe.

Being aware also means that you can’t be distracted. Recent studies show clearly that one distracted driver will back up traffic for miles behind them.

Handling & Performance:

If power is a hot button for you another model would be better. Commander and Grand Cherokee sport V6’s and V8’s from 210-420 hp.

Styling:

Continued look of old and new.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

Consistent within class.

Conveniences and comfort:

Good.

Recognized Competition:

Jeep Patriot $15-25,000, Chevrolet HR $19-26,000, Chrysler PT Cruiser $18,275, Dodge Caliber $17-20,000, Dodge Nitro $22-29,000, Ford Escape $21-27,000, Ford Escape Hybrid $30-34,000, Honda CR-V $22-30,000, Honda Element $21-26,000, Hyundai Tucson $19-26,000, Jeep Compass 15-25,000, Kia Rondo $17-22,000, Kia Sportage $17-23,000, Mazda 5 $19-23,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $21-29,000, Nissan Rogue $20-25,000, Pontiac Torrent $25-31,000, Saturn Vue $23-31,000, Saturn Vue Hybrid $28160, Subaru Forester $20-28,000, Suzuki SX4 Crossover $16-20,000, Suzuki SX4 Sport $13-19,000, Toyota Matrix $17-22,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-28,000.

Good News:

Priced well,

Standard Equipment:

234 liter 172 HP inline 4-cylinder engine, continuously variable automatic transmission with off road crawl ration, front and front and rear side curtain air bags, electronic stability control, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with brake assist, cruise control, security alarm and theft deterrent system and sentry key, remote keyless entry, power windows and speed sensitive door locks, power heated fold away mirrors, rear window washer wiper and defroster, 115 V and 12 V power outlets, air conditioning, heated front seats, power 8-way driver seat, front passenger fold flat seat, 60/40 reclining and folding rear seat, SIRIUS satellite radio, media center with 6-CD/DVD/MP3 radio, audio jack input for mobile devices, leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls.

Gas Stats:

$2.97/ Gal avg May 29 ‘10

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

20 City and 22 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $24,550.

2010 Jeep Liberty 4X4 (751)

Overview:
This week we’re looking at the 2010 Jeep Liberty 4X4 SUV. Wow, since I reviewed the Liberty some years ago on an Elk Hunt in the snow of southern Oregon, this SUV has put on some weight. But then I have too.

As you probably already know I have a soft spot in my heart for Jeep. The Jamboree’s I’ve attended have convinced me Jeep is not only the Original it is up to the challenges made by virtually every other SUV on the market.

The real contenders are Hummer, Range Rover and newcomer Toyota FJ. They are threats to the Grand Daddy of Crowned Champs in the Off Road auto world. There are admittedly others that are capable but they don’t double as ON Road travelers. They must ride to the off road venues on a trailer. Probably pulled by a Jeep.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 80%

Assembly – Toledo, Ohio, USA

Class:  – SUV

Cars: – Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Patriot and Wrangler.

2003 Liberty smaller size $17-24,000.          1989 Wrangler

Opinion:

Revealing Holidays!

If you ever wondered how many government employees you’re tax dollars are supporting, you’ll be on notice when you drive down the freeway on “Moon Monday”, “Gay Liberation Day”, MKL’s and Presidents day holidays. That’s right those are the days when government offices celebrate while the rest of us must go to work to earn real money to pay for their time off. (suggestion to those on the dole workers – go to the beach on those days and drive during rush hours so it won’t be so obvious).

It would appear to me that if there is 17% unemployment of Non-government jobs then federal and state government should lay off the same number of jobs in the public sector. Me – I’m tired of supporting these high paid positions that provide lousy service to boot. The classic example is the DMV.

If I don’t produce I don’t get paid, but government workers simply show up and they get paid. While on assignment in Eastern Europe shortly after the fall of the USSR and Socialism generally, young people I visited with were thrilled to have the opportunity of Capitalism. But their parents were bummed because they had become accoustomed to just showing up to get a pay check. Today, Poland’s economy, for one Eastern European country, is growing by leaps and bounds as a result.

Traffic patterns can be pretty revealing and a shocking reminder of the imbalance of workers who produce GNP or GDP and those Government Jobs that consume the hard work of the “Real Workers”. For the younger readers, if you don’t know what thoseAcronyms stand for you’re not paying enough attention to US Economic Theory and policy. It is more likely you didn’t even learn about Economics in government run schools.

Ok, so this opinion probably offends about 40% of the people, and the TRUTH of it should offend the other 60% who are reminded of the FACTS – Nothing but the facts.

Handling & Performance:

Ever improving on road comfort as well as first class off road prowess.

Styling:

Consistently Jeep image. Friend Dave has a 1942 Jeep and the dream lives on.

Fit and Finish:

Excellent

Cost:

It is amazing to me that prices have NOT inflated over the years as you might think or expect. The 2003 Liberty was priced at $17-24,000. What’s amazing is that simply from the growth or increase due to passage of time the Rule of 72’s can shed light on the real value we have experienced over the past several decades. Of course the economies of scale and vastly improved technology and component cost efficiency has made a big impact on future cost as well.

Current competitive prices are very close for all in this class.

Conveniences and comfort:

Larger and ever growing improvements in technology.

Consumer Recommendation:

Put Jeep on your competitive review for this class SUV.

Recognized Competition:

Jeep Liberty $23-29,000, Chevrolet Equinox $23-30,000, Dodge Nitro $22-25,000, Ford Escape $21-27,000, Ford Escape Hybird $30-34,000, Honda CR-V $22-30,000, Honda Element $21-26,000, Hyundai Tucson $19-26,000, 2009 Kia Sportage $17-23,000, Mazda Tribute $20-29,000, 2009 Mazda Tribute Hybrid $29-33,000, Mercury Mariner $24-27,000, Mercury Mariner Hybrid $30-32,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $21-29,000, 2009 Nissan Rogue $20-23,000, 2009 Pontiac Torrent $25-31,000, 2009 Saturn Vue $23-31,000, 2009 Saturn Vue Hybrid $28,160, Subaru Forester $20-28,000, 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-27,000, Toyota RAV4 $22-28,000.

Good News:

Jeep styling, roomy interior in class, stable handling and solid feel.

Bad News:

If you opt for the full top soft cover it will come with wind noise. If I wanted that unique sliding top I would put up gladly with a little wind noise.

Standard Equipment:

3.7 liter 210 HP V6 engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, electronic stability program, 4-wheel ABS brake assist disc brakes, traction control, Electronic roll mitigation, hill start assist and hill decent control, multistage front air bags, supplemental side curtain and rear air bags, Part time 4-wheel drive system, cruise control, security alarm and theft deterrent system and sentry key, tire pressure monitoring, 19.5 gal fuel tank, air conditioning, media center with CD/MP3 radio, audio jack 8 speakers and SIRIUS satellite service for 1-year, vehicle information center, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, cargo compartment cover, power windows and locks, leather trim 6-way power driver and 2-way passenger heated front seats, tilt steering column, fold flat front passenger seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat, 17” aluminum wheels and rear window wiper washer.

Gas Stats:

$2.97/ Gal avg. January 30 ‘10

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

15 City and 21 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $28,735.

2007 Jeep Compass Limited 4X4 (744)

Overview:

This week let’s look at Jeeps 2007 Compass Limited 4X4 SUV. It is the best of the bunch all things considered. You won’t see any noticeable change from ’07 to ‘08 so you may want to take advantage of year end ’07 clearance sales as they make room for the 2008s.

The low end model comes with front wheel drive for this very car-like sport Ute and it looks the part of a road car not expected to go off road. But then as we all know only a very small number will ever get off road anyway – and not all that far either. The idea of being able to go off road is romantic and adventuresome but our busy lives and family demands prevent us from taking the time.

This Jeep Compass has a lower profile than most in class so it is easy to get in and out of, which helps to explain why it is expected to appeal to women more than before and 50/50 sales split of men and women is the target. I wonder how the gay community figures into those statistics… even split?

 

General Info:

Parts – US/ Canadian 67%. Mexico 18%

Assembly – Belvidere, Illinois, USA

Class:  – Special Purpose

Cars: – Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Patriot and Wrangler.

Handling & Performance:

More roll and sway in the mountain turns on the Crest Test in spite of the rear stabilizer bar, and the steering is a bit loose for my liking. More expensive products will employ variable power assist depending on the speed you’re traveling. That is good but it adds a lot of cost that doesn’t really fit into this price class vehicle. So you travel more slowly which is fine for what the vehicle is. When I travel over the mountain winding roads and want to enjoy a performance car my mind immediately shifts gears to Corvette, Nissan 350Z or a host of other sports coupes.

It is very responsive and I found once you’re rolling you can accelerate to 80 in a short burst. It felt initially to be a turbo but it’s isn’t. And it does it all on 87 octane gasoline.

There is an annoying hesitation starting out and jerky throttle generally at all speeds. No immediate explanation why you get power surges and the throttle is so sensitive but it’s not a deal killer. I began to get used to it but I’d prefer it didn’t happen. I’ll give you cowboys and cowgirls an example. Ever ridden a horse that is real touchy and the slightest movement of the rains or any other parts of your anatomy cause them to twitch and they want to bolt… yep, that’s the Compass.

Styling:

Wonderful look and I had several comments about how much people liked this Compass.

Fit and Finish:

Very good for the Jeeps of just 10 years ago. I have to say I’ve driven lots of Jeeps over the years and I appreciate the improvement in how they are put together today and noticeable for the past decade.

Cost:

Price to value ratio is very good.

Conveniences and comfort:

Very good. It is well appointed. Seats are comfortable and the ride on the highway is smooth. I appreciate the sliding console armrest that is becoming more common and a thoughtful addition by a few car makers including Jeep.

The lift gate is one piece and is very easy opening and closing. It is a sign of careful engineering. It doesn’t take all that much but if you have to struggle with putting a lift gate or tail gate up and down you can bet there are lots of other stupid engineering elsewhere in the automobile, train and planes… and they should “Throw the Engineer from the train”. Mamma can stay.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is, as you’ll see, the best priced of the competition and since I’ve driven them all I would opt for the Compass, because it is after all a Jeep. I was particularly happy with the Liberty I tested on an Elk hunting trip but I appreciate the added roominess of the Compass. There are several options packages and you’ll want to consider those, not only for convenience but for resale.

Recognized Competition:

Jeep Compass $16-22,000, Mazda CX-7 $24-28,000, Acura RDX $33-36,000, Chevrolet Equinox $22-29,000, Hyundai Tucson $17-24,000, Toyota RAV4 $21-27,000, Honda CR-V $21-28,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000, Kia Sportage $16-23,000.

Good News:

Nice styling, easy fold flat rear seats, visors extend for good side coverage and comfy ride with good seats.

Bad News:

Jerky throttle and only fair fuel economy numbers.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 4-cylinder 172 horsepower engine, 5-speed manual transmission, advanced front air bags, side curtain bags, electronic stability program, traction control, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, roll protection, rear stabilizer bar, theft deterrent system, power windows and locks that are speed sensitive, power fold away mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry and illumination, rear window wiper/ washer and defroster, sliding sun visors with mirrors, 12 V outlet and 115 V outlet, air conditioning, heated front seats, heights adjustable driver seat, leather wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls, outside temp display, stereo with CD player, passenger fold flat seatback, rear 60/40 reclining and folding seat backs, removable interior rechargeable light, 18” aluminum alloy wheels, halogen headlights, fog lights and deep tint sunscreen glass.

Options: continuously variable transaxle with autostick, auto dim rearview mirror, outside temp and compass, universal garage door opener, information center, tire pressure monitor and 18” aluminum wheels.

Gas Stats:

$2.63/ Gal avg. August 24, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

23 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $21,925.

2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4X4, 4-Door (720)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2007 Jeep Wrangler 4X4 Unlimited X 4-Door. Bravo. This is great. I’ve always liked the Wrangler but this just adds to it’s capability without sacrificing the look and feel of the original. The first time I closed the door in this newest of Wranglers and buckled up I was reminded that I was in a Jeep – and very special piece of history. Then I reached for the power windows and as I cranked the manual windows I knew I was home. I thought these things went the way of Buggy Whips, but at the same time it occurred to me that hand crank roll up windows are more reliable and don’t need power to operate them in the back country, in an emergency situation for example. So I wasn’t surprised when I was also able to tune the radio with a “Knob” thank you. Some things are best left alone and simple.

One of the great things you get with owning a Jeep is the spirit and camaraderie of other owners and their love of Off Road performance. That extended family feeling is evident by the great numbers who join together each year at some of the 26 venues around the country for Jeep Jamboree’s. Great fun. Jeep has promised me another adventure this coming year after a memorable 3 days that I spent with 120 Jeep owners on the Mohawk Trail in Northwest Massachusetts. That was about 10 years ago and I’m ready for another location Scott.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 79%.

Assembly – Toledo, Ohio, USA

Class:  – Special Purpose

Cars: – Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Patriot and Wrangler.

Handling & Performance:

This Unlimited X is powered by a V6 202 hp engine but some will say it is underpowered. However, this is an adventure vehicle and although you need hp for speed it is unnecessary for crawling over boulders on the Rubicon Trail in Tahoe, CA… or other off road trips. In any case, on the highway, once you get it rolling it is just fine.

Styling:

For the Jeep devotee this 4-door is a welcomed addition to the Jeep lineup. It expands the capability of the vehicle while keeping true to the Jeep tradition of simplicity.

Fit and Finish:

Jeep Wrangler is known for being rough and tumble and basic, but today’s Wrangler is just a little bit upgraded for more comfort.

Cost:

Not bad relative to the competition especially when you consider Wrangler is all alone really and its uniqueness stands out from the field listed.

Conveniences and comfort:

More comfort than older models, while maintaining the basic feel it also provides some of the more modern conveniences.

Consumer Recommendation:

If your lifestyle takes you outside and outback, and you love off road adventures without all the fluff common to the other competitors in this segment this is the one and only – it’s a Jeep. You can upscale a bit to the Hummer series but in class this is the best for your lifestyle.

Recognized Competition:

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited X $$19-29,000, Suzuki XL7 $23-32,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $21-25,000, Saturn Vue $21-29,000, Kia Sorento $20-26,000, Ford Escape $19-26,000, Chevrolet Equinox $22-29,000, Honda CR-V $21-28,000, Toyota RAV4 $21-27,000.

Good News:

It’s built in the US and it is a unique bit of history for the outdoors enthusiast.

Bad News:

A bit underpowered and poor fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter V6 202 hp engine, 4-speed auto trans, front air bags, power steering, ESP electronic stability program, hydraulic brake assist, traction control, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, heavy duty rear axle 3.21 axle ratio, shift on the fly 4-WD system, 600 Amp maintenance free battery, transfer case and fuel tank skid plates, theft deterrent system, front stabilizer bar, air conditioning, glove box reclining front seats, 60/40 split folding rear seat, stereo with in dash CD player, tilt steering column, roll bar with padding, rear compartment covered storage area, removable soft top, swing away mirrors, 16” steel wheels.

Optional Equipment: tint windows, cruise control, leather wrapped wheel, temp and compass gauges, aluminum wheel upgrade, fog lights, front tow hooks and 1 rear hook. ($2,515)

Gas Stats:

$3.06/ Gal avg. October 21, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 19 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,530, $25,705 with options.

2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee (676)

Overview:
This week I drove the 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee. What a nice SUV. Some folks including my friend Norman would disagree. Norm had a lemon, I’m convinced of it, because I have driven many Jeeps – years and models and never had the problems Norm had. Several transmissions and other parts failed, but that happens with every carmaker’s products.

I have been on Jeep Jamboree’s and tested all models under the harshest conditions. For those who don’t know what a Jamboree is, it is a gathering of Jeep owners who like to go off road on 26 various venue’s around the country. You have a chance to use your SUV under conditions you just won\’t believe. Great experience. My other friend Norman has a daughter who experienced similar problems with a Chrysler minivan and it is doubtful her family will own another car from that company. But for as many critics of a product there are die-hard supporters.

Well, generally speaking you get what you pay for and at the end of the day if you’ve experienced low maintenance problems and thus limited the aggravation of spending time at the dealer the extra money would have been worth it.

General Info:

Parts – USA

Assembly – Detroit, MI.

Class: – Special Purpose

Cars: – Grand Cherokee, Liberty and Wrangler.

Handling & Performance:

As good as the rest but all suck when it comes to gas consumption.

Styling:

Simply the best. This is perhaps the most identifiable SUV of the entire field. It has looked the part longer than any of the other copycats. Lets face it, if there weren’t so much profit in making this class vehicle Jeep would still own the market and others wouldn’t bother competing. Jeep Wrangler styling is what started the whole craze and remains special in its nitch.

Fit and Finish:

Very good. Jeep did have problems in this area in years past but I have noticed a marked improvement over the years.

Cost:

A bit overpriced.

Consumer Recommendation:

You simply have a huge range of sizes, makes and models to choose from. Establish a price range. If you want to spend $18-24,000 you will be looking at smaller SUV’s like Jeep Liberty, Ford Escape and Honda CRV, $25-35,000 mid range like the Ford Explorer, Chevy Trailblazer and Lexus RX 300 or $40-80,000 High end luxury SUV’s like the Lincoln Navigator, BMW X5, and Bad Boys like the Hummer and the downscaled H2.

Manufacturer Recommendations:

Don’t be so cheap. When a customer has problems that are chronic, give them a replacement and avoid the bad press and consumer dissatisfaction. Good news travels fast, bad news travels faster.

The Competition: (in order of avg. price).

(1t) Chevrolet TrailBlazer $26-35,000, (1t) Nissan Pathfinder $27-34,000, (2t) Oldsmobile Bravada $33-35,000, (2t) Honda Pilot $27-31,000, (3) Toyota 4Runner $28-36,000, (4) Ford Explorer $26-36,000, (5) Lexus RX 300 $35-37,000, (6) Dodge Durango $26-38,000, (7) GMC Envoy $28-37,000, (8) Jeep Grand Cherokee $26-36,000, (9) Land Rover Discovery $33-37,000, (10) Mitsubishi Montero $32-36,000, (11) Mercedes-Benz M-Class $36-66,000.

* – Ranking is based on cost, cu ft, number of features, warranty and gas mileage.

Good News:

Granddaddy of the bunch, classic styling, powerful and the best size for sport Ute’s.

Bad News:

Poor gas stats, a bit overpriced.

Standard Equipment:

4.7 liter V8 engine, 5-speed auto trans, dual front and side airbags, 4-wheel abs disc brakes, rear defrost, on-demand 4WD, variable lock progressive rear axle, heavy duty suspension with gas shocks, skid plates front, transfer case and gas tank, rain sensitive wipers, dual zone air conditioning, power windows and locks, cruise control, tilt wood and leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, computer, security alarm, radio with 10 disc remote CD player and Cassette, six infinity speaker system, keyless entry, universal garage door opener, 10-way power seats with memory, rear 60/40 fold down seats, front and rear 12V outlets, power sunroof, auto headlights, tow hooks and tow package, 17” chrome wheels, fog lights, power mirrors, power adjustable pedals and tire pressure monitoring system.

Gas Stats:

14 City and 19 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $39,195.

2007 Jeep Commander Limited 4X4 (675)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2007 Jeep Commander 4-WD sport utility vehicle. Navigation systems are getting more common … I think. I’m a little spoiled I suppose since many of the press cars I drive are loaded which of course makes perfect sense since we need to experience all they have. Well that’s where I’m going with this… Navigation systems should be standard equipment by now. That comment is for the car companies, because they need to know we all know how inexpensive electronics are these days. The important thing is that the benefit of Nav systems to travel, generally, is far reaching.

When I consider how much more comfortable driving can be with a Nav system they should be used to – a.) reduce stress b.) improve safety on the highways c.) save fuel consumption by every car being able to go directly to their destination without getting lost or simply getting there the most efficient way.

Anyway I wouldn’t buy another car without one and portable versions are “Really” cheap now. You can buy one for as little as $250. Brother-in-law Mark has one on his motorcycle and God knows he needs it. Talk about men and directions … we traveled all around Denver, Colorado one day and he was sure he knew where he was going. I forget if we ever stopped for directions because I believe I blacked out from exhaustion.

General Info:

Parts – US/Canadian 73%.

Assembly – Detroit, MI, USA

Class:  – Special Purpose

Cars: – Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Patriot & Wrangler.

Observation:

This week began the LA Auto Show week and I was interested to see that most all manufacturers pre-show press conferences emphasised the announcement of their Hydrogen Fuel Cell models. In last weeks column I happened to comment GM putting all their eggs in that technology for next generation of cars. Of course the infrastructure will be a major obstacle in the early going as you’d expect.

GM was in the Hydrogen powered car development very early and I tested their Hi Wire fuel cell car at the turn of the century as you may recall. Back then GM estimated 20 years before it would be offered for general consumption. But it would seem the push for alternate fuel sources is heating up and we are sure to see them available sooner than GM estimated. Recently it was reported in several sources that in the next two years China will lead the world in oil consumption. Imagine what that will do to gas prices.

On the other hand VW / Audi are still putting diesel and particularly bio diesel on the front line for powering their products. I don’t blame them. Why not let the others do the development and when the obstacles are overcome they can easily make the transition. More on this later.

Handling & Performance:

Power plants offered for the Jeep Commander include a 3.7-liter 210-horspower V6, a 4.7-liter 235-horsepower V8 standard in the Limited and a very powerful 5.7-liter 330-horsepower HEMI V8 option in my test vehicle. I enjoyed the added power but I have tested the standard 4.7 liter V8 and would find little reason to pay the added $895 option cost for the HEMI. However the fuel economy differences are only affected by one mpg give or take.

Styling:

Well they say the greatest form of flattery is when others copy you. Well, looking around at all the “Real” off road SUV’s all try to copy the real thing – Jeep.

Third row seating with theater style higher rear seats gives rear seat passengers much better visibility. This may seem like a small thing but very noticeable for those who sit in the rear seats.

Fit and Finish:

As good as anything on the market in class. Jeep continues to improve not only the rough and tumble versions, but has added new more comfort oriented off road models. All around, they do a nice job.

Cost:

As quality, convenience and capability have improved the cost has gone up as you’d expect. But they are very competitive with others attempting to provide the same all terrain capability. You can literally pay twice the price for the Range Rover. I’ll take the Jeep thank you. I think I’d rather take a few trips abroad with the cost savings.

Conveniences and comfort:

Standard equipment is very good and the options are numerous including entertainment system, tow package, Nav and rear camera, etc.

Consumer Recommendation:

Model year-end is upon us as I write this so as common sense dictates you can do better generally at this time on a NEW prior year model. In this case there is very little difference from 2006 through 2008 so you will want to wheel and deal on a 2007 model.

Recognized Competition:

Jeep Commander $28-44,000, Lexus GX 470 $46,635, Land Rover LR3 $41-53,000, Nissan Armada $35-45,000, Infiniti QX56 $52-55,000, Hummer H2 $54-62,000, Dodge Durango $26-37,000, GMC Yukon $35-44,000, Chevrolet Tahoe $34-48,000, Ford Expedition $31-46,000.

Good News:

Comfortable, powerful options so you can have it your way, great theater seating for back two rows.

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

5.7 liter V8 engine, 5-speed auto trans., latch ready child anchors, front and side airbags, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, Quadra Trac full time 4-WD, el traction control, rear park sensor, remote keyless entry and start system, theft deterrent system, Electronic Stability Program, power sunroof with 2nd row skylights, power windows, tire pressure monitoring, front and rear air conditioning, power front seats, lumbar adjust front, 2nd row 40/20/40 fold and tumble seats, 3rd row 50/50 split bench seat, power adjustable pedals, Boston acoustics sound system – stereo with in dash 6-disc CD/MP3 player, SIRIUS satellite radio (1 yr included), steering wheel audio controls – leather wrapped, tilt steering column, trip computer, auto on/off headlights, fog lights, power heated folding mirrors.

Gas Stats:

$3.25/ Gal avg. November 12, ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

14 City and 18 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $39,115.

2007 Jeep Compass Limited 4X4 (665)

General Info:

Parts – US/ Canadian 67%. Mexico 18%
Assembly – Belvidere, Illinois, USA
Class:  – Special Purpose
Cars: – Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Patriot and Wrangler.

“An Automotive Love Affair”
By Joseph Mavilia       2007 Jeep Compass Limited 4X4

Overview:

This week let’s look at Jeeps 2007 Compass Limited 4X4 SUV. It is the best
of the bunch all things considered. You won’t see any noticeable change from
’07 to ’08 so you may want to take advantage of year end ’07 clearance sales
as they make room for the 2008s.

The low end model comes with front wheel drive for this very car-like sport
Ute and it looks the part of a road car not expected to go off road. But
then as we all know only a very small number will ever get off road anyway –
and not all that far either. The idea of being able to go off road is
romantic and adventuresome but our busy lives and family demands prevent us
from taking the time.

This Jeep Compass has a lower profile than most in class so it is easy to
get in and out of, which helps to explain why it is expected to appeal to
women more than before and 50/50 sales split of men and women is the target.
I wonder how the gay community figures into those statistics… even split?

Handling & Performance:

More roll and sway in the mountain turns on the Crest Test in spite of the
rear stabilizer bar, and the steering is a bit loose for my liking. More
expensive products will employ variable power assist depending on the speed
you’re traveling. That is good but it adds a lot of cost that doesn’t really
fit into this price class vehicle. So you travel more slowly which is fine
for what the vehicle is. When I travel over the mountain winding roads and
want to enjoy a performance car my mind immediately shifts gears to
Corvette, Nissan 350Z or a host of other sports coupes.

It is very responsive and I found once you’re rolling you can accelerate to
80 in a short burst. It felt initially to be a turbo but it’s isn’t. And it
does it all on 87 octane gasoline.

There is an annoying hesitation starting out and jerky throttle generally at
all speeds. No immediate explanation why you get power surges and the
throttle is so sensitive but it’s not a deal killer. I began to get used to
it but I’d prefer it didn’t happen. I’ll give you cowboys and cowgirls an
example. Ever ridden a horse that is real touchy and the slightest movement
of the rains or any other parts of your anatomy cause them to twitch and
they want to bolt… yep, that’s the Compass.

Styling:

Wonderful look and I had several comments about how much people liked this
Compass.

Fit and Finish:

Very good for the Jeeps of just 10 years ago. I have to say I’ve driven lots
of Jeeps over the years and I appreciate the improvement in how they are put
together today and noticeable for the past decade.

Cost:

Price to value ratio is very good.

Conveniences and comfort:

Very good. It is well appointed. Seats are comfortable and the ride on the
highway is smooth. I appreciate the sliding console armrest that is becoming
more common and a thoughtful addition by a few car makers including Jeep.

The lift gate is one piece and is very easy opening and closing. It is a
sign of careful engineering. It doesn’t take all that much but if you have
to struggle with putting a lift gate or tail gate up and down you can bet
there are lots of other stupid engineering elsewhere in the automobile,
train and planes… and they should “Throw the Engineer from the train”.
Mamma can stay.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is, as you’ll see, the best priced of the competition and since I’ve
driven them all I would opt for the Compass, because it is after all a Jeep.
I was particularly happy with the Liberty I tested on an Elk hunting trip
but I appreciate the added roominess of the Compass. There are several
options packages and you’ll want to consider those, not only for convenience
but for resale.

Recognized Competition:

Jeep Compass $16-22,000, Mazda CX-7 $24-28,000, Acura RDX $33-36,000,
Chevrolet Equinox $22-29,000, Hyundai Tucson $17-24,000, Toyota RAV4
$21-27,000, Honda CR-V $21-28,000, Suzuki Grand Vitara $19-25,000, Kia
Sportage $16-23,000.

Good News:

Nice styling, easy fold flat rear seats, visors extend for good side
coverage and comfy ride with good seats.

Bad News:

Jerky throttle and only fair fuel economy numbers.

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 4-cylinder 172 horsepower engine, 5-speed manual transmission,
advanced front air bags, side curtain bags, electronic stability program,
traction control, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes, roll protection, rear
stabilizer bar, theft deterrent system, power windows and locks that are
speed sensitive, power fold away mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless
entry and illumination, rear window wiper/ washer and defroster, sliding sun
visors with mirrors, 12 V outlet and 115 V outlet, air conditioning, heated
front seats, heights adjustable driver seat, leather wrapped tilt steering
wheel with audio controls, outside temp display, stereo with CD player,
passenger fold flat seatback, rear 60/40 reclining and folding seat backs,
removable interior rechargeable light, 18″ aluminum alloy wheels, halogen
headlights, fog lights and deep tint sunscreen glass.

Options: continuously variable transaxle with autostick, auto dim rearview
mirror, outside temp and compass, universal garage door opener, information
center, tire pressure monitor and 18″ aluminum wheels.

Gas Stats:

$2.63/ Gal avg. August 24, ’07
www.fueleconomy.gov <http://www.fueleconomy.gov>
for more information.

23 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $21,925.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
<mailto:joe@atthewheel.com>
Copyright (c) 2007 – An Automotive Love Affair

2007 Jeep Patriot 4X2 Sport (655)

General Info:Parts – U.S/ Canadian 70%

Assembly – Belvidere, Illinois, USA

Class:  -Special Purpose

Cars: – Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Patriot and Wrangler.

“An Automotive Love Affair”
By Joseph Mavilia
2007 Jeep Patriot 4X2 Sport

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2007 Jeep Patriot sport utility and I’m sorry but with well priced and decent fuel economy cars like this there is little reason folks can’t have good practical transportation.  And it is a Jeep and although it is a 4X2 you won’t do a lot of off roading which is about how much 4X4 vehicles do anyway (remember the stats – 5% ever do any off road driving).

But if you are into off road adventures you need to check into Jeep’s Jamboree’s. Go towww.jeepjamboreeusa.com if interested. And if you do own or purchase a Jeep this is one of the most fun adventures you’ll experience. My adventure was at the Mohawk Trail in Northwest Massachusetts. Fun Fun Fun.

Handling & Performance:

The real importance of this SUV is that it is fuel responsible. Yes it is an inline 4 cylinder engine but at 172 horsepower it is no slouch. This model is equipped with a nice shifting manual transmission and I didn’t find a time when I wanted more out of the engine and transmission. In Los Angeles traffic you seldom get over 40 mph anyway and that is particularly true on the “FREEWAY”. . . just kidding but when stuck in traffic I reflect on the pacific northwest (Oregon & Washington) where the worst traffic jam for them is simply everyday driving 27/7 in Southern California. And if I were up there I suspect I would invest the $1,750 cost difference to have the 4-wheel drive option.

Styling:

Jeep.

Fit and Finish:

Plastic comes to mind. But today that isn’t uncommon and quite frankly it is light years ahead of the squeaky, rattle bucket of ‘metal’ bolts we all had to drive before the 1990s. 

Cost:

Outstanding – and I believe people will begin to demand more practically priced transportation and if we ever rid ourselves of dependence on foreign oil the price of fuel will rise closer to world market prices and cars will get more fuel efficient like they are in Europe, for example. There the cost of fuel is higher but you get twice the mileage per gallon. They burn clean diesel in 50% of their cars. So you do the math and you’ll demand less war, higher fuel cost and better performing cars. Dah… sounds like a blonde joke.

If we saved the money it costs to wage war to control oil rich nations we’d pay more at the pumps and less in lives lost in those countries.

Conveniences and comfort:

Just fine. But I did miss not having cruise control. Nav I can live without and few if any other options should be necessary for the cost. I would therefore save on the purchase price as well as operating costs. That goes a long way to satisfying my transportation needs. Think about that when you’re pressured to keep up with the Jones’s.

Consumer Recommendation:

There isn’t all that much to test drive in this class that you would be wise to drive them all.

Recognized Competition:

Jeep Patriot $14-21,000, Dodge Caliber $17-20,000, Honda Element $19-23,000, Mazda 5 $18-22,000, Chevrolet HHR $16-19,000, Pontiac Vibe $16,760, Suzuki SX4 $15-16,000, Toyota Matrix $15-17,000, Kia Spectra $15,995, Scion xB $15,650.

Good News:

Outstanding fuel economy for an SUV, roomy, Jeep styling, economical to buy and drive.

Bad News:

Light on power and torque if you intend to haul a trailer or boat.

Standard Equipment: 

2.4 liter 172 hp inline 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, front air bags with side curtain front and rear bags, electronic stability and traction controls, 4-wheel brake assist ABS disc brakes, electronic roll limitation, rear window washer/wiper and defroster, sliding sun visors with mirrors, rear 60/40 split folding rear seat, stereo with CD player, floor console with sliding armrest, tilt steering column, temp display, side roof rails, halogen headlights.

Options: air conditioning, power fold away mirrors, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry and illuminated entry, add reclining rear seats, height adjustable drivers seat, front passenger fold flat seat back, 115 v power outlet, interior removable and rechargeable light, 17” wheels, compass display, info center, tire pressure monitoring display, security alarm, daytime running lights, soft rear tonneau cover. ($3,800)

Gas Stats:

$3.15/ Gal avg. June 16 ‘07

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.


26 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $14,425 / $18,225 with options.


Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2007 – An Automotive Love Affair

2007 Jeep Patriot Sport 4X2 (642)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2007 Jeep Patriot Sport 4X2 SUV with genes from the very beginning of “auto time” for one of a handful of the most recognizable of car products on the market.

Yes it is basic and yes it gets great fuel economy and no it doesn’t cost a lot of money to own it. Come on – we all know there is no free lunch. Someone has to pay for the goodies and gadgets. In this case you will have to push them to take your money for options like power windows and door locks. Basic is not a bad thing in transportation.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – USA

Class: – Special Purpose

Cars: – Commander, Compass, Grand Cherokee, Liberty , Patriot and Wrangler.

Rumor has it:

Daimler-Chrysler may be selling the Chrysler division and the word is that Toyota may be the buyer. Good news for consumers and Toyota would be smart to do just that. I would hope, however, that Toyota would bring as much to Chrysler as Mercedes Benz has. But whoever is responsible Chrysler has done some pretty great things over the past several years. Bold design in their products such as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger and the warmly embraced PT Cruiser are examples of a great car company. The Plymouth prowler is classic and I wish it would be resurrected.

Handling & Performance:

Very adequate because I didn’t miss those jack rabbit starts and I surely didn’t miss frequent stops at the gas pump, but I did miss not having cruise control since I do a lot of highway driving. Basic cars however do NOT need to give up good steering or responsive well performing engines and transmissions. Having traction and stability controls is a great inclusion in the standard equipped base model of this Patriot.

Styling:

Basic Jeep. You’ll see the unrefined look as you do in the Wrangler and styles of early day Jeeps. That’s not a bad thing and in a sense this Patriot is just a larger Wrangler and roomier and more basic than the Liberty which is smaller but gussied up a little more than this Patriot.

Fit and Finish:

Good in class.

Cost:

The equipment list is short and sweet and to the point so if you don’t need it you don’t get it. But you don’t pay for it either.

Conveniences and comfort:

You will have to be willing to drive a car with hand crank roll up windows, manual seat adjustment, no navigation system, no leather seating and no power seat adjustment. Sun roofs are unavailable as well.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you’re not turned off by now you, like me, are a Jeep devotee. The Patriot may not have all the bells and whistles of many up-scaled SUVs but it does have some very important things like controls for traction and stability (roll over protection) that come standard.

Sometimes owning a car is more than simply the name or even a perception of quality. Often it is a tradition or historical strength that evolves over a long time that draws people to own a car, truck or any other motorized vehicle. Many years ago I attended a Jeep Jamboree outing that converted me to Jeep. I met devoted Jeep owners who were rugged individualists certain about the image of Jeep and the tradition and track record of a true off road vehicle. I drove every Jeep they made at the time over terrain I would have never imagined a car could negotiate. I gained confidence in the product. And after the mud, boulders and other obstacles we battled for several days as a group of 120 owners and journalists I took to the highways of New England for a week of other historic sites. And then there were the flashbacks of my Navy days and the Jeeps we drove.

Recognized Competition:

Jeep Patriot $14-21,000, Dodge Caliber $14-20,000, Chevrolet HHR $16-19,000, Pontiac Vibe $16,710, Toyota Matrix $15-17,000, Honda Element $19-23,000, Mazda 5 $18-21,000, Suzuki SX4 $18-16,000, Kia Spectra 5 $15,995.

Good News:

Bare bones basic equipment without the high cost of having it all, very good fuel economy and a consistent image.

Bad News:

Bare bones basic equipment so you’ll give up several creature comforts (but eating is still allowed).

Standard Equipment:

2.4 liter 172 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, traction control, stability control, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, Second row folding seat, and radio with CD player.

Gas Stats:

$2.69/ Gal avg. Mar. 15, ‘07

 www.fueleconomy.gov 

for more information.

26 City and 30 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $14,425.