Post by Ronnie Stanton
As a brand are Jeep's any good? I am looking at Wranglers or Cherokees. I
have heard they are 'a bucket of bolts'
I've got a '99 XJ Cherokee Sport (the last of the "square" shaped
Cherokees), and in the 2 and a half years I've owned it it's been
outstanding, and probably one of the most hassle free vehicles I've ever
On the plus side it's far and away the *best* tow vehicle I've ever owed
without a doubt (and I've owned some pretty good ones), outstanding fuel
economy for a vehicle with all the aerodynamic ability of a bus shelter (it
averages a little over 12km's per 100 litres around town), it has *real* 4wd
ability if you want it without being a tank to drive (I've only ever used
low 4wd to pull tree stumps out with, but it does that *very* well :), and
they drive quite well indeed for what essentially is an F-100 style truck
with a full length roof. In fact, to drive they are very similar to a mid
'90's Falcon, with about the same performance. That might not be saying much
for the Falcon (or lots for the Jeep, take your pick), but they certainly
don't drive very "truck like". At under 1500kg in weight, they're certainly
quite nippy and agile.
The negatives aren't many for mine, but worth mentioning just the same.
They're not a large vehicle. The square shaped Cherokee is around the same
physical size as a Rav4, and the interior space is at somewhat of a premium.
They're certainly not cramped, but they're far from Land Cruiser style
large. The rear seat folding is very "1960's station wagon" style, in that
if you want to fold it down you have to lift the lower section up against
the rear of the front seats first. This isn't particularly difficult in any
way, and the lower rear seat bench comes out in a couple of seconds with the
flick of a lever if you was maximum space, but the rear seat belts have a
nasty habit of catching in the rear seat locks, or getting stuck behind the
seat once you've put it back up which is a pain.
Indicator & wiper controls are reversed from the Australian car norm (some
people find using their left hand to indicate to be a problem but it doesn't
bother me in the slightest), It's got a typical "dumbed down for Americans"
warning beeper that goes off to remind you of just about anything (which
annoys the crap out of me), The rear window wiper/washer switch is in the
worst possible place you could put it (being very low down in the centre of
the dash near the top of the console) and the 4wd selector lever is a *long*
way from the driver.
It's certainly reachable, but it's left in it's original left hand drive
location. I guess they figured that it's not a commonly used lever, so if
you have to lean over to get it big deal :)
Mechanically they're *very* good indeed.
They run a very old school pushrod operated single valve inline 6 cylinder
of cast iron head & block construction, they're *very* solid & reliable
engines. Mine's done 180 odd thousand km's now, and doesn't use an ounce of
oil between changes (or any other fluids for that matter), although it does
have a minor weep at the oil pump and one at the back of the transfer case.
Auto's are good also (manuals are for wimps anyway :), and of the two
different types of transfer case arrangements these things come with, the
"Selec-Trac" is the better one to have as it's less "soft roader" type with
a real low range. Air conditioners work well, they have a *sensational*
heater (best I've ever come across), their electrical systems are simply
brilliant, steering is very good for an old style steering box, and the
brakes are fair.
The brakes are the only real part I'm not overly crazy about. They're not
bad, and it certainly stops well, but the vehicles need 4 wheel disc brakes
in my opinion, or better assistance on the disc/drum models. The "sport"
models only had front discs with rear drums, while the "Limited" had 4 wheel
disc brakes and the difference is noticeable.
In all I've had an excellent experience with mine, and on lpg it averages
350km's for around 30 bucks worth of gas (at today's prices. It's still as
tight as a drum without a rattle or squeak to be heard, and almost everyone
who's been in it has been pleasantly surprised at how well they ride &
sprightly they are. Almost everyone who has no experience with them seems to
assume they because they look like a truck they have to perform like one,
but I can assure you that's *far* from the case.
If you're after this particular type of vehicle then I'm sure you wouldn't
be disappointed, but then again they're not everyone's cup of tea. As with
anything, a run down pig will cost you, and it pays to look around.