Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our New Ride

Yes, today my wife and I were out pounding the pavement - we were looking for the vehicle that will take our outdoor adventures into the next phase.  My old Dodge Ramcharger has been a good work horse and a solid performer, but it just doesn't fit into our lifestyle anymore.  My wife flat refuses to drive it, and having two doors makes it difficult with kids, who are sure to be in car seats for as long as they can fit into them.  Back in late 2004, when we bought the Ramcharger, it fit our lives perfectly.  Then again, we were newlyweds and had no children.  2 doors were cool.  Nowadays, functionality determines value, especially for something like this.  Hauling kids and pets is so much easier when you don't have to climb in and out of the rig every time you buckle them in or take them out, or climb up onto a tire to reach the contents in the roof rack.  And as an after thought, there's that danged fuel economy thing.

Enter the JEEP Cherokee XJ.  This Limited is a 2001, and it's fully loaded.  It comes to us with a 4.0L 6 cylinder engine, automatic, four wheel drive, power windows, door locks, mirrors, cruise control, tilt steering, am/fm CD, ice cold air conditioning, rear wiper, rear defrost, OEM fog lamps, 16" alloy wheels, and the latest body style that Jeep made before dropping the XJ line.

This rig is straight.  For the most part, the body is clean.  It has a couple of minor dings as well as a little war wound on the passenger side, but that's alright.  This Jeep is slated to be our work vehicle, camping rig, expeditionary explorer, bug out vehicle, as well as many daily driving functions that our Saturn Ion can't do, and what the Ramcharger is too bulky to accomplish effectively.  We are downsizing our lives considerably, and a large vehicle just doesn't play into the next chapter of it.  This Jeep is ideal for the role that we are going to set it to.

I've driven it around town a bit today, and got it out on the freeway for a few minutes.  For an eleven year old vehicle, this thing drives rather nicely.  It has decent road manners.  It definitely drives like a Jeep, but I don't find myself herding it down the road like my lumbering Dodge Ramcharger.  The Jeep is nimble.  and can do maneuvers my Ramcharger only dreamed about.

This Jeep has some nut too.  I don't know how much acceleration other Cherokee's have, but this one definitely has a lot of power.  It came with a K&N cold air intake, so it's possible the engine has been chipped or simply tuned.  Either way, it sounds great, and accelerates with authority.  The belt did squeak on me once, but that's no problem.  I usually do a battery of preventive maintenance work on used vehicles right after I get them.  This will be no different.  I already replaced the headlights because one was a little on the dim side.  It worked, but it wasn't as bright as the other.  I replaced them both because headlights get dim as you use them.  Now, they both burn bright.  It's been so long since I purchased sealed beam headlights.  Back in the day, about 6 years ago, you could pick up a set for $6.99 each.  Now they are more like $10 a pop.  Everything's getting expensive anymore.

The tires on this vehicle are sufficient for now.  The tread is still good and they aren't beat up.  They are all season road tires though.  My plan is to change them out to all terrain tires before the next snowfall.  I'm not looking to get oversized tires just yet because I like how this rig looks as it sits right now.  That opinion is always subject to change, but for now I just want to drive an OEM vehicle for awhile.  Besides, we don't really go "wheeling" anymore; mostly trail riding and camping.  I can't justify lifting a vehicle that is plenty capable of it's intended role as it sits.  We will see how my opinion changes later down the road.

Anyway, that's it for this.  I've had a Jeep on my radar for years, and with my wife telling me she wants one, I couldn't pass up an excuse to finally get one.  I'm a happy man right now.

-James


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