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Ive always liked off road vehicles, and I've always liked American cars, or Yank Tanks as we used to call them in our youth. I've had a couple of Vauxhall Frontera's, which actually were great, but the one I always wanted was a Jeep Cherokee. The one which we bought eventually is a 1995 4 litre Ltd in Green. My wife went to work one day in her little Corsa 1.2 litre, and came home with the Cherokee as a friendly local motor dealer had offered her a weekend test drive....the standard puppy dog sale...once driven you never want to give it back. Whats it like to live with? Looks - It doesnt get better than this. Big and square this off roader looks like its got a job to do, and looks like it can do it. Build quality - Excellent. The doors shut with a real clunk and the car feels capable of taking anything on. Grunt - 4 Litres of straight six muscle mean that this baby (even with over 100,000 miles on it) goes like an express train. Petrol economy - Its a ton of car and a 4 litre engine....you dont have to be Sherlock Holmes to guess that its not going to contribute to saving the planet.If you want fuel economy buy something pathetic, small and Japanese. Interior - Great hard wearing grey leather and a retro feel walnut effect dash trim give an air of timelessness, whilst the small sports steering wheel compliments the power. Not much headroom or luggage space though for a big off roader. On the Road - Powerfull, responsive, and positive. The lower than most 4x4 centre of gravity means that within reason you can chuck it around traffic islands and windy roads. Off the road - Fine, it works well up to the limits of the standard tyres, which in fairness are designed more for making it nice to drive on motorways than up mountains. Put the right tyres on it and its unstoppable. Again the low centre of gravity and high ground clearance make it a real off roader and not just a Kings Road fashion statement. Would we have another....you bet we would but not the new shape piece of foolishness which has replaced it. Incidently we did have one of the off road Mercs, a ML270 I think, on test for a couple of days and although it was built by DaimlerChrysler in the same factory as the Cherokee it didnt come close in our opinion in terms of build quality, ride and power.
The classic shape Jeep Cherokee is due to be phased out in the next two years, to be replaced by the all new Jeep Liberty (though it's hard to imagine Jeep letting the Cherokee name go). Take the chance and go for one of the classic shape Cherokees which are now incredibly good value. For about 20K you get a capable off roader that looks like a big Tonka toy, fits in a normal height garage (unlike some 4 w d cars)and is great fun to drive. Never mind the cost of petrol, go for the 4 litre straight six if possible with leather and the electric and lighting packs. This will give you auto box, air con, heated electrically operated seats, sentinel headlamps (show you the way to your door) and various other thoughtful pieces of equipment. It's as quick off the mark as many GTI's and doesn't roll as much as other 4x4's, and although the live axle suspension is primitive, rides extremely well on and off road. It runs in 2 wd most of the time and a quick pull on the transfer case selector gives 4 wd options including diff lock and low ratio. Great for towing, not too intimidating for other drivers (everybody seems to love the shape) and very easy to live with. Check out how many appear in films just now. Buffy drives one and Tom Hanks in Castaway drives a nice black 4.0 classic. Drive a piece of Americana designed by a man not a computer.
At 17 I was able to drive one of these babys all summer. Might seems strange but it was being used on a farm. At first the seating position seems a bit strange as the windscreen and roof seem very close but you soon get used to it. The leather seats, leather steering wheel, air conditioning and walnut finishes all add to the luxury of this beast. The immobiliser can sometimes be a bit annoying. Then you start her up and listen to the lovely 2.5 TD roar. You've got the power there and good enough acceleration especially when the turbo kicks in and you're off. This 4x4 I feel has a lot of pose factor to it as you feel like king of the road when you drive it and people get out of your way too. You also have the advantages of being able to go vertually everywhere and unlike Landrovers you can ingauge 4WD on the move which is really handy. The one thing that I didn't like about the Jeep was when you hit side winds, it felt a bit unstable and bouncy. I very much enjoyed driving a Jeep