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By Jim Mateja
November 10, 1991
Rocky. The younger ones think of Balboa. To the older ones, it`s Bullwinkle`s partner. A less notable Rocky is the mini utility vehicle by Daihatsu of Japan, afour-wheel-drive machine in the same mold as the Chevrolet Geo Tracker
orSuzuki Sidekick. This Rocky is a relative unknown here because import quotas have limitedsales of subcompact Daihatsu Charade cars to 17,000 units annually. There`s noquota on Rocky utility vehicles, but without cars to sell alongside the four-
wheeler, dealers aren`t going to invest in a full-service facility. Daihatsu spokesman Rick Christopher said that for now Charade and Rockybasically are limited to the East and West coasts and southern states. He saidplans are being made to
establish dealers in the Midwest in 1993. Until then, and because a Rocky was passing through and available to test drive, we gave it a ride to better understand what the vehicle is about whenand if it ever gets here. Other than the fact
this unit was a two-tone green and silver, whichstood out in a crowd while attracting a crowd, it looks very much like aTracker or Sidekick. A big styling plus are the side rear windows that curveup into the roof line like those on the old Bronco II. On
Tracker andSidekick, those windows are big square slabs. Rocky is powered by a 1.6-liter, fuel-injected, 16-valve, 4-cylinderengine. It`s much more responsive than a Tracker or Sidekick, but disregardthe 115-mile-per-hour speedometer. You don`t
risk burying the needle in afour-wheeler that`s built on an 85.6-inch wheelbase and is 148.2 inches long. The 1.6-liter 4 is teamed with a smooth-shifting 5-speed manual and israted at 23-m.p.g. city and 23 m.p.g. highway. Yep, that`s 23/23 in this
four-wheel-drive machine. Rocky features a double wishbone fully independent suspension, frontstabilizer bars and 15-inch radials, but the ride at times is rocky. This four-wheel-drive machine uses a transfer case for engaging all thewheels,
but you still must get out and lock the hubs. Standard features include power brakes, galvanized steel body panels,tilt up/lift out sunroof, intermittent wipers, flip-out quarter windows,reclining bucket seats up front, a roomy lift up/fold forward
rear seat,tinted windshield and dual outside mirrors. Rocky is offered in SE softtop and hardtop versions and the top-of-the-line SX hardtop. The Rocky we drove was a 1991 SE hardtop starting at$12,097. For 1992, the price has gone up to
$12,497. Rocky is a viable alternative to Tracker or Sidekick, if you don`t mindtraveling to either coast to buy one-and have it serviced.