1993 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

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chicagotribune.com
1993 JEEP GRAND WAGONEER (11/02/92) Living up to advance billing can be difficult, especially when your first name is ``Grand`` and you aren`t a canyon.

For the 1993 model year, Chrysler Corp. has expanded its popular Jeep lineup with the addition of the Grand Wagoneer, the new, super luxury version of the Grand Cherokee, which was Chrysler`s initial attempt at moniker braggadocio.

Chrysler now has a trio of utility vehicles-the Cherokee, the larger, upgraded Grand Cherokee and the top-of-the-line Grand Wagoneer version of the Grand Cherokee.

After we test-drove the Grand Wagoneer at a preview of the vehicle here last week for the Midwest Automotive Media Association, our immediate reaction was that all those folks who rushed to get a Grand Cherokee may be a wee bit disappointed they didn`t wait for the Grand Wagoneer.

The saying goes, ``He who hesitates is lost.`` But those who hesitated when the Grand Cherokee bowed last year are in for a treat.

The Grand Wagoneer features as standard every automotive system and component that starts with the word ``power.`` Five minutes in the soft, wide, supportive, tufted, leather-covered seats will put you more at ease than five days of repeating your mantra. You can hold five adults in the cabin and a week`s worth of luggage or groceries in the rear compartment. But what makes the Grand Wagoneer special is the standard 5.2-liter, 220-horsepower V-8 engine.

Youcan load the Wagoneer with people and their possessions and the engine still has the hauling and towing power to take along a boat or camper. And when the road suddenly rises to the horizon so it looks like the first incline on the Eagle at Six Flags, you need only tap the accelerator and the 5.2 acts as if it got a shot of adrenalin.

Running down the merger ramp coming out of a tollway oasis, slipping into the passing lane once on the pay-for-your-pavement roadway or making a quick exit from the toll booth once the tithe is deposited are all done quickly and quietly.

The5.2 has some kick, provided you push the button on the dash labeled ``OD,`` for overdrive. You press the button because you want to get out of low-r.p.m. overdrive, which extends mileage but crimps performance. When you leave the light in overdrive, the 5.2 plods somewhat like a 2.5. An exaggeration, but the engine feels that way after you play around with overdrive turned off.

Of course, there`s no free lunch, and there is another reason you`ll experience the joys of running along that oasis merger ramp and into the passing lane often-the oasis houses fuel pumps, and the 5.2 with the standard four-speed automatic transmission is rated at 14 m.p.g. city/18 highway. That compares with 15/20 for the 4-liter, six-cylinder engine and automatic transmission in the Grand Cherokee.

The 5.2 is available as a $750 option in the Limited and Laredo ver sions of the Grand Cherokee.

Jeep in January will offer a five-speed manual transmission in the Grand Cherokee that will boost the 5.2`s mileage rating to 16/21. But the five-speed won`t be offered in the Grand Wagoneer.

The Grand Wagoneer features a driver-side air bag-sorry, passengers are on their own-four-wheel anti-lock brakes and four-wheel drive. The four-wheel- drive shift lever is on the floor-mounted transfer case.

With the power of the V-8, the safety of the air bag and anti-lock brakes and the traction of four-wheel drive, the Grand Wagoneer is a go-anywhere-at- any-time-with-anybody-type vehicle.

There are a few annoyances, however. One needs serious attention and immediate change. The gas pedal is small and narrow and bumps up against the drivetrain tunnel. That means you can stretch your foot to strike the pedal and instead get a foot full of thick carpeting. That happened to us twice in one morning.

The other gripe wa that the test vehicle came with oversized all-terrain tires. They had a tendency to squirm a bit in quick lane changes. All-season, but not all-terrain, tires are available, minus the squirm.

Other than that, ride and handling were above average. For its size, the Grand Wagoneer is rather nimble, thanks to the light-effort power steering. A tip of the hat goes to the engineer who opted to use a thick steering wheel. Mercedes-Benz favors a thick wheel to provide the driver with the feeling he or she is in control. The gimmick works.

Most drivers also will be glad that the vehicle sits high off the road and has panoramic glass for good visibility. You don`t sit so high, however, that you feel top-heavy and wobble in corners and turns from the raised center of gravity.

Other nice touches include dual cupholders-you didn`t think we`d forget those-in the console; a large storage bin under the center armrest; dual, rectangular juice-box holders in the glove-box lid; a lightweight and easy-to- open hatchback lid; and great instrumentation and placement of controls, which keeps hand-and-eye movement to a minimum so you keep your focus on driving.

Trevor Creed, Chrysler designer and unofficial vice president in charge of making sure cupholders and coat hangers abound in any vehicle, gets five stars for cabin convenience and comfort in the Grand Wagoneer.

The base price is $29,341. We saved that for last so you wouldn`t fall out of your chair after reading it in the first paragraph and fail to finish the column. After tax, title and freight are added, Chrysler could call the vehicle the Thirty Grand Wagoneer. A lot of money, but a lot of fun and function. Shoppers of the Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer owe it to themselves to check out the Jeep competition.




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