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By Jim Mateja
November 20, 1989
Even Mother Teresa would find fault with a Jeep Wrangler. Wrangler is the utility vehicle sled that Chrysler Corp. inherited fromAmerican Motors Corp.`s Jeep division. Wrangler is a box on wheels. It requires an optional step to climb justto
get inside. Once behind the wheel, you find the clutch and brake pedals toofar to the left of their traditional dead ahead location. Get going and you shake, rattle and roll when not bumping and bouncing.Of course, you get frequent respites from
all the commotion when you stop for fuel-and you will stop often. With its 4.2-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine and5-speed manual transmission the Jeep Wrangler is EPA rated a 16 miles pergallon city, 20 m.p.g. highway. When it rains, the
miniaturized wipers labor to sweep the glass. Whenit`s dry the wipers rest at about 2 o`clock on the windshield, just the right spot to obstruct vision. The tinted side windows that provide privacy during the day at you tolook two or three times to
see if anything is on the other side of the glassat night. Want to take more than one passenger aboard? You need to push a floorlever and swing the front seat all the way forward so that the rider canstumble onto an abbreviated rear seat.
Smoke? The ashtray is under the steering wheel. The speedometer reads 100 miles an hour for Evel Knievel, perhaps, butfor the average citizen in a lightweight utility vehicle with a high center ofgravity, you`ll probably want to hold it to 60 tops
on the straightaways andput it into slow motion on the curves and turns. A slow to warm heater and tilting dual cupholders in the center consolewere other annoyances. The warning labels on the visor and roof didn`t help,either. One label
informed the driver that a utility vehicle ``handlesdifferently than cars`` and that by making a ``sharp turn or abrupt maneuveryou may cause this vehicle to go out of control and roll over or crash.`` The other label warned that the plastic roof
top and metal doors ``aredesigned only for protection against the elements: Do not rely on the top and doors to contain occupants within the vehicle or to protect against injuryduring an accident.`` Technologically speaking, Wrangler is crude.
After a brief test, drive we returned the Wrangler to the parking lot and then walked a few blocks over to Holy Name Cathedral to offer thanks. If there were 6 inches of snow on the pavement and the absolute need totravel the highways, the
four-wheel-drive Wrangler would be appealing. Whenthe streets are dry, it`s appalling. Wrangler starts at $11,599. The Laredo package on the test unit ran$4,144 and included power brakes and steering, AM-FM stereo, tintedwindshield, metal doors
with locks, rear window wiper and washer, gas shocksand leather wrapped wheel. Popular options included rear window defroster at$166, air conditioning at $887, AM-FM stereo with cassette $2
67, and tiltsteering at $131. The sticker read $17,330 loaded with options, to which youadd $450 freight.