I'M SITTING here in the aftermath of the Blizzard of '96,believing in the supremacy of road travel.

The empirical evidence is overwhelming. It is 6 a.m., Jan. 9, theday after the blizzard ended. Highway traffic is moving cautiouslyoutside the airport, despite mounds of snow and slippery roads. Airporttraffic isn't moving at all.

Even the USAir Shuttle has turned shuttleless. There is a nicefellow behind the counter who is doing his best to placate increasinglyrestive customers. But facts are facts: The first shuttle to Washingtonwon't leave until noon. Then, again, maybe not until 1 p.m., or 2 p.m.,or, "You might have to wait until 3 p.m.," he says. That sounds betterthan no shuttle at all, which is what one USAir person told me earlier.

I am wondering what would've happened had I accepted FredMackerodt's offer to pick up a 1996 GMC Jimmy in New York and drive itto Washington; or if I had tried to drive the 1996 Plymouth Breeze fromDetroit to D.C.

"Snow? Shush! You ought'a take the Jimmy," said Mackerodt, a publicrelations agent for General Motors Corp. But I chose to take neither theJimmy nor the Breeze, because I had a humongous, dual rear-wheel,four-wheel-drive, five-speed manual, V-10 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup parkedin the garage at Washington National Airport.

I've yet to figure out how to drive more than one vehicle at atime.

So here I sit midst the disappointments of unnamed hundreds whocame here looking for a miracle in the snow, hoping that jets would getthem to where they were going faster and more safely than travel byroad.

Hmph, I've never had such faith. I trust the road, be it coveredwith ice, snow, rain, rocks or mud.

If you deal with the road on its own terms, if you give it respect,it'll get you to where you're going, eventually. Its hardships arenothing compared with doing time in an airport terminal.

Some thoughts on cars:

That Plymouth Breeze I drove in Detroit was a pretty neat piece ofwork: a front-wheel-drive, four-door, four-passenger compact passengercar. Chrysler Corp., its maker, says you can get five people in there.But take my word for it, it only serves four comfortably.

The Breeze is Plymouth's version of the Dodge Stratus and theChrysler Cirrus, which means that it shares many of the same mechanicalsas those cars. The Breeze comes in the middle of that lineup, with theStratus serving as the base model at a price of $14,995 and the upscaleCirrus coming in at a puffy $18,095.

The Breeze's price isn't firm at this writing. Figure about $15,000with an estimated dealer invoice of $13,839 on the tested base Breeze.Breeze standard equipment includes a 2-liter, 132-horsepower,four-cylinder engine; air conditioning; dual-front air bags; five-speedmanual transmission; and a trunk capable of carrying 16 cubic feet ofcargo.

Complaints: Very light steering feel. Takes a while to get used toit. Road noise is there in high volume.

Praise: Darn ed good commuter. Handled Detroit's speedways andsnow-covered neighborhood streets with aplomb. Smooth, easy manualshifting. Seems like an overall well-balanced car.

Head-turning quotient: Well, it's, ahm, well . . . hmmm . . .people called it cute, sporty. I'd go along with that.

Acceleration and handling: Very decent lane-change acceleration.Handling feels compromised by light steering, though not dangerously.Braking was good. The base car was not equipped with the anti-lockoption.

Mileage: About 28 to the gallon (16-gallon fuel tank, estimated435-mile range on usable volume of regular unleaded gasoline), runningmostly highway and driver only with 60 pounds of cargo.

Sound system: Chrysler Infinity AM/FM stereo radio and cassette.Okay. No big whoop.

Purse strings note: Would certainly compare with Cirrus andStratus.

Also look at Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique, Chevrolet Cavalier/Pontiac Sunfire, Toyota Corolla/ Geo Prizm, Honda Civic, Mazda 626,Mi tsubishi Galant, Saturn SL1 sedan, Subaru Legacy sedan, Nissan Sentraand Nissan Altima, Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen Jetta.