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bpmcgee 12-21-2010 08:20 AM

800 Mile Test Drive
I picked up my Jeep yesterday morning in New Jersey, and drove 14 hours to bring it back to Chicago. The last 100 miles were through a HEAVY snow storm. I made it back safe and sound, so I thought I'd share my impressions. For the record, I bought:

Natural Green Overland
5.7 V8
Saddle/Black leather
Tech Package (Acc/BSM, etc)

In October I placed orders for two Jeeps. This one and another one very similar to it. I was replacing my 2003 Silvarado 2500 HD. I LOVE that truck, but my life has changed since I bought it. I'm doing less drywall hauling and more driving around the City of Chicago. And you don't know the meaning of "tight squeeze" until you try parking a 23 foot long pickup in a parking structure. My sister really wanted the Silverado, though, so she mailed me a check and we made plans for her to come pick it up 8 weeks later. LOL. You all know the routine there. Bottom line -- although she is really very polite and sweet about it, I knew I couldn't wait indefinitely, and with a 2000 mile trip coming up at Christmas (to visit parents in MO and PA) I didn't want to put those miles on what's now HER truck.

I started looking on the Jeep inventory website and ended up finding my exact specs at Team Welsh Jeep in Far Hills, NJ. Only problem was I hadn't ordered the tech package, and this Jeep had it. Oh well -- I'd been reading the early reviews of it here and sort of wished I'd ordered it anyway. Brian Welsh was really fantastic to work with. He gave me a great deal, and was really awesome about doing everything over the phone or by email. He even offered to pick me up at the hotel in the morning! So I flew into NY Sunday night took the train into NJ, and got up bright and early to be in the dealership right when they opened.

I was there at 9:15, and he had the Jeep out and parked by the door. Wow, it really blew me away! I LOVE the Natural Green. Brian had all the paperwork completed, and had even mounted my tollway pass for me :) He gave me a quick tour of the Jeep and I was on my way!

I stuck to the surface streets for the first 30 miles -- hitting the gas hard when the lights turned green, keeping it hard down up to the 50 mph speed limit. Holy cow, this thing is fast! Soon enough I got to I-80, my constant companion for the next 750 miles! At least the drive up through the Poconos and across Pennsylvania wasn't flat, straight, and boring like Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

The first time the Adaptive Cruise Control kicked in I was really surprised by it. It can slow you down FAST. I was cruising in the right hand lane and someone pulled in too close in front of me -- immediately the ACC slowed down. I don't know if it downshifts or uses the brakes, but it was sharp! Also pulling out into a stream of traffic to pass requires a bit of adjustment. If you pull out while the faster vehicle is not yet parallel with the vehicle you want to pass, the ACC will slow you down to get the gap it wants, and then immediately hit the gas again to resume speed. I found it best to time it so that the faster vehicle was parallel or beyond the vehicle to be passed to eliminate that first braking. Also, it's easy to see that the ACC has a seductive lure to reduce driving awareness. At least twice I found myself following someone (at a safe distance of course) who was going way below my set speed. The ACC is so nice about maintaining speed and distance that it's easy to get lulled and not realize you're going slower than you wanted.

About 100 miles out from home I ran into a big snow storm. Within minutes the roads were covered enough to hide lane markings and everything slowed WAY down. I disengaged the cruise control and put the jeep in "snow" mode because I wanted it to dampen the throttle response a bit and there were piles of snow forming between the lanes. Except for the normal resistance you feel trying to push through those piles, the Jeep was great! Not once did I feel either end getting sassy on me. And I discovered that mileage is MUCH better at 45 MPH than 75. I'm still not going that slow unless I have to, though!

Quick thoughts

+I LOVE both the natural green AND the saddle. It takes my breath away, it's THAT good.
+ 5.7. Wow. Very quick, very smooth. Not quite as smooth in MDS mode, but I've never driven a 360 HP V8 that could also return 19 MPG, so a little is okay.
+ Very smooth and competent suspension. Takes potholes with aplomb, and still carved exit ramps WAY faster than I imagined.
+ Automatic Wipers, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Blind Spot Monitoring are a new must-have feature. They immediately made me think "how did I get along without these before?"

+The position of the forward radar leaves it very susceptible to covering with slush. After a few minutes in the snow the "FCW Off" light came on, indicating that the Forward Collision Warning (and ACC) had been disabled because the sensor was too obscured. I know people will say "you shouldn't be using CC in the snow" but I still don't want to have to get out and clear the sensor when it's again safe to use it.

+The ACC might be too nice. Reducing the demands placed on us can make it easier to concentrate on the important parts of driving and reduce fatigue, but it can also let us become distracted more easily. For the people who fill the middle lane, zoned out and just following the person in front of them, this could make that even easier.

Non-Jeep thoughts:

+ Wow. Flying first class makes it almost fun again! I never knew what I'd been missing!

+ We Chicagoans like to think -- imagine -- that we live in the big city. Being dropped off at Penn Station at 6:30 on a cold sunday night and having THOUSANDS of people walking around will quickly disabuse any Chicagoan of that notion.

+ I wish Illinois had the population density to support an urban transit system like the east coast.

yukon 12-21-2010 08:35 AM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
Great write up....I would do the same if there was one but we searched and could not find one in the mid-west, 500mile search. Enjoy the new ride.....Merry Christmas.:thumbsup:

Overland 4X4
5.7 L
Blackberry Pearl
ACC Pkg.
L/D Frost Beige
Ordered 9/17/2010

budwhite 12-21-2010 08:47 AM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
Great report ! Thanks :)

EV1L 12-21-2010 08:59 AM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
Nice review. Enjoy the Grand in good health.

Cperez 12-21-2010 09:16 AM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
Great trip report! Thanks for letting us ride shotgun with you.

Mashie 12-21-2010 09:55 AM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
Thats awesome! Congratz on the new rig! Post some pics when you get a chance.

vnbWK2 12-21-2010 10:22 AM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
Nice write up and thanks for sharing your story....I enjoyed reading it. Congrats and enjoy your new Overland.

tkln 12-21-2010 10:28 AM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
Congrats and great writeup..enjoy it!

moosehead 12-21-2010 11:31 AM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
+rep, thanks and enjoy

JoeSchmoe007 12-21-2010 12:41 PM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive

Originally Posted by bpmcgee (Post 321174)
+ We Chicagoans like to think -- imagine -- that we live in the big city. Being dropped off at Penn Station at 6:30 on a cold sunday night and having THOUSANDS of people walking around will quickly disabuse any Chicagoan of that notion.


Lingohocken 12-21-2010 02:09 PM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
Early next year during a vigorous snowstorm, you should to find an excuse to get to the other side of the lake, like Benton Harbor, to see how it fares in real snow!

Bmwister 12-21-2010 03:06 PM

Re: 800 Mile Test Drive
Nice write up (ditto what everyone else said). Glad you got what you wanted and had an uneventful trip home, especially that "wonderful" Indiana corridor during a snowstorm.:thumbsup:

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