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Monday, March 22, 2010

What's large, boxy, and guzzles fuel besides a Hummer?

The answer is: my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited rental "car".

So, here's the back story of this whole situation. While driving along in the right lane in Rochester, a woman in an old Ford Taurus decided she wanted to switch lanes without looking. In doing so, she hits my beloved MS3 in the driver side fender. It's not a huge amount of damage but fixing this whole situation has become a giant pain.

The MS3 went into the body shop today and should be there for the next three. The only vehicle left to rent from them was this Jeep. Now, I respect what Jeep stands for - a hardcore, off-road capable machine. What I don't understand is why it's offered as a rental car. With that being said, here's some initial impressions of my first drive with it.

Who designed this interior layout?!?! The window switches aren't on the door like most cars. They're not even on the center console like some European marques. They're on the center stacked squished between the radio and climate control. I'll elaborate more on the layout after i take some pictures.

On the road, this Wrangler feels big. I don't just mean this because it's bigger than my MS3. My first car was a Mercury Sable. The Jeep is about 7 inches longer than my MS3 but a whopping 16 inches shorter than the Sable. It just feels big and ponderous on the road. This could be attributed to the ground clearance that is nearly double that of the Mazda at 8.7" (compared to 4.6") or the extra 1000lbs over the Mazda. Surely, the land yacht Sable was heavier. Nope, it is still 800 lbs under the Jeep.

How about in the engine compartment? I was hoping that something this aerodynamically challenged would have a big, stonking, American motor in it. Once again, it was a let down. At every stop light, I would be left for dead by everything from family sedans to that elderly woman on the bicycle. The 3.8 Liter V6 puts out 202 horsepower and 237 lb-ft of torque. That doesn't sound terrible until the aforementioned heft of a 4180 lb curb weight is considered. Surely, this small(ish) motor helps with fuel economy. Wrong again! It's a paltry 16mpg combined.

Hopefully some unforeseen circumstance will change my mind about this vehicle. Maybe torrential downpour will hit the northeast and cover the roads in knee deep mud. Then I can throw the Wrangler into 4wd and save that elderly woman on the bicycle. Just sayin...

Pictures and updates to follow shortly.


  1. You can look at it this way. At least they didn't give you a Chrysler Sebring.

    Which model of the MS3 did you buy? The 1st gen or the new 2010 model? It's one of the cars that I was thinking of buying once I get that funds for it. Mostly it's a GTI vs. MS3 vs. WRX battle.

  2. Hi Oliver,

    Thanks for visiting our blog!

    I have the first gen MS3, a 2008 sport. I was in the same situation as you with those three cars and a Civic Si thrown in for good measure.

    I didn't buy the Si because I live in the city and need a decent amount of torque.

    The GTI cost too much and the long term reliability is questionable.

    The WRX had the new body style but not the new 265 hp motor.

    So I went with the MS3 as a quick, practical hatch... and the best bang for the buck in my opinion.

    Hindsight being 20/20, if I had the time to wait on the new motor and suspension tweaks, I would have gone with the WRX hatch.

    Hope this helps!