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My question concerns buying a sport utility vehicle I am...

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Dear Tom and Ray:


My question concerns buying a sport utility vehicle. I am enamored with the way the Jeep Grand Cherokee looks, but I've heard some disaster stories about its performance. Consumer Reports does not recommend it. My next choices are the Isuzu Trooper and the Nissan Pathfinder. CR does recommend the Isuzu, but some of their comments make it sound less than desirable. The Nissan is not recommended. What is your recommendation of a vehicle in this category? We would not be using it for off highway driving; we're golfers and need space for clubs. We keep our cars for six or seven years.
Jeanne

TOM: Our recommendation is the Ford Explorer. That's probably the best all around sport utility vehicle on the market these days.

RAY: We like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, too. But Consumer Reports is probably right that it has more mechanical problems than others in its class, and that's why they don't recommend it. While the body style was all new a couple of years ago, that's the same basic engine that George Romney ordered too many of for his Ramblers in 1966.

TOM: But I agree with you that the Grand Cherokee probably the best looking of the bunch, and it is very nice to drive. It has a driver's air bag and a state of the art all-wheel-drive system. And I certainly wouldn't describe its performance as a disaster.

RAY: We find the Isuzu Trooper too expensive for what it is, and the Pathfinder, while mechanically reliable, is getting a little "long in the tooth" compared to the other stuff on the market. It's small, and hard to get in and out of (in fact, a new Pathfinder is due this fall). So I'd look at the Ford Explorer and see if it appeals to you. That would be our first choice.

TOM: But if the Grand Cherokee is still your favorite, and you're going to drive it gently, I wouldn't be scared away by CR's lack of recommendation. I'd just go into the deal prepared. I'd get the seven year extended warranty... then live it up, Jeanne.

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