My kids are crazy about the new generation of SUVs. I'm not as big a fan. One recent study showed that almost 8 of 10 SUV owners have never been off road -- a rational decision, given the cost of these vehicles. My first car was a 1967 Willy's Jeep, which by the time I got it, had holes in the floor and a clutch so hard my wife to be was not strong enough to engage it. Now that was one off road mama!
The Mountaineer, in contrast, has not only the power needed for snow and ice, but also the bells and whistles and creature comforts of a top of the line sedan. I never strayed off road, and there was no snow to plow through. I did do a fair amount of highway driving, however, as well as the standard suburban drill -- kids to school, and assorted errands around town. In all these tasks the Mountaineer performed well, plenty of power on the highway, easy to maneuver in parking lots -- all the while cruising to the six disc CD player.
The sense of security one feels behind the wheel of these larger than life vehicles is, more than any four wheel drive capability, the key to the popularity of the Mountaineer and similar SUVs. The feel of command of the road is instantly transmitted. The field of vision from the high perch of the driver's seat was a real comfort for me and my wife as well.
"I loved the Mountaineer. It smelled good, it made me feel bigger (which happens rarely) it was comfortable, fairly roomy, everything worked electronically, and it was pretty. It had a pretty big trunk, and I like the noise it makes when it drives. The only problem was the seat belts. Not the belt itself, but the thing you attach it to; the thing you attach it to was too much under the seat."
Mountaineer 4x4 4 door ,V-6, with auto overdrive, $32,600 MSRP as tested, including $1750 fleet marketing credit
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