The Jeep Grand Cherokee and I recently encountered one of the more frightening aspects of Southern California driving -- getting trapped by walls of traffic while stopped behind a disabled car. Traffic slows. You assume it's the familiar stop and start pattern we all love (hate) and before you realize it, you are stopped behind a train of cars and its too late -- the traffic is whizzing by you on both sides with no intent of stopping. This is what I get for picking a lane and sticking to it. In this situation you need acceleration, responsive steering, the ability to see what's going on behind you and some nerve. I chose the left side because I could see much better in the driver's side mirror. This would have been truly terrifying attempted in a reduced-vision vehicle.

After a minute the gap ahead of me opened up enough so I wouldn't need to make a sharp, acceleration-killing turn into traffic. Another 30 seconds or so and, finally, daylight. I'd like to write something colorful here like, "The engine roared, the chassis leapt forward, and I shot the gap to freedom on the 110 freeway!" In reality I hit the accelerator, turned slightly left, then fluidly right and began accelerating forward -- putting the stopped car and mess in my rear-view.

The drama lasted under 3 minutes, but it felt like 30. In that time you relax a little knowing you are in a large, heavy (read safe) vehicle with plenty of pickup that's easy to control. The Jeep passed a test I hope will not be repeated.

Along with stunt driving, I've been having fun getting into some new habits using the Keyless Enter-N-Go system. I've been making an effort to leave the key in my pocket and allow the automatic entry to unlock the door when I pull the handle. Still keeping the key in my pocket, I'm also able to lock all the doors with a press of the small button on the door handle when I exit. You don't realize how convenient never having to dig your keys out of your pocket can be until you don't need to. Not all is perfect however. In my pocket the key's signal needs to be a little closer to activate so I sometimes need to point my hip toward the door and tiptoe a bit to get in range. This probably looks very silly, but it's not a bad trade-off (the system touts a five-foot range, but that must be out of pocket.) Along with keyless entry there's remote start. Six years ago in the frozen tundra/humid nightmare of Ohio, I would have killed to start the car from the warmth/cool of my home. Using it here is merely a novelty, which I did a few times then felt guilty. I refuse to get that soft.

Next on the agenda will be a road trip to San Francisco, pairing my new iPhone 4S to the system, hooking up my iPod, and a scheduled service call to the dealer.


Our Car
Months/Miles in service 7/12,101
Avg econ/CO2 00.0 mpg/0.00 lb/mi
Energy cons 000 kW-hr/100 mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $72.61 (oil/filter change, tire rotation)
Normal-wear cost $6.57 (taillight bulbs)