In the rough stuff, the i.f.s. really comes into its own. Traction is greatly improved, and it's almost impossible to get the vehicle in a position where one of the front wheels is off the ground. With limited-slip differentials, front and rear, the Wagoneer would be able to keep pulling even with one or more wheels off the ground -- but try as we did, we couldn't get it into this position. With a straight front axle, it's a fairly common occurrence in rough country. We maneuvered through quite a few exceptionally rough stretches that would have jarred our teeth loose, if it hadn't been for the front suspension.

To check out the pulling power, we took the Wagoneer where the soil was loose and sandy and went as far as we could in two-wheel drive. When it bogged down, we engaged the front wheels and the Wagoneer kept right on going. The only time we ever lost traction completely was on a real steep grade (no road) where the ground was covered with loose shale.

The fact that we could go just about anywhere wasn't so surprising, because this is what you sbould be able to expect with 4WD. What surprised us was that we were ab!e to do it with an automatic transmission. The transfer case is operated by shifting a single, two-position floor-mounted lever. This can be accomplished whether the car is moving or standing still. A light, mounted under the dash and right above the lever, indicates when 4WD is engaged.

A lot of quality has been built into these vehicles, and like their military forebears, they look as if they're built to last and last. The interiors are finished in tasteful colors and materials that belie the car's utilitarian purpose. Six good-sized passengers can be carried in complete comfort, with plenty of hip, head, and leg room available for everyone. There is also plenty of cargo space, which can be increased by folding the rear seat.

All controls and instruments are within easy reach of the driver, while seat adjustment is enough to satisfy anyone. All-around visibility is excellent, almost completely unobstructed. There's also plenty of working space in the engine compartment for servicing.

Following the rest of the industry, Willys is offering extended lubrication periods. Under normal operating conditions, chassis points require service every 30,000 miles with oil-change intervals at 6000 miles. To complete the all-purpose character of the Wagoneer, options include power take-off (on 4WD models) for front-mounted snow plows and winches.