Friday, April 18, 2014

Things I like: Ramcharger vs. Cherokee


Well, thus far I am extremely happy with my decision to acquire an old Ramcharger after driving a Jeep Cherokee for many yeras. There are a lot of plusses to owning such a rig. There are minuses, too, which will come in a future edition. But for now, let’s look at what I like more about the Ramcharger over my Jeep Cherokee.

It’s big.
Yes, this is a plus for me. I’m not a large-framed man, but I like a lot of space. There is simply nowhere to put things in the Jeep Cherokee. Heck, there’s about as much room in my Ramcharger’s engine compartment with the engine in it as there is in the entire cargo area of the Cherokee. That leaves me room for compressors, relays, wiring, dual batteries——heck, whatever I want! I think I could probably wedge a VW engine in there alongside the 440, and I’m not kidding. But the point is, there is space in the vehicle. Everything is bigger, from the engine bay to the passenger compartment to the cargo area in back. More space means more options.

It’s powerful.
Yes, the Jeep 4.0 is a great engine and it has pretty good power in H.O. form, but the earlier Renix engines leave a lot to be desired. Even the H.O. engines can’t touch my stock 440 for torque, though, and that’s just dandy with me. In my last entry, I told the story of hauling a full-size GMC with a bed full of bricks uphill on loose gravel. Try that in a Jeep. There’s just something irreplaceable about driving a big V8.

It’s simple.
Just about any problems the Ramcharger encounters I’ll be able to diagnose at a glance. Sure, sensors and EFI and catalytic converters and computers are all very nice, but there is something to be said about stripped down simplicity, too. Three-quarters of the truck can be taken down using a small socket set. No Torx bolts or specialty stuff here, just good old fashioned, SAE sweetness. Makes the tool bag a heck of a lot lighter.

It looks cooler.
Don’t get me wrong, I do so love the styling of the Cherokee. That being said, it’s hard to argue when a lifted ‘70s Dodge is rolling down the street. They just ooze testosterone. I also love, love the dash setups on old Dodge trucks, right down to the not-so-bright factory gauge lighting. Uber cool.

It turns heads.
My Jeep can get a few looks, too, but mostly by other Jeep enthusiasts. Cherokees are way more common than the old Ramchargers are, too, so it doesn’t tend to get the attention my Dodge does. Almost every day at work, someone comes in and asks about the big black Ramcharger in the parking lot. Around town, I get thumbs up signs from random folks. My friends, even the Ford and Chevy ones, tell me honestly that they think it’s cool.

Full-time 4x4.
I do realize this is purely a taste thing but then again, so’s everything else on this list. I love the NP203 full-time case. Yeah, it’s fun to do donuts or let the tires loose around a corner now and again, but I’d rather have the cool factor of always being in four-wheel drive. I only lock the case into positive 4x4 when I really need it and to me, that’s awesome.

It’s highly customizable.
Jeep Cherokees are, as well, to an extent, but I have soooo many more options with the Ramcharger. Most of those options stem back to the space issue, but some don’t. I can put things where I want them in the Ramcharger, whereas my Jeep Cherokee was a lot fussier about location. Heck, there’s a full roll cage in my Ramcharger and most of the time, I don’t even realize it’s there.

Tire size.
This one is weak, I know, but I’m adding it anyhow. My Jeep is up 6.5” and 35s are the limit without major modifications and even then, they required some hefty fender trimming if I don’t want them to rub on the trails. The Ramcharger is up 4” and makes 35s look like 32s. I could squeeze 37s in without too much issue, and probably 38s with a bit of trim, and that makes me happy. Do I need 37s for what I do with the Ramcharger? No. Does that matter? Not a bit. 

Last but most definitely not least, I have a tailgate now. I’ve never, ever liked the ‘hatch’ setup on Cherokees and later model Ramchargers. In my mind, it’s far cooler to drop a tailgate and lift the shell glass when yer at the campsite. Tailgates are on trucks men own; hatches are for the wiminz. Am I right?

Stay tuned for things I liked better about my Cherokee. The list is likely smaller, but there’s still a list.

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