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TheStreet Open House

This 30-MPG Jeep Could Have Been the Tesla SUV -- Almost

Stock quotes in this article: FIATY, TSLA, GM, TM

The body and interior of this newest JGC are its strong suits. The JCG looks great, with excellent proportions and details all-around. For example, it is not too wide, and it seems to be just the right length to carry five large people in excellent comfort, with just the requisite amount of luggage space. It is obviously very tall -- much taller than anything you will ever need if you stay on any kind of road.

The driver's seat is wide, hard and relatively flat. When I first got into it I thought I was going to dislike it. I immediately took it for a 350-mile drive at 70 miles per hour across the deserts, farm lands and mountains of the American West, and my back felt great upon completion.

The seating position is good but not perfect. My only complaint is one which applies to many other cars as well, including in particular Fiat-Chrysler's own Fiat 500, and that's the lack of sufficient distance between the pedals and the steering wheel. Either the steering wheel needs to be able to telescope closer to the driver, or the pedals need to be adjusted away from the driver.

The steering wheel looks cheap, and it's clearly not something from BMW or Mercedes, which excel at steering wheels. That said, it works just fine -- and it's heated.

One of the best attributes about the JGC is how well-organized the various controls are. Both the physical buttons and knobs as well as the on-screen controls are some of the very best in the business. Obviously it doesn't match Tesla's (TSLA) vehicle on-screen controls, but everything else is basically friction-less, metaphorically speaking. The JGC's infotainment system beats most or all of the German, Japanese and American premium car brands.

The dashboard and insides of the doors strike a balance between looking good and being made of cheap plastics. The small pieces of wood might be totally unnecessary as they look more realistic than most, and they don't really match the cheap plastics.

Cheap plastic -- and it's not as cheap as, say, in the Chevrolet Volt -- does have the advantage of being insensitive to bumps and scrapes, such as when you kick the door open. Combined with the superior layout of all the various controls, buttons and levers throughout the entire interior, it makes the JGC into a car that doesn't annoy or confuse anywhere.

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