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

Stocks in this article: FIATY TSLA GM TM

The gear selector is one of the best-designed in the business, even though it takes space on the center tunnel. The AUX and related connectors are ideally placed right in front of the gear selector. Space for phones, keys and related trinkets is good, although not as good as in the Chevrolet Volt.

Moving to the back seat, the positive attributes continue. It's very easy to get in and out, and space is excellent for three people -- knee, foot and headroom alike. There are even two USB jacks. The mechanism for folding the rear seats is the best (i.e., simplest) in the business.

What about the driving impressions? The diesel engine has more power than anyone will ever need unless you are towing near the 7,200-lb capacity. Unless you are towing something heavy and have four linebackers traveling with you in the car bringing a luggage-full of gold bars, this diesel engine will hum effortlessly at 1,800 RPM and not break a sweat.

However, as with all non-electric cars, the engine vibrates, makes noise and requires that extra second to deliver its power. An electric motor this is not.

Unlike the Mercedes E 250 diesel, the JGC diesel doesn't have an auto start-stop feature. So the engine keeps vibrating until you manually shut it off. Likewise, as with other non-electric and hybrid cars, it also doesn't recover energy when you lift off the accelerator. There is no regen braking, and no battery for propulsion energy storage.

It takes a few hours to get used to driving the JGC coming from a regular car, given its height and weight. This is far from a nimble sports car, but soon enough you feel confident driving it. Watching it deliver 30 mpg on the highway also makes you feel pretty good.

Adjusted for the non-electric motor, the JGC is very quiet. In addition, the body's build quality seems extremely solid -- totally competitive with the finest premium brands from Germany and Japan.

On the one hand, the JGC diesel resides inside a severe competitive climate. It competes against VW Touareg, Mercedes ML and BMW X5. However, none of those have the combined off-road skills and towing capacity of the JGC.

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