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SEE ALSO: GMC Buyer's Guide

Sport-utility vehicles are among the most popular things on four wheels these days, and are proliferating into a variety of new niches. They are now acceptable, even fashionable, in polite society. Long ago, before the term "sport-utility" became part of automotive jargon, they were hard-working, blue-collar machines with emphasis on utility. Ancestral sport-utes came in two varieties: big, heavy, sturdy four to six-passenger trucks with off road capabilities or small, ex-military general-purpose vehicles. Comfort in both groups was spartan at best and they were not exactly the thing to bring to the country club.

Times, fashions, and technologies change. With the advent of the mini-pickup truck twenty years ago, people who never before would have bought trucks started buying trucks. Mini-truck-based sport-utilities followed soon afterwards. To accommodate the desires of the people buying them, mini- trucks and sport-utes have become increasingly car-like in ride and accommodations. "Luxury sport- utility" is no longer an oxymoron.

Interestingly, as the popularity of sport-utilities has increased, the popularity of sport coupes has decreased. Is there a connection? Hard to say, but there are definitely similarities between 2-door sports coupes and 2-door sport-utilities. Both appeal to young or young-at-heart people. Both have and give a sporty, fun-oriented image. As population density, traffic congestion, speed traps, and potholes are increasing in urban areas is the appeal of the high-performance sport coupe decreasing? This week's test car, the new 2-door GMC Jimmy, is a surprisingly sport-coupe-like sport-utility.

APPEARANCE: The Jimmy two-door is about six-inches shorter in overall length and wheelbase than its four-door cousin. A sloping C pillar, a slanted rear window, and outside-mounted spare tire differentiate the two-door from the four-door, and give it a more aggressive look. Specially styled alloy wheels and Goodyear Wrangler off-road tires also hint at its true off-road capabilities. Aggressive fender flares and distinctive lower side cladding reinforce the Jimmy's sporty image.

COMFORT: The Jimmy is equipped with many creature comforts. Except for the ride height, it feels like driving or riding in a passenger car, especially when equipped with Option Package 3. In addition to being equipped with power outside mirrors, windows, and keyless entry, an overhead console includes a compass and outside temperature readout as well as a closed storage area for a garage door opener, maps and sunglasses. Other features include split rear seats that fold down 50/50, powered drivers seat, a front passenger seat that automatically slide forward when its back is tilted forward, a flat inside storage area with tie downs, and a roof rack. The climate control system works well and quietly, and has ducting to the rear seats. An AM/FM/cassette deck radio has good fidelity and is easy to set and tune. There are two 12-volt accessory outlets, several beverage holders, and dual front visors. The level of luxury in the Jimmy SLS is high and especially on-road, its' comfort is great.

SAFETY: Visible aids to occupant safety are a drivers side airbag and three point seat belts for outboard seats. Unseen, but no less important are its rigid body that is mounted on a ladder-type frame, as well as safety cage construction with front and rear crush zones. Standard anti-lock disc/drum brakes prevent lock-up when driving in hazardous weather and road conditions.

ROADABILITY: Our two-door Jimmy was equipped with the ZM6 Off-Road suspension package that is only available on four-wheel drive models. This package includes the appropriate springs, stabilizer bars, shocks and tires to ensure the very firm ride required or desired for most true off-road driving. Two other packages are the standard Z83 dor a smooth ride, and the Z85 for a firm ride. Even though categorized as "very firm", the ZM6 package performed quite well on the streets and highways of our home test area. A too-brief real off-road excursion demonstrated the handling and driving qualities of the two-door Jimmy when the going is really rough.

PERFORMANCE: The 4.3 liter V-6 now used in all Jimmys produces 195 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque at low rpms. Hydra-Matic's proven 4L60-E electronically controlled automatic transmission delivers smooth shifts in either 2- or 4- wheel drive. A manual shift lever quickly and quietly delivers 2- or 4- wheel power to the wheels. This sporty Jimmy is equipped to get you to your destination.

CONCLUSION: The 1995 GMC Jimmy is a good sporty and utilitarian vehicle that is at home anywhere from the back of beyond to the urban jungle, or even the country club.


           Base Price              $  20,482
           Price As Tested         $  24,175
           Engine Type             V-6, ohv - pushrod, cpi*
           Engine Size             4.3 liter/262 cid
           Horsepower              195 @ 4500
           Torque (ft/lbs)         260 @ 3600
           Wheelbase/Length        101"/175"
           Transmission            four-speed ECauto w/od 
           Curb Weight             3580 
           Pounds per Horsepower   18
           Fuel Capacity           20
           Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
           Tires                   Goodyear Wrangler RT/S P235/75-15 VR16
           Brakes                  antilock standard        vented disc/drum
           Train                   Front engine/on demand four wheel drive
           Trailering Capacity     5500 pounds
           *cpi = electronic central-port fuel injection.
           EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
             city/highway/observed         16/21/17.4
           0 to 60 mph                     9.9 sec  
           1/4 mi (E.T.)                   17.1 sec    
           Coefficient of Drag  (Cd)       .42