What can I say? I wanted to find out if a JK is for me, so I went to a lot that has one (2007 top of the line Unlimited 4-door with 6-speed manual and transfer case, "trail-rated" on the side).
I noticed that everything inside is manual; the windows, locks, hell, even the doors have restraining straps like my Dad's Scout 80! Anyway, the dashboard and visors are hard plastic, doors and top can come right off. We got in, and I rode with him for a while to figure out how you're supposed to time the shift points. It seems to me that with a 6-speed, you've got short gearing, especially in the first two gears.
He asked if I wanted to take the wheel from the gas station, and I said I would prefer a parking lot somewhere so that I could make sure of the shifting. We found a parking lot and switched. OMG... I sat there, listening to the motor (it's a bit quieter than the '79 Chevrolet heavy-duty pickup trucks with manual transmission and transfer case and no mid-body trim panels on the sides, which was my Dad's that he bought brand-new for his business in those days), getting everything else situated for my position. I asked him about double clutching before trying it out. That e-brake was HARD to release.
I revved the motor and figured out its power curve behavior. Not once did I stall the motor out anywhere during my drive! It's like riding a bicycle - you don't forget it very easily, especially when you have strong, fond memories and can go through the sounds, the forces, and the motions as you drive. Not bad for not driving a manual for over 20 years (since the last manual car was totaled). I drove around the parking lot for a minute, figuring out the feel of the lower gears (since once you have that and know the proper shift points, you can get going on the higher gears without a problem). I went up and down through the streets, and then was offered to go on the highway with it, which I sure did! Wow, it was fun! What was tricky was remembering to move OVER to get into 5th gear. One trick I tried on the longer stretches was shifting without the clutch pedal. Get up to the right motor speed, and things line up to let you do that. The salesman was surprised I could do that. You could do that in traffic up the speed. I didn't figure out how to do that downshifting, as there wasn't time to play with that. I did try out the double-clutching, which is a LOT of work in city traffic.
This was a lot of fun! It sure took me back to driving my Dad's pickup in the 80s! I can just hear it, remember the amount of resistance in the clutch pedal and shifter as I went from gear to gear, the forces. It's like I'm back there. I liked how the Jeep was simplistic in design as far as things like the windows and locks go. I was not expecting that - this must be the ONLY off-road vehicle or any vehicle that is offered without such a power package in America! I noticed how quiet it was in the vehicle at any speed, and a smooth ride it was. I was very surprised. I did notice, however, the aerodynamic characteristics of a brick in crosswinds.
Anyway, I had fun this afternoon with this Jeep. I've yet to decide if I want to replace my automatic CR-V with a JK in the future. In any case, I'm sticking with my Scout II, which is having a BW T-19 and a Dana 20 put in with manual hubs. I may need to pull my Jeep out of a hole one day. One thing is for sure - if something were to happen to my CR-V and I had to replace it, a Jeep would be high on my list if not another CR-V or Element with a manual transmission (which are very hard to find). I have to admit that while shifting in traffic is a lot of work, especially if you are very tired after a long day, it was a LOT of fun!
A couple of questions I have are 1) how do these Jeeps ride compared to the TJs (he didn't have one for me to drive) and how can a driver wear out a clutch early (like would shifting too low cause the clutch to wear excessively?) other than through riding the clutch pedal.