Dealer builds obstacle course to show what a Jeep can do

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 13, 2011

Having an obstacle course right next to your dealership proves to be advantageous to Ralph Mahalak Jr., a Jeep dealer who is known for going the extra mile. He isn’t satisfied with just informing potential customers what the models are capable of. He brings the customers to the private dirt track on board the Jeep vehicle as they drive over hills, rocks and logs. There are only about a handful of U.S. dealers that have a Jeep obstacle beside the dealerships.

Mahalak’s store is located between Detroit and Toledo, Ohio. His Monroe Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram store is less than 20 miles away from the Toledo plants that build the Jeep Wrangler and Liberty vehicles. There have been times when he becomes too enthusiastic for his own good. This year, he took inspiration from Chrysler’s "Imported from Detroit" tag line and gave customers t-shirts that say “Imported from Toledo.”

This got him in trouble most definitely.His course is a quarter mile long. It consists of 18 obstacles, some of which are a 25-foot hill, a mud pit, and some rock and log crawls. Potential customers are taken through the course by a trained staff member, who gets through it in around nine minutes. Steve Gordinier of Highland, Mich., is the designer of this fenced-in course located around 25 miles northwest of Detroit.

He builds off-road courses for Chrysler Group's annual Camp Jeep events and for private Jeep Jamboree USA events. This course made in 2009 cost around $15,000 to build on approximately three acres of unused land right next to his dealership. It was built over a smaller version he had put there in 2001 to support the Jeep Liberty’s launch.

Chrysler Group LLC recently presented images of both the new 2011 Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Looking at the interior, there is no doubt that it continues to follow the standard Jeep design especially with the use of the hex-head bolts everywhere inside. Through these bolts as well, it made it possible to have the passenger grab handle to have an inlay of the “Jeep, Since 1941” mounted to it. The engineering team also made sure to enhance the acoustical treatment for the two new models in order to lower considerably the noise on the inside.

Chrysler Group LLC Jeep Brand President and CEO Mike Manley said that while the Jeep Wrangler is already an icon, it continues to be better. While the 2011 Jeep Wrangler continues to have the well-known and unparalleled capability, it comes with a new interior design aimed at offering various features focused on versatility, convenience, and comfort, he added. For the Sahara variant, it comes in the beautiful hard top, in the same color as its body, and is a good option for those who have long wanted a Jeep Wrangler that gave a more premium look.

Meanwhile its new steering wheels come with controls that enable the driver to be able to manage different functions like, to name a few, the hands-free phone, cruise control, and radio, all without needing to remove one’s hands from the steering wheel. There is now a USB device interface that allows for connection to different storage which includes a majority of MP3 players and thumb drives.

This can be used in conjunction with the Media Center and even has streaming through Bluetooth audio. There is a 110-volt outlet available inside which allows power like that of the conventional AC outlets in the house. A new feature is the accessory 12-volt outlet. There are also a number of redesigns in the interior like the instrument panel. Its storage areas are new as well and it is made of upgraded materials with ergonomics enhanced.

Even the center stack was redesigned in order to make it easy to both reach and then operate. Meanwhile the lockable console is also new with the areas of the door armrest being improved to give it comfortable touch points. Made available as well is the power and heated mirrors. Occupants, both passengers and the driver, are able to enjoy better visibility due to the rear windows being made larger.

Clearly, the two new models reveal that Jeep has more than managed to perfect the formula that made Wrangler a success. They are able to do this by having the celebrated capability and mix it with an interior that offers a rich style that enhances versatility, comfort, and touch surfaces. For the very popular Sahara model, it has been given a hard top that has the same color as its body and thus results in a premium look.

Topics: jeep, dealer

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