Colorado 2017 in the Mighty Merc – Final Thoughts on Thursdays Trip home

So no photos on this post as apparently we didn’t take any on our trip back home. Just imagine the rolling hills of Kansas as that’s what we saw during most of our daylight hours. We woke up before dawn and hit the road. Sunrise saw us sitting in Denver rush hour traffic, and Kansas was many hours of triple digit heat and a 40 mph cross wind. In the end we made it home without an issue, though very tired. I still made it into work the following day so the trip timing was a success.

All that windshield time gave me some time to think about what worked and what didn’t work using the Merc as our adventure rig. Over all, it worked out pretty well.

The good:
– It was fairly comfortable to ride in for all those hours on the highway, and really isn’t too taxing to eat up the highway miles in it.
– We were able to hold all our crap in it (Tools/Luggage/Kid Crap/Etc)
– The old 5.0 had enough gumption that power really wasn’t an issue other than when we were climbing up to the Eisenhower Tunnel.
– This thing is way overbuilt for what we typically do on vacation wheeling wise. Which made it nice to not have to worry about getting in over our head.
– Turns out the thing isn’t too wide to run around on the shelf roads!

The Improvements:
– Fuel MPG blows. The best I saw was 12 mpg, with a lot of single digit tanks thrown in there as well. With the cross winds in Kansas, we were getting 9 mpg. With the smaller sport tank, that means we are getting 160-180 miles out of a tank. I either need to figure out how to eek more mileage out of this (not likely) or build an auxiliary fuel tank to carry more fuel (more likely)
– As much as I don’t want to have a 37” tire hanging off the back of this thing, I’ll probably need to make a swing out carrier. We had enough room for everything in the truck, but it was tight. Getting the spare out of the cargo area would free up a lot of space.
– I need to add another leaf or two in the rear pack. We were pretty much on the bump stops with all the crap we had loaded in back. Along those lines, I’d really like to put some air bump on this to smooth things out a touch more when we do actually hit the bumps.

The Ugly:
– For whatever reason, the front locker does not always want to unlock which made some of the switch backs interesting.
– Had a wheel seal in the rear fail near home, and a front axle seal started weeping as well.
– The crawl box popped out of gear three times on me. Once under load, twice while coasting. I think I need to increase the detent pressure a bit on the shifter as it shifts in and out of gear very easily. I never did catch it in action while popping out so it is possible that my pant leg happened to catch the shifter or something. Either way, it’s only popped out of gear 4 times in the past 10,000 miles so I’m not sweating it.

Over all, pretty successful trip! The complaints and mechanical issues really aren’t that big in the grand scheme of things. The only thing I’m really bummed about is the abysmal fuel economy. While I never expected it to be that good, I was disappointed at how bad it was. The real surprise there was the off-road mileage being in the 6-7 mpg range just doing some easy running of the shelf roads. Considering we would like to do some longer off-road trails in the future, I’ll need to figure a way to address that issue.

I will say that one thing I never got used to was how much attention this thing garners. Literally every time I would park it I would come back outside I would find someone grabbing some photos of it. Kind of cracked me up!

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