MUCH OF OFFICE life is a conspiracy against joy. To get around it, you've got to get out. The best way to do that is to hit the road, preferably for an unscheduled "weekend" -- say, Friday through Tuesday.
But you can't escape in just any old thing. Playing hooky demands panache. You've got to take a vehicle that says, "I'm getting outta here," something like the full-size, 1991 Ford Bronco.
The Bronco's such a big, rambly, rumbly, bodacious truck, the only place you can be going in it is OUT of town. That's especially true if you're driving the tested Silver Anniversary version.
Look at the thing. It has soft leather seats, plush carpeting, numerous power options (including push-button four-wheel drive), a big-boom stereo, and -- heh, heh -- rear "privacy windows." All of this stuff is wrapped in a beautiful currant-red body. No one will mistake you for a desk grunt in the Silver Anniversary Bronco. Everything about it says you're in charge, even if you're not -- which brings up a problem. The office. Call before going back. Just to check on conditions, you know. Things might've changed in your absence -- permanently.
Background: The full-size Bronco, the granddaddy of sport-utility vehicles, is 25 years old in the 1991-model season. To last that long, a vehicle has got to have a big bunch of loyal customers. The Bronco does. Nearly 900,000 Bronco trucks have been sold since the first model was introduced for 1966 sales.
Complaints: Fuel economy is awful, 14 miles to the gallon. Also, even with rear anti-lock brakes, the Bronco can buck and swish in panic stops on wet roads. You've got to watch your speed in this one.
Praise: Despite its over two-ton weight and sometimes quirky handling characteristics, the Bronco is really fun to drive. You've got to take time to get to know it; but, once you do, you can compensate for some of its bad road manners.
With the rear seat folded, the Bronco can carry 79.1 cubic feet; with the rear seat in place, 50.2 cubic feet. It can seat five to six people and can be outfitted to pull a 5,000-pound trailer.
Also, this is one tough truck -- nothing shabby or poorly put together. It was a hoot having this monster around for a week.
Head-turning quotient: In yo' face. Yessir! People move over even when you're driving friendly.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Good ride for a truck. You get bounced, but not trounced. Dry road and off-road handling are good. Wet-road handling can be dangerously affected by speeding. Beware. Acceleration is rocket good.
The Silver Anniversary Bronco comes with Ford's 210-horsepower, 5.8-liter V-8. It moves, folks.
Mileage: At 14 miles per gallon and with a 32-gallon tank, you're looking at an estimated range of 440 miles on usable volume. Anybody escaping in this one had better bring money.
Sound system: Ford AM/FM stereo radio and cassette. Very good.
Price: Base price, which includes myriad options, is $24,599. Estimated dealer invoice price is $22,880. Price as tested is $25,174, including a $575 destination charge.
Purse-strings note: A good truck that's lots of fun. But how desperate are you to get away?
Warren Brown covers the automotive industry for The Washington Post.