Couldn't wait for advice, went ahead and tried it tonite. Plenty of room with the heat shield removed, the job was a snap. SO much easier than the last idler I replaced - in a Chevy G-30 van. Twitchy handling now gone, but I think it still needs a toe adjust, which I will do in the morning.
As an aside, I discovered an exhaust heat shield under the floorboards had broken loose and was rattling around. This is probably the cold-engine rattle I have been hearing. Gooped it up around the break with muffler cement - I'll see if that holds when dry in the morning.