Toulson is looking for a ride that will comfortably accommodate an “adult” 5th grader and a puppy that will eventually become a big dog for long road trip excursions. He dreamed of an AMG car, but lacked the budget. Which car should he buy?
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This is the scenario:
I have a 5th grader who is grown and a puppy who is going to be huge. We take a few longer road trips each year and need a car that can handle both journeys, be good around town and not boring. If I could find a brown E63 AMG with manual within my budget, I’d write a check without thinking, but things like “reality” intrude on my dreams.
I want enough room for three adult people and a dog that likes to fan out (so three rows or a wagon-sized cargo area). I also say I prefer a manual transmission because I do, but I know that won’t happen in reality. Most importantly, it can’t be an SUV. I have a budget of up to $50,000
Budget: up to $50,000
Place: Washington, DC
Daily driver: Yes
want: Spacious, fun, comfortable
do not want: An SUV
Expert 1: Tom McParland – YES WAAAAGON
Toulson, I have AMG car dreams too, but I don’t have the bank account balance to justify such a purchase. Now, the obvious solution to the scenario of dragging the family and a big dog on a road trip is to simply “buy that damn minivan‘, but it seems you’re not quite ready to take that step just yet. Now that the SUV has been ruled out, the long roof remains. Of course, ticking that wagon box means drastically limiting your options.
You want something with some street character, plenty of cargo space behind the rear seats and ideally a good number of ponies under the hood. This calls for the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. It doesn’t have a hand-built V8 like the AMG, but the supercharged V6 that puts out 380bhp and hurtles through ring road traffic shouldn’t be a problem. This particular cat with just 25,000 miles is not only local, but also Jaguar certified and had an original retail price of just over $72,000. That’s a bargain, especially in this bloated used car market. Jaguar’s build quality might be a gamble, but if you were playing it safe you’d have already bought the Sienna.
Expert 2: Andy Kalmowitz – Do the right thing
Toulson, I hate to tell you, but you should buy a minivan. I understand you’re not quite there yet, but these are the facts of life. A minivan fits exactly what you are looking for. I know it’s hard to hear. So what about this? I’m going to find you a minibus well below your budget. That means you have money left over to buy a really nice car.
The exact right car for you is one Chrysler Pacifica. Is it better than a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna? It’s a toss. But I’m a Chrysler minivan loyalist. Growing up, my mom had four in a row, so that’s what I’m going to recommend to you. Here’s the good news. You can get one like this good within your budget. I’m talking about saving over $20,000.
That’s why I found this for you 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Touring Plus. It has all the bells and whistles you need for transporting kids and road trips, less than 20,000 miles, and a finger-licking good price. This piece of metal will cost you less than $29,000. Then you will have enough money left over to buy a second, nice car. Think of all the Miatas and BRZs you can get for that kind of money. There is also your manual answer.
So Toulson, I know it’s not what you want to hear, but a minivan is what you need. You’ll thank me later.
Expert 3: Owen Bellwood – Choose the right bus
Toulson, Andy is right, and a van is probably the best choice for you. But just because you need a van doesn’t mean you have to settle for something boring like a Pacifica. Instead, let your creativity run wild and opt for something classic.
I present to you this glorious 1995 VW bus. Hey, that’s strange. I thought VW had moved away from this design long before 1995? Well, you would be right there, but in Brazil the design remained in production until 2013, so you can buy a nice old van that might last a little longer than a 1970s VW. And with that in mind, I think this bus is perfect for you.
It’ll stand out from the crowd when you’re driving it into town and that four-speed manual transmission will keep your arms working while you’re out and about. Plus, there’s tons of luggage and dog room in the back. And if you’re on a long drive and need to stop for a break, there’s even a second VW bus available with kitchen installed. I can’t think of a more perfect car for you.
Expert 4: Jose Rodríguez Jr. – A long goodbye to Volvo’s streamlined long roof
Despite one van Since it’s the obvious choice, you don’t have to buy a minivan just yet, Toulson. There are countless cars that will comfortably fit your family of four yet are somehow fun to drive. To this day I am still searching manual BMW X5s late at night when I’m feeling restless – or reckless, more like that – but I won’t do that to you. You don’t need a project SUV, so I recommend this 2019 Volvo V90 T5 R-Design which is quite a way from DC but is within budget and has all handle upgrades. It’s also in a nice shade of blue that would make a memorable machine for family road trips.
It sounds like you want something attractive, and while the turbocharger V90 T5 lacks the horsepower of the turbo and supercharged T6, it can still give you what you want thanks to its sporty suspension. I know I’m already taking over the gearshift from you so if you really want more pep to make up for the loss there’s this V90 T6 R design that is barely over budget.
I was hesitant to choose one Volvo wagon initial; I was under the impression that these incredible cars would be very common in Washington DC, but I realized that the Volvo V90 is not common anywhere in the US since few people bought the damn thing in the first place. I just think it’s bizarre that someone would choose a clunky SUV over a sleek V90, which would gobble up miles and still fit into a family with room to spare. Oh well. The The V90 deserves a long goodbye with a loving family. That’s you and yours, Toulson.