So, with one vehicle now 20 years old ('97 Dodge Dakota 4x4), the other 18 years old ('99 GMC C3500 dualie) and with it starting to get expensive to keep them (Dakota is gonna need a tranny soon, GMC has a roof leak I can't find that's killing the electrical system), and with neither vehicle having much room in the cab (GMC is a straight bench with room for one passenger, two in an emergency if they don't mind a bunch of radios in their crotch, Dakota has front buckets and room behind them for a passenger sitting crosswise) for passengers or cats in carriers (we have 4 of the wee beasties), the wife and I have decided it's time for a new vehicle.
Be Nice To Have
- Room for driver and 3 pax, plus cargo (such as cat carriers) inside the cabin
- 3,500 lb. (or greater) (class III) towing capacity to tow our single axle enclosed trailer
- Automatic transmission
- Diesel powererd
- A nice shade of blue (wife's requirement if replacing her truck)
- 4x4 or AWD
- 6,500 lb. tow capacity, for when I rent an aerial lift platform
- other stuff I can't think of at the moment but will add as I get reminded
So far we've looked at a bunch of vehicles and realized that what we get is gonna depend a lot on what we replace. The Dakota is the wife's. She had it built to spec for her and it's been her baby for 20 years. If we replace it then it's going to be with something brand new, and the Dakota will become mine and probably get a tranny put in it at some point. I love my dualie, but it's more truck than I need these days and with the cost of keeping it running ($600 for injectors, $300 for batteries, $1,100 for tires, all in the last two years) it's probably time to let it go. If we replace my truck, on the other hand, it'll probably be with something used and offbeat.
So far we're leaning in two directions: A 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate edition, which would replace her Dakota (passing the Dakota to me and selling my truck) or, a used shortie school bus, preferably diesel powered, that we'd get for $5,000 or less and put another $5,000 to $10,000 into, in the form of an engine or tranny (or both) if needed, a paint job, tow hitch and some interior refurbishment, which would replace my truck.
So far, here's the top contenders for new and used, in order of preference:
- 2017 Nissan Pathfinder Ultimate 4x4
- 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk w/diesel engine
- 2017 Ford Transit Passenger Wagon XLT, extended, high top, 3.5l turbo
- 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate (Update - Tried one out at the dealer, not liking the seats)
- Shortie school bus w/6.5l diesel, 4x4 conversion
After visiting several dealers I'm close to taking the Santa Fe off the list. While I still very much like the vehicle, the headrests on those seats are impossible to live with. They cant so far forward that my chin hits my chest if I try to sit with my shoulders against the seatback. Really an awful design that the wife and I saw repeated on a few different vehicles at the dealer's, even different manufacturers such as Kia. The Nissan Pathfinder got upped from the SL trim to the Ultimate after seeing the two in person. The dealer just happens to have one in stock with exactly the packages, options and colors that we want, and I came very close to taking it. I'm glad I didn't though because then I wouldn't have checked out the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, which the wife and I both really like, despite it being $8,000 more. The only thing we don't like about the Trailhawk is, again, the seats, but this time not because of the headrests but because of the shape. These seats are made for people in much better shape than the wife and I. They're quasi- racing style, designed to keep you in place and cradle you. The problem is, after years of being disabled, neither my wife nor I, are what I'd call trim and fit. Suffice to say that collectively we could stand to lose about the weight of one of those fit and trim folks, and we're both tall, so the "wings" on those seats in the kidney area tend to really dig into our sides. I'm not sure how long I could stand the prodding from those, and this becomes a factor if we decide to drive out to Idaho (we live in Virginia) and visit family. Might just be incentive to lose weight though.
Now, here's the thing... we're looking to buy in about 6 months. We need to pay down some bills (I just went through a lot of very expensive dental work that needs to be paid off) which will give our credit score the little boost needed to get over 700, and give us time to sell my truck, so we're not hit with insurance on four vehicles at one time. The diesel engine Grand Cherokees aren't out yet, and probably won't be until mid-late summer, which is perfect for us, but we could
drive home the Pathfinder today. The Jeep has the better towing capacity (7,200 vs 6,000) than the Nissan, but this only becomes a factor when I rent an aerial lift platform since that's 6,300 lbs. It could be done with the Nissan since the platform is self-braking and doesn't rely on the vehicle brakes, and the Nissan has enough power to pull it without straining (our 3.9L Dakota pulls it but with difficulty and the Nissan has almost twice the horsepower and more torque) and it's seldom towed more than 20 miles.
Anyone have alternative suggestions or ideas?
(edit: missing comma, typos, add stuff, updates, etc.)