Piston Slap: Um, Like, No! (UPDATE)
Thank you again for publishing my question on the LR3. While the beautiful white Landy that originally set a hook in me was a possibility up to the very end, ironically the air conditioning stopped working while my wife was test driving it. That told me everything I needed to know. We’ve been doing some hardcore car shopping over the past week. We have decided on a vehicle, but first I’ll tell you about the ones that didn’t make the cut:
Chevy Trailblazer SS – Aside from the LS thrust and muscular styling, these are extremely depressing trucks. We looked at three of them because I was desperately hoping to find a winner here. The interior materials are shockingly cheap feeling, the seats are hard and flat, and they handle like full-sized pickup trucks. I was hoping to be able to overlook their humble origins and lack of a low range transfer case in favor of big power, but I just couldn’t.
Honda Pilot and Ridgeline – The Ridgeline is, on paper, perfect for me. I even read an article that their target market was a “30-something engineer who fixes up his own house and wants to pull a boat.” I AM a 30-something engineer and I DO like to fix my own junk, but learned about the two best days of a boat owner’s life several years ago. What we found here, though, are cheap-feeling plastic interiors and a driving experience that is more minivan than truck or SUV. As practical as each one was, I just could not see myself enjoying one long-term.
VW Touareg – Very, very nice interiors. The V8 engine sounds excellent and most of them were loaded with every possible toy a person could want. The back seats are quite small, though, and there isn’t much cargo room. My wife drove an Audi A4 before the S80 and we don’t completely trust the reliability and longevity of a VAG vehicle. Having paid for some fairly major repairs on the A4 after it went out of warranty, it didn’t feel like I was getting away from the possibility of having my pocket picked when something went wrong.
Volvo XC90 – These are sweet, sweet vehicles. I noticed a comment today about how nice they are with the Yamaha V8, and I couldn’t agree more. Being current Volvo owners we loved and felt at home driving one. From a functionality standpoint, though, there are three big problems: no low range, a front axle-biased “slip & grip” AWD system, and the fact that the AWD disengages at low speed to aid parking and maneuverability. Again, I need real 4 wheel drive.
This leads us to the Jeep dealer, and to the vehicle we ultimately purchased – a 2012 Grand Cherokee Laredo X. The interiors of these trucks are simply beautiful to me, SO much nicer than the previous generation. The 3.6 liter Pentastar has all the power I’ll ever need. They have plenty of room in the back seat and in the cargo area. But the best thing is that you can equip one pretty much to your exact specification. The dealer was able to find one locally that’s the color we wanted with the “Off Road Adventure Package”, which gets you the QuadraTrac II transfer case with low range, the very Rover-like Terrain Select system with hill descent control, and a bevy of skid plates and tow hooks.
I hate taking loans for vehicles, but to blunt my anguish Sergio (and the US Treasury?) have seen fit to offer 36 month 0% interest financing on new Grand Cherokees. If someone will give me the money for free, I’ll take it. So between that and the willingness of the dealer to haggle hard and get the sale, I feel like I did pretty well. We take delivery tonight, and I have yet to feel any twinges of regret.
So, in the end I blew my budget out of the water and bought a new truck, but it has a warranty and it’s something I’ll be able to drive and enjoy for a long, long time.
I need to stop trusting you Piston Slap contributors. You people give me a certain criteria, but in this case, considering your income level and upscale desires…well, why not get a new vehicle?
The Grand Cherokee seems like a great SUV (haven’t driven it) and it is a good vehicle for your needs. The financing and warranty combine to work well, too. Long term, this was the right move. Especially compared to the LR3.
Oh, and thanks for proving my point about Land Rovers in particular, and–to a lesser extent–most any modern European car out of warranty. Attention whores such as myself need validation on a regular basis.
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I am sure it is an excellent vehicle, I just couldn't buy an Italian vehicle.
Congratulations, pharmer! Welcome to the Jeep Owners Club. Hope it's as fun for you as our is. (When you hit the trails for the first time, if the JGC had a tail, it would be wagging!) We also have the Off-Road-Adventure II. The skid plates turned out to be quite functional, as we found out last month, jacked up to the max ride height on some difficult terrain. Our dealer was offering a LIFETIME extended warranty (no mileage limit/as long as we own the car) w/ $100 deductible. We said, "suckers" [quietly] and signed on the line. This may be the last car my wife ever buys. She thinks it will be.