QOTD: The $36,000 Question

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

According to several sources, the average price of a new car in America currently hovers around $36,000. This is being consistently dragged upward by folks who just gotta have that Denali or deploy a GL65 AMG to tool around the streets of Beverly Hills.

Using that yardstick, lets play a game. Imagine you have to go out and buy a new car — right now — with today’s average price as your upper limit. But there’s a catch — it’ll be your only car for the next 10 years.

Why 10 years? Pundits argue that’s roughly the average age of cars on the road in America, although you wouldn’t know it from a quick survey of the parking lots at most malls and country clubs. Having said that, our daily whip is aged six years and we just ditched a decade-old truck in favor of a 2018 model. Perhaps the 10-year estimate isn’t that far off the mark.

Anyway, never mind. We’re here to play the game. In this fictional scenario, I’d be trying to find something that would carry three people and life’s detritus without breaking the bank on running costs. Yes, I live in a part of the world where what falls from the sky is not to be believed, but I do not think all-wheel drive is a must. It is my fervent belief that good winter tires trump traction to four corners if those four corners have rubber on them with the same traction as baloney skins.

All hands know I’m a fan of the five-passenger Tahoe Custom, but at around $44,500 it’s 10 grand too expensive. Same thing with any F-150 with a decent engine that’s not equipped like a penalty box. This speaks to the massive profits in trucks, by the way. I’d like to mention the Volvo V60 wagon is juuust outside my self-imposed fictional financial limit. Blast.

Perhaps strangely, I find myself landing at Dodge, where a rear-drive Durango SXT can be had for around $30,000. Equipped with a more than adequate level of kit, a five-passenger Durango would be more than large enough for all of our flotsam and jetsam while not looking like every other crossover on the freeway. The Pentastar V6 and ZF eight-speed are a proven team. It retains external styling cues like foglights and is available in that annoying shade of red I like.

Still, an SUV? Jeez. At least it’s rear-drive. Maybe Steph was on to something.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • THX1136 THX1136 on Jun 13, 2018

    Whatever Charger that fits the price point would work for me.

  • Jagboi Jagboi on Jun 14, 2018

    If I can take advantage of incentives and/or find one hanging around on a dealer lot, I could just squeeze in a Jaguar XE AWD with the 2.0 diesel. I rented one in the UK a few years ago and averaged almost 60 mpg, I figure that should insulate against future fuel cost increases.

  • Lorenzo Nice going! They eliminated the "5" numbers on the speedometer so they could get it to read up to 180 mph. The speed limit is 65? You have to guess one quarter of the needle distance between 60 and 80. Virtually every state has 55, 65, and 75 mph speed limits, not to mention urban areas where 25, 35, and 45 mph limits are common. All that guesswork to display a maximum speed the driver will never reach.
  • Norman Stansfield Automation will make this irrelevant.
  • Lorenzo Motor sports is dead. It was killed by greed.
  • Ravenuer Sorry, I just don't like the new Corvettes. But then I'm an old guy, so get off my lawn!😆
  • Lorenzo Will self-driving cars EVER be ready for public acceptance? Not likely. Will they ever by accepted by states and insurance companies? No. There must be a driver who is legally and financially liable for whatever happens on a public thoroughfare. Auto consumers are not afraid of the technology, they're afraid of the financial and legal consequences of using the technology.