February 11, 2013

The search is over / you were with me all the while

When our 1993 Land Cruiser couldn’t pass emissions — we would have needed to have the intake cleaned, then replace some spark plugs and a few gaskets — we decided it was time to get a new vehicle. One not only from this decade but from this century, our other car being a 1994 Jeep Wrangler Sahara.

We didn’t make the decision to move on lightly:  the Land Cruiser had taken both of our sons home from the hospital after they were born, and it’s been a reliable and dependable vehicle for us, even with 198,000 miles on it.  So we asked our mechanic how much longer he thought it would last, and he told us candidly — and most assuredly not in his best interests — that it was on its last legs.  So putting $1000 into it seemed kind of silly.

And that sealed the deal for us.

So we began looking for a suitable replacement.  We needed something to replace a Land Cruiser, which is no easy feat:  one of the things I loved about that truck was that, comparatively, it was a tank, and despite its lack of modern safety features we always felt the kids were safe in it.

To spare you all the details, I’ll just say that after a few days of visiting dealerships and test driving vehicles we began to shrink the field:  the Mini Cooper Countryman is fuel efficient, fun to drive, and has AWD capability, but the cargo area is quite tight (we could fit a stroller but not much else); the Toyota 4Runner is configured in such a way that I’d have to crane my neck to see traffic lights; the Audi Q5’s side mirror is enormous, creating a blind spot for my wife when she looked to her left (a shame, because she loved that truck); the Honda Pilot, while very nicely appointed, drives like a mini-van dressed up as an SUV, with a low profile that wouldn’t satisfy my paranoid bitterclinger’s need to be able to bug out off road, despite its claim to 4WD; the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon was perfect, but it didn’t have real side-curtain airbags, and while it got decent safety ratings, it was, in the final analysis, too close to the Wrangler we already have — albeit with far more room and beefiness — to justify the purchase:  it is less a family vehicle than a recreational one, and what we were looking for was a better compromise between the two.

And so it came down to two finalists:  the 2013 Volkwagon Toureg TDI and the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk.

The Toureg is spacious and heavy, and the warranty and financing was very attractive:  10yr 100000 mile drivetrain, 3year full maintenance and 3 year bumper-to bumper, with 0% financing for 66 months.  Also, the Toureg in the Diesel package gets 30 MPH (though w/ Diesel fuel coming in at 40 cents more per gallon, it was a wash, save for frequency of fueling).  We really liked the ride, too.  However, from an off-road perspective, it still isn’t a Jeep or a Land Rover.

Meanwhile, I had never liked Grand Cherokees in the past — they were Jeeps, I thought, but without the kinds of capability that go with being a Jeep Jeep, save for in the SRT8 package, which was beyond our reach financially — so I didn’t hold out hope I’d like the new ones.  But it turns out they’ve come a long way in the 20 or so years since I first rode in one, and the Trailhawk package specifically, which started as a concept vehicle, appealed to my me, and made clear that Jeep learned from its time with Mercedes Benz.

Though offered in a V6, the available 5.7 liter  V8 Hemi would give it the most power in its class at 360 HP; and not only is it trail rated, but it is built to be taken off road, which simply isn’t the case with many vehicles in its price range, regardless of their capabilities (nobody wants to ding up a new truck):  the Trailhawk uses hill assist and hill descent technology, incorporates 4  separate stamped steel skid plates, includes 4WD Low and an electronic rear slip differential, is fitted with an all-steel rock bumper, an automatic air-assist suspension system (giving it best in class 11″ of clearance), removable front fascia, and rides on Goodyear Silent Armor tires, which use 10-ply Kevlar belts.

It is an off-road vehicle dressed up as a soccer mom’s SUV, with all the interior amenities you’d expect from Audi or BMW or Lexus.

And in the end, it was that capability, coupled to its high safety ratings and better resale value, that won out.

Also, it didn’t hurt that we managed to get a very very good deal.  Otherwise, we would have been perfectly happy with the Toureg.

So here we are, a two Jeep family.  And we couldn’t be happier.

In case you were interested.

And yes, I really did use a Survivor reference.  The band, not the TV show. Because I can pull it off.  Outlaw.




Posted by Jeff G. @ 2:40pm

Comments (51)

  1. Looks like you also picked a great bug out vehicle.

    Congrats on the new Jeep.

  2. Nice. My m-i-l has a ’96 Grand Che, nicknamed The Polar Bear, and may be in the market for a newer one in the next couple of years (though I lean toward urging her to get a Ford instead). She may be interested to know how you like your Hawk going forward.

  3. And here I thought you’d go all out for a Hummer.

  4. We went Jeep in 1999 and have never gone back. We’ve got 2001 and 2010 Libertys and they’re great, especially in the snow.

  5. What will you do with the Landcrusier? $2500 will get you a crated turbo-charged OEM Toyota JDM diesel that will bolt to the exsisting transmission. Less for a standard direct injected four cylinder diesel JDM motor in a crate.

  6. Absolutely GREAT vehicle with either of the diesel motors.

  7. We traded it in. The Engine was still great on it. It was the exhaust system and oil leaks that were the death of the thing.

    Had they only offered us $500 in trade-in value I would have kept it. But they gave us $3K — though I knew the sales manager was knocking money off the MSRP to give us a nice trade in value and seal the deal.

    Didn’t work out that way. Once he gave me the $3K I got him down off the sale price. I believe we wound up at $10, 700 off the sticker price with the trade in, which we’d appraised at about $600-$1000.

  8. We traded it in

    Now how are you s’posed to get your Lord Humongous on without some kind of technical for post-Obamaclypse Colorado?

  9. Nice ride!

  10. Where do you mount the .50 on that thing?

  11. I have a Pilot and have taken it places a 4WD tractor couldn’t go. But it would be smarter to drive offroad in a vehicle designed specifically for that kind of thing.

  12. She’s a beauty, Clark.

  13. I’m looking at a new vehicle, my current SX4 has just under 180k on it and feels like it’s going to need suspension work in the next few months (I drive about 2500-300- miles monthly.)

    Been bouncing back and forth between the GC and the Ford Escape. I don’t really need real off road 4wd, just the kind that will get you up a snow/sleet covered road in Appalachia kind of 4wd.

    Lately I’ve been leaning more towards to Escape (mileage is a big issue for me) but now you’ve got me leaning back towards the GC with the Pentastar six.

    Prices are similar, and it sure seems like you are getting way more vehicle with the Jeep.

  14. What color did you get?

  15. That very same black one.

  16. Thomas —

    IF you go with a GC that has Select-trac you’ll get great snow handling. Jeep demonstrates for their salespeople by laying down sheet metal covered in soapy water and having them gun it. On the GC, snow mode starts the car from 2nd gear to avoid spinning tires. Then if it’s deep snow, the 4WD Low is going to be important. That, and good tires.

    I don’t do a lot of long-distance driving, so gas mileage, while a factor, wasn’t as big a deal. After all, I was trading in a ’93 V8, so just about anything would be a step up. The Trailhawk I bought uses a V8 Hemi that will go into econo-mode when you don’t need the extra power. It lists at 20 MPG highway, but while I was reading around I found people who had the quadra-lift air suspension were getting about 22 MPG by lowering the truck to sport mode for highway driving. That cuts drag and switches power to the rear wheels, saving on mileage.

    I think the V6 lists at 3 MPG more, so I figure my V8 gets roughly the same as a standard GC v6 without the quadra-lift suspension.

  17. I liked the Pilot, Slart, but it didn’t have the clearance I was looking for. We looked at the Touring package. Very nice, lots of outlets and connections, etc.

    Incidentally, that was the only one we looked at without Satch around. Had he seen the flip down DVD screen he’d have never let us walk out of there.

  18. So you probably shouldn’t tell him about the headrests you can buy with built-in DVD players…

  19. I gather from the sale price you didn’t sprout another head singing, “I’ve got to have this car today!”

  20. Heh. No, charles. The Jeep guys knew I’d be happy with the Toureg.

  21. Shut up, John. He may be listening.

  22. A fine choice, and I’m sure there are good deals to be had.

    I always swore by my H3; it would climb a tree and got 23mpg on the highway at 55, windows buttoned up and the A/C on. The ability to lower the body will definitely decrease the drag and maximize your road mileage.

    Unfortunately the H3 was wiped out by Sandy; very much like my home…
    In the meantime I’m driving a used Excursion, which can haul a lot of material but has worse fuel consumption that my ’73 Lincoln ever did :)

    As soon as I’m done building a new place, the tank is going the way of the dodo. I’ll have to consider one of these rides when that time comes.

    My regards to all.

  23. Man, that’s uncanny Bob showing up 30 seconds after I’m sitting here wondering where he is. Hey Rocketman, sorry to hear about the storm damage (though I’d sort of expected you all got hammered simply on account of the location). Best to you and yours too.

  24. Hey Bob! How is everybody? Good to hear from you, dude.

  25. Howdy, Bob!

  26. Thanks for all the good wishes; everyone is happy, healthy, and whole-thanks be to God.

    And although we reached the point where it will be cheaper to build a new house than repair the existing hulk, it is a condition that has come to pass and not to stay. All will be well, once the NFIP folks deign to honor their obligation; and based on my experience over the years in sweat-equity building and my engineering degrees the local municipality is extending me all the necessary licenses to effect much of the repairs myself-so I’ll get maximum bang for the buck.

    All in all, while a trying experience to be sure, it’s all trending in the right direction. It’s a question of “when”, and not “if”, thanks be to God.

    So thanks for all of the good thoughts, and prayers if so inclined.

    Time to put Bob the younger to bed.

  27. I drove the SRT version right before Christmas and if I hadn’t just put new brakes on my wagon I’d have bought it.

  28. The interior really impressed me over the 2005 I had as a loaner

  29. and based on my experience over the years in sweat-equity building

    oh come on you didn’t build that ;)

  30. My one dissatisfaction with the Pilot is miserable gas mileage. 17 in town; maybe 19 at best on the highway.

    But when we needed to get oot and aboot in Indiana in a foot of freshly fallen snow, the Pilot got it done.

    If I was to be using it in the snow and ice more, I’d be thinking seriously of some different tires.

  31. are you getting the mittens dog/roof rack on the vehicle?

  32. Nah. We let the dogs ride in the back cargo area. But I’d happily put Rove on the roof.

  33. I saw an article about a fancier version somewhere (at least, I think it was fancier), and it really caught my eye, but the amount you got knocked off the price is about what I’m willing to pay in total.

    Suffice it to say, I do not plan on buying new.

  34. don’t forget about his white board when stowing.

  35. Also, I’m looking at Honda coupes.

  36. Nice! But, dude. Black? Satch will get to perfect his carwashing skills. Maybe there’s a merit badge for that.

  37. honda accord coupe is number one in its category right now the redesign is really paying off big for them

  38. Honda coupes are rare birds. Sedans are a dime a dozen, though.

  39. It’s a kind of black with a bit of silver flecking in the paint. The dirt looks almost intentional that way.

    Plus, it’s a Jeep. It should be caked in mud even if you don’t take it off road. Seriously. Make some mud and slap it around the tires and doors. There you go. Now you’re cooking with Crisco.

  40. Heh. My Toyota is jade green and has muddy tires and dirty doors. Plus, dog art on the insides of the windows. I hear ya.

  41. But I’d happily put Rove on the roof.

    I was going to say I’d put him underneath, but I have too much ground clearance.

  42. Can’t get a good drag going if he won’t stay wrapped around the drive shaft.

  43. Rove is just trying to help in his own way

    but it’s too little too late and heavens to betsy it’s a thankless job he’s undertaken

  44. Fuck off, hamster.

  45. I’m not gonna delete that comment Mr. McGehee for so everyone can see your potty mouth

  46. Rove is just trying to help in his own way

    did the rovester try seppuku?

  47. Better his salt than your saccharine.

  48. the pikachu is a free bird bitter clinger with little debbies. be aware.

  49. “When our 1993 Land Cruiser couldn’t pass emissions”


    Did you try running ethanol free gas in it?

    My boss has a new Grand Cherokee and after checking it out one day I told him that it was mighty gucci for a jeep! Did ya get the chrome gold plated gun rack option?

  50. Man, I missed a Bob Reed visit :(

    Glad to hear you and the family are ok. I was going to send Abe on a search and rescue mission but he’s been hard to reach lately(and I was a little afraid it might be a recovery op).

  51. Looks like a high capacity military grade assault Jeep to me. The kind that is made ON LY for the purpose of killing other people.