Welcome to a new series here on Ye Olde Blog. It will focus on my process to pick my next vehicle.
I know, exciting, right?!?! Feel free to skip if you’d rather read my normal bullshit about sports, music, and books.
For about five months I’ve been spending A TON of time researching what I should get when the lease on my Chevy Tahoe expires in July. As you may recall we did a little car shopping in November, but that ended up being for S rather than me. Which is a good thing; she would have hated driving the Tahoe.
Although I still have over four months to make a choice, I’ve decided to really dive into the process. That means starting test drives now to give myself plenty of time to find exactly what I want. Which is kind of a big change. I can only think of one time in my life when I spent more than a couple weeks picking out a car.
Last Friday I completed test drive number one. We’ll get to that, and others, in future posts.
For today I’ll start by counting down the cars that I’ve owned in my life.
1992 – A hand-me-down 1985 Oldsmobile Calais from my mom. Not sexy, not fast, not loaded with options. But it got me around. I had no idea it was the 1985 Indy 500 pace car! Seems like I could have used that knowledge to my advantage back in the day!
1996 – The first car I bought on my own. A used, 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier. It was red. I only remember test driving one other car the same day, a Pontiac Grand Prix that was sportier and had more features but also had something like 15,000 more miles on it and was still more expensive. I believe I spent $10,000 on the nose for this.
1998 – My first new car purchase, a 1999 Toyota 4Runner. It was sweet, and probably my favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned. Although I had just started at an entry level job making peanuts and was in the middle of a year living at home with my stepdad, this purchase made me feel like an adult. I can also confirm that the ladies liked it. Now whether they liked me as much is another question…
2006 – The 4Runner served me well in my final years of bachelorhood and first years of marriage and fatherhood. But with kid #2 on the way, S and I realized we needed something that was more family-friendly than a large SUV. So we ordered a new Toyota Sienna. We love to tell the story of how S got a call from the dealer on her birthday saying, “Mrs. B., your minivan is ready!” She was not amused. “It’s not my fucking minivan!” I believe was what she told me when she hung up. Don’t piss off the pregnant lady! She kept driving her Volkswagen Passat and I drove the Swagger Wagon.
2014 – We now owned a lake house and were about to buy a boat. S was driving a Volvo XC90, but it did not have a trailer hitch. So we sold the Sienna and moved me into a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Grand Cherokees are very nice; S has had two since this one. But the first one we bought kind of sucked. It had electronic issues. Despite having the fancy tow package it struggled to pull our boat the two times a year we needed to haul it around.
2015 – After two summers of driving to the lake in the Grand Cherokee, we realized it didn’t have nearly enough space to get all the crap back and forth required for a successful weekend. Plus, with three kids we could never take anyone with us since the Jeep lacked a third row. So we sold the Volvo, S began driving the Jeep, and I got a Chevy Suburban. It was massive, and took a long time to get comfortable driving. But we used the hell out of it. We drove it to Kansas City/Jefferson City three times, and to Alabama for spring break. It towed the boat with ease. And we packed it full of shit on lake weekends.
2018 – We were way over the mileage on the Suburban lease and were beginning to sweat whether to pay the mileage penalty or buy it when our lease was up in the fall. In April my Chevy sales guy called and said they needed some inventory for their used lot, would I be interested in them buying out my lease? When I asked if the mileage would be an issue he said, “Of course not, we get around that all the time!” (FYI, BTW.) Anyway, I went from a base level Suburban to a loaded Tahoe. Not quite as big but still huge, and this had just about everything inside you could ask for. It is very, very nice. My second favorite vehicle I’ve ever driven.
(Along the way S drove two Volkswagen Passats, the Volvo, a Mazda CX–5 which M now drives, and two more Jeep Grand Cherokees.)
So that’s where I’ve been. In my next post, I’ll lay out my priorities and preferences for my next purchase. I’m sure you’ll all be counting down the days until that drops!
I’ve always struggled with whether to refer to SUVs as cars or trucks. They are built on truck platforms, but are they really trucks? You can’t throw a bunch of lumber and a tool box and a large dog in the back and drive around like you are Mr. Home Improvement. I once rented a large ladder that I brought home in the Suburban. I had to lash it down with multiple ropes, tie off the back gate so it would stay partially closed, and it was still semi-dangerous to get the ladder home and back. In a true truck that would have been no sweat. Every so often I’ll slip and call it a truck and the girls will all yell at me, “That’s not a truck!” So I generally use car or vehicle, and never truck. Your use may vary. ↩