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King of the Road

Posted on 2009.02.15 at 22:45
Current Location: 76234
Current Music: Knocked Up
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Our last trip to Wichita was dismal. I bought the Cav to commute 3-hours a day. When it came time to get my new car, I got the little Tib GT because I moved 8-minutes from work. Putting a family of four into that car, with luggage, was becoming a real issue. Once the kids were in the back seat, not only are they getting big enough to require legroom, which they don't have in the Tib, we packed around them. They couldn't move side-to-side, or front-to-back, and I couldn't see out the back hatch. When we stopped in Oklahoma City, it took 10-minutes just to disembark.

That was the decisive moment.

Last Christmas, all six of of us stuffed ourselves in my mother-in-law's Impala to see the Christmas lights. That was a mess. And we always have to take two vehicles whenever we go anywhere with either her folks, or mine. Its very inconvenient. This past Christmas, when we got both the kids bikes, I had to drive just the bikes home, then head back to pick up my family. This round trip took me an hour.

My wife kept the Cav for her commute into work, and I just bought the Tiburon. So with only two tiny cars, it was time for a family vehicle.

With the state of the economy being what it is, they were making incredible deals on new cars, especially SUV's. We test drove a Hyundai Veracruz, the one modeled after the Lexus RX350. And while the incentives really were worthy of our time, we still couldn't afford it.

"Go to Weatherford!" My father suggested, as a place to find great deals on used cars. "Consider the Pacifca!" My mother suggested, after seeing one on the road. And though we weren't planning on buying our family car this weekend, just test driving them, we drove away with a 2006 Chrysler Pacifica Touring.

My wife was certain about one thing: She didn't want a minivan, but she also didn't like driving the large SUV's. Its hard to pinpoint the distinction, but the Pacifica is a Crossover. It drives like a car, but has a step-in lower than an SUV and higher than a mini-van, and it has four "real" doors, not sliding doors. Its like a station wagon on steroids. The best part? Third-row seating. Because it has Captain's Chairs in the second road, this isn't a 7-passenger vehicle, but it seats six very comfortably.

They were asking $15,000, but I told the salesman we were aiming for $11,000 and I was wondering if they could meet me somewhere in the middle. To their credit, they met us *exactly* at the middle, $13,500. I quipped, "I was thinking closer to 'my' middle...middle-ish," but they wouldn't budge further. Because its a used car, we went ahead and got a 5-year bumper-to-bumper warranty for an additional $23 a month. My wife didn't want to spend that money, as we usually eschew extended warranties, but driving away in a car with 28k miles on it that aren't mine seemed too much of a gamble, and I feel a lot better knowing that if this car does what the Saturn did at 60k miles, it will only cost me $50 instead of a thousand. Yeah, I'm still bitter about that.

I didn't even get a chance to drive it until late the next day, as its more important that my wife was comfortable driving it, but I found it a dream on wheels. While it lacks the low-slung, 5-speed power and agility of my Tiburon, for a full-size six-passenger vehicle the 250-hp 3.5-liter V6 (17/23 mpg) accelerates accurately and slips in and out of traffic smoothly and surely. The front Captain's Chairs and rich interior make it way more opulent than we were expecting to end up with, but when I loaded up my parents and kids all into the car and everyone had legroom and there was still room for storage I was ecstatic that I got a 2006 model Touring edition vehicle for only $13,500 - Half the price of a 2008 Veracruz, and much nicer. I've always been a big fan of Chrysler's "Cab Forward" design and this vehicle doesn't disappoint. The 'chop top' feel of the roofline is disconcerting only insofar as there is abundant headroom even in the second and third-row seats. But it does look cool.

One last thing. I've always thought these vehicles had an awkwardly-shaped ass. Rounded and fat. But once inside I realized that's to make the the interior is so cavernous - it doesn't "pinch" in in the rear. Anyway, my wife felt the same way, and named the Pacifica after Jada Pinkett Smith's character in Madagascar: "Gloria" the hippo.

I *really* like having a roomy vehicle...and not spending a fortune on it.


(Anonymous) at 2009-02-16 04:56 (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations on the purchase of your new family car. My husband and I are in negotiations right now for a new family car for our family as well. Even though the Nitro we have is a SUV we are still pinched in the back seat with two car seats and our son. I want either a Tahoe or a Durango and my husband wants a double cab pick up truck. I hate packing groceries around my kiddos and you almost invariably have to do that when you have a truck. You can haul alot bigger items though with a truck. I want third row seats though, So we are torn.

We shall see what vehicle triumphs in my family.

Cool Car!!!!!
texas_tangent at 2009-02-16 04:57 (UTC) (Link)
The above comment was mine.

I hate it when I forget to look and see if I am actually logged in before I comment.
ehowton at 2009-02-16 06:05 (UTC) (Link)
Go to Weatherford!!!
dawaioser at 2009-02-16 05:56 (UTC) (Link)
Those are great cars and they always catch my attention.
ehowton at 2009-02-16 06:06 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm actually looking forward to picking up people at DFW airport now. Usually I have to stagger arrival times and use other people for pickup. This will be a breeze!

Also, I dig that userpic.

Edited at 2009-02-16 09:12 pm (UTC)
sacredyuja at 2009-02-16 13:05 (UTC) (Link)
Yay new cars/suv's/errr crossovers!

Always "fun" experience.
I have to figure out what I'm going to do, my lease is up in Dec. I've got oh about 10 months to think about what I'll leave/or buy out current, lol.
ehowton at 2009-02-16 13:42 (UTC) (Link)
It actually wasn't too bad. I accused the sales guy of trying to manipulate me with his low-pressure demeanor. The dude was just so laid back.

I bet that 10-months comes quicker than you think!
sacredyuja at 2009-02-16 14:19 (UTC) (Link)
leave cleary was supposed to say LEASE.

I shouldn't comment so early in the morning on a holiday day off....

Anyway, new crossover looks lovely :D
ehowton at 2009-02-17 12:54 (UTC) (Link)
Clearly. At least you didn't say LEAF. I'd be all like, WTF?
codekitten at 2009-02-16 14:31 (UTC) (Link)
nice! we pretty much have the exact same car for the similar reasons (though we didn't need the third row...and it came in ORANGE!)

codekitten at 2009-02-16 14:31 (UTC) (Link)
also, i didn't hotlink! don't want your fury unleashed on me.
ehowton at 2009-02-16 21:11 (UTC) (Link)
You can hotlink me anytime you want!

*wink, wink*
codekitten at 2009-02-18 16:23 (UTC) (Link)
thesweetestnote at 2009-02-16 16:14 (UTC) (Link)
So very very cool, man. I cringe at the thought of having to purchase a vehicle. Too indecisive. Your product reviews rock! Makes my shopping easier.
ehowton at 2009-02-16 21:18 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Not a lot went into this car, it kinda just sold itself. We were in and out in about an hour - the quickest, easiest car I've ever purchased.
wardlejew at 2009-02-16 23:11 (UTC) (Link)
Looks nice. I'm still figuring out how to get to the back seat though. Do the middle seats fold up or do you have to climb over the middle area there? I, unfortunately, am in a minivan right now. I love all the space it provides, but I enjoy traveling small more. Three kids just doesn't allow for that anymore. We go somewhere overnight, and it looks the same as if we were going for a week. Sigh!!
ehowton at 2009-02-16 23:41 (UTC) (Link)
catttitude at 2009-02-17 04:12 (UTC) (Link)
I think Gloria will be in our family for a very long time, she is so huge.
ehowton at 2009-02-17 06:52 (UTC) (Link)
She likes to move it, move it.
catttitude at 2009-02-17 19:43 (UTC) (Link)
She's physically physically round....
irulan_amy at 2009-02-21 23:29 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, you got such a good deal. Nicely done. And lookit all the room. Tiny cars make roadtrips unbearable.
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