Sam’s MDX was rendered inoperable by a freaky, but accurate, lightning strike. He is taking this opportunity to buy something a bit more interesting, but he still needs it to be a 4x4 that is family-friendly. What car should he buy?
(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )
Here is the scenario -
I just lost my beloved, but boring, 2016 Acura MDX to a freak lightning strike. It spent 10 weeks in the shop, and after all of that, they still couldn’t get it mobile. Anyway, I’ve felt a little guilty about driving such a vanilla car and I’d like to replace it with something a little more interesting. I love sports cars. However, I still need to haul kids and a large dog on frequent road trips. I also occasionally tow stuff and frequently haul a bunch of bikes.
My wishlist is as follows - 4wd, towing capability, cargo space, preferably 7 seats. I can spend up to $50,000
Budget: up to $50,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Wants: 4x4, Family-friendly, more interesting than an MDX
Doesn’t want: A small sports car
Wow, Sam, I’ve heard of lightning hitting a car before but I’ve never heard of one being zapped out of commission. Perhaps it’s a sign from the car-gods to let go of the “vanilla” crossover and go with something that really zaps you.
Since you still need a larger SUV, I think there are really only two ways to make that purchase more “interesting.” You either go older and get something vintage, or you stick with a more modern car but something fast. Personally, I say you go fast. One of the better fast SUVs is the Porsche Cayenne. Now this only seats five, and you did say that seven-passenger seating was preferred, but not required. You can go the Cayenne Turbo route and those are bonkers, but even with a $50,000 budget, you are looking at a really high mile example.
I would say go with the GTS trim that is plenty quick and a bit more special than the average Porsche SUV. Here is one in DE that is well spec’d with over 73,000 miles on the clock, but not to worry this car is Porsche Certified with an unlimited-mile warranty.
Going fast is fun, and the Cayenne is certainly a way to go fast.
But there are other ways of having fun with cars. One such way is, well, driving very slowly but on horrible forest trails. This is off-roading! It is also well within your reach.
Your MDX was good at being a car that is tall, but what about a true offroader that is good at being a minivan? That’s the Mitsubishi Delica, a hi-rise van that was never sold in the United States but has been legal for import for the past few years.
A ton of these are in the Pacific Northwest (including this one with three rows of seats and a COOL BOX) and at least one is up for sale locally to you in St. Paul.
Neither of them break the bank, at $12,600 and $15,000, respectively. If it were me, I’d nab one and go rooting all in and out of town.
If god destroys your car take your money and buy a yurt. He’s trying to tell you something, Sam. I’m not a believer, but man if my car was rendered a non-car by an unseen and unknowable force I’d sit and just listen a while.
I’m not saying you have to take the whole family to live atop a mountain completely disconnected from the trivialities of modern life permanently but I think for now—considering your Acura was struck dead, irreparable, by a lightning bolt, it’s time to consider the possibility that there is a message you are meant to receive. If the message is to harm me please disregard it and if you want to spit in the face of an all-powerful force, to really put your soul at hazard, buy a Sienna and a used Miata.
I realize that when someone says they can spend up to 50 grand on a car, they’re probably not considering buying a 1990 Chevrolet Astro van for $2,500. But just because you’re not considering it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be!
Who are you as a mere mortal to turn down the unkillable, mighty 4.3-liter 90-degree Vortec V6? Who are you to turn down a blue interior? What about those amazing graphics! Can you really say “no” to those? Surely not. You are not strong enough. No one is.
Also, are you aware that the Chevy Astro technically has a front-mid engine design? Couple that with the fact that it is rear-wheel drive (okay, this one is actually all-wheel drive) and the van is basically a sports car! (But, um, with a solid rear axle, leaf springs, and a ladder frame).
The van can tow a reasonable amount because it’s basically a Chevy Silverado in van-form; it will have plenty of space for your dog and children; and I bet it rides better than you think it does, making it pretty decent for road-tripping.