Jeff’s marriage didn’t work out as planned, and now it’s just him and his dog. They want to hit the road with the pup for some adventure. The problem is that his Mini isn’t really big enough for the both of them. What car should he buy?
Here is the scenario:
Ugh, so it starts sad but I swear it’s gonna end OK. So, my wife is leaving me and my dog in what has been a comically (tragically?) short marriage. Never thought I could relate so closely to a Kardashian but I’ve tried to work it out and her mind is made up.
How this relates to a car is that despite being a larger guy I love driving smaller cars and always have. I’m currently in 2011 Mini Countryman and despite the judgment from other Mini owners I f’n love that guy.
This worked great when our second car was a Subaru Forester and could haul around our dogs no problem. Now that I am one wife, dog, and dog carrying vehicle short I am at a loss as to how to take me and my big beautiful 85lb Lucy around town. Aside from the practicality of needing to take the dog to the vet or the dog sitter, I’d like for her to enjoy riding around with me and balancing on the back of a folded down bucket seat is not ideal.
We (me and the dog voice I give her when I’m talking to myself) have some long drives planned for the summer to go visit friends and family and I want her to be comfortable. In a perfect world I’d have my same Mini but the back seats would fold totally flat so my girl can have a bed back there. I just have no idea where to even start looking. Oh and probably the saddest part of all this, I can’t drive stick. (I realize this just adds to the reasons I am judged by other Mini drivers) but never learned and more than likely not going to with this car either.
So I’m pretty open to suggestions except for no Hyundais. I don’t really have anything against the brand but I grew up in NY and a local Hyundai dealer would flood the airwaves with terrible ads. I just have a bad association.
Budget: $20,000 - $25,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Average Miles Per-Week: 200-300
Wants: Something cool and fun, but comfortable for the dog.
Doesn’t want: Hyundai
Expert #1: Tom McParland - When One Door Closes, A Vintage One Opens
I’m sorry to hear about your marriage, Jeff. Even though it’s cliché to say, sometimes it really is best for people to go their separate ways, especially before family situations complicate things.
So now it’s just you and your pup Lucy looking for some adventure! You could take the easy way out and get something like a lightly Mazda CX-5, because it will provide the space you need and won’t be a total bore to drive.
But hey man, you have an opportunity here. You can buy something just for yourself and the dog without having to worry about making compromises with someone else. If you really want some adventure, you should get a vintage truck. Perhaps something like this 1986 Chevrolet Blazer K5 4x4.
This particular Blazer is only $18,000 and is located in your home state of North Carolina. It has a 305 cubic inch V8, some nice meaty radial tires, and serious off-road capability because you never know where you are going to end up. You also get the choice of keeping the back closed up or if weather permits, take the cap off and have yourself a convertible. In the rear is a nice carpeted area for Lucy to relax and enjoy the scenery. They don’t make trucks like that anymore.
You are a man with a dog ready to hit the open road, don’t get some boring crossover. Blaze your trail.
Expert #2: Jason Torchinsky - Buddy, You Need Something Fun
I’m not going to lie: it sounds like you’ve had a pretty crappy run recently. Luckily, like every other problem that can beset a human, it can be solved with the application of the proper automobile. In your case, the answer is simple: you need a car that will make you happy.
You’ve got a good set of parameters to work with: comfortable for your dog, automatic (though, really, you should learn to drive stick; you can do it, and it’ll just feel good), and you prefer smaller cars. This is going to be your adventuremobile for roadtrips with you and your loyal mutt.
Man, do I have a fantastic solution for you: this 1991 Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon.
This little, right-hand-drive van is exactly what you need: it’s small on the outside, very big on the inside, with plenty of room and fold-flat seats to make your dog feel like she’s a Canine Queen riding in her own litter, borne on the backs of lesser breeds. Plus, it’s four-wheel-drive, so you can adventure for realsies, even when the roads run out.
This one is an auto (though manual ones are available, hint, hint) and with its front bull-bar and lights, it’s got the perfect plucky little adventurer look going.
It’s right-hand-drive, which is great because it’s just the sort of thing that’s engaging and interesting to people, possibly people like the hypothetical woman out there who’s going to wonder who that guy is with the dog and that peculiar and amazing little van. There’s someone out there who’s going to make you forget all about that stupid, short marriage and this little van is just the ticket to make that happen.
Plus, at $8,990 it’s well within your price range, and since you’re in North Carolina (like I am), it’s an easy trip to go pick it up in Virginia, and while you’re there you can check out one of the best hidden car collections in America.
Here’s what I think: your life is about to get a whole lot better, and this little van is how it all starts. Have at it.
Expert #3: Patrick George - Dog Is All You Need
Jeff, sorry to hear about the state of things. But from a fellow weirdo who also makes his dogs speak in weird dog voices, it’s time for you and the pooch to have fun.
You have a large-ish dog. A friend once had a Honda Element to carry her mastiff around, so I briefly thought of that, but while interesting and incredibly utilitarian, it’s not that fun.
Thinking along the lines of boxes used for adventures, then, how about a Toyota FJ Cruiser instead? It looks cool, it’s pretty fun to drive, comes in an automatic and can easily be had in your price range. The seats fold down for Lucy, too.
You should be able to find one easily in that price range. Check out this rad orange one for $25,000. God, that looks like a blast, on and off-road.
With a white roof too, it kind of looks like a Mini Cooper, just one that will kick someone’s fucking teeth in.
Expert #4: Andrew Collins - This Is For The Long Haul
Hey Jeff, it sounds like you’re turning a sad situation into a positive opportunity. So you’re already on the right track. Who hasn’t fantasized about taking four wheels and a four-legged friend on epic road trips?
I see that my colleagues have suggested some sweet off-road capable adventure rigs for you and your dog to chase the horizon in. Any of those would make for some unforgettable Instagram shots, but they’ll all be expensive to operate and come with inconveniences for daily driving.
I’m here to tell you there’s plenty of adventure to have on and around the pavement. And since you’re planning to put hundreds of miles on this car, gas mileage and longevity should be important factors for you.
Which brings me to my suggestion: a 2011 to 2014 Acura TSX Wagon.
These cars are rare enough to be cool, look sharp, have plenty of pup-space, are rated to hit 30 mpg on the highway and will last for as long as you keep up with scheduled maintenance.
I thought about recommending a Subaru, but you might have some bad memories there. And everyone has a Subaru. Audi wagons crossed my mind too, but you just got out of a bad relationship and I don’t think you want to saddle yourself with another complicated one right away. Of course, a Mercedes AMG longroof would be the dream, but those are still out of your price range.
The TSX Wagon is only available as an automatic, but that’s not a problem for you! In fact, it makes your search even easier.
I have heard that this car is a little light on power compared to the equivalent V6 sedan, but they’re unique, they’ll be reliable, and they’re right in your price range.