Justin has a 2017 Chevrolet SS that he is really fond of. Now that those vehicles are approaching “collector car” status, he wants to cash out his value and get something fun and functional with updated technology. 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 have a relatively low mileage (~23,500) 2017 Chevy SS sedan that I bought very slightly used when they discontinued the SS but before they took Holden out back and shot it. It’s been fantastic. It’s fast, it handles great, and it can haul the whole family. Yeah, gas mileage kinda stinks but I knew that going in. Right now trade in values would actually allow me to come out ahead, so I’m thinking about mixing things up.
Needs to be relatively modern with current safety features like a decent amount of airbags. Additional safety items like blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, etc. are nice but not deal breakers. I’d prefer to keep the price between $40,000 and $55,000. I don’t think I want another sedan, but I need something more practical than a coupe. I’d be open to a wagon, SUV, or pickup.
Budget: Up to $55,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Wants: Modern, blend of fun and functionality
Doesn’t want: Something too old
Expert 1: Tom McParland - Lonestar Longroof
Dewalt 20V Max Cordless Drill & Driver Kit
Comes equipped with an LED which goes on when the trigger is pulled. You’ll a clear view of whatever you are drilling or screwing with minimal shadows.
Justin, the SS was a great car and it sounds like you got a solid value out of it. Since you live in Texas, the easy answer here would be just to get a high-powered pickup and blend in with the million or so other trucks on the highway. However, something tells me you got the SS because you want to be a little bit different ... but not necessarily something that obviously stands out.
My pick would be the Mercedes E-class wagon. You might be able to find the monster E63 for around $55,000, but these will be older with higher miles. I think the E400 would do just fine. It has a twin-turbo six with 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. While it’s not the V8 from the SS, that boosted motor provides plenty of punch for highway driving. The E-class is very comfortable and comes appointed with all the luxury appointments you would expect from Mercedes. There aren’t a lot of these available, but that is part of the charm. Here is a 2017 model with reasonable miles in the St. Louis metro.
Expert 2: José Rodríguez Jr. - Try Out A Fun Crossover
I don’t recommend crossovers lightly, Justin, but in your case a unique crossover could do. I think the 2021 Acura RDX PMC might be the ticket, because it is a unique crossover, indeed. There’s only 360 of these and they’re hand built, which could add to the allure of this otherwise normal Honda hauler.
That’s why I’m recommending it. It’s suited to long Texas drives and occasional spirited driving. You said that you’re looking for advanced safety features, good handling, and space for your family. That means either a wagon, or an SUV would suit. A truck would be OK, too, though it would be lost to the Texas highway and a pickup as well-optioned as the RDX PMC would blow the budget. This RDX has an MSRP of $51,000 from Acura. Though it’s at the higher end of your budget, I think you could get away with it.
The RDX PMC has safety in spades, fun handling with its torque-vectoring AWD and even though it halves the cylinder count of your Chevy SS, I can attest to the zippy feel of late model Acuras when you try the Sport setting. You’d be surprised the feelings even a crossover can elicit, especially one this orange.
Expert 3: David Tracy - I Know, I Know, I’m Breaking The Rules
I get that you want something modern and safe. And while I am strongly compelled to find you something that meets your criteria, that compulsion isn’t nearly as strong as my need to show you this 1965 Thunderbird for sale in your fine country of Texas.
I understand that you want something newer, and you should absolutely keep an eye out for something that meets your needs, but that’s going to have to wait. Right now, you need to head to Forth Worth, Texas with 20 Benjamins, and pay some Facebook Marketplace seller named John Rummel so you can take ownership of a vehicle with one of the most perfect interiors of all time. You don’t believe me, do you? Fine, you’ve left me with no choice:
I know, I know. Take a moment. Breathe it in. The perfect turquoise color, the two-spoke steering wheel, the chrome that abounds all the switches and gauges, the linear speedometer — there is simply no automotive cabin more perfect. The fact that this one only costs $2,000 makes it your responsibility as a Jalop to buy it, wash it, fix it, hold it at night.
It does have a seized engine, so good luck with that. But hey, it’s only two large. You can’t go wrong, here!
Expert 4: Raphael Orlove - Not That Old Ford!
My coworker David Tracy is wrong. Couldn’t be more wrong! That 1960s Ford with a blue interior is never going to be what you want it to be. Thunderbirds are cruisers, and no matter how powerful a Coyote swap you get in there, the very spirit of the car will lift your right foot off the pedal at every turn. You will glide along the road because the car wants to glide over the road. That is in its nature.
What you clearly need is ... a different 1960s Ford with a blue interior. This is a ‘63 Galaxie that originally came with a 289 but has since been built up with a 390. And not just any 390. This is a triple-carb 390. Amazingly you could order this “Tri-Power” setup from your dealer back when, and Ford claimed it made 400 HP. Is it actually all that fast? Probably not, but it will have every impression of speed while also carrying your family around in comfort. The seller only wants $22,000, which leaves plenty of budget for your fuel bills.
That or you could buy a grey WRX STI. Up to you.