Mark is a big guy who now has a really big dog. He needs something more comfortable than his Ford Fusion Hybrid but wants to get decent fuel economy because he drives so much. What car should he buy?
Pets are family too, so if we aren’t buying a car to accommodate kids, we need to keep our four-legged friends in mind as well. Luckily for me I have a Dachshund who pretty much fits in any vehicle. (He does like to slobber on the windows.) Unfortunately, for Mark, his Great Dane needs a bit more room.
Here is the scenario:
I own and manage real estate and my business is going gangbusters. My wife of 20 years decided to surprise me by getting a puppy great dane (I didn’t want another baby..human or dog), so I resigned myself to get a revenge car. I do like the dog, but if I have to haul this giant beast around I want something much nicer than my Ford.
I need a vehicle that can carry a Great Dane, gets decent mpg (I drive about 20,000 miles per year, mostly highway). I also has to fit me (I am 6'8") and be comfortable to drive on those days I am driving 4 hours.
I’m cheap, but I have a feeling I need to splurge on this one. My budget is up to $70k. I really liked the idea of the Tesla Model X but the damn seats still weren’t big enough for the dog. Also, I would rather not have something that is overly ostentatious.
Budget: $60,000 - $70,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Average Miles Per-Week: 200 -300
Wants: Big enough to accommodate a large guy and a large dog, comfortable
Doesn’t want: Gas guzzler, something too flashy
Expert #1: Tom McParland - A Big Guy And His Big Dog Need A Big Truck
Mark, admit it. Even though you were not real thrilled about the wife bringing home a puppy, you like cruising around with a big dog. Since you are on the tall side, and the Great Dane is pretty much the largest canine you can own, you need a vehicle to match. Get yourself a pickup truck.
The GMC Sierra Denali 1500 has a class leading 42 inches of headroom. Most SUVs have about 38-39 inches, so you and the pooch should be plenty comfortable. And dogs love trucks, it’s in their DNA or something. Fido doesn’t want to jump out of a Fusion.
You mentioned you wanted something a lot nicer than your Ford, this is a Denali, basically the luxury car of trucks. If you checked all the boxes on a 1500 Denali you’re just under $64,000, and that is before the dozen or so rebates that GM will toss at you. Here’s one new for $66,255. Getting a truck like this in the $50,000 range should be no problem.
What will be a problem is the fuel economy. Even with the smaller 5.3-liter V8 you are looking at best 20 MPG on the highway. Maybe keep the Fusion for your daily commute and use the truck when you have to.
Expert #2: David Tracy - Recommending A Crossover With A Bed
So you’re looking for a spacious, comfortable vehicle that’s not too flashy and doesn’t suck fuel like a cargo ship? Sounds to me like you’re describing to the tee the Honda Ridgeline.
One of the major advantages of the Ridgeline’s unibody construction is the low floor height, which means tons of interior space for your 6'8" frame. Add to that the rear seats that fold and leave a flat floor, and your dog will be loving life in this thing.
The ride quality, aided by fully independent suspension, is exceptional for a pickup, and at 26 MPG highway, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any truck that can drive farther on a gallon of the good stuff.
As for the looks, you’ll have to decide on your own. You say you don’t want ostentatious, and the Ridgeline is anything but. Still, the front looks like a Pilot, which is about as far from a “revenge car” as it gets (and a bit “soft” for a pickup, in my eyes).
Still, at under $42,000 for a decked-out RTL-E with leather, you’ll still have $18,000 to drop on something else more fun, like a motorcycle.
Expert #3: Jason Torchinsky - These Idiots Don’t Understand Dogs
Look, trucks are great. I love trucks. Dogs love trucks. But, really, you’re not going to want to carry your Great Dane around in an open truck bed. It’s illegal in many places, your dog will be miserable in the cold and rain, and dogs are just stupid enough that maybe your Great Dane will jump out after a squirrel at a stoplight.
I used to own an Australian Shepherd that jumped out of a convertible at a busy LA intersection. They do that shit. I have a goofy little three-legged dog and a Pit Bull that’s like a sloppy, happy ottoman made of muscle. I know how dogs deal in cars. They never really manage to work well in the back seat of a sedan. You need something that can have a big, flat area you can lay a dog blanket on so that pony-sized dog of yours can lay down and enjoy the ride.
You need a van.
Since you want fuel economy, you need this van: a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. The thing gets 84 MPGe, you can drive up to 33 miles using no gas at all, and the seats fold flat into the floor using some kind of black, black magic.
The sliding doors are a great way to get you dog in and out easily, and there’s so much room in there you could get a second Great Dane and not have to worry. Why get something where every time you get the dog in and out it’s a struggle? You don’t need that.
Plus, these look pretty decent and drive well, and they’re well within your budget, starting at $42,000 or so.
Is it a revenge car? Sure. Your revenge is your car does exactly what you want it to.
Expert #4: Jason Torchinsky, Again - I Can’t Suggest Something That Makes Sense
Ugh, I can’t do it. I can’t in good conscience just suggest a rational, practical, new car. I can’t. I tried, and it hurts. That’s why I must insist that you also at least consider this 1963 Studebaker Wagonaire.
The Wagonaire may be the coolest wagon ever devised. It’s got all the classic ‘60s Studebaker character and style you could ask for, plus the Wagonaire’s special trick is that the roof over the wagon area retracts, making it the only convertible station wagon, ever.
It’ll hold your big-ass dog with the safety of a wagon with the optional, open-air smell-ecstasy of a pickup truck. This one has a 259 V8, so the fuel economy probably isn’t stellar, but who cares, because it’s $11,000! Your budget of $60,000+ lets you set aside $10,000 for gas and still come out way ahead!
In fact, you could dump $30,000 into a full restoration of this thing and have one of the best Wagonaires around anywhere and you’re still saving money! You and your dog would be fools not to buy this!