Eric is a physician on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Now that he has a little bit of breathing room after last year, he wants to treat himself to a nice car. He has a pretty healthy budget and wants something fun with an awesome color. 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’m a front line physician and my wife is a healthcare attorney and we both operate an urgent care and COVID-19 testing and treatment site. Over the last year we’ve been working non stop with the COVID pandemic and want to treat ourselves to something nice. I currently drive a green 2020 4Runner TRD Pro and she has a 2018 Crosstrek. We’re planning on selling both cars and getting something new. Our commute changed from two miles to 45 miles, so I’m looking for something more interesting, quicker, and over 6000 GVWR (for taxes). I’m used to driving land cruisers but the wife wants something that she can drive on occasion. The 4Runner, while amazing, is too large for her and doesn’t fit into our garage.
We will have a child soon and we have a large dog (doberman). Most importantly we want a cool color, nothing boring or beige. It seems that most cars come in shades of silver, grey, or black. We can spend up to $150k for the right car.
Budget: Up to $150,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Huntington Woods, MI (suburb of detroit)
Wants: Fun, colorful, big...but not too big
Doesn’t want: A Land Cruiser
Expert 1: Tom McParland - One Mean Tangerine
Eric, I can’t imagine the stress of dealing with this pandemic and it seems like Michigan still has a way to go before things start to stabilize. I can understand wanting to de-stress on the commute home with a lot of horsepower and a bright color.
However, one of the issues you are going to run into is size. You mentioned that the 4Runner is a bit “too big” but most SUVs with a GVWR of at least 6,000 lbs are going to be larger than the 4Runner. What you need is a larger SUV that “feels” small and that is the Porsche Cayenne. Porsche’s big SUV does a pretty good job of pretending it’s a sports car despite the size and heft. Of course, it’s not a Carerra, but it is one of the more capable performers in the class. You can also get it in some pretty neat colors.
Here is a leftover 2020 Cayenne Turbo Coupe in Lava Orange. It has 541 horsepower from a turbocharged V8 and stripes that I assume make it go even faster. In addition to the monster motor, the Turbo has a bunch of other performance goodies that you would expect at this price point like the sport exhaust, torque vectoring, and so on. The “coupe” body style isn’t for everyone and Porsche does the thing where they charge you more for less practicality, but with an original MSRP of $152,000, this leftover model provides some value.
Expert 2: José Rodríguez Jr. - Audi Avant Ahead
Eric, you’ve got a handful of things here: a generous budget, a long and difficult year behind you and an Audi RS 6 Avant ahead of you. In Merlin purple, maybe Nogaro blue. The blue Avant starts at $136,800, per Audi. So it’s at the higher end of your budget, but this is the right car!
Just think about it. You and your wife are coming from a 4Runner and a Crosstrek. You are both accustomed to having a rear cargo area and decent passenger comfort in the cabin. An SUV will be good for you, but a wagon is even better. And the RS6 Avant is the wagon for performance. You could go with a Volvo, but the Avant is a different take on the longroof given its ludicrous speed.
It still never stops being a wagon, though. Your 45 mile commute will not phase the Avant one bit. Your kiddo and Doberman will fit nicely, and garage space should be no problem. Ditto the weight requirement, since the Avant is a beefy car. Just don’t be impatient getting one because you don’t want to end up with a boring silver, grey or white wagon. Wait it out, and get the boldest, brightest Avant you can find. You deserve it after this year!
Expert 3: Raphael Orlove - Big And Sporty You Say?
Something stylish, roomy, sporty, and unbelievably heavy for over $100,000? Sounds like you need a 1930s Bentley.
There’s nothing really wrong with an RS6 or a Cayenne Coupe. They’ll be perfectly fine vehicles, roomy enough indeed, and as good a car as the companies can make for that kind of price. But modern craftsmanship in the car world is nothing in comparison to the Interwar era, when cars like this were made by hand so that people named Bartelby could do 100 mph on undivided French two-lanes in comfort and absolute confidence.
I went looking for the actual weight figure of a Bentley 3 1/2 Liter like this one, but couldn’t find anything exact. Ralph Stein’s The Great Cars makes no specific mention of it as it came about just after Rolls-Royce bought the brand and that original cavalier Bentley Boys spirit came to an end. I wouldn’t be worried about it, though. I’m fairly sure the radiator alone weighs a thousand pounds on its own.
Buy this one running and driving from Gullwing Motor Cars here in New York City for under your budget and drive it home!
Expert 4: Jason Torchinsky - Hey Man, You Didn’t Come Here For Boring Stuff
Hey Dr. Eric! First, I absolutely applaud your desire for a car with a bold, fun color — the world needs more of that, no question. And, your criteria all seem to make some sort of sense — a 4Runner is too big, and you want faster, interesting. All great ideas. You have a buttocks-load of money to spend, too! All great!
You just need something nice and heavy to meet that 6,000 GVWR. I think I have an idea, even if it’s not really the right color, ironically: a 1975 Mohs Safarikar.
I know it’s black, but it’s black naugahide on the outside, and aside from the color, there’s nothing boring about this crazy-ass thing.
Mohs was a seaplane company, but Bruce Mohs, the man behind the company, wanted to build some cars—crazy, overbuilt, luxurious, truck-chassis-based cars. This Safarikar is his second attempt, and is one of three ever built, of two known survivors.
It’s based on an International Travelall truck chassis, and has a big 392 V8 for plenty of torque and power. It’s got three-abreast seating up front, and plenty of room at the rear, even for sleeping, if you wanted to. Which you might.
The doors are massive sliding doors, and the roof is a folding hardtop. The interior is blood red and there’s a CB, so you can ditch your phone, finally. The tires are filled with nitrogen. The rear bumper seems to be filled with red marker lights. It’s everything you ever wanted, and it’s heavy as hell.
The one for sale only lists its price as “$349,500 obo” but considering a near-identical 1973 Safarikar just sold on Bring a Trailer for $90,000 (which seems to be the only other one around), I bet you can get it within your budget.
Do you want us to help you find a car? Submit your story on our form.