Randy is being sent to jolly old England for a few years and he gets to take a car with him. It needs to be practical and reliable, preferably a good representation of the U.S. of A, but not too big. What car should he buy?
Visiting other countries is great, but there is nothing like actually living in another land for a while and being immersed in their way of life. Of course, you are bound to get homesick, and if you are a car enthusiast you may long for the wonderfully large vehicles that represent your American homeland.
Luckily for Randy, not only does he get to live a few years in the UK, he gets to bring an American car with him.
Here is the scenario:
I’m moving to London (UK!) for three years for work and I get to bring a car. I thought it would be interesting to bring along something fun but subtle. I usually buy trucks and SUV’s that give me maximum utility but are a bit different from the norm. I currently drive a ‘12 Nissan Frontier Pro-4x and before that an‘04 Jeep Liberty Renegade. I am willing to think outside my common sense box in order to have some fun on this trip. I would like an automobile that has a proven and well-regarded reliability record so I think I am in the used car market, but willing to consider new. I will need to pay cash for the car so I can get it out of the country and therefore would need to stay around $30k.
This car will spend most of its life parked, but it will probably be asked to support some cross country treks that will invariably involve dirt roads. It will also need to get me to and from LeMans, France at least once, maybe three times, for the race. Those will be camping trips and also involve returning with large quantities of wine.
Reliability is number one priority. I don’t want to sacrifice travel/exploration money to the mechanic. Wife gets cold easy so heated seats are a must have. Must seat three (American) adults and a dog comfortably on road trips. It should be well appointed, but subtle. Bonus points for being representative of ‘Merica! We are not afraid to row some gears either so they shouldn’t be left off the table.
Daily Driver: Not really, but needs to be useful on long trips
Average Miles Per-Week: Less than 100
Wants: Big enough to seat three adults and a dog, small enough to maneuver in Europe
Doesn’t want: Something too small or too big, No base models, Preferably not a crossover
Randy if you are going to invade, I mean visit, England and France and bring a piece of the American auto market with you, it’s got to be a pickup truck. Obviously, something like a Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado would cause some kind of international incident and we can’t have that, so it’s best that we take the truck idea and scale it down a little, similar to what you have already done with the Frontier.
What you need is a Chevrolet Colorado. And when your mates, as they say in the UK, ask what kind of truck you have you must say it with authority: “COLORADOOOO!”
This is a 2015 Colorado Z71 with less than 23k miles for just under $30,000. Chevy calls this color “rainforest green” but you will refer to it as British Racing Green. The Z71 package means you have some off-road gear in case you need to scale Stonehedge or something.
The Colorado is comfortable enough for adults and your pup, and definitely projects “AMERICAN TRUCK” without being unwieldy on European roadways.
Before you dismiss this suggestion as a joke, take a moment to consider your criteria, and think about why the Buick Rendezvous would be a perfect candidate for your overseas trip.
First off, it’s undeniably American but has a name that must be pronounced in French, so it’s already starting with more European pedigree than likely anything else on this list. It’s also cheap to buy, can tow a sizable caravan, has available all-wheel-drive when things get muddy, isn’t terrible on fuel economy, and unlike its Pontiac Aztek sibling, it won’t make you look like a world famous meth cook who flew too close to the sun.
It might technically qualify as a crossover, but with so much left in the budget, you could afford to take this thing on many a cross-continent trip and carry more booze than an old-timey Texas moonshiner, and what’s more American than that?
So you’re looking for something subtle that’s roomy, but not too big for Europe; and you’re also looking for something reliable that can handle dirt roads with aplomb; plus, you want this thing to be ‘Murican. It’s clear to me that what you need is an AMC Eagle wagon.
First off, just look at it: it’s about as American as anything on the road with all that faux wood on the doors and quarter panels Plus, the thing’s got AMC’s 258 cubic-inch inline-six, which is basically invincible, there’s plenty of room in the back for humans and animals, and even really nice ones go for just five to six grand.
Most importantly, this thing is four-wheel drive, using hardware from Jeep’s stable under a car-based body. Yes, you could consider it a crossover, but this isn’t like your typical Rav4. It’s much, much cooler.
At our karting meetup before the Detroit Auto Show this year, I met a young gearhead who came from a two-Ford Flex family. One Flex for mom, one Flex for dad. They even had the same coloring, if I remember right.
Only in Detroit, man.
These people were repeat Flex buyers, too, so while I have no direct experience with the vehicle, it must be good to have habitual customers. Who do you know that was a repeat Dodge Avenger buyer? That’s right, nobody.
Anyway, if you’re going to another country and bringing a car, you may as well bring a car you can’t get in that country, and Ford doesn’t sell the Flex in the UK. Why would they? It’s gigantic, with three rows of seats and mighty 3.5-liter EcoBoost® V6 power.
That’s right, you turkey—it’s got EcoBoost.
You got a budget of $30,000? You can find a Flex for way less than that, easy. I’ve even found a few older examples for under $10,000, which is a real steal. Here’s a 2015 model with just 28,000 miles, probably a lease turn-in, for $24,000. Not bad.
Also, with the white top it kind of looks like a gigantic overinflated Mini Cooper, which the Brits will no doubt find whimsical. They may even spit out their tea and send their monocles flying off their faces when they see one. Pip-pip cheerio! EcoBoost!