Kenneth bought a Buick Encore in the summer of 2020 because he needed something affordable and he didn’t have an ideal credit score. Now that the FICO is up and the balance on the Buick is down, he wants to upgrade to something he really likes.
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Here is the scenario:
I have a 2020 Buick Encore that I bought in the summer of 2020 as a “credit builder”, now with less than 5k left to be paid by the end of the year, and a near excellent credit score, I’d like to get the car I want. I thought it would be a Tesla model Y but I’d like to consider another capable and sporty vehicle that might tow a trailer once a year that im not “beta testing”
I’m looking for a truck or SUV, seating for 4 adults, fast enough to handle Atlanta Traffic and my dashed race car driver dreams, okayish gas mileage to travel to NC. for work (I work in the film industry) , light Tow capable, and able to carry a few EZ-UP style canopy Tents, either in a bed or inside.
My budget is up to $60,000
Budget: Up to $60,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Atlanta GA/ Wilmington NC
Wants: Seating for 4, somewhat quick, good MPG
Doesn’t want: Something too small
Kenneth, well done on getting that credit score up. Our credit system is bonkers. Your score can drop so fast within one month or two, but it can take much longer to bring the score back up. Since you were drawn to the Tesla Model Y but would prefer a brand with more consistent build quality, I immediately thought of the all-new Ford F-150 Lightning. The EV truck would fit your needs perfectly, however recent reports suggest that orders may not even start until next year, which means you are a long way out until getting a new car in your driveway. If you wanted something a bit sooner, the F150 Hybrid would do the job, and you wouldn’t have to stress about finding charging stations. Not only will this rig tow or haul any gear you need for the job, you could easily set up a camper situation in the bed for your outdoor adventures.
Given the difficult inventory situation, these hybrids are very rare. I only found two within 300 miles of the Atlanta metro and only one of those had an MSRP that was within your budget range.
Congrats, Kenneth! Being mindful and diligent about your credit score is one of those lifehacks that makes all the difference. I think you should treat yourself to a 2021 Honda Ridgeline. It might not be the exciting pick compared to an EV pickup or one of the mid-size segment favorites, like a Ranger or Tacoma.
But based on your location and commute, I think the Ridgeline could work well. The drive from Atlanta, Georgia to Wilimington, North Carolina appears to be roughly 420 miles. That’s not what I’d call a short drive!
You’re gonna want a comfortable machine, and this is where the disadvantages of the Ridgeline — which boil down to it being an uneventful and predictable pickup — actually become advantages. If I had to pick a truck to cover that many miles, it’d be the Honda. You’ll also get a well-appointed cabin and a solid V-6 engine. Hell, you could even splurge and go with the HPD with your budget.
The mix of fuel thriftiness, utility and mild performance you’re looking for is tough to find, Kenneth, but it does exist. You say you’re open to a truck or SUV; at the moment, it’s a little bit easier to check all those boxes with an SUV. My recommendation for you is the new Ford Explorer Hybrid, which starts at $45,255 for the powertrain of note.
The Explorer Hybrid is big and roomy, like you need it to be. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds in hybrid guise, which makes it a leader in the hybrid SUV category alongside the Tesla Model X and Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid. The combined 3.3-liter V6 and electric motor provide 318 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque, which makes the Explorer snappy to move and decent on fuel, at 27 MPG city and 29 MPG highway. It covers pretty much all the bases. Well, almost — we found the steering light and pretty apathetic in our review, but then again, this is an almost 5,000-pound SUV. Something’s got to give.
Hello Kenneth, your letter makes me sad because I did not realize people buy new Buicks to build credit, but then again there has to be a reason GM keeps Buick around, and all of that reason can’t be that they sell well in China. More to the point, you say you want an SUV or truck with some pep and one that’s big enough for four people, but the problem is that $60,000 doesn’t quite get you there, unless you’re in the market for something like a used Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
Instead, I will suggest spending a little more and getting something new, because you deserve it. That something is a Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, which starts at $81,390 and has a 6.2-liter V8 under the hood making 710 horsepower. Dodge spends its days making cars that are vulgarities, and the Durango SRT Hellcat is no exception, but I say that with love.
Also, you are allowed to make as many absolutely ridiculous automotive buying decisions as you want, and, compared to the Encore, the SRT Hellcat will feel like a Formula 1 car. Be sure to get stripes.
Congratulations on getting your credit score nice and high. Now you can enjoy the spoils. It sounds like you want a vehicle that can seemingly do it all from quenching your thirst for high-octane fun to being a practical hauler. I originally wanted to recommend something silly like a GMC Typhoon, but apparently those have a tow capacity of a big whopping zero pounds. Instead, I’ll offer up the Porsche Macan Turbo.
The Macan Turbo is a crossover that can tow a race car to the track, then put in some lap times itself after you break said race car. Its tow rating comes in at 4,409 pounds, which should be enough to tow a trailer once a year. You get a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 making 400 HP and satisfying your need for speed. Since it’s a crossover, you get space space for you, your friends and your gear, too.
If you’re willing to go gently used you can find a bunch of them within or near budget. And the best part about going used is that you’re not the person that has to soak up all of that original depreciation.
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