Posted by: gregboyko | January 7, 2006

New Vehicle!

Well, we finally decided on a new vehicle to replace our Dakota (which was totaled in the rollover). We bought a brand new, 2006 Chrysler Pacifica. A surprising choice, since we were pretty sure we wanted another pickup, or possibly an SUV (Dodge Durango).

It took us two weeks of fairly intensive shopping before we settled on the Pacifica. A new Dakota was the first thing we looked at. The new appearance of the Dakota’s seemed a little strange at first, but as far as exterior appearance, I’m really beginning to like them. The 06’s really look sharp with the Sport Appearance package. But there were several things Gretchen and I didn’t like about the interior. They no longer have an overhead storage spot for sunglasses. They put the rear cupholders on the floor so there is less rear-center legroom. And the interior just looked "cheap", especially the fake woodgrain trim.

We looked at the Dodge Ram. The new mega-cab is pretty awesome, but it’s a monster! It wouldn’t fit in our garage (at least not easily). It’s also very pricey.

Next, we looked at the Toyota Tundra. The Tundra is actually a very nice pickup. It seems perhaps a little smaller than the full-size pickups from the big three, but it’s still quite a bit bigger than the Dakota, especially in rear-seat legroom. The bed is also a full 6 feet, while the Dakota quad cab only has 5 feet 4 inches. We were pretty impressed with the Tundra, and in remained in the running for quite a while.

We also looked a the Ford F150, but it just seemed like a bigger vehicle than we wanted, since we were used to the Dakota’s size.

I test drove an ’06 Durango, too. We were seriously considering a Durango, but when I drove one, it just seemed big, heavy and slow. The new-style durango’s are bigger and heavier than the older ones. I also don’t like they new styling on the durangos. The old ones look better, IMO. The one I drove didn’t have the Hemi (it had the 4.7L V8) so I’m sure that would make them feel more responsive, but I just didn’t like the feel when I drove it.

When we told the salesman we just couldn’t seem to make up our mind, he asked if we had looked at the Pacifica. I didn’t even know what it was. When he pointed them out, I didn’t really like the look from the outside, but once he opened it up and showed us the interior and all the features they have, we got interested.

We decided to take one for a test drive. They let us take one home for the night, and after exploring it and driving it, we were pretty much sold. I cannot say enough good things about this vehicle. It meets our needs almost perfectly. The Pacifica has seating for six, a lot of cargo space if the rear seats are folded down, and a ton of cargo space if the rear and the second-row seats are folded down. (We will miss having a pickup bed, however, for those occasional oversized items). It has all-wheel drive, four-wheel ABS, side airbags that cover all three seating rows. It has excellent feel when driving it. It’s supposed to get about 17 MPG in the city and about 22 MPG on the highway, which is better than a Durango, Ram, or Dakota. Gas mileage isn’t excellent by any means, but for a big vehicle, it’s not bad.

And the interior! The amenities are incredible, as is the build-quality. Good materials are used throughout. Leather seats. Heated seats in the front and second rows. Digital, automatic, dual-zone HVAC system. Power liftgate, sunroof, seats (with two driver memory). Auto-dimming mirrors (both rear-view and driver’s side). We’re quite impressed to say the least.

It cost a bit more than a Dakota. It is roughly the same price as a pickup or SUV. For our daily use, it meets our needs better than anything else we looked at. I got a hitch so I can do light-duty towing (which is all we need) if we have an oversize item and can’t fit it inside the Pacifica. Maybe sometime down the road I’ll buy an older pickup to use for moving those oversize items around.

Here’s a photo of our Pacifica. You can’t see a lot of the car, so look at the Chrysler link above if you want more shots of the vehicle itself.



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