So if you read my previous blog entry, you are aware of a recent situation we had regarding our Dodge Durango having more electrical problems. As an update to that post, the salesman that called me after the service was completed (to sell me a new car) has never called me back regarding my request to find an Aspen. A week or so ago, Linda decided to head out to the car lots and see what we could find. This turned out to be a very interesting event. First off, we went to some lots in Peoria and came to the conclusion that most of these dealerships had very little on their lots and what they did have were either vans or crap looking boxes on wheels. Now it was a quest so we took off to Morton to check out their lots. Same situation on the Dodge lot, little inventory or was so ugly they were not even worth getting out of the vehicle to look at and definitely nothing in the SUV category. We then headed over to the Ford lot. They actually had a couple of Explorers on the backside of the lot so we stopped and got out to take a look. In a first for this trip, a salesman came out to help us who promptly told us they did not have any new Explorers left due to being wiped out by the Cash for Clunkers program. Does this seem odd to you? Apparently everyone was turning in their clunkers for gas guzzling SUVs which seems contrary to the supposed intent of that program. When we asked when more would be arriving we were told possibly in 6-8 weeks while he handed us his business card and walked away. So here we sit wanting to purchase a vehicle and a) there are no vehicles to actually buy and b) the salesman doesn’t even seem interested enough to ask us our name so he can contact us when they do arrive. We are no longer surprised why this industry is in the toilet. Unwilling to give up, we headed to Pekin to check out the Dodge dealer there. As we entered the now common empty lot, we spied a Dodge Aspen (the Durango replacement) and what seemed to good to be true it had a reduced sign on it. Jumping out of the car we quickly located a salesman to inquire about the vehicle. Turns out, it was a 2 wheel V6. I can’t imagine that this configuration appealed to anyone in the market for this type of vehicle. We also learned that the Aspen was not being made anymore and Chrysler decided to completely exit the SUV market. This was the final straw and we decided it was time to check out the imports.
A mile or so down the street, there was a Toyota dealer and as it turns out, I actually knew the owner of that dealership (we met at my neighbor’s redneck Wednesday events which consists of everyone bringing over their firearms for target practice – our constitutional right to bear arms and don’t ever try to legislate it away). Sure enough, this lot had a number of vehicles on it and a couple of Sequoias that were right up our alley. A helpful salesman came out, we got all our questions answered, took a test drive, negotiated a price (helps if you know the right people) and signed on the bottom line. We are now the proud owners of a new Toyota SUV and very happy with the decision. Oh, and before we get the flood of comments trying to criminalize large vehicles, we live in the country in the Midwest (I chuckle every time I pass a stuck Prius in the snow), raise agility dogs that require traveling to competition and still looking for verifiable FACTS on the Global Warming myth (especially ones that justify the record lows we are currently experiencing).
I thought I would give a quick comparison of Toyota experiences with our previous Durango (hit the jump to see)
- The Hemi is a pretty sweet engine, but the Toyota V8 is pretty nice. I am giving the edge to the Hemi for now just due to being more familiar with it, but I reserve the right to change this opinion as we get more miles under our new wheels
- Parking – being smaller than the Toyota, makes it a little easier to maneuver while parking
- Gas mileage – this was disappointing on the Toyota side. The Durango got 15-18 where the Toyota gets 13-18 (also the reason I gave the edge to the Hemi
- 4 Wheel Drive – on the SUV side, Chrysler had the all wheel all the time turning problem solved. The Toyota has 4 wheel on demand and will do the patented hop on a tight turn.
- Interior Color – We prefered the Durango leather which was a grey to the Toyota fabric (a tan) due to the potential to get it dirty with the dogs – we did have the fabric protection added to help compensate for this.
- Has not developed a single electrical problem yet!
- Capacity – definitely larger than the Durango and there are so many places to store stuff we do not know what to put in most of them. In fact, the storage area between the driver and passanger is so huge it can even be used as a full file hanger.
- Power Outlets – although neither had the desired built in inverter, the Toyota has a ton of 12V outlets all over the place (three in the front seat alone)
- Rear Window – the Toyota window rolls down inside the tailgate, the Durango is fixed. This sounds insignificant until you include the dog shows which previously required us to keep the entire tailgate up to keep the dogs cool.
- Guages – The Toyota dashboard and features are head and shoulders above the Durango
- Radio – Although both vehicles have MP3 capability, the Toyota has the IPod friendly Aux port and the all important USB port – had to put new radios in my trucks just to get this heavily used feature – oh, and like the BMW it is fully BT enabled.
- Floor Mats – although Toyota did not come with any, our negotiated deal had heavy duty ones added for free
- User Manual – Every single question we have had has been answered in their manual and get this, there is a full schematic for the fuses – did you hear that Chrysler, they bothered to give the layout in their manual.
- Quietness – Without question, the Toyota is a far quieter ride – the Durango had a nasty wind whistle at high speeds likely originating from the rear windows. This was very noticeable from the Durango’s backseat
- Lastly, the front passenger seat table position which allows you to use your laptop from the backseat. Linda found this feature by accident (it is actually written on the back of the passenger seat, but we did not see it and the salesman never mentioned it)
Needless to say, we are very happy with our new purchase and quite frankly the quality we have seen with the imports (previously BMW and now Toyota) will definitely sway any future vehicle purchases. I can honestly say we tried our best to purchase an American product (at least from a profit perspective since the new Toyota was built in Texas) but if you are not going to have product on the lot for us to buy and what you do have doesn’t appeal to our likes.. (squares with wheels is not fall into this category) then don’t expect to reap any profits…. and the Fiatt thing is too confusing to even go there.
Now time to pack the SUV and head off to Racine Wisconsin to the Teacup Dog Agility Nationals Wish Kerby and Rizzi the best of luck!