To Dodge, or not to Dodge

After my recent conversation with Andy Thomson at CanAm I went to check out autotrader.ca to see how much a Dodge Durango would set us back.

We always buy vehicles that are off lease, for cash if possible. They’re 50% cheaper than new, and just as good as new, with a full service history and typically some manufacturer’s warranty remaining. I’ve owned one brand new vehicle in my life and that was when work paid for it – even then I hated the monthly payments. It seemed a total waste of money, even though it wasn’t my money.

The three things we need in our next car are: Space for the boys, oomph to move the Airstream and a high payload so we can pack bikes or kayaks on the roof and still stay within specs. Oh, and a decent drive. I got seduced by the space and the high payload capacity of the Ford Expedition, but driving it is an insane experience. As somebody who’s used to European cars I don’t understand how people put up with the wallowing, wandering, can’t-even-drive-in-a-straight-line-at-speed driving these body on frame vehicles deliver. The Ford was out.

The car that included all of our mandatories was the Mercedes GL class, but we had a couple of concerns. First, there’s the price, both for purchase and for servicing and repairs. I’ve owned three Mercs in my life, two classic models and one recent B-class. Cheap, they were not.

Then, there is the question of parts availability. The plan is to take time off work in a couple of years and drive across the continent for a summer. Should anything go wrong in rural Manitoba, a Mercedes isn’t the best car to be in. Parts and repair would be difficult.

So when Andy recommended the Dodge Durango, I was all ears. The Dodge and the Mercedes share the same platform, a hangover from the days when GM and Mercedes were, briefly, one company. As a result, the Dodge is pretty much a GL class Merc, but at a fraction of the cost.

There’s one big drawback however and that’s the choice of engines. The Dodge doesn’t have access to the wonderful Mercedes BlueTEC diesel power plant, which is both fuel efficient and gutsy, with oodles of torque. However, given that we don’t actually drive much most of the time, I am ok with not worrying too much about fuel efficiency. The eight cylinder hemi engine in the Dodge delivers all the grunt we could ever want to move our trailer. An added benefit is that few people want the big engine, making the car even more affordable. Andy’s take was that dealers “can’t give them away” and prices I’ve seen so far seem to corroborate that opinion.

So, if you’re interested in buying a gently used Honda Odyssey with less than 70K km on the clock annd a CanAm reinforced hitch with a Prodigy II brake controller that’s all set up for towing, drop us a line. We’re planning on making the switch next spring, but could make it anytime.