I am seriously thinking of trading in my 2003 Dodge Ram Quad Cab with a cover on the bed for something smaller. It has just over 90,000 km on it. I'm a short, white-haired old lady, and it was great years ago, but as I get older, I get shorter. It is fabulous to get into, though, much better than the stupid, deep-well cars that have to be clambered over. Climb on the running board and swing into Emmy. I have been thinking about a Jeep Grand Cherokee, but keep choking on the price. What do you think my options are for getting a better deal if I go for the leftovers of the 2011 version? The problem would probably be the colour as I hate silver, black or white vehicles. They are so boring. Sorry, artist here. My Ram is a beautiful deep Emerald green and I call her Emmy. I do not like boring minivans either and think I'm set on the JGC. Would you give me an idea as to whether I should forget it or not? – Sandy in King City, Ont.
Vaughan: Easy. Forget it.
Sandy, you are what you drive. Cars really do communicate the identity and lifestyle of the owners. That big, old Ram is you: “Climb on the running board and swing into Emmy.” You don’t want to give that up. The Jeep Grand Cherokee communicates real estate agent and that’s not you.
Cato: Oh, come on now. Sandy obviously needs a change. She’s ready, no anxious, to move on to something new and different. And you, Vaughan, might not have noticed it, but she’s grown tired of the big climb into her Ram.
So the Jeep. No vehicle in the recent Chrysler stable says more about the changes at this company since 2009, the summer Chrysler emerged from its U.S. bankruptcy reorganization. Under that Jeep is the platform developed for larger Jeeps and the newest ML and GL SUV from Mercedes-Benz. And though quality was always an issue with past Grand Cherokees, in the most recent Consumer Reports survey, Jeep jumped up seven places to become the top-rated Detroit brand.
Vaughan: Sure, but Sandy’s not getting any bigger; in fact she claims the opposite. In that big Ram she’s sitting way up high and can look down on lesser vehicles. That’s not something she wants to give up.
Ram was first out with a jumbo pickup. When everybody else started super-sizing these trucks in the ’90s they really began to sell. All that urban cowboy stuff. That’s why you see so many around. They don’t haul freight; they haul happy passengers like Sandy.
Cato: Well, this is Sandy’s decision, not yours. And she wants to know about “options” for getting a deal. Sandy, if you can find, say, a leftover 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee ($37,995) in the right colour, Chrysler Canada has a $3,000 factory-to-dealer incentive in play. No such thing on a 2012 – say a Grand Cherokee Laredo. You’ll need to haggle for that 2011 money, though.
Vaughan: Okay, let’s go in a completely different direction. Sandy, the artist, makes a statement with her art and I argue with her vehicle.
So consider this: instead of channelling road domination in that huge Ram, maybe she should choose a whole new road identity. Maybe she should get a boxy little Scion xB that Toyota is trying to flog to the Gen Y crowd.
It isn’t really a minivan. It’s big enough, quite artsy looking, great to drive and a very safe vehicle as well. Sandy can dress it up with strange-looking wheels or other accessories and it certainly comes in enough weird colours.
Cato: Whoa. That’s out of left field. No, that idea’s from another ballpark entirely. That said, Sandy will like the dollars and cents of it. An xB with an automatic transmission sells for less than $20,000. Sandy, if you finance it, take advantage of the 1.9 per cent financing for three years. That’s cheap money.
But I’m certain Sandy will find the xB is too low, that it sits way down where the other short drivers ride. She clearly wants an SUV and a rugged-looking one at that. Which brings me to two words: Honda Pilot.
Honda’s Humvee knockoff is big, reliable and rugged-looking and, if you can find a leftover 2011 Pilot, the four-wheel-drive LX starts at $37,820 – not including the $4,000 factory-to-dealer incentive on the table. Good deal, that, Sandy.
Vaughan: Well, whatever the deal, I still say forget it. Sandy, drive that mighty Ram another year, even if you need to stand on a small stool to get up to the running board. Continue to enjoy it while you contemplate your next artistic direction.
Cato: Sandy, pick the Jeep or the Honda based on the best deal you can get. And you’ll get one, for sure. I personally like the Jeep more and it’s a sweet-riding SUV. But if Honda has a better offer, you’ll be happy there, too.
HOW THEY COMPARE
2012 Scion xB
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4X4
2011 Honda Pilot LX 4X4
Track, front (mm)
Full-time four-wheel drive
Automatic four-wheel drive
Curb weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
9.5 city/7.3 highway
13.0 city/8.9 highway
13.1 city/9.1 highway
Base price (MSRP)
Source: car manufacturers
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV