The 2015 Car Update

I love cars. I don’t love commuting, but I enjoy driving. A little over a year ago, I left the Albuquerque SQL Saturday with a few fellow SQL Server pros at 8pm. I drove the 6+ hours home to arrive at 2:30am in time to get some sleep and then be up early for a family event.

It was hard, but I enjoyed the drive. I like the road trips.

I used to include some thoughts on cars and technology as an editorial piece every few months. Some people like it, some didn’t, some hated it, so I stopped. However I’ve been meaning to include a few notes here, so if you don’t like cars, stop reading.

The End of an Era

At the end of last year, I sold my 911. That was the dream car I wanted since I was 11 or 12 and finally bought. It was the second Porsche I owned (I had a 914) and it was a little sad to let it go.

However it stayed in the SQL Family, going to Merrill Aldrich. Here we were one morning in December before he drove away.

Photo Dec 19, 7 26 20 AM

This was the first time I hadn’t had a Porsche in over a decade, and I thought I might get another one soon. However I was looking for something that was larger and more comfortable to me.

Looking Forward

As I’ve aged, and since I’ve been driving my 2001 Suburban for a few years, I’ve wanted to have a bit more room in the car. With a bad knee (surgery last year) and again joints, I dislike getting down into cars these days. I don’t like driving our Prius and I try to rent SUVs when I’m traveling.

As a result, I’m looking for a mid-sized SUV. The Suburban has been great, but it has 180k miles on it, things are breaking, and I’d like to have a slightly smaller SUV with better gas mileage. I am looking for a truck that would easily get 3 of us skiing with gear. I’ll still have the Suburban for a bit of time, so if we need to take 5 people, we can. I considered (briefly) some of the AWD cars, but at the ranch we have snow drifts at times and the low clearance of cars becomes an issue.

I also want to be pampered. Things I think are important:

  • heated seats (must)
  • heated steering wheel (nice)
  • sunroof
  • smooth drive
  • leg room in the rear (I have kids starting to drive, who are large and sometimes put me in the back seat)

That’s about it. Navigation, cruise control, most of the other items are optional for me. I was looking for a 2012-ish used truck, maybe newer, depending on model. With this in mind, I started a search with these cars:

  • Chevy/GMC Tahoe/Yukon
  • Porsche Cayenne
  • VW Toureg
  • Audi Q7
  • Lexus RX350/450h
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • BMW X5
  • Volvo XC90
  • Lincoln MKX
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Acura MDX
  • Mazda CX-9

I drove quite a few of these, but not all. However they seemed to fall into a few classes and I could relate some to others. For example, the Cayenne, Q7 and Toureg all fall on the same frame. The Porsche is the smallest inside, and was underwhelming in terms of power. The Toureg was really nice, but it didn’t have any advantages over the X5, so I discarded it. I didn’t drive the Q7, but it’s a more expensive car, with no real advantages. To some extent, the Lincoln and Chevy fall into the same class. Expensive with no advantages.

The Highlander, CX-9, and Santa Fe don’t feel as polished or comfortable. Thinner seats, not as enjoyable, just not luxurious. The Lincoln was a bit underpowered, and also smaller.

I settled on the X5 and the RX350 pretty quickly. The Acura was essentially the RX350, but since there are fewer of them, why go that way? The Lexus is amazingly built, with so many older models with high mileage for sale. I even drove one with 325k miles and was tempted to get it for my son.

Ultimately the large sunroof and my wife’s affinity for Beemers have me choosing the X5 as the truck. It has rear seat heaters, which the kids like. A third row, which is really unusable for my family (everyone is 5′ 9" or taller) but it’s there in a pinch. The sunroof is huge, which I love. It’s comfortable and luxurious, and while it’s a touch heavy, the diesel has decent gas mileage.

All that’s left to do is find one. I’m on the search now, and we’ll see what I find in the next month.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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3 Responses to The 2015 Car Update

  1. yazalpizar says:

    And why not a VW Transporter/Multivan, Mercedes Vito or something of that kind? Huge space available on those and with all the fancy features you are looking for. And if you are looking for 4×4 there is the VW Rockton for heavy duties and offroad usage.

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    • way0utwest says:

      I’m not looking for a van, or for huge space. I’m actually trying to get the smallest truck I can that gives me space for 4 six foot adults. The Rockton and Vito aren’t US models, and I don’t really see equivalents. I am really looking for luxury, with the ability to move through the snow I get at the ranch.

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  2. yazalpizar says:

    Far enough 😉 And you’re right, those are european models

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