Our trusty 1998 Jeep Wrangler has served us well as a tow vehicle (they are called toads) for five years. Our original idea was a Subaru Outback but back in 2011 we would have had to buy a nearly new one to get what we wanted. We were not ready for that. So the Jeep worked fine. But it was noisy, bumpy, stiff and good for (we were good for) not a very long drive. A couple very long days two years ago driving from the Tetons up to Yellowstone and back had us thinking a wee bit more comfort would be nice. And the the AC in the Jeep quit out in Arizona this past winter when it was in the 90s. More thinking.
Even before we got home we were looking for a a Subaru Outback. The last year they were towable (something to do with transmissions) was 2014 and it had to have a manual transmission. And being from MN we thought heated seats were pretty important. So we did a nationwide search for a 2014 Subaru Outback with a manual transmission. There were 12 scattered across the country. Only two had less than 30,000 miles on them. None had heated seats. We didn't want white or black. Some color that went with the coach perhaps, two left in the list, a red one in Austin, TX and a green one near Duluth, MN. Our friend Bob went to check out the green one. It was a marginal maybe at best. He reported that is was just about the worst green color he could imagine on a car. I saw one when we got back to Hastings, I agreed. One left. Too many things that we wanted were not there. The red was OK but a lot of missing things for the price.
Next choices were a Ford Explorer, Escape or Edge or a Jeep Grand Cherokee or (a non-Grand, slightly smaller) Cherokee. Low 20,000 miles.
We looked at a couple 2014 Grand Cherokees. They were bigger than any of our cars now, felt bigger and bulkier. We were not impressed with the interiors or the seats, sort of plain Grand I guess but that is what they had. We looked a a 2014 Cherokee, red, black and gray interior, leather heated and cooled seats, big touchscreen dash sort of thing. Wow! A bit more money than we were thinking but not much. Even the Cherokee was just a bit bigger than our Passat which we think is quite comfortable.
And then on to the Ford dealer. Lots of black, white and gray Explorers. Sort of MInnesota's choice of colors I guess. The Explorer was big. Felt big, looked big, drove big, too big. 1000 lbs more than the Cherokee. The Ford Edge was a cross over, all wheel drive but not really an off-road car by any stretch of the imagination. It was a car. The Escape was OK. About the same size and weight as the Cherokee. It felt a bit more tinny, nowhere near the accoutrements for about the same money.
We thought about it. Sell the Wrangler, sell the Passat, sell our bike rack, sell the tow setup for the Wrangler. Buy the Cherokee, get new towing gear, get a new bike rack. Lots of work.
So all of this went down at the same time as all of our other summer projects. We traded in the Wrangler, probably could have gotten a bit more if we had sold it outright but time was tight. Sold the towing gear from the Wrangler for almost what we had in it. Ordered up all of the parts to set up the Cherokee for towing and a new tow bar and brake setup.
Don at the Auto Doctor installed all towing gear. It took about a week, he fit it in when they had spare time and gave us a break on cost. We did a test tow, made a couple adjustments and we were all set up with a new toad.
Susan and the Jeep Cherokee
Coach and Jeep Ready to Go
This will be Susan's everyday car. We will sell the Passat when we get home and be back to two cars.
So far we have towed it more than driven it. But we like it! A good choice for us.
Roger and Susan