I need a ride capable car that can handle a big kid and a big dog! What car should I buy?

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Image: Jason Torchinsky/Jalopnik

Toulson is looking for a carousel that can comfortably accommodate an “adult size” grade 5 student and a puppy that will eventually grow into a large dog for long car trips. He dreamed of an AMG station wagon but didn’t have the budget. What car should he buy?

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Here is the scenario:

I have a 5th grader who is adult sized and a puppy who is going to be huge. We do a few longer trips every year and need a car that can both handle those trips, be good around town and not boring. If I could find a maroon E63 AMG with a manual within my budget, I’d write a check without thinking twice, but things like “reality” intrude on my dreams.

I want enough space for three adult-sized humans and a dog that likes to spread out (so either three rows or a wagon-size cargo area). Also, I say I prefer a manual transmission because I do, but I know that actually won’t happen. More importantly, it can’t be an SUV. I have a budget up to $50,000

Fast facts:

Budget: up to $50,000

Location: washington d.c.

Daily driver: Yes

Wanna: Spacious, fun, comfortable

Will not : an SUV


Expert 1: Tom McParland – JAAAAG WAAAAGON

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Image: Autotrader.com

Toulson, I too have dreams of an AMG station wagon but the bank account balance is missing to justify such a purchase. Now, the obvious solution to the scenario of carrying the family and a large dog on a road trip is simply to “buy the fucking minivan”, but it doesn’t look like you’re quite ready to take that step. With the SUV out of the question, that leaves the roof long. Of course, checking this box means severely limiting your options.

You want something with some street presence, plenty of cargo space behind the rear seats and, ideally, a good number of ponies under the hood. This calls the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. It doesn’t have a hand-built V8 like the AMG, but the 380-horsepower supercharged V6 shoving through Beltway traffic shouldn’t be a problem. This particular cat with just 25,000 miles is not only local, but also Jaguar certified, and had an original retail price of just over $72,000.. That’s quite a bargain, especially in this bloated used-car market. Jaguar’s build quality might be a bit of a gamble, but if you had to play it safe, you’d have bought the Sienna by now.

Expert 2: Andy Kalmowitz – Do the Right Thing

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Toulson, I hate to break it to you, but you have to buy a minivan. I understand you’re not quite there yet, but those are the facts of life. A van will suit you exactly for what you are looking for. I know it’s hard to hear. So what about that? I’ll find you a minivan way below your budget. This means that you will have money left over to buy a real fun car.

The right car for you is a Chrysler Pacifica. Is it better than a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna? It’s a draw. But, I’m a Chrysler minivan loyalist. Growing up, my mom had four in a row, so that’s what I’m going to recommend. Here is the good news. You can get one good in your budget. I’m talking over $20,000 to save.

Because of that, I found you this 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Touring Plus. It’s got all the bells and whistles you’ll need for kid-carrying and road trips, under 20,000 miles, and a price to die for. This piece of metal will set you back less than $29,000. This will leave you plenty of money to get a second fun car. Think of all the Miatas and BRZs you can get for that kind of money. There is also your manual response.

So Toulson, I know that’s not what you want to hear, but a van is what you need. You will thank me later.

Expert 3: Owen Bellwood – Choose the right bus

A photo of a bright yellow classic VW bus.

Photo: Street Classics

Toulson, Andy is right, and a van is probably the best option for you. But just because you need a pickup doesn’t mean you have to settle for something bland, like a Pacifica. Instead, you should let your creativity run wild and go for something classic.

I introduce you this glorious 1995 VW bus. Hey, that’s weird. I thought VW dropped this design long before 1995? Well you would be there, but in Brazil the design remained in production until 2013so you can get yourself a nice old van that might last a bit longer than a 70s VW. And, with that in mind, I think this bus is perfect for you.

It’ll stand out from the crowd every time you drive it around town and that four-speed manual transmission will keep your arms working while you’re on the road. Plus, there’s tons of luggage and dog space in the back. And, if you’re on a long drive and need to stop for a break, there’s even a second VW bus available with a kitchen installed. I can’t think of a more perfect vehicle for you.

Expert 4: José Rodríguez Jr. – A long goodbye to Volvo’s sleek long roof

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Photo: Volvo Cars Southwest Houston

Despite a van being the obvious choice, you don’t need to buy a van yet, Toulson. There are countless cars out there that will comfortably fit your family of four and still be fun to drive in one way or another. To this day, I’m still looking BMW X5 with manual transmission late at night when I’m feeling restless – or reckless, rather – but I’m not going to blame you for that. You don’t need a project SUV so I recommend this 2019 Volvo V90 T5 R-Design it’s quite a distance from DC, but it’s under budget and has all the upgrade management. Plus, it’s in a lovely shade of blue that would make a memorable machine for family trips.

Sounds like you want something engaging, and while the turbocharger V90 The T5 does not have the power of the turbo- and Supercharged T6, it might still give you what you’re looking for thanks to its sporty suspension. I know I’m already taking the gear stick away from you, so if you really want more pep to make up for the loss, there’s this V90 T6 R-Design it’s barely over budget.

I hesitated to choose one volvo wagon first; I had a feeling these amazing cars would be common in Washington DC, but then I realized that the Volvo V90 isn’t common anywhere in the US because not many people bought the damn thing in the first place. It’s just weird to me that someone would choose a clunky SUV over a sleek V90, which would soak up the miles while still suiting a family with room to spare. Never mind. The V90 deserves a long goodbye with a loving family. It’s you and yours, Toulson.

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