LeftLaneNews

I jumped ship on my Dodge life raft for a Toyota-branded land yacht

So far it's been all smooth sailing.

For the last two years I've been daily driving a life raft. Well, not a literal life raft, obviously, but it was a vehicle I was forced into because my previous daily driver was heading down the same path as the Titanic, only faster.

The story starts in late 2016 when my then daily driver, a 2006 Dodge Magnum R/T with only 74,000 miles, started to experience some unusual problems. With increasing regularity it would go into limp home mode, which restricted the top speed to that of a tortoise. But crawling through traffic at a snail's pace was actually preferable to the Magnum's other glitch, which was shutting off completely.

Having been around cars long enough, I knew the issue was likely an electrical gremlin, which is almost always terminal in a modern vehicle. Instead of throwing money at a car I knew was sinking, I decided to abandon ship.

Car shopping is normally one of my favorite past times, but things were different this time around. Because I was the family bus driver, I needed to find a replacement quickly, which meant I couldn't wait for the perfect vehicle to pop up for sale. And because my wife was pregnant with our second child, my new car had to be relatively inexpensive and contain three rows of seats.

Naturally a used minivan made the most sense, so I bought a 2011 Dodge Durango Citadel, because HEMI V8.

In hindsight, trading in one failing Chrysler product on yet another Chrysler-made vehicle wasn't the wisest choice. That would be like someone surviving the Titanic's maiden voyage only to take the Titanic II back to England. But, alas, I climbed aboard a life raft made by the very same people that built the sinking ship I had just fled.

Luckily my raft was mostly seaworthy, with only a few leaks. I didn't have any major problems during my two years of ownership, but there were plenty of issues along the way. The dashboard and center armrest rattled, one of the air vents kept popping out of its housing and if you ever started it on a decline, it would lurch forward, which always required a change of underpants. In a nutshell, my Durango didn't give off an air of quality.

Not wanting to be stuck in the same situation as before, I decided to proactively start searching for a new vehicle. Only this time I wanted something that was truly unsinkable, a vehicle that put durability and reliability ahead of almost everything else. So naturally, I ended up with a Toyota Land Cruiser.

The Land Cruiser also met my requirement of having three rows of seats and, since I settled on a 2013 model, it also had good tech -- stuff like adaptive cruise control and a not-quite-360 exterior camera system. And since a 2013 model has had nine years to depreciate, I could finally afford one.

Of course having the budget to keep the Land Cruiser going post-purchase was a concern. Weighing 6,000 pounds and using a 381 horsepower V8, the Land Cruiser isn't what you'd call thrifty. But believe it or not, I'm averaging 3-5mpg better in the Land Cruiser than I was in my Durango, because HEMI V8.

I appreciate my life raft keeping me afloat for those two years, but life couldn't be better aboard my new land yacht.

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