By late 2014 I knew it was getting time to replace my venerable 2004 Isuzu Rodeo. I started seriously looking at replacement options and was pretty shell-shocked by what I found. There were actually very few six-cylinder vehicles on the market and the few available were priced way higher than what I wanted to pay for another vehicle. Besides an engine size of 3.2 LT or larger (to handle a towing weight of about 3,000 LBS or greater), I needed something with a low enough profile so I could load a kayak on the roof rack. I also wanted a four-wheel or all-wheel drive option, both for better traction on a boat ramp and to better handle the occasional snow and bad rainstorms in the northern Virginia area.
After some research, I decided my options came down to either a Jeep or a Nissan Xterra. We actually looked at some 2014 end of the year Xterra models, but I wasn’t happy with what I was seeing on price so we punted for another year.
Over the next year we had enough problems with the Rodeo to force my decision. It turned out that Nissan, in their amazing corporate wisdom, had discontinued the Xterra and by October there were essentially no 2015 models available anywhere. So on Black Friday Winnie and I went up to a local Chrysler/Jeep dealer to look at Jeeps. We quickly determined that the Jeep Wrangler was not a viable option for us, for reason they did not have the towing power I wanted (limited to 2000 LBS) and didn’t really have the comfort options we wanted.
We were about ready to give up and leave when we spotted some Jeep Cherokees and discovered they offered both 2.4 and 3.2 LT engine options. We test drove a couple and Winnie and I were impressed. We found a white 2015 “Latitude” model on the lot with a 3.2 LT engine for a really good sticker price and went for it. Winnie handled the negotiations, which as always was worth paying admission to watch. After several hours of haggling and paperwork I drove off with a new Jeep.
It didn’t come with a tow package so before we even left the lot I ordered the towing hitch and wire harness, along with cross bars for the roof rack. The parts came in over the following week and the next Saturday I had everything installed. The roof rack crossbars weren’t actually “Jeep” parts, but Thule AeroBlade Edge crossbars that gave the Jeep a look different than I expected. But they were strong enough for what I needed to haul. A couple of weeks later, while researching the UConnect software system, I discovered that a Navigation Package was an available option that simply required activation, which I quickly activated.
This Jeep became my daily commuting car, along with boat-towing and kayak-carrying vehicle. Once Winnie was able to adjust the seat for her driving comfort, she enjoyed driving it as much as I did.