I've had the 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited that has been the subject of the experimentation described (ad nauseum) in this blog since August of 2000. It has about 142,000 miles on it and has been a truly wonderful car. I know some have had lots of trouble with their Jeeps, but I've changed the oil in mine, and the brake pads and rotors once. Other than that, it's been maintenance free. But it's getting a little long in the tooth, with no navigation system, the cd changer in the back of the truck rather than in dash, etc. I decided to start looking for a replacement.
Most who are aware of what I've been doing to minimize fuel consumption in the Jeep assumed I'd look at Prius, Insight, Civic Hybrid, or other mileage maximizing vehicles. Today I looked at the Acura RL, the Acura RDX, and the Lexus RX350. Huh? The best of these achieves E.P.A. ratings of 20 city, 26 highway. Isn't this hypocritical?
Well, for starters, they all are rated higher than my Jeep (15/20). But the fact of the matter is, I like big engines, acceleration, and luxury. The fact that I never utilize the horsepower available to me in the Jeep doesn't mean that I couldn't (and haven't). And there are those who say "you've squeezed all the blood out of that turnip" in reference to my experiment. Occasionally, I do think it would be nice just to drive, enjoy the performance of a nice car, and not concern myself with trying to extract the last possible foot out of each milliliter of gasoline.
But the fact is, none of the vehicles I looked at today excited me. The RL is nice, high tech, has real time traffic through XM satellite radio, is comfortable, and handles well. The RDX just didn't thrill me at all, nor did the RX350. In fact, my experience today led me to realize how much I really do like my Jeep. It's exceptionally comfortable, has power in case I should ever decide to go back to using it, and has demonstrated flawless reliability. I'd like to have satellite navigation, but that can be achieved with a Garmin portable unit or similar. Blue tooth hands free calling would be nice, but I can get an earpiece. An iPod port would be great but I can get an adapter. XM satellite radio is cool, but I can get a portable unit. All in all, I'm just still very pleased with my Jeep.
One of my business partners got a BMW X5 last week, though I haven't been in it yet. I'm not a BMW kind of guy. They seem like a "look what I can buy" kind of vehicle, though Brian assures me that he isn't a "look what I can buy" kind of guy. It's been suggested that I look at the Infiniti M class. I don't know much about the car, either in terms of features or gas mileage. But unless it knocks my socks off, I'm thinking very seriously of staying with old faithful.