Three Test Drives

I had decided yesterday that I wasn’t going to post today and waking up today with one of my nasty head/neck aches seemed to clinch that decision. Then, I saw that a “new” person offered two thoughtful comments on the blog (thanks, PavementandGravel) and yesterday was an interesting day, I have to admit. So, here I am.

My wonderful wife and I test drove three cars yesterday. Well, she drove them and I was a passenger. We really are going to buy another car. We had another reminder of the need for something with more cargo room when we tried to take the Christmas presents we had purchased for my wonderful wife’s parents in her Corvette convertible and they wouldn’t fit in the trunk. They barely fit in the “cargo area” of my Z06.

OK, here is a picture of the first car:



This is a 2017 Dodge Challenger in SXT spec, meaning it has a V-6 engine. This car has about 21,000 miles and the “firm” price is about $23,000.

The first thing I noticed is that the car lacks a backup camera and navigation. (I thought by model year 2017 backup cameras were mandated, but I guess I was wrong.) The second thing is that even though the car was EPA rated at 19 MPG City/30 MPG Highway, according to its readout, the car had a lifetime MPG of 16.3. My Z06 gets better mileage. Still, we’re not going to buy a car based on mileage, especially a car that’s likely to be driven 1,500-2,000 miles a year. What does Dirty Dingus McGee like to write? YMMV, as in Your Mileage May Vary.

The car drove smoothly and had good acceleration, steering and brakes. It was roomy and would certainly seat four people comfortably. As the “official” trunk volume figure of 16+ cubic feet would suggest, the trunk was quite large.

The car felt a little cheap on the inside, if I am being honest. The quality of materials was not the best. Maybe our Corvettes have spoiled us, especially my wonderful wife’s that has the 3LT package with leather and suede everywhere. The car would be more than capable of being a Grocery Car/Taxi as well as being worthy of accompanying our two Corvettes in the garage.

This is a picture of the second car, but not one that we took:



This is a 2016 Cadillac ATS 2.0 Turbo Coupe. The car looked much better to me in person than it has in any photo. The fact that this one is in Black over Black is not an asset in the desert. It also has more miles than we would have liked, about 37,000. The asking price is about $24,000.

The interior of the car made an immediate impression. As befitting the Cadillac name, the car is well-appointed with higher quality surfaces. It also has navigation, a backup camera, a sunroof, front collision mitigation system, etc. The rear seats would not be quite as comfortable as in the Challenger, but they were sufficient. Despite the listed trunk volume of about 10 cubic feet, the trunk seemed large enough for our purposes especially when considering that 99% of the time, only one or two people will be in the car so the back seats can be used for storage.

Turbocharging is an amazing technology. The 2-liter/122 cubic-inch inline four-cylinder engine produces 272 HP/295 LB-FT of torque and you feel that when you accelerate. The steering, road feel and brakes were also very good. I think my wonderful wife was pleasantly surprised at how much she liked the car.

For our last test drive of the day, we splurged:



That is a 2017 Maserati Gran Turismo coupe. This example has about 12,000 miles and the asking price was much more than that of the other two cars, combined.

The backseats were surprisingly roomy, but the trunk is, in all honesty, a fail. It’s listed at 9.2 cubic feet, but seems much smaller than even that of the ATS. Still, it’s a car that will almost always have only one or two occupants.

How did it drive? How do you think? First, the front seats are unbelievably comfortable and the car just has the feel of luxury in the interior. Second, that engine…what a sound! Third, hold on to your hats!

The Ferrari-sourced 4.7 liter V-8 produces 454 HP/384 LB-FT of torque, but seems to have even more power than that. You really feel the g forces under acceleration and that sound is just wonderful. I wish I had made an audio recording. Of course, the handling and braking were superb.

However, even an older example of the car (a 2014 with similar mileage) at the same dealership had an asking price equal to that of the other two cars combined. A quick Internet search revealed some older Gran Turismos nationwide with 60,000 miles and list prices under $30,000, but would you want to buy a 10-year old Maserati with 60,000 miles?

The Maserati has not been ruled out, but I doubt we’re going to buy one. One of the problems is the length of the car (194 inches). Remember that our third garage space is shorter than the other two. If we were to buy this car, we sure as hell wouldn’t leave it parked on the driveway. Right now, I would say the ATS–although not necessarily the car we actually drove–is in the lead.

Anyway…we had a great time yesterday and I could do that at least once a week. Thanks to Sam, Frank and Patrick for treating us so well. Of course, at some point we’re actually going to buy a car and the research and test drives will cease. EVERYTHING is a trade-off…








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15 thoughts on “Three Test Drives

  1. I’m thinking the Caddy. 90% of the time it will be one or two of you in the car, with a few groceries so the “experience” is what’s overriding. The interior of the Caddie sounds luxurious. Get a pair of suspenders, a pinkie ring, and a bumper sticker that says “My other car is a scooter” and you’re set.


  2. ” test drives will cease.” They don’t need to. If you see something you like, and show up in your C7 or any late model vehicle, I’m sure you could get a test drive in anything short of a Ferrari.

    My main exposure to new(ish) vehicles is pretty much confined to rentals. As such, most are lower trim levels, so called “rental spec.” For my personal vehicles, only two of which were built in this century (one of them is a motorcycle), luxury is considered power windows and similar. Our company vehicles, all leased, ARE traded every 3 years however. Main reason is warranty. If one of our employees has a breakdown while traveling to a job, it’s good to be able to contact the nearest dealer to arrange towing and repairs.

    Many years ago there was an ad on tv that showed an old Indian motorcycle, a well worn baseball glove and a couple similar condition items. The “tag line” was; I like new things, when they get old. I guess that’s me.


    1. Good to “hear” from you, DDM, and Happy New Year.

      I guess you are right in that we could continue to test drive cars in which we have interest. Without the likelihood of buying after we purchase our next car, however, the effort will seem wasted, at least in some respects. As for car preferences, you know what I am going to write: DSFDF.


      1. Happy New Year to you and yours. Hopefully it will be better than the current year, but I don’t hold out much hope.

        I look at test drives as “maybe I’ll like it so why not?” I’m currently following an auction for an older, extremely low mileage, Ford Windstar van. I stopped at a local used car dealer and test drove one to see what I thought. It went well. I had no real plan to get one but decided it would be handy for “errands” that don’t require my F-350, or having to use one of my old cars regularly. With the “care” folks take about door dings at the grocery store, I park at the far end of the lot when I used my old cars. Makes for a bit of PITA to hike 1/4 mile with a loaded buggy.

        I have a max bid on the van, so we will see. I’m not a mini van lover, but the utility has some appeal. It would have MORE appeal if it was a mid 90’s Buick Roadmaster wagon, but those are getting hard to find these days.


      2. Oh, I hope 2021 is MUCH better than 2020 or else almost all of us are screwed.

        Part of me is still the lower middle-class kid raised by Holocaust survivors who doesn’t think he will be allowed to test drive a nice car. The baggage of youth can be difficult to discard.


  3. Thanks for the reference! The ATS is the best option of the three imo. Like you mentioned, better build quality and it is built on the GM Alpha platform, which should be fun through corners. Keep in mind that the Challenger is still basically built on the LX platform, which was introduced in 2004(!). I had to google the Challenger and it turns out that the camera was optional in ’17. Thought maybe it wasn’t working. Weird!

    I’ve also had bad experiences with FCA products/dealerships. I had a Fiat 500 with so many check engine lights that they rebuilt it to the block with no success. I had a Chrysler Crossfire that the dealership said they couldn’t get the part for a recall until I called them back with corporate on the line (fixed a few days later). Then, my parents currently have a 2 or 3 year old top trim level Ram 3500 that the stereo head unit failed and it took them a month to fix it. That meant no climate control or anything. Jeep is the only FCA brand that I would consider today and even that’s iffy.

    The Maserati is a beautiful car, but I’m betting 60k miles is right before some costly scheduled maintenance (with Ferrari/Brembo parts).

    To add another wildcard, a Mustang Ecoboost could be worth considering. It depends upon your feelings toward Ford/Mustang, but since you’re in the market for a larger coupe/GT car, it might check the boxes. Just looked here in Phoenix and used examples seem to be around that price point. The ’19 Ecoboost had 310 hp/320-350 lb/ft of torque and 21 city/32 highway. Some reviews that I saw preferred the handling of the Ecoboost since it put less weight in the front of the car than the 5.0.


    1. Thanks for the comment and thanks again for joining the conversation.

      The Caddy is not without its issues as electrical gremlins have contributed to less than stellar JD Power VDS rankings in recent years. Still, at least it won’t be difficult finding a place to get it serviced and it certainly won’t have the maintenance costs of a Maserati.

      We did consider a Mustang, but the rear seats and trunk are just too small. Believe it or not, the car has to have at least some level of practicality. IF, however, it turns out we don’t have anywhere near as many visitors as we think we will, this car could be traded in for something less practical, but more fun. That’s down the road, though…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Caddy is the way I would go of the three test drives.

    As a side note, we took a road trip today from Tucson to Mesa for lunch and Christmas present exchange with our son and his family. (Someburros was the restaurant.) While crawling through a traffic backup at about mile post 183, I spied an AZ Highway Patrol vehicle parked in the median clocking the traffic in the Eastbound lanes. I only got a glimpse for a few seconds of the rear, but the vehicle was an FCA Charger, I believe. They are harder to see in their new silver and black livery. Lately the Highway Patrol has been driving SUV’s of the Ford variety, so this Charger was a surprise to me. It could have been equipped with the 5.7 Hemi V8 to keep up with the speeders on that particular stretch of I-10. Also, the Charger would be less conspicuous than an SUV to an unsuspecting speeder.

    Keep us informed about the test drives, this is a fun topic.


  5. Interesting you mention the Challenger interior. Reminds me of my 03 Dakota (which I loved – 13 years and 213k miles), many of the surface seemed kinda cheap. May be just a Chrysler thing.
    I like the idea of the Challenger, but I think I’d lean to the Caddy. Maybe that’s just the bias I’ve expressed over the last few months that I really kinda want a Cadillac. LOL


    1. Thanks, Mark. Except for “Joe Walsh’s” tongue-in-cheek endorsement of the Maserati, every reader who has offered an opinion has picked the Cadillac. If the car had been that popular with the American car-buying public, it would still be in production.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed reading about your test drives and the comments from other readers as well. As to Phillip’s comment regarding sharing info about your test drives, I concur.


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