Friday, June 17, 2016

Caravan Club

For some time, owning an RV and taking road trips and camping was a silly idea my wife and I had. We both thought it would be something we'd love to do... some day. It was always something we'd do eventually when we were older or later. Now that we're pretty much resigned to having just our one child, the few hundred bucks a month it would cost to feed, clothe, and medicate a second child could easily go towards the cost of owning a camper and the massive truck to haul it about.

The original plan was to find the lightest yet roomiest camper that we could pull behind my Ford Flex which we have long since traded in for a much smaller and weaker Subaru Outback because the massive Flex was too big for Jill to drive about and her Sentra was too small and unsafe to drive our child around.

The 175hp four pot in our Outback won't be able to pull anything we could comfortably live in for a week nor would the 256hp sixer in the pricier Outback. Plus the base price of the Outback 3.6r is just a few thousand dollars shy of a 365hp Ford F 150 which will pull about four times as much as the gutsy Outback. Still, that's a lot of money for a vehicle and way more than we've ever spent.

I understand that cars are more expensive now than they were just five years ago. The days of moderately equipped family vehicles around $20k are gone. The day of the $50k truck with massive discounts is the new hotness apparently.

I was initially discouraged because even with the fairly substantial discount I get through my work for new Fords, even the most stripped down truck I could build on Ford's web site still clocked in at $40k and that was for the base model with just essential options. I've been looking at local dealerships to see what they had because there are ways to get better pricing on Fords. I did it with my Flex so I should be able to do it with an F 150, right? Yes and no. Getting those killer deals involves buying off the lot and my stripped down, $40k rig doesn't and probably won't ever exist on the lot. What do they have you ask? A whole rainbow of $50k trucks with all the options I bunch I don't in every color except the one I want unless I opt for the $60k model. Yes. $60,000 for a damned pickup truck. Yes, it's decked out like your average luxury car but we're not luxury car people and I don't make enough money to afford that much truck. Also, they don't offer the crazy discounts on that fancy-ass truck.

So my eyes are fixed to the expensive but discounted XLT with all the bells and whistles that will make road tripping pretty fantastic. The price, with a "model year-end" discount of about %25 off MSRP puts us around $36,000 which is still very expensive and may prove to be too rich for our blood. On top of that, I like my cars blue. I've gotten other colors due to poor selection and I've hated them but the name of the game is getting a camper to and from wherever we go comfortably. I still draw the line at silver and grey. The brown is nice as is the red with the latter seeming to be in abundance on lots with the options I need. We may still go used because we can save upwards of $75/month if we wheel and deal on a used car. The only stinker is that used cars aren't as easy to wheel and deal with and I'm going to try to bundle the astronomical sales tax into my financing which, with $12,500 on the hood, I should have no trouble doing.

Now that I look at it, if I can't find a blue truck I'm going to hate it every day.

That's the truck side. It's going to cost a lot and will take us a solid seven years to pay it off. The camper is pretty much the same deal. Lots of money but hopefully not too much.

This little beauty is actually a bit larger than what we original wanted. Still it's just a tad under 25' and weighs about 5300lbs dry. Add in the family, water, and our provisions and we're probably around 7000lbs which is about 4000lbs shy of what the above truck can pull without breaking too much of a sweat. If we ever decide to go bigger we'll be able to without too much trouble.

It has a slide out section on each side that will give us a ton of living space. We'd option it out with a couch that a murphy bed flops down on when it's time to sleep. Our son would sleep on the dining table that turns into a bed. We'll be quite cozy.

The MSRP is around $27k and we're probably not going to see much of a discount since we'd likely have to order one. Still, the universe owes us a win so maybe it's out there and will be waiting for us in three years when we decide to pull the trigger.

So there it is. $64,000 for a lifetime of memories. I wonder how memorable it would be to stuff all our stuff in our Outback and sleep in a tent instead. I hear poo buckets are getting pretty nice.

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