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Old 31st January 2024, 00:05   #1
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My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter

All,

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end one day. Unfortunately, for me, my association with my RedNBlack Truck was too short for my taste and feel.

As you are aware, I had to shift to the US suddenly, due to increased and frequent travel requirement(s) - quarterly basis - and also increased work pressure. The choice has not been easy, and because of the nature of the move, I am in the process of moving my family over, and winding up everything back home.

This meant that I had to sell my Truck to another person who I hope and pray takes care of it the same way I did. It was a good deal, and was handled by my wife, as I was already traveling to the US.

One of the things which my trips to the US have taught me is that you need a car - come what may - the minute you land here - unless of course you are in a city like New York, Washington, Chicago or a similar one. I have moved to Orlando, the Retiree's paradise in the US, and a very relaxed and laid back city as is. Fun Fact - There are a total of 11 theme parks in Orlando - 4 from Disney, 4 from Universal, and 3 from Epcot, in addition to 2 or 3 more being built.

Now, it is assumed that for a city of this size and with so many theme parks present, there would be good local transport. The answer to that is a big NO. There is only the SunRail - train - which is very limited and not popular. The buses are infrequent, and there is no Metro or equivalent present at all. This can be attributed to the fact that everyone who comes to Orlando, by default, comes with a car - own or rental.

Due to these factors, one of the first things, which we had decided as a family, was that when I move to Orlando, I will (a) move alone first and setup a place to stay, and (b) take a car on rent right at the airport. This was to ensure that I do not end up spending a fortune on Lyft(s) and Uber(s), while moving around.

The first step to this was applying for an IDP. Here comes the twist in the tale/tail - my current license in India is based out of Delhi. So I can't just walk up to the RTO and apply for an IDP in Hyderabad. I had to get the license shifted to Hyderabad.

Let us put it this way - due to the paucity of time, and the number of items which needed to be addressed before I move to the US, I decided to take the help of an agent to do everything. That helped because I was able to get my new license from Telangana in under 36 hours from the time I started the process, which normally would have taken me 10-15 days. I had to provide a copy of my VAHAAN report on the license and a local address proof - which was my Aadhaar. Once that was done, the next step was to apply for the IDP, which I again went through the same agent. It was in my hand(s) within an hour. Fun Fact - Telangana issues QR based Card printed IDP's which is the same as your India license. For normal people, it is the same as your India license.

Now, a question would have arisen in the minds of all - why go for an IDP when you can use your India license to drive in US. The simple reason being - it reduces the hassle of keeping your passport with you at all times. It also acts as a proof of ID if needed - which can be backed up with your passport if needed.

Also, let me clarify that only holding the IDP is not sufficient. The IDP - card type or otherwise - is linked to your valid India license. Therefore, at all time(s) carry your India license and IDP if you are using your IDP outside. The rental companies, and the police ask for both, and not presenting the India license is treated as driving without a valid license. For those thinking how do I know that - almost learnt of this the hard way.

With the IDP in hand, the next question which vehicle to rent till I buy a car? A number of people suggested, just walk over to the Rental Desk and take it on rent there. Not sure of the availability, I had a colleague, who was traveling to MCO incidentally to check the prices for a rental for 28 days or so. Surprise 1 - rentals at MCO are not possible for long periods. They will give it to you for a couple of weeks, but then you may have to return it and take a different vehicle due to availability. So this was out of the question.

Another suggestion given was to have someone in the US book it for you. It is assumed that it would be cheaper. Surprise 2 - Insurance is not offered by default if you book from within the US. This would mean that you have take insurance as an add on - which makes it very expensive.

Now, while I was mentally prepared for a high cost, I just decided, to hell with it, let us try to book from India itself. I did the search and was able to see the prices and all. Surprise 3 (Combo offer) - I could pay in INR, and the insurance was by default, covered and offered as is in the same price. PARTY TIME.

Now, for those interested in numbers, if I had booked from the US, it would have cost me $1900 or so - exchange equivalent - INR 1.5 lakhs. The price I paid was INR 91,000 only. A sweet saving of around INR 70,000. How did this happen - by default, Avis - the one I selected - bundled insurance with the rental car the minute I showed my location as India.

The vehicle I selected was a Hyundai Elantra or equivalent - unlimited miles usage, requirement to return with a full tank of gas, and payment of any penalties and tolls incurred with surcharge.

Now, I had a small doubt in my mind - will Avis honor this deal or not? It was actually better, the Avis Rental Desk at MCO were themselves surprised at the price, and mentioned that this is one of the best deals they have ever seen in their lives. They did take a $250 hold on my credit card, which will be removed after 3 weeks or so of return.

So here I am, in the US, with two suitcases and one carry on bag - in the parking lot of the MCO airport, searching for my rental car. Surprise 4 - it is Red - Nostalgia kicking in - and the Tag has the first 3 letters of my initials - Moist eyes time. Load the luggage, and as always - walk to the driver's side like India. Walk over to the "actual" drivers side, make the mandatory adjustment(s) to the seat and start the car. Surprise 5 - the car has only 800 miles on it. I was like - nice - Time to run in the car.

Pull out of the parking lot, tensed and worried - trying to understand the road symbols, while setting up GPS on my phone - trying to avoid tolls. Did I struggle, for the first 15 minutes Yes!. Started saying this to myself - you are driving on the wrong side, and continue doing so. Free rights everywhere, and STOP at the Stop line.

Make it to my hotel and relax. Freshen up and get a hang of the car. Feedback on the US Spec Elantra - It is a good and comfortable vehicle, but the engine for sure is designed for efficiency, and not for speed. The strain on the engine was visible when I was driving on the freeway(s) and it was clear that I cannot keep up with the other vehicles, and had to be content with driving the speed limit, and not above it, like others.

Last edited by LegalEagle : 31st January 2024 at 00:36.
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Old 31st January 2024, 00:40   #2
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Moving On to the Next Chapter - Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD - Part II - The Great Switch

Now, I will not bore you with the monotony of what happens when you switch a job location. Technically, I switched a job location across continents. Apart from a new ID number, a new laptop, and new payroll, nothing else changed. My email ID remained the same, and I started working on Day 1 itself.

The Elantra started to prove very useful and reliable. And of course cost effective. I was in the US in June, 2023, and was paying between $15-$18 per trip to office via Lyft. Randomly checked the same and found that it has risen to $22-$28 per trip. Before you say, it is the same hotel where I stayed in June, 2023.

Along with this, finding a house also became equally important. This meant traveling the length and breadth of Orlando and nearby areas, which meant I was racking up the miles on the Elantra, and continuing using it.

One of the thoughts that did come to my mind was what to do after the current rental period ends. It was only for 26 days. Also, after coming to the office here, my manager had agreed to reimburse me the cost of the rental and the hotel parking fees - purely out of goodwill. Extending the rental would have meant that I may not get it at the same price. To be sure, I checked online. Surprise 6 - The cost had doubled. Of course, it was around New Year and Christmas, so I was expecting a price increase, but by 100% absolutely not.

This led to a devious thought in my mind - why not buy a car directly, as against later? Background to this - the Home Ministry was ok buying a car before they came over, but that was maybe a month or so before they came. Due to this change, the discussions started with the Home Ministry for relevant approvals and file notings.

As all married TBHPians would agree, any decision(s) on car(s) with the Home Ministry is a risky topic. Surprise 7 - the Home Ministry was more than welcome and happy about me bringing this topic up. The reason for that was the not so good experience of riding in sedan(s) back in India. My parents - who were staying temporarily at my place - have a Dzire which was being used for any work. The Home Minister started facing difficultly using it - even though it was limited usage. She was facing a difficultly herself getting in and out of the car. And realized I am facing the same problem - albeit more so, due to my usage.

So, after the green light from the Home Ministry, the most crucial part of the Great Move starts - Finding a new Car for us.

Last edited by LegalEagle : 31st January 2024 at 23:40.
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Old 1st February 2024, 00:10   #3
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Moving On to the Next Chapter - Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD - Part III - The Search Begins

Now that I had received the Green Light from the Home Ministry, I started my basic research for a new car. Was it fun - yes. Was it tiresome - yes. Did I beat myself in the process - absolutely.

As one of our esteemed TBHPians VNarayanan said, US has a wide variety of vehicles which you can enjoy. Keeping that in mind, I started the search. By default, I had excluded any sedan(s) and hatchbacks. Now, for us in India, exclusion of sedans and hatchbacks leaves us with the SUV's and MPV's. Pretty simple - right? Over here, not that much. The options after exclusion(s) were the following - pickups, estate vans, commuter vans, traditional BOF SUV's, MPV's and of course the electrics.

Now, I am a TBHPian at heart - so the electrics were excluded on Day 1. Sorry Tesla/Rivian - you guys are not for me. I really don't have the patience to wait in a queue for supercharging when I am traveling. Fun Fact - I did drive a Tesla of a colleague, and let me state this - instant power delivery, no need for the motor to spin up. But after that, the interiors and plastics - Mahindra does a better job - in my view. The Tesla I drove was two years old, 30,000 miles, but the plastics were rattling away to glory. And yes - the lack of indicator stalks was shocking. No buttons to control the AC. My kids will have a field day with the tablet features, and I will go nuts. Sorry - not for me.

Then, excluded all the commuter vans - all variants. Reasoning behind that was that they don't fit my office garage. Our garage has a height restriction of 7' 6". All commuter vans were nearing that height limit. So out went all commuter vans - which were actually priced well. Ford was offering their 8-10 seater one for around $50K all inclusive, after a discount of around $8K.

Pickups got excluded after a discussion with Home Ministry. The exclusion was based on a video call showing her the country - and a video of the US roads. Her question - there are so many pickups but all of them have a box in the bay. What is that for? Answer - well, pickups are usually work vehicles given to people who work - so basically contractors, repair persons, business owners. The reaction is as follows - you are an IT lawyer, and will be using it with family. You WILL NOT buy that. I WILL NOT ride in that. Heart break time - I had to let. go of one of my dream vehicles - the Ford F150 Lightning, and the Toyota Tundra. But on second thoughts, it was a good choice considering what I ended up buying.

On a side note, I was having a chat with some colleagues, and they interestingly mentioned, that pickup(s) have two variants apparently - the work variant and the personal use variant. The work variant is bare bones and has basic comforts. The personal use variant is customizable and therefore more expensive. Interesting.

Right now - one question would have popped up in the minds of all TBHPians - Is this guy crazy, he has not decided on a budget to buy the car, an unforgivable offense for TBHPians. In my defense, I did not finalize the budget, because I knew, it will be shortlisted on its own, due to the vehicles being excluded on a stage gate basis. And yes, I did keep an upper limit - of around $60K-70K but that was not fixed, if the correct vehicle came up.

Why the pricing point now - because the F150 Lightning variant - personal use - with decent features was retailing at $75K without discounts. And it was a Hybrid - not mild - but proper Plug In Hybrid. Or I could by an electric one for much lesser. An Electric Pickup truck - I decided I will walk or buy a cycle than commit this cardinal sin. A pickup has to be gasoline or diesel - V6 or above. Not electric.

So now, we had narrowed down the body types to Estates, Traditional BOF SUV's, and the MPV's.
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Old 1st February 2024, 01:38   #4
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Moving On to the Next Chapter - Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD - Part IV - The Shortlisting

Now that the body types were shortlisted, the actual search and research began. I asked around with colleagues on the brands of vehicles they may suggest - based on the rule that you need to ask people which they prefer. While everyone had different preferences based on experience, the interesting piece was that Kia and Hyundai were not being preferred by people. This was a bit of a surprise as one of my preferred was Hyundai. Now I did some research and found that there have been complaints against the manner in which Hyundai's and Kia's can be easily stolen - primarily due to the manner in which the lock and key mechanism is setup. Fun Fact - Kias and Hyundais have higher insurance than other vehicles of the same type.

The other options or preferred brands were Toyota, Honda, Lexus - way out of my budget, Genesis, Volvo and Chrysler group. Now, the Lexus, Volvo and Genesis brands were outside my upper limit of the budget, so they were not considered. Fun Fact - Genesis is sold alongside Hyundai's in US. So yes, I did sneak a fun test drive in a Genesis SUV, and man was that luxurious. It was truly amazing and felt a class apart.

Now, as you may have seen my previous purchase story - the Truck, I am not in favor of standard brands. So, I started looking out of the box, both in terms of brands and cars. This meant that I now was willing to consider Subaru - Yes, Mitsubishi - Yes and Mazda - Meh.

I can see the readers' eyes light up on the first two names - Subaru and Mitsubishi. Let me put it this way - if the Pajero was on sale today, I will buy it HANDS DOWN. No second thoughts, no questions asked. I will sleep on the floor for 1 year if needed, but will buy the Pajero. For the Subaru, let me state this - the Impreza did pull my heart but that is where the story ended. It was too cramped for me in any form, and let us face it, I am married with two girls. The Home Ministry would want basic comfort.

The list of vehicles shortlisted after basic research online and in person discussions was the below -
1. Subaru Forrester, Outback and Ascent
2. Mitsubishi Outlander
3. Honda Pilot and Oddyssey
4. Hyundai Santa Fe, Tuscon and Palisade
5. The whole range of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep SUV's and Minivans - Won't name them all because there are too many of them.
6. Kia Sorento and Carnival
7. Nissan Pathfinder
8. Ford Explorer
9. Toyota range

Now, I did not consider Chevrolet, Mazda and Acura because Chevy is too expensive, Mazda and Acura were not worth the money - in any way or manner.

Now, you must be wondering why are Hyundai and Kia still on this list. Well - old school networking. Found someone who knew someone who knew someone in the insurance side of business. They confirmed that if you are buying a Hyundai or Kia manufactured after 2021, the issues have been resolved. Also, that if you buy one manufactured before that, there is a resolution available which is covered by insurance if needed. So they came back on the list.

Now, another point on each TBHPian's mind - is he buying new or used? Let me be fair - I am not a person who prefers used cars - I can see GTO rolling his eyes around. Now initially I was open to buying a decent used car here, but when I saw the prices, I decided to buy a new one. We have all been saying - it is a car seller's market now, and boy is that true - the depreciation on good condition used cars is minimal - not even 20% of a new car value. Also, the interest rates on used cars is higher than new ones.

Now, with the shortlist, the second round of approvals - from the Home Ministry. Yes I know - I will be driving the car, but well, the Home Ministry is going to be riding in it. So the appearance matters just as much. Also, the Home Ministry wanted something which was better than the Truck.

Sent the link of the Subaru's to the Home Ministry. First question - why are you sending 3 links for the same car? Are you mad or what? It is the same car. Now, I already have my earphones out, and waiting for her to calm down - but I am thinking - Am I so jet lagged or stupid that I sent 3 links of the same car? When I recheck, nope - 3 different cars - for an enthusiast. . Wait of the Home Ministry to calm down, and then tell her they are different cars but with same front design. Ok. Will check and let you know.

Wake up in the morning with a question - why do we need such a large boot space when we can get a third row there? Interesting point - this means that practically, all estates are out of the picture. So the Subaru Outback and Forrester are ejected from the orbit. Outlander is rejected on the basis of the looks - the front end to be specific. It had way too much chrome - even for me personally.

Side note - I had anyways decided to throw out the Subarus and Mitsubishi. This was primarily due to the fact that while they are brilliant vehicles, the overall creature comforts inside were not unto the mark. How do I know this - one of my colleagues has a Subaru, which was sent for servicing. So while going to collect it, I went and took a look at the vehicle(s). The Subarus - even today - are oriented towards their rally pedigree and not creature comfort.

The Ford Explorer was ejected from the orbit next. Yes - I know. An ex Ford owner throwing out the Explorer - which is the most popular police car in US. It was rejected because the vehicle did not feel worth the money being charged. While Ford dealers were offering discount(s) on the pickups, the Explorers had no discount(s) at all, but instead had a markup on the MRP.

So it became a fight between the Japanese, the Korean cousins and the Americans.

Last edited by LegalEagle : 1st February 2024 at 02:10.
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Old 1st February 2024, 02:08   #5
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Moving On to the Next Chapter - Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD - Part V - The Finale

Now, considering that we had the final shortlist, I decided to go one step further in my research - something which I do not do - and look at the reliability scores for all vehicles shortlisted. The results - to be honest - shocked and surprised me. While Honda and Toyota were on top of the list, Nissan was mysteriously ranked very low on the reliability ratings. Now, to clarify, the Pathfinder was ranked very low. The other offerings were in good spots. Pathfinder finds its own path forward. Fun Fact - In Orlando, the same showroom manages Nissan(s), Genesis and Hyundais.

One of the good things about the US is that the websites of individual dealerships shows all the vehicles in stock with them at any point of time, the final pricing applicable and all other details. Fun Fact - you can book to test drive a vehicle, and the exact same vehicle booked for the test drive will be brought. It is not as if a demo vehicle is kept solely for test drives. This aspect makes live(s) easier, as it is transparent and also reduces the headache of traveling to multiple dealerships to see the vehicles in stock.

Another interesting point about the dealership setup in US is that there is no guarantee when the next lot of vehicles will come. How did I learn this - a colleague liked a vehicle but did not like the colors available immediately. When he asked for the next lot, the Sales person looked at us as if we had asked for an appointment with Joe Biden or Donald Trump tomorrow. When asked again, his response - not sure but mostly next month end - the current month being mid December.

It is at this stage that we had an immediate ejection from the orbit. Surprise 9 - the entire Toyota range. It was just too expensive for the features and the product in itself. The basic RAV4 XL variant was around $40K. The Sienna was around $60K for the second from top variant. Ouch. That is too expensive for me. Also, with all due respect to Toyota owners, the interiors are still in the 90s even today. Why Toyota why - please update the interiors. I was assuming it is a problem with Toyota in India only, but no it appears to be the same problem globally.

Now, I started the actual work - seeing the vehicles in flesh and skin. The showrooms in the US open from 8 AM - 8 PM. So, my routine for two weeks from December 12 - December 18 was wake up, cook food, go to a car showroom, see the vehicle, go to office, work, see another vehicle and return. If time permits in between, see houses for lease as well. Now you must be wondering why this fact now - you will see the reason next. To make it simple, I will give a breakdown of the Pros and Cons in my view for each brand and any vehicle specific ones, and also the final reasons why the brand and/or vehicle was rejected.

First off, the Hondas - Pilot and Odyssey
Pros -
  • Legendary Honda Reliability
  • Refined Engine and Gearbox
  • Butter smooth CVT Gearbox
  • Space - Loads of it in the Odyssey
  • Design and Stance - For the Pilot
Cons -
  • Interiors - Please Honda, Come to 2020's
  • Space - Pilot felt cramped
  • Outer Design - Odyssey was still living in the early 2000's
  • Features - Odyssey lacked a number of features which the competitors had
  • Boot Space - Pilot with all seats up had literally no boot space - a problem which I faced in India.
Reasons for rejection -
  • Pilot - Lack of space, and the inability to jump into the last row - a major drawback.
  • Odyssey - Boring exterior design and interiors, lack of features and not worth the price.
  • Honda as a brand - Lack of colors and models, preference given to Hybrids and Top ends over second to top variants, only running plain colors kept in stock, and price was not Value for Money overall.
Next on the list, the Kias - Sorento and Carnival
Pros -
  • Design of the Carnival - Dear Kia, please send this to India. We will be in love with it.
  • Features - Fully loaded and feature driven - both the Sorento and the Carnival
  • Color range - Kia had a majority of the colors either in stock, or in transit.
Cons-
  • Variant pricing - Both the Sorento and Carnival had major price variance between the models which was very surprising in itself.
  • Space - Sorento, with a lot of space felt cramped. Maybe it had to do with the manner in which the interiors were setup.
  • Powertrain - The Carnival felt underpowered, for a vehicle of its size.
  • Solidity - Now, I know this feels odd, but somehow, the Kias did not feel very solid. Can't describe it in any other way. Sorry guys.
Reasons for rejection-
  • Reliability - The Kias, in general, were not very high on reliability.
  • Build quality - Apart from the reasons listed in Cons, the Kias, for their size, felt very flimsy. I saw a Kia Carnival wave when a semi overtook it on the highway. A tad worrisome.
  • Pricing - Now, the model to model price increase was not justified for the Sorento. For the Carnival, the pricing felt off - can't describe it in any other way.
  • Space - The Sorento for its size and road presence, felt cramped.
  • Engine and Drivetrain - The Carnival felt very underpowered.
Next on the list Stellantis Group -
Pros-
  • Legendary Jeeps, RAM trucks, and yes, the Hellcat brand - Felt like a kid in the biggest Hamley's of the world.
  • Range - Widest options available - Compass, Grand Cherokee, Pacifica.
  • Availability - The vehicles in stock were much more, and they were willing to show them.
  • Design of the vehicles - All vehicles felt classy, with good design structure.
  • Engine options - This group produced - sorry used to produce - the Dodge vehicles. Some of the best engines in the world.
Cons-
  • Reliability - All brands were not deemed very reliable - compared to Honda, Hyundai and Toyota.
  • Blue collar belief - It is an unsaid belief that vehicles from the Stellantis Group in general are used by the blue collar people of US. Is that a con - not in my view, but some did feel that way.
  • Range - Yes, the wide range became a con initially, because I started getting confused.
Reasons for Rejection-
  • Compass - Rejected because it felt cramped.
Vehicles considered for next round -
  • Grand Cherokee
  • Pacifica
Last on this list Hyundai -
Pros-
  • Known brand - Hyundais are Hyundais globally.
  • Range - I could select between the Tuscon, Santa Fe, Palisade in general.
  • Availability - A wide range of vehicles, including models were available.
  • Pricing - All models were priced well.
Cons-
  • Familiarity - Nothing new if you buy it.
Reasons for rejection-
  • Palisade - Did not feel worth the money. Felt cramped also.
Vehicles considered for next round-
  • Tuscon - Yes, I know it is a 5 seater, but felt worth it.
  • Santa Fe - The space felt that loosing the 3rd row was worth it.

Now we had the final shortlist - the Americans - Grand Cherokee and Pacifica, v the Koreans - Tuscon and Santa Fe.

Stay tuned for the End Game

Last edited by LegalEagle : 2nd February 2024 at 02:37.
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Old 2nd February 2024, 07:51   #6
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Moving On to the Next Chapter - Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD - The Endgame

The finalists in the race had finally arrived - the Koreans - the Tuscon and Santa Fe, and the Americans - the Grand Cherokee and the Pacifica. Now, all TBHPians must be thinking - is this guy out of his mind - he is pitting different categories of vehicles against each other. The Tuscan and Santa Fe being cars designed as SUVs, with AWD options, while the Grand Cherokee being a true blue off roader for road usage, and the Pacifica - the true Odd one out - a Minivan!

Let me explain - the Tuscon and Santa Fe were spacious, comfortable, and decent performers on highways. How do I know this without taking a test drive - the engine and gearbox in both of them was the same as the Elantra which I was using extensively right now. Hyundais being Hyundais, had basically the same interiors across all, with some upgrades on features across variants. The Grand Cherokee was selected and shortlisted because of the space, the third row seat option being present, and the fact that if I go crazy enough, it has a proper transfer case box for offroading. The Pacifica was selected only for one reason - space and lots of it. Let me put it this way - it puts the old Safari to shame in space.

The online links for all finalists was shared with the Home Ministry. First and foremost question - why are you buying a Van - for the Pacifica? What will I do with it - take the whole house around? The golden words ring in my mind - Speech is silver while silence is golden. So as they say, I stay silent. The Grand Cherokee was received well, and the Home Ministry liked the colour options available. Between the Tuscon and the Santa Fe, the Santa Fe was rejected due to the overall design, and also the fact that the pricing was not worth the vehicle.

Now, we had the final shortlist - the Grand Cherokee and the Tuscon? Wait - the title of the thread reads - Chrysler Pacifica AWD. What on earth is going on? Is this guy out of his mind? Hold on to your horses TBHPians. My travails are never without surprises and twists - as members who read my last ownership story would agree.

If the readers recall, I was doing two things simultaneously - searching for a house and a car. Now, because I had vacate my hotel accommodation, my cousin brother - who stays nearby in Orlando, was happy to let me bunk with him till I find a house - he basically had 3 spare bedrooms in his new house. So I make the move to his house within 14 days of landing in US. So while I make the mini shift, I was searching for houses. In US, you have to be very careful to select your residence, as that decides the schools where your kids will be enrolled - unlike in India where you can select the best school - even though it is 15 kms away from your home. Now this made my life tougher, as the perineal fight between budget and schools started. All areas within 15 miles of my office were so expensive, I was thinking - am I renting this place or am I buying it? So I started moving away from the popular areas in Orlando.

Incidentally, my brother stays around 40 miles from my work location. So I was doing the commute in the Elantra daily. This involved doing a proper highway run on the I4 - the main highway connecting Orlando, Tampa and Daytona. This meant I was doing proper highway speeds of around 100-110 kmph to office daily (60-70 mph). And this is where the Hyundai engines starting showing the problems. During the 40 minute commute daily, the Hyundai felt running short of breath if we were doing the permitted speed - 10-15% over the speed limit which was around 68 - 70 mph/100-110 kmph. I had to bring it down between 55-60 mph/90-100 kmph to get best performance from the Hyundai. I could literally feel the engine and gearbox trying to keep pace with the running.

Now this becomes a problem because Surprise 10 - I find a house close to my brother's home, in Sanford, and Home Ministry approves it immediately. It meets all the criteria - good school zone, quiet neighbourhood, close availability of stores (per US standards - not like India where it is across the street ), area where kids can play and run around, and a secure parking - which is a rarity in cities nowadays. What this meant was that I would be doing the same run everyday, twice a day, without fail.

This brought out a worry in my mind - can the Tuscon take the strain daily? Another worry was the erratic and changing weather conditions in Orlando. It is sunny in the morning and by afternoon becomes cloudy. While this itself is not a problem, the wind that accompanies the rains is a major issue. I have myself seen gusts of upto 30 kmph/18 mph, and constant winds of upto 10 kmph/7 mph. Why is this important - on the highways, at the constant speed, sudden gusts of wind make it difficult to steer the vehicle, which is more pronounced if the vehicle is light. Now, the Tucson is a light vehicle in itself, so it would be subject to being thrown around. I faced this issue with the Elantra many times.

While these doubts were running around, the Home Ministry calls one fine morning and says - she made up her mind - the Tuscon is rejected. She stated that after the Truck, the Tuscon felt like a downgrade of sorts - both space and solidity wise. Also, the lingering doubts about the safety record for the Hyundais in general was another factor which added up.

This meant that we had a winner - the Grand Cherokee - or did we? The same call, the Home Ministry says - Surprise 11 - she is ok with the Pacifica also . The following conversation should have happened - You said no to it the last time, now you are saying yes - make up your mind. But considering that I am married, it was decided in my best interests to never state the above. So now, we again have finalists - the Grand Cherokee and the Pacifica. God - this is so confusing and irritating - readers' view.

Again, the shortlisting was very easy amongst the available range. The Home Ministry saw all the colours online at the dealership(s) and finalised the following - a brownish golden Pacifica Touring L, a Silver Grand Cherokee, and a Teal Blue/Green Pacifica Limited AWD. Another White Grand Cherokee was also selected provided it was a proper 4wd model, and the top from second model.

So my brother and I made the final trip to the dealership to physically see all the vehicles. Here comes the twist -
  • The White Grand Cherokee was a 5 seater, so immediately put on hold - the colour was not the one of choice, and it was also the base model - so definitely missing some features.
  • The Pacifica Touring L was too plain looking, and was missing some features against the Limited AWD variant. Also, the price difference made the Limited AWD more attractive.
  • The Silver Grand Cherokee, though a 7 seater, was basically a 5 seater with 2 kids seats in the last row. There were major access issues, and the last row killed any boot space in the vehicle.
And thus we have a winner - the Teal Blue/Green Pacifica Limited AWD. Took it for a test drive, and it met all the criteria - the space of two BHK, comfort of a proper van, power on tap as needed, feature loaded, and the colour also pulled the strings on my heart. Had a quick chat with my brother who concurred and said this is the best choice and we should finalise it. But where is the twist? It is on its way.

We sit down, and start the negotiations with the dealer. He straight away says - the internet price is the final one (around $47,000). We cannot reduce it further. There were some additional addons which were already done to the vehicle - PPF, door guards, tyre sealants, ceramic tints on all windows, including the front windshield, rain repellant films on all windows, which was adding to another $4,000 or so - all of which was needed considering the size of the vehicle. So with all taxes and the vehicle tag - the final vehicle was priced at $57,600. Did a quick discussion and online search with my brother, who agreed this is the best price, considering the vehicle - without discount(s) already applied - was retailing at around $54,000. Told the dealer we are good, and would like to book the vehicle and take delivery next week Thursday.

Now the great Twist 1 - we fill the papers, and the dealership runs a credit check on me - standard practice, it comes empty. As discussed earlier with my brother, he cosigns for the vehicle, and they run the check again. The manager comes with an offer while the credit check is being done - Take the vehicle IMMEDIATELY, I will give you an additional discount of $2,600 - reducing it to $55,000 all inclusive. Pull out the calculators and see how that would impact us, and it is a cool saving of around $5,000 over the loan period. But the Home Ministry said - Take it on Thursday - auspicious day. Pray to the gods and say yes.

Now time for Twist 2 - the loan gets approved, but on one condition - I need to get a local Drivers License for it to be released. This is told to us at 8 PM when the dealership is closing. The Finance Manager says - I can talk to the Bank, but the problem is it is 8 PM, and no one is available. It has to be till Monday. He offers - make a refundable deposit of $1000 now, we will hold the vehicle till Monday, and if the bank doesn't agree, we will refund the amount if no other bank approves. Another round of internal discussions, and we said let's do it.

Sunday flies past, and on Monday, I go to the DMV, hoping to apply for a license. Twist 3 - I can get a learner's immediately, but that would mean my IDP is invalid, and someone has to be with me at all times while driving the vehicle. Not an option at all. So give the written test, and decide to jump directly to the permanent license - yes - that is an option. Immediately enroll for private driving lesson(s) the next day, so that I get the license done quickly. Finish this, and go back to work. No discussion or call from the dealership guy at all.

At 6 PM, the sales guy calls - Can you guys come to the dealership, we may just have a solution to the problem. Ok. We reach and Twist 4 - the Finance Manager asks - how many days before you can get your US license? Well I would need a couple of weeks. He says - I will hold the file for 4 weeks max, and get your license within that time. Ok - what does that mean? Will you give me the vehicle after 4 weeks - because my rental lease ends in 5 days. Nope - the vehicle is yours Today. I will hold the file for 4 weeks before submitting it to the bank. Mic Drop.

After a couple of minutes of silence, the lawyer in me wakes up - what is the catch? No catch - just get your license within 4 weeks, and send us a picture of the same. Ok. Are you expecting a higher down payment? Nope. The $15,000 is enough. Nothing more needed. Ok. Let's do this. While the Finance Manager draws up the papers, I work with the dealership for insurance, and get a good quotation - based on the fact that it is a new car, and I have no records of driving in the US.

After a couple of hours, the Finance Manager calls us to show the papers - Twist 5 - 90 day payment holiday window, EMI to include 7 years of all maintenance, engine and transmission warranty till a million miles, and a rate of interest of 8.99% simple interest, with no penalties on prepayment, early closure or lump sum payments. Also, I can pay any amount - just not below the minimum EMI. Brother and I look at each other's faces, and in Telugu have the same question - where is the catch? What are we missing? This is too sweet a deal to the true. But nope. Nothing like that. All papers signed are explained - and everything is indeed as promised.

And in that ways, ladies and gentlemen, I own my first car in the US - the Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD. The keys for the vehicle are handed over to us at around 10 PM local time, and after returning the rental - we head back home. An absolute whirlwind adventure.

Now, for those of you wondering, did I get my drivers license - absolutely. Come New Year, I clear my driving test on the 4th day, and get my license. Share the photos with the sales guys and the file is submitted to the bank. As I write this, I have also started payment of my loan - before the initial payment due date - which helps in reducing the interest amount, and also increases my credit worthiness.

Last edited by LegalEagle : 3rd February 2024 at 03:41.
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Old 5th February 2024, 23:33   #7
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Moving On to the Next Chapter - Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD - The Vehicle at last

Now that you patiently read through the whole story of this purchase, I finally have the car in hand. It was a roller coaster of a ride, but it was worth it. I will post all the photos at the end of the story.

Now as all TBHPians say the Cons of the vehicle -
  • It is a boat. It is almost as big as a Force Traveller, and almost weighs the same.
  • Hard acceleration shows the strain on the V6 engine of the vehicle.
  • Fuel efficiency - what is that? The current efficiency is 22.6 MPG - around 12 KMPL. I do a weekly refuel.
  • Not a very nimble vehicle. Lane changes need to be well planned due to the size and engine requirements.
  • It is a Soccer Mom's vehicle/Family vehicle.
  • Confused gearbox - Sudden acceleration inputs confuse the gearbox, and tends to jump around gears completely, pushing and straining the vehicle.
  • No manual override option - This means you are at the mercy of the Auto gearbox always which is painful at times.
Now the Pros of the vehicle -
  • Comfort, comfort and more comfort. I drive 70 miles/100 kms a day and do not get tired.
  • Engine. V6, when pushed, gives a growl, which reminds you of the vehicle pedigree - MOPAR.
  • Space - It is a literally a two BHK on wheels. I am 6 ft and I can't reach the passenger side door even after leaning.
  • Features - Though mandatory, has all the latest features needed, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Emergency Braking, Blindspot warning and ADAS.
  • With all rows kept upright, there is enough space of the whole family to pack for a 1 week trip in the boot.
  • Ventilated seats for first two rows - An absolute boon for the weather in Orlando.
  • Independent Rear AC - controls and all. Very useful.
Some cool features -
  • Full flat floor - The Model which I have is the last variant in which all seats fold into the floor giving a full flat floor for luggage moving.
  • Inbuilt roofrails - The vehicle has inbuilt roofrails integrated. They can be removed, and can be used to secure a roof bag.
  • Towing option - The vehicle comes with the option to setup a towing system, which is useful, and to be honest - very well used throughout.
  • Storage spaces - There are numerous cubbyholes and storage spaces, some in innovative spaces.
  • Multiple USB and Phone options - Allows you to pair two phones and use two USB's simultaneously.
  • Geo Fencing and Valet modes - Allows control of vehicle properly.
  • Individual reading lamps throughout the car at all seats.
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - Others may think it is not cool, but for someone who drives daily, it is very useful.
  • Auto high beam - Though all vehicles have it by default, many don't use it - just like India. I like it, and per me it is very good.
The quirks -
  • Getting used to Auto Climate Control setup. Still learning.
  • Secret storage spaces - Found out that the floor hold for seats can be used as a storage space.

This list has been prepared based on driving for the last 2 months or so.

Last edited by LegalEagle : 25th February 2024 at 01:34.
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Old 25th February 2024, 01:39   #8
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Moving On to the Next Chapter - Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD - The Conclusion

So, as you see, after a number of twists and turns, I have the vehicle, and let us put it this way - I have given heartburn to a number of colleagues due to the vehicle taken. This is because all the other colleagues - who relocated from India had - in the interest of saving money - bought second hand sedans, and estates. Everyone is surprised that how did I find a vehicle of this size at this price.

Now, I will say this - the journey has been tough, and is going to be tougher, but as they say, nothing is easy.

Finally the photos -

Exterior Images -
Front driver side closeup
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4785.jpg
Front driver side long view
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4786.jpg
Passenger side long view
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4787.jpg
Rear view (See the my cousin's Jeep Compass peeking in the corner)
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4788.jpg

Interior images -
Passenger door view - Forgive the mess on the floor. This was immediately after delivery.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4789.jpg
Passenger side 1st row seats - Note the Panaromic sunroof and the rear AC vents directly above the passenger. Yes the space between the seats is enough for me bend and walk in. Though the seats slide forward as needed.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4790.jpg
Boot space with 2nd row up. Deep "hole" (no other way to describe it) in the boot to accommodate the folded seats. This shows that all seats are at the same height, and therefore the 2nd row seats can be used comfortably by a healthy adult.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4791.jpg
Driver side door view. Again - apologies for the mess around. And no - I do not drink too much soda. It was the only thing available at 1 AM after completion of delivery formalities and return of the rental at the airport.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4792.jpg
Driver side 1st row seat. Interesting thing - only the Passenger side 1st row gets the rear AC controls. Also, the "hole" above the 2nd row is for a secondary panoramic roof - available in the Top of the line Pinnacle variant - an addition $8,000.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4793.jpg
Partial view of the Panaromic sunroof. Only the driver portion opens up.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4794.jpg
View of the 1st and 2nd rows from the Driver's seat. Note only the 2nd row doesn't get the sunroof. Also, note the inbuilt blinds for the 1st and 2nd rows.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4795.jpg
Image from near the windscreen. All rows visible.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4796.jpg

Command unit area -
The cockpit of the vehicle - well laid out. Only the Infotainment unit is touch. All other portions are old school buttons.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4905.jpg
The dashboard - a combination of old school dials and digital readouts. Yes. I have still kept the Speedo at KMPH. Can't wrap my head around MPH.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4906.jpg
Infotainment and AC control units closeup. Note the rotary style gear knob, and the electronic parking brake button. Keen eyed TBhpians will notice that the temperature is showing an abnormal 19. Yes it is in Celsius and not Fahrenheit - again can't wrap my head around the change.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4907.jpg

My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4908.jpg
A shot of the steering wheel. Right side buttons control the Adaptive cruise control settings, while the left ones are to control the dashboard based menus. The audio function controls are behind the steering wheel spokes - right ones for volume and left ones for track changes.
My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4909.jpg

Last edited by LegalEagle : 26th February 2024 at 04:39.
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Old 25th February 2024, 01:44   #9
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Moving On to the Next Chapter - Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD - Bonus

As a bonus, two photos of the Charger SRT Comet - 1000 HP. Costing only $300,000. If I could scrounge up the money to buy it, even after doing all illegal activities, I would.

My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4728.jpg

My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter-img_4729.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 26th February 2024 at 09:29.
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Old 26th February 2024, 16:26   #10
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re: My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 27th February 2024, 13:43   #11
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re: My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter

I had the previous generation of this one - Town & Country when I was in the US back in 2005-2008. A very practical vehicle, especially for families with small kids. Enjoyed going on long trips with the vehicle.
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Old 27th February 2024, 22:39   #12
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re: My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter

Our hire car on a trip through all the national parks in Utah down to Vegas was a 2018 Pacifica. I initially expected we'd stump for an SUV given how much hiking we were expecting to do and going up a fair few trails. You know, the car handled it with aplomb. Firstly for the same footprint as some of the land barge SUVs available (mates were driving a Grand Cherokee) the 6 of us (with all our big duffels and rucksacks) were very comfortable. It was such a great mile muncher, with that V6 and auto box, it has this loping feel to it as we went from one stop to another. And we had a fully loaded model too with all the mod cons so really was quite a pampered time in that car. For years I didn't have a very flattering impression of the Pacifica but having lived with it for a fortnight, gotta say, can see why it's got it's fans.

I guess the closest facsimile is the Carnival in India. I think in many cases as you've yourself found a big cushty MPV does most of the things customers want (and will end up using) out of a desire for an SUV.
Happy motoring with yours!
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Old 27th February 2024, 23:53   #13
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re: My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter

Great writeup brother. I went through the same search process last year and bought a Honda Odyssey. It's been a good experience so far. Hope you have many miles and many smiles with your "Soccer mom mobile".

Just a note though, I think you can get lower financing. A rate of 8.99% does seem a bit much. Do shop around. Ping me if you need help.

Last edited by Simple_User : 28th February 2024 at 00:01.
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Old 28th February 2024, 01:31   #14
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re: My Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD | Ownership Review | Moving on to the next chapter

Hi,

Nice detailed information and congratulations for your Van .The process of buying a car in US felt different to India. Similar to your buying list and selection criteria's, I stopped and bought a 2023 Santa Fe with turbo engine. Felt the same about Toyota and Honda very reliable but less features.
I faced the similar issues being new to US less than 6 months no credit history and APR offers from a minimum of 8 -22 % . Finally closed my deal at 4.5 APR . Btw i brought my vehicle in Baltimore and using in Tampa.
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Old 28th February 2024, 02:00   #15
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Re: Moving On to the Next Chapter - Chrysler Pacifica Limited AWD - Bonus

Great writeup and story. I have been putting off buying a car in the US for almost a year now because its hardly needed in NYC and parking charges are exorbitant. How much are you paying for insurance given you have no driving history here?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalEagle View Post
[*]Fuel efficiency - what is that? The current efficiency is 22.6 MPG - around 12 KMPL. I do a weekly refuel.
Small Correction 22.6 MPG is actually 9.6km/L , not bad for such a large vehicle with a big engine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalEagle View Post
As a bonus, two photos of the Charger SRT Comet - 1000 HP. Costing only $300,000.
I think thats a Challenger, the 4 door is the Charger.
I have rented a Challenger GT 4WD for a week with 300bhp and it costs around $35,000. It was great going straight but thats about all. The interior was like a large Toyota Corolla or hatchback. Almost 10x price for a 3x power on such a basic vehicle is insane.

Last edited by Foxbat : 28th February 2024 at 02:02.
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