With a belly full of Voodoo Doughnuts, including Double Bubble flavour, fruit loops, coco puffs and good old chocolate, we were ready to go…

Summer, what a wonderful time of year, heading out on the open road with family.

Okay it isn’t all fun and games, especially with 11-year-old and nine-year-old boys bickering in the back seat, but for the most part it can be enjoyable.

For the first time I decided recently to take a road trip to one of my many car-related events. Usually I fly to a vehicle launch but this time I thought I would take some extra time, and the family, on the road from Vancouver to Portland, Oregon. While I attended the 2015 Dodge Challenger event at the Portland International Raceway, my family could take in some of the local sites.

Day One

The plan was to break things up a bit, instead of six solid hours behind the wheel of the 2014Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.Thanks to theNexus card, crossing the border took all of ten minutes. The next stop was the Boeing plant in Everett Washington. This location was first developed in the 1960 when the world’s first Jumbo Jet was being developed, the iconic 747. I take over 100 flights a year but I’m still impressed with the machines that make it all happen, especially the 747. I wouldn’t visit the factory tour on the weekend again. There is no action, just half-built planes sitting around. I found it all amazing but my two boys – Jack and Charlie – didn’t share my enthusiasm.

Photos of the Museum:

Day Two           

After a night in Redmond, Washington, we continued our trek to Portland, the land of tax-free shopping and the Evergreen Wings and Waves Waterpark. The waterpark just outside of Portland, in McMinnville, has a real 747 on the roof with water slides that exit the fuselage, pass through the roof of the building and splashing into a huge waterpark complex. This, along with promise of Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnuts, kept everyone on track for the three-hour Jeep ride.

The Grand Cherokee is a fantastic vehicle for an active family of four, there is plenty of room in the back seat I never heard one complaint. My wife loved the solid ride and I kept an eye on the fuel economy. At the end of our run to Portland, the average consumption was 8.0L/100km. pretty nice stuff for a truck with 420 lb.-ft. of torque.

Day Three

This was the day I had to work, poor me trying out the all-new Dodge Challenger Hellcat on the track with all 707hp. It’s a tough gig. While I was shooting for Driving TV, my wife took the Grand Cherokee to the Waterpark for a day. I checked in throughout the day and the comments were universal. “This is the best waterpark ever”!

As I wrapped up the day at the track, I did get a frantic call from my wife. “The Jeep has lost power, I can’t drive over 30 mph, what should I do?” The gang at Chrysler jumped to attention and before I knew it, I was on the road with another Jeep Diesel and being accompanied by two PR reps in a 2015 Challenger. From the track to my stranded family took over an hour, in total they sat at a Shell station for two hours waiting. To pass the time, the kids ate what they wanted from the Shell convenience store and taking “selfies” seemed to do the trick. Once we arrived, we realized a Dodge dealership was literally five minutes up the road!

Day Four

With a belly full of Voodoo Doughnuts, including Double Bubble flavour, fruit loops, coco puffs and good old chocolate, we were ready to go. It took a while for our repaired Jeep to arrive so on we went to sample more tax-free shopping and sample some of Portland’s many food trucks. When the Jeep did arrive, it turns out the Diesel went into “limp-mode” enabling the driver to get to the next dealership. The fix was a simple computer program flash, which took no time at all. Regardless, we were on the road, heading to Seattle for some underground fun.

Day Five

After a great night in Seattle, we woke up to rain, lots of rain, so we went underground to visit the old, hidden city of Seattle. These tours take tourist on a walk through the ruins of Seattle after the massive fire of 1886 and the rebuilding that took place. Seattle is built on top of the old city; there are tunnels and abandoned sections of buildings there to explore. Time to head home. The Grand Cherokee never set another wheel wrong; it was fantastic in the heavy rain and very solid on the highway. After 1,300 plus kilometres behind the wheel, I averaged 8.5L/100km.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The Lowdownn

Power: 3.0L turbocharged diesel V6 with 420 lb-ft. of torque

Fill-up: 9.8L/7.0L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $58,000-$62,000

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