Quick Stats: Patrice O'Neal, actor and comedian
Daily Driver: 2011 Dodge Durango (Patrice's rating: 7 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Favorite road trip: New York to Boston
Car he learned to drive in: 1985 Chevy Citation
First car bought: 1995 Cadillac Seville
Comedian Patrice O'Neal really, really wants to love his 2011 Dodge Durango Citadel. And he approaches any discussion of the Durango with the thoughtful angst only a seasoned comedian possesses.
As he waxes on about the Durango, O'Neal isn't doing a bit. It's like watching a Ping-Pong game, because he's clearly trying to convince himself it was the right choice. But it may not be flashy enough to equal the beloved, tricked-out Dodge Challenger he formerly owned. As O'Neal rattles off his car history, he sounds like he's doing stand-up for a party of one.
"It's $50,000, so I could have paid $50,000 for something else," O'Neal says. "I had a 2007 Yukon Denali and was able to trade it in so I wasn't upside-down. I owed $20,000 but it was worth $25,000, so I got from under it and got a Dodge Challenger because I really liked it. But I've got a family and my mother visits, so that's not a car if you have other people in your life. So I had to trade that in within a month of when I got it."
He wishes Dodge had the Hyundai philosophy. "Hyundai is trying to work with people with this trade-in thing," he says. "They'll keep it in the Hyundai family; you can come get a new one. But Dodge, they don't go, 'You're a Mopar guy, you're part of us.' They go, 'You're going to get jerked because you bought this car.' And boom! So I go in with the Challenger, 'I just bought this, I need the full value of the car.' They didn't give me the full value. They got me. They put the upside-down value into the loan. And I didn't know they did that."
A commercial for the 2011 Durango caught his attention and got O'Neal to take his Challenger back to the dealer. "I have a Citadel. It looked really good. It had a hemi; I was into that whole muscle thing. I don't know if I made a mistake or not," he says, adding that it does drive well.
O'Neal rates the Durango a 7. "I like it, but do I love it? Like I feel fantastic? Not really. I'd give a Challenger a 10. If you're a single man, the Challenger is a 10 and if you've got people in your life it's a 0," he says, with a laugh. "The Durango looks sharp. It looks, like everything else now, these mid level -- not really SUVs and not really a car -- they all look alike. I'm a big guy and it's like everyday I try to convince myself I made a really good purchase."
O'Neal realizes what his apprehension is all about. "I'm a slave to the culture, so I see an Audi, a Denali, or an Escalade, my neighbor got the four-door Porsche. I have a really nice truck. But it's a Durango and I like frontin'! I like to ride by and show off," he says with a laugh. "If I got to someplace where everybody's driving Escalades and I'm coming up in this Durango, that's my midlife crisis thing where I still I want to have 20-30 girlfriends. But I have one woman. I don't have a kid, it's my step-kid, and we all go get dinner and I guess I feel like I'm defeated because it's not pimp enough because it's a Durango."
O'Neal tells himself he's bucking automotive trends. "I actually took a step in the direction of being a leader," he says. "I bought a Durango! I just have to stand on top of my purchase and I do. But sometimes I feel it just meets a criteria. Like no one buys a Prius for no other reason except for being practical. You don't need an Audi A8. I really want that big Audi. But I'm looking to buy a 1999 S420 Mercedes fully loaded. Costs about $7000."
He admits he likes the Durango's driver's aids and the keyless ignition. "It's got blind-side assistance, so if you're driving and you don't see a car on the side it gives you a warning. It has rear sensors, all that stuff. The first time I was introduced to that was with my Denali," he says. "Once you get into this technology, mentally it enslaves you. It's a nice, classy-looking truck. It's all leather, it has satellite radio. I just hold the key and that's a real cool thing."
After a few seconds of thought, O'Neal decides the Durango also is good because his car payments are lower. "I've still got that little freedom part of me that wants to have a car that looks really sexy," he says. "This is a sexy car, but let's be honest, you don't think Durango when you think sexy. I end up only paying $200 less than the Denali. That's the moral of the story. I ended saving $200 a month and I'm not sure if this is a $50,000 truck. No Durango should ever be that much."