Author Topic: Talk me out of an SUV  (Read 10859 times)

jmink

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Talk me out of an SUV
« on: August 28, 2014, 07:33:58 AM »
I just moved out to the country (long time goal) and work from home so I have no commute.  I can bike to the grocery store, but given work there are some errands I don't have time to bike to.  Also I'm joining a Search and Rescue team (volunteers that get called out to find lost hikers when someone calls 911).  This means I need to be able to get down the mile of steep gravel roads leaving my development as well as most forest roads in the state even if things are a little snowy.  I'm even okay parking the car outside the development and walking, but that wouldn't help me with the forest roads.  I live in Virginia so the snow clears quickly on it's own, but it could still be sporting if that's when I'm called out.

I'm thinking new instead of used (never thought I'd buy new) because the prices on used cars right now are unusually high.

I was originally all excited about getting one of the cute 40mpg hathbacks out there, but the more dirt roads I drive down in my friend's truck the more I wonder if that isn't just asking for a punctured oil pan and might it make more sense to size up to the crossovers like the Juke or Jeep Patriot.

On the other hand almost all the miles will be highway driving going to the dirt roads or hauling over to the other side of the state to see family.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 07:37:07 AM by jmink »

Holyoak

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2014, 07:47:59 AM »
Maybe something from the Subaru line (manual trans of course)?  Unless it's terribly rutted, I don't see the need for much else...  Hell, when I was issued my state car for very off the beaten path work in state parks and pretty deep woods travel involving terrible dirt/gravel/two track roads, my Crown Vic police interceptor never let me down FWIW.  Even the numerous 2wd Japanese hatchbacks I have owned over the years have done well in real off-road use, as hard as that may seem to believe.

Good luck!

neo von retorch

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2014, 07:53:41 AM »
Maybe look for a 2013 Mazda CX-5. If you can get it for $15k, you're golden. And you can probably get about 29-30 mpg. Or a Subaru, though most of those get mid 20s mpg. But then again, if you get a Subaru for $8 grand less than a nearly new car, gas mileage isn't going to matter as much because you'll have already saved so much. (New is going to put you at $23k+ for AWD which is just so much more than a used car as to not make any sense, financially.)

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2014, 08:01:10 AM »
This all depends on just how rutted and steep and treacherous (or not) those forest roads are, but you sound like a good candidate for a Subaru Forester. All wheel drive, dependable, off road capable (more so than a CX-5 or Juke, which are jacked up hatchbacks).

You can get good deals on used ones, especially if you don't need a lot of bells and whistles.

jmink

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2014, 08:03:36 AM »
I looked at the Subarus.  I could get an 2002 WRX for about 5K.  Certainly a tempting option, and possibly one I should just pull the trigger on.  New Subarus currently burn oil, so they don't make much sense (big class action lawsuit, etc)

I also looked at the Mazda CX-5, but you can't get a four wheel drive manual. :P

I was surprised how cheap some of the crossovers are.  For example the Patriot is $17,346 factory invoice, which still way more than I want to pay is in the same price range as hatchbacks.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 08:12:23 AM by jmink »

boarder42

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2014, 08:04:09 AM »
buy a ford escape hybrid... more room and better mpg than the tiny cars many promote

dcheesi

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2014, 08:22:45 AM »
When I was looking 4-5 years ago, the Patriot was by far the cheapest in the category. But the reliability wasn't nearly as good as the others (excepting the truly horrendous Dodge Nitro!). Plus it was on the same chassis as the Compass, which by many accounts is a Jeep in name only (in particular, I don't think the ground clearance is very good).

I have no idea what they might have done with the model since then, but back then I passed on it for those reasons.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 08:25:53 AM by dcheesi »

jmink

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2014, 08:30:17 AM »
Yeah, I'm not sold on the Patriot.  It just opened my eyes to stepping up a size.  In terms of ground clearance it's pretty standard for an SUV: 8.2"

DangleStash

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2014, 08:37:52 AM »
A friend of mine just got the new Cherokee and sees ~29mpg highway, average total was around 27.

I have a wrangler 4dr (very non-mustachian, but also non-negotiable for now) with the new 3.6L V6 Pentastar, and if I stick to 60-65 on the highway I can get 20-21mpg no problem.  22-23 if I cruise along back roads doing 45.

Definitely not great numbers, but being able to go down any trail I want helps me sleep better at night.  And you never know when you may need to tow a trailer.  You can also get a stick/hardtop/basic wrangler for ~23-24k brand new, which is a lot of car for the money (2dr)

sleepyguy

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2014, 08:45:47 AM »
If you are going off terrain quite often the the Subaru AWD is awesome.  We go camping in some tough to reach areas that aren't paved very well and our subarus (Impreza and Forester) makes no fuss at all.  They aren't so good on gas but that comes with the AWD.  The newer models Forester/Impreza have better gas management but it will cost you more.

If you need more room, the Outback would be a good choice as well (vs Impreza)

lakemom

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2014, 08:55:13 AM »
Couldn't you just hitch a ride with someone else once you reach the entrance to the forest.  Or is each volunteer required to drive their own vehicle during a search mission?  If that's the case, maybe you could find a different volunteer activity that won't require a large upfront investment along with a large annual expenditure.

DangleStash

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2014, 08:56:11 AM »
One more thing - if you do go for a Jeep/Dodge/Chrysler, it may behoove you to join Tread Lightly.  This gives you Chrysler affiliate discount, which really just means if you buy new you can get an even better deal.  I'm not sure if you're familiar with dealer holdback or not, but I'll do a quick explanation:

Dealer buys car @ invoice price from Jeep - $10k (MSRP/Sticker says $11k)
Note invoice and MSRP are different

Dealer sells Jeep @ invoice price ($10k)

at the end of the month, Jeep Corporate pays dealer 3% of MSRP as a reward for selling the vehicle (dealer holdback is 3% for Jeep, different rate for other brands) so dealer makes $330 off the deal.

Affiliate discount begins negotiation at 1% below invoice, but adds an extra 2% of invoice price to the holdback.  In this case, on a $10k invoice vehicle the dealer has $530 below invoice price to play with, or 5.3% of invoice price.

Tread lightly is $50 or $100 to join, but depending on the vehicle can save you a lot of stress on negotiation, especially if you're an informed customer.  I highly recommend using something like truecar to see invoice prices before you go in, even though the dealer is obligated to share them with you.  This is all before any incentives/other offers going on, and is not exclusive of them.

One more note - when I bought my Jeep, I ordered it instead of taking one off the lot.  You can get exactly the options you want, with none of the bloat you don't want, and have potential to get a better deal because the dealer has 0 carrying costs for the vehicle (never hits inventory).

Just food for thought.  It was actually cheaper for me to order what I wanted brand new as a 2014, than it was to get a 2013 off the lot slightly used.  Also there were some known issues with 2012/early 2013 models and the new engine, so I wanted to get as far away from that as possible.

Also - Can't go wrong with Subaru's either.  I see sooooooo many of them up here in the northeast.  WRX!!! You'll get there extra fast.

tmd012

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2014, 09:11:31 AM »
my cousin just got the Subaru XV Crosstrek which is basically an Impreza hatchback with more ground clearance- sounds perfect for you

jmink

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2014, 09:17:59 AM »
lakemom, it's a good idea and that's what I've done in the past.  This time, however, I'm joining a K9 search group instead of a standard human only group, so it's a much smaller group (I might often be the only person I know responding) and people's cars tend to be full of dog crates.

I know it's an expensive hobby, but I make $150K and spend $750 (personal) + $500 (rent) per month, so I can make the splurge.  Also I need a car anyway to be able to visit friends due to the lack of public transit in the area.  A cost of living in the country, though I end up doing way less driving in total because I don't have to drive to go hiking.

DangleStash, thanks for the trick on Tread Lightly.  I'll certainly do research with whatever car company I go with to see if they have anything like that.  That's great!

tyd450, I know that's an awesome car!  If they didn't burn oil it'd be at the top of my list.  I'm tempted to just get one anyway and use the oil burning to talk down the price, but I suspect it wouldn't be worth it long term in terms of repair costs.  (Though I have been told how much oil they burn depends on how you break them in)
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 09:21:26 AM by jmink »

tmd012

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2014, 09:32:08 AM »
The oil burning thing isn't necessarily true.  We have a 2013 Legacy -  I just ran it almost 7500 mi prior to the last oil change and the oil was fine.

My parents and sister both have 2013 and 2014 imprezas which do not burn oil either.


tmd012

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2014, 09:34:14 AM »
hypothetically even if it did burn a little oil it isn't even a big deal to add a little.

I think people should still be periodically checking their oil regardless

jmink

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2014, 10:00:18 AM »
tyd450, interesting.  I'll give Subaru a second look then.  Thanks for the push.

DollarBill

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2014, 10:04:12 AM »
Maybe something from the Subaru line (manual trans of course)?  Unless it's terribly rutted, I don't see the need for much else...  Hell, when I was issued my state car for very off the beaten path work in state parks and pretty deep woods travel involving terrible dirt/gravel/two track roads, my Crown Vic police interceptor never let me down FWIW.  Even the numerous 2wd Japanese hatchbacks I have owned over the years have done well in real off-road use, as hard as that may seem to believe.

Good luck!
The Crown Vic comment reminded me of this video...lol
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHvXi_HejnI

Forcus

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2014, 10:09:36 AM »
I don't feel the need to talk you out of an SUV. The ones you identified are crossovers, and based on cars. Heck, the wife's Escape has more power, is quicker, more room, and marginally more offroad capable than my Focus and yet gets better MPG so no SUV guilt there.

I would probably lean away from an older high mile Subaru because of head gasket issues. That's just my preference. I'm sure thousands of high mileage units are running around with no problems.

If you "HAVE TO" buy new or not-very-used, I've seen base Subaru Imprezas advertised for $18.9k. Used cars generally make a lot more sense but I agree with your assessment that used values are unusually high. I'd rather spend $18.9k for a new Subie with a known history (that is, no history because its new) than $15k+ for something with 80-90k miles if I had to commute / travel and racked up miles (these are actual examples from around here). I've seen no Subies worth owning under $7k that didn't have a million miles, rust, problems, or all of the above. If you do decide to buy new, do yourself a favor and search nationwide. Sometimes a plane ticket (or even, having it shipped and never leaving your computer) is still cheaper than buying locally. In our pre-MMM days, we were looking at new Jukes when they first came out, local dealer was sticker and would not budge ($24k-ish), we could have flown to Vegas, had a weekend, a fun road trip back, and still saved around $2-3k. Plus the local dealer would have had to order the car so 6 weeks or more. Just a thought.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2014, 10:24:12 AM »
don't have time to read all the posts right now but will share two quick points of anecdata:

- my boyfriend was on the local search and rescue team when we lived in Pennsylvania. he drove a two-door Pontiac Grand Am. he drove that thing all over the forest in the winter, not really for search and rescue but just for lots of outdoor recreation (although I will say he drives a Hyundai Tucson now, LOL... so I'm not saying DON'T get a small SUV, just saying it's not NECESSARY :))
- I did my geology MS field work in the Klamath Mountains in a Pontiac Vibe. (not sure what's up with the Pontiac theme here, that wasn't on purpose) there was only one situation where I genuinely felt a little nervous about the oil pan, but we just drove carefully and it was fine.

anyway I'm gonna join with the overwhelming voices here and say if you find a good deal on a crossover with decent MPG, that doesn't sound like a terrible life decision and should be more than enough car.

(PS. K9 search and rescue sounds sooooooooo cool!)

MountainBeard

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2014, 10:55:56 AM »
The oil burning thing isn't necessarily true.  We have a 2013 Legacy -  I just ran it almost 7500 mi prior to the last oil change and the oil was fine.

My parents and sister both have 2013 and 2014 imprezas which do not burn oil either.

We have a 2013 Outback and ours needs an additional quart between changes - this started before the first change.  The dealer has said it's normal usage, but considering that my '03 S10 with 130k miles uses less oil I'll be interested to see what happens with the class action suit.  Besides the oil usage the car has done very well for us.

okashira

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2014, 11:42:21 AM »
Why not rent/borrow a "cute little hatchback," and drive it on the roads you intend to drive and see how it does.

Seems like a better idea then just blindly buying some unnecessary AWD vehicle.

To the guy recommending a brand new jeep/Chrysler... sheesh.

DangleStash

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2014, 12:20:47 PM »
Sorry if my post was misinterpreted - It was meant as more of an "if you decide you want/need to go new, or slightly used, that occasionally new can be cheaper than slightly used."

Dealer holdback is an interesting topic, and I'm sure I'm not the only one on here who has purchased/will be purchasing a new vehicle at some point.  It's just one more card to keep in your back pocket and be prepared. 

Also some vehicles have a tendency to be used/abused/thrashed more than others - If I were in the market for a civic/prius/efficient commuter vehicle like a true mustachian, then I'd absolutely look at used ones too.  Wranglers/Mustangs/other vehicles tend to get modified then reverted to stock, so you need to vet the whole thing in greater detail.

Back on the main topic - I did have an 04 escape, was a great vehicle and got okay mileage, if you are shopping used ones check and tap on the wheel wells for rust.  I know the 02-05ish body style had a tendency to develop huge rust holes right near the rear passenger strut mount, in the wheel well, under the rubberized coating Ford sprayed in there.  Really great if you want to be able to reach into the trunk from outside.  On the positive side, I never got stuck/stranded anywhere, and she did decently off road.

Jomar

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2014, 02:21:07 PM »
I have a 1998 Subaru Forester, couldn't ask for a better vehicle. Decent ground clearance, tons of space inside, AWD, and I get between 8 and 9 L/100km (27 to 29mpg) highway (but I drive  like a granny). I bought mine used for $3800 CDN. I'm sure you could find one even cheaper now. And the boxer engine is bomb-proof. Mine has 260,000 km and runs very smoothly. 

peace99

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2014, 04:41:49 PM »
Nissan xterra is a good value off road ready SUV. It's got all the stuff you need and nothing that you don't.
I picked up an ex lease model. It's been reliable over the last 5 years.

jmink

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2014, 06:54:00 AM »
After stupid amounts of research the results of car shopping surprised me.  Again for reference my requirements are:
* 8" clearance
* 4 wheel/AWD
* I'd really prefer a manual
* Being able to sleep in the back would be nice, but not required.

Here's the new cars in the market that match that:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1edlLEZk81p6rEv5zsS2pPhq_6R7M1JESzhcFGipUu78/edit#gid=0

I gave the Subaru unacceptable reliability due to the current oil burning issues.

After test driving I discovered I was picky and only liked:
Nissan Juke, Jeep Wrangler, Nissan Xterra

Of these the Juke is the most appealing as it gets 30 mpg highway when you turn the AWD off (switchable AWD, brilliant!)  The reliability is only middle of the road though, and they've made it somewhat hard to move things with it given that you can't get a roof rack and the back entrance is smaller then you might expect.  It's still what I'd buy if I were to buy new however.

What I ended up buying is my boyfriend's lifted 2002 Tacoma extended cab with a camper top (170,000 miles, $8,000) (http://www.blog.smalladventures.net/2013/10/review-tacoma-as-camper.html).  It's a lot of money given the milage, but Tacoma's scrap for 6k.  The gas milage is really not what I'd like for going to visit my parents (20mpg) however I will be going down forest roads at least once a week and I know the history of this vehicle.   (For example it spent most of its life in California so there's almost no rust)

He's going to go buy a new Wrangler as he drives almost no miles and kind of wants a toy.  It isn't a super mustachian move, but he did spend all last summer car camping deep in the National Forest, so bad road capabilities are quite important to him and there aren't many good options right now.  Thanks DangleStash for the information about tread lightly.  We are using that to good negotiation effect.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 07:42:21 AM by jmink »

DangleStash

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2014, 08:39:09 AM »
I laughed a bit when you said tacoma - I was originally thinking to suggest looking at one of these, as a family member of mine has one that's of similar vintage and has been bulletproof so far.

Glad you were able to decide!

Reddleman

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2014, 03:59:11 PM »
Suzuki/Chevy tracker.

Overlook the cute factor.  Oddly enough it's actually a real truck with body on frame construction and a genuine user actuated transfer case.  I drove a modern version of one down in Costa Rica this summer and I bet it would go on about 95% of the trails my Cherokee classic can.  And get over 25mpg. 

There's a reason why they are still available new in other parts of the world.

Forcus

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #28 on: September 10, 2014, 11:05:22 AM »
Coming back in a little late here, but make sure you can test out what you are looking at in the environments you plan to use it in.

In other words, make sure it will work for what you are wanting to do. The problem with some crossovers with manuals and off-roading pretensions is that the gearing is WAY too tall to work anywhere you need to creep along. Most crossovers have no low range. Our Escape is absolutely miserable off-road because first gear is so tall. It requires way too much clutch slipping to get going and stalls are still inevitable.

Also, some crossovers we looked at do not offer AWD AND a manual transmission. Which is ridiculous. The CX-5 and Juke are two where you cannot get both. At one point the CR-V and RAV4 both were available with manual and AWD. The older Escape (2012 back) was too in most years but they are very hard to find (and again... no low range).

The outlier on your list is the Wrangler as it's no crossover and has low range (as well as solid axles, etc.). It's more of a smallish truck. The main issue with these is fuel mileage. Only the newer ones with the 3.6 (?) get decent mileage. I believe up until around 2012 they had a 3.8 or 4.0 engine that really kind of sucked. Of course any one with the 3.6 is going to be more expensive because its newer.

But hey one thing I learned is to go drive them all. I've found the perfect solution on paper and it was crap in the real world.

Left

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2014, 11:56:27 AM »
hm... out in the country, missing hiker... I think you need a horse :D, easier to take care of and fun too... cost? well... depends on what you compare it to :)

but I'm not joking, I've seen a few search and rescue up in mountains using horses because cars won't go around thick forests

DangleStash

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Re: Talk me out of an SUV
« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2014, 01:36:20 PM »
Coming back in a little late here, but make sure you can test out what you are looking at in the environments you plan to use it in.

In other words, make sure it will work for what you are wanting to do. The problem with some crossovers with manuals and off-roading pretensions is that the gearing is WAY too tall to work anywhere you need to creep along. Most crossovers have no low range. Our Escape is absolutely miserable off-road because first gear is so tall. It requires way too much clutch slipping to get going and stalls are still inevitable.

Also, some crossovers we looked at do not offer AWD AND a manual transmission. Which is ridiculous. The CX-5 and Juke are two where you cannot get both. At one point the CR-V and RAV4 both were available with manual and AWD. The older Escape (2012 back) was too in most years but they are very hard to find (and again... no low range).

The outlier on your list is the Wrangler as it's no crossover and has low range (as well as solid axles, etc.). It's more of a smallish truck. The main issue with these is fuel mileage. Only the newer ones with the 3.6 (?) get decent mileage. I believe up until around 2012 they had a 3.8 or 4.0 engine that really kind of sucked. Of course any one with the 3.6 is going to be more expensive because its newer.

But hey one thing I learned is to go drive them all. I've found the perfect solution on paper and it was crap in the real world.

2012 is when they brought in the new 3.6 - much improved mileage and power.  BUT 2012/early 2013 did have some issues (hence why I went anti-mustachian with a brand new 14).

Also 100% agree on your comment about stick offroad - a friend with a 2011 wrangler took me off road, and we stalled numerous times due to the debate between going too fast over rough terrain or stalling the engine.  Creeping can be difficult even with low-ish gearing due to larger wheels/tires on them!