Author Topic: What car do you have to get to CO trailheads?  (Read 2371 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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What car do you have to get to CO trailheads?
« on: July 15, 2017, 08:32:10 PM »
I've been undergoing the long, frustrating, and stressful process of buying a used car over the past couple months. I live in Denver, work in Denver, and generally don't need a car at all. I bike to work, grocery store, friends places, and the climbing gym and actually prefer that to driving around.

However, I love the mountains. I moved out here to be closer to them and I've learned that there really is no viable option to get out to them without a car. The bus up there runs on bizarre hours, it takes too long to bike up there for a weekend if you want to do anything besides bike, and a rental car seems just too inflexible, so I've decided I want a car.

What do you all use? I've gone on quite a few trips with my friends and I would say 80% of the roads to the trailheads we've hit have been dirt or gravel, with many of these being decently rough. Do I need AWD or high clearance and the bad gas mileage that goes along with it? Or do some of you get to these remote trailheads just fine in a Fit?

And as an addendum to these questions do any of these seem like they fit my use case:
 -  Drive to the mountains 2 out of every 3 weekends and the occasional Costco run but really nothing else [~7000 mi/yr high estimate]
 - save about 75% of my income
 - not too much knowledge of fixing cars but willing to learn
 - potentially buying a van and living out of it three years from now

Sorry to flood you all with information but I'm a little overwhelmed

2000 CR-V 150k miles, $3500
2007 Vibe 110k miles, $5400
2011 Fiesta 48k miles, $6000
2008 Fit 95k miles, $6500
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 08:48:04 PM by patch45 »


  • Bristles
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Re: What car do you have to get to CO trailheads?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2017, 09:22:40 PM »
I've never driven around colorado, but I have driven around the west coast mountains a lot. 

I suggest getting a ford escape.  Theyre  super comy, fun to drive, decent sound system and have great clearance and wheels.  Also cruises on the highway no problem.

Also, they are very cheap and parts can be had for nothing. Very easy to maintain. I never thought I'd be an suv guy but I picked one up for cheap and its my favorite car now.


Looking at the cars you listed, I'd buy that honda crv.  Show up with $3200 cash and offer it.  You can drive it for another 50k miles and sell it for close to the same price you paid if you maintain the thing. 
« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 09:28:00 PM by humbleMouse »


  • Bristles
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Re: What car do you have to get to CO trailheads?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2017, 11:31:19 PM »
I have taken my 2010 honda fit to places where i see Hummers turning around from :D
And if you get stuck, just lift up!


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: What car do you have to get to CO trailheads?
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2017, 05:22:57 AM »
Get the CR-V. It's "young" miles wise for its age, with what seems like an excellent service history. Plus it's very clean. You'll be able to be the most flexible with that, and given its age, beating it up a bit won't be a problem.

The vibe is also good, just as clean and even better miles, but why spend the extra money? The difference you'll pay in price willore than make up for the fuel economy hit.

Plus you definitely will still be able to sell the CRV for at least 4k when you're done with it.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: What car do you have to get to CO trailheads?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2017, 06:10:27 AM »
I would stop what I was doing, right now, and buy that CRV. If that thing is free of structural rust and as well maintained as claimed, it is a bargain. I've owned three of them, so far. They are a boring transportation appliance that is as reliable as an anvil. I've got a good friend who is a mechanic. He has a couple of customers who are rural mail delivery contractors. They use CRVs to do the work, since it's brutal beating on a vehicle every day, and it's one of the few vehicles that can not only get the job done, but not end up needing to be in the shop every few weeks. OTOH, another contractor uses small GM SUVs, and keeps two of them ready to roll, since they rarely go a few weeks without breaking.

IMHO, there are a ton of "cute-utes" out there and two worth buying, the CRV and the RAV4. I know you live in an area where Subarus are worshipped, but when it comes to your budget, A < 6000 Subaru that sounds like a tractor, has a shitty looking and feeling (circa early 1970s Japanese import) plastic interior, and might need $4K in repairs next week (head gaskets and wheel bearings) is  best avoided. Not that you have one on your list, but I sure wouldn't go looking for one either.  OTOH, a good manual Vibe or Matrix, may be one of the few vehicles running long after the apocalypse. Skip the Fiesta, or any small "domestic" car for that matter. Doesn't matter if it's 20 years old, or three, when it comes to small, Honda and Toyota will always have an exponentially better product that a similar, Ford, GM, or whatever Dodge-Fiat-Chrysler is calling themselves, between bankruptcies.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: What car do you have to get to CO trailheads?
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2017, 06:59:22 AM »
A Subaru wagon was the vehicle of choice for getting to Breckenridge back when I was in college. With the rear seats folded down, we could park at a nearby trail head and "camp" in the car when hotel prices got too high for us students.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 07:01:05 AM by YttriumNitrate »


  • Stubble
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Re: What car do you have to get to CO trailheads?
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2017, 09:23:34 AM »
We live in western Colorado, over near Utah, which is an entirely different type of Colorado than Denver is. I have a 2001 Subaru Outback. It's great all wheel drive but I seldom drive it into rough areas. We also have a 1996 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 truck. These old trucks Toyota trucks are still numerous and very popular around here. We use ours to get into areas where few other people go to. Both our vehicles are driven lightly (3000-4000 miles per year) as we either bike to work and stores, or work from home.