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Small SUV

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Small SUV

Postby quentinc » Sat Apr 26, 2008 4:03 pm

Not exactly a "gear" question, but I'm looking for feedback from owners of small SUVs as to how they stack up for offroad driving. I'm just looking for something that can handle some rocky approach roads to trails. I don't need anything heavy duty. For example, as much as I love how the FJ Cruiser looks (not exactly small), I'd be terrified to drive one without a periscope -- the thing is like a submarine! :)



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Re: Small SUV

Postby nazdarovye » Mon Apr 28, 2008 2:49 pm

I have a Mercury Mariner Hybrid 4WD and it's done well on forest service roads (including unplowed snowy ones). Decent mileage and very low emissions as well.
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Re: Small SUV

Postby jimqpublic » Sat May 03, 2008 8:17 am

I've driven a Mazda 323 to the top of Mazourka peak. In my opinion the most important thing is the person behind the wheel, followed closely by the tires.

For what it's worth I have found that Subarus do quite well on rough roads. The ground clearance is reasonable, all wheel drive systems don't wait for wheelspin to activate, and no parts have rattled off of mine. The downside is mediocre mileage.
Jim
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Re: Small SUV

Postby BSquared » Sun May 04, 2008 5:01 am

Would a Subaru Outback do what you need? We've had two Outbacks now, for a total of around 12 years, and we love 'em. Did a quite substantial trip with the first one on some Canyonlands "roads" that occasionally required minor regrading (moving a rock here, filling a ditch there), and it did at least as well as my friend's old Jeep Cherokee. The mileage is good but not great (30 on the highways).
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Re: Small SUV

Postby quentinc » Sun May 04, 2008 4:09 pm

Thanks all for the suggestions. I hadn't really thought about the Outback (part of the problem is that the only Subaru dealer anywhere near me just closed). One thing I was hoping for was a vehicle I could sleep in; I would guess the Outback isn't that big? It also seems a bit pricey except for in the low-powered versions.

And now for a brief rant. I am amazed by these dealerships that have an armada of Toyota RAV4s and FJ Cruisers on their lot, and not a single one is 4WD! I guess it's a real condemnation of L.A. People want the FJs to "look cool," not to use them for what they're designed to do.
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Re: Small SUV

Postby BSquared » Sun May 04, 2008 4:46 pm

quentinc wrote:One thing I was hoping for was a vehicle I could sleep in; I would guess the Outback isn't that big?

Ours measures 71" from the back of the driver's seat to the end of the bed. If you're by yourself and could sleep diagonally, I think it'd probably work, but if you're likely to be trying to sleep two, I think they'd have to be pretty short. I haven't tried sleeping in it myself.

-B2
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Re: Small SUV

Postby Snow Nymph » Tue May 06, 2008 7:55 am

I thought I replied to this. I had a hard time at first backing up the FJ, but you get used to it. Its pretty roomy and is a comfortable drive. With the rear differentials and A-Trac, the FJ goes over anything. I got it over a pretty big snow berm in Mammoth.


It took some searching to get what I wanted. The FJs all had racks, were automatic, and had the sideboards (or whatever they’re called) and wheel covers. You can’t park in most garages with the racks. I didn’t want to pay the extra for something I would have to remove. I don’t like the sideboards either, it gets in the way for me being short. I wanted a manual transmission, and even that was hard to find. Dealers were calling me to come in, with options I didn’t want. I finally got what I was looking for.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


http://snownymph.smugmug.com/
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Re: Small SUV

Postby quentinc » Wed May 07, 2008 5:24 pm

It is a taxing process! I've asked for Internet quotes, but that doesn't keep me from getting 20 phone calls a day from salesmen. At this point I'm leaning towards the Forester. Luckily, I was able to get a (good) quote purely through email. BSquared -- the Outback is interesting too. I'm having a hard time choosing between the 2 models and the quotes are virtually identical. But I like the 2009 redesign on the Forester, so that will probably be it.
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Re: Small SUV

Postby DJG » Wed May 07, 2008 5:55 pm

We have a hybrid 2006 Ford Escape with 4WD, bought it new. Its been great so far. It replaced a '94 Explorer that we still have and drive, 303,500+ miles and going strong, but for how much longer?? You could probably sleep in the back of the Escape as the rear (split) seat folds down flat, not sure of the length of the space though.

Besides around town and on the freeways, we take it on "back" roads, in the snow and it does fine, clearance is good for what we need. Gets good mileage, about 28-34 mpg (more when city driving due to utilizing the electric battery-driven motor). The 4WD engages automatically via computer, no button to push, no lever to pull, no indicator light to see, nothing. This is different than the old Explorer which I could put in 4WD (std, or low) and know when I was in or out of 4WD.

Being a hybrid, the engine is small and is mostly fine. I'm not a heavy accelerator, nor do we tow anything, so its okay with me. Mild complaint is that the seats don't seem as comfy as those in the Explorer, they feel thinner on those pulls up 395.

Overall, we're pleased with our choice for a smaller SUV. Good luck making your choice!
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