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mattp

A quiz about your car or truck

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Quiz:

1. What kind of car or truck do you own?

 

2. How many times in the last year has it been inadequate for getting to a climb that you wanted to do?

 

3. On any of the occasions counted above, would higher clearance have actually made the difference?

 

4. On any of the occasions counted as a yes in #2, would 4 wheel drive or tire chains have made the difference (and which one)?

 

Why do I ask? I'm shopping for a new vehicle. And I'm thinking of buying a car and not a truck because I am tired of the stiff suspension and cramped quarters in my Toyota 4x4 and I believe a car is probably better suited to what I do with my vehicle 95% of the time: commute, run errands, and otherwise drive on well-maintained roads. Even most logging roads I drive are not all that bad and any car could make it up them, though I slept in my truck once in the last year and there were four times I was able to drive a half mile further in my 4x4 pickup than I would have with a normal car. I hauled construction materials 15 or 20 times, but I am wondering if even this does not justify driving an uncomfortable, bouncy, and less safe vehicle all of the time. I could probably just as easily have those materials delivered, or rent a truck a couple times a year.

 

Several threads have addressed these issues, and the discussion boils down to this: (1) if you really want to explore the remote parts of BC or go to the Maze district in Canyonlands, you probably want to take a high clearance 4x4 pickup; (2) if you ski a lot and don't want to have to mess around with chains, you gotta have all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive; and (3) if you are going to just about any popular climb, even including routes on remote peaks if those remote peaks are ones that are served by maintained trails, just about any car will get you to the trailhead.

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1) Dodge Dakota

2) 1 time

3) Yes

4) Clearance was the main factor.

 

A 4X4 with a short wheelbase is the way to go for bad roads. Full sized pickups with extracab and longbeds are stupid 4X4 vehicles.

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I drive a old Saab. The only time it didn't get me to where I wanted to go was for a winter trip to the Colchuk Glacier. I think chains would have gotten me to the trailhead as the road was packed down by 4x4s and snow machines, but as it happened, we parked near Icicle Creek and humped it to the trailhead.

 

[ 11-12-2002, 06:05 PM: Message edited by: Thinker ]

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Matt,

 

I have a 1990 Subaru Legacy Wagon. I use it for everything, including my field work in Death Valley. In April, I spent the entire month driving all over steep alluvial fans on unmaintained roads that cross a number of washes. I probably drove more miles of rugged dirt road in that month than I have in the last 3 years combined elsewhere. I did have problems from time to time with bottoming-out and my oil pan has some dents to show for it. In general I could have avoided 90% of the craters (and I got better as the month went on) if I slowed down, improved my technique, chose a good line, and got out to move the occasional oversized rock. That being said, bottoming was not unavoidable in some situations. However, I have not experienced a FS road yet that I could not navigate cleanly. The newer Outbacks have a bit better clearance and I may have avoided all of my scrapes in Death Valley with one.

 

If I was used to a high clearnce truck my Subie might piss me off, but it hasn't.

 

If you want a beater, I used to have an '82 subaru hatch-back that was indestructible. I could do 60 on sketchy dirt roads and not worry if I scraped a little, they don't make 'em like that anymore.

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mattp,

Basically, I agree with your assesment of cars and their uses. I have a high clearance 4x4 that is nice for driving around on rough roads and through deep snow, but normally, high clearance isn't needed. It depends on how much cash you wanna blow, but I would look into the always popular subaru. They have the four wheel drive to get you around in the winter, and the wagons can fit a little more stuff in the back and you could sleep in 'em. Also, the subaru WRX is really fun with the turbo. 0-60 in 5.5 sec or so plus AWD = lots of fun

Good luck.

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I got a POS but my old 4x4 nissan kicked much ass. Bummer I totalled it at Tahoe. Best vehicle I ever had and dumb not to buy another one immediately. My next car a truck [Frown]

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My wife's old Toyota Camry wagon was 10x smoother on FS roads than my current Toyota T100 (2wd) pickup truck is. Just sucked up the bumps/washboards. I too have given serious consideration to going back to a car. I've thought about a Jetta Wagon. As much as I like those Subaru Foresters, I could never bring myself to drive a symbol of the environmental elite. [smile]

 

How about those "mini-SUV's" like Toyota RAV-4 or Honda CRV?

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current alpine-assault vehicle is a 1987 honda civic - cost me $1k, gets 50+mpg, front-wheel drive gets me as far as I want to drive.

 

I've been partial to subaru in the past, but 4-wheel drive is overrated, and not worth the tradeoff at about half the gas mileage.

 

trucks are for people who need to live in them. if you live in a house, you don't need one for climbing...

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Here are the priorities I look for in my climbing/skiing vehicle.

 

1.) decent amount of cargo space (can add a roof box for more cargo)

 

2.)decent ground clearance...anybody who thinks you need a jacked up SUV to travel forest roads is dumb

 

3.)reliability

 

4.)AWD for driving typical snowy roads over the passes, etc.

 

5.)Can sleep in the back.

 

I think the best reasonably priced car I've found that meets all these is a subaru outback wagon. They have enough space to get all my gear to a climb and back, the clearance is enough for anything you'll realistically want to drive over and it's an AWD car so it handles snowy roads better than an SUV/truck.

 

my 2 cents.

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quote:

Originally posted by haireball:

current alpine-assault vehicle is a 1987 honda civic - cost me $1k, gets 50+mpg, front-wheel drive gets me as far as I want to drive.


I too have a Civic, affordable, great gas milage, and you can get by on most roads, and plus a hatchback can fit a lot of stuff.

My girlfriend has a Outback, and I do feel braver on some roads, plus gets reasonable mileage.

Also, recommend a stick in case you get back and the battery is low, plus you get better mileage than with a automatic.

TTT

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quote:

Originally posted by mattp:

I am tired of the stiff suspension and cramped quarters in my Toyota 4x4 and I believe a car is probably better suited to what I do with my vehicle 95% of the time: commute, run errands, and otherwise drive on well-maintained roads.

Matt, do you have a standard cab? I found the older standard cab to be too short, but the extended cab allows the seat to go back further and gives just enough leg room for this mere six-footer to not cramp up on all-day drives. While the extended cab isn't good for much else, it is a spot to put extra gear so it's out of the way and not cramping up the seats.

 

I've got the older style '94, the last year before the Tacoma came out. I also use it 95% of time to commute. But wouldn't trade it for anything, it's still running strong and I'll keep it 'til it's run into the ground, 230,000 miles so far. Most dependable rig I've ever had (puts my older trucks of Ford, Dodge, and 2 GMCs to shame...can't wait for the spray now). Suspension is just right, not too stiff for a truck. Good clearance for some of the FS roads over here in the INW to be able to get to warmer weather climb spots and get through snow to BC ski areas. Also dependable for those long trips to the Icefields Parkway, or south to Cali and other SW destinations.

 

I can't think of a car that would replace my Toyota truck, so am curious to see if you get good answers here. Don't know if the Tacoma extended cab is big enough, my next rig might be a Tundra, but that's probably still a few years away.

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Matt stop beating around the bush, we all know you're going to get a Subaru Outback so you can finally fit in the crowd at REI. It's a great family vehicle. Question is, how much say do you have in the matter, and much say does she have? [big Grin]

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quote:

Originally posted by Fairweather:

As much as I like those Subaru Foresters, I could never bring myself to drive a symbol of the environmental elite.
[smile]

 

How about those "mini-SUV's" like Toyota RAV-4 or Honda CRV?

Yeah, but you could sneak up on them with a Subaru. [Wink]

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A Civic is great. I was capable of following my buddy's 4wd Suzuki overland when we used to sneak around the gate to get into Fossil Rock.

 

A truck is a gas-guzzling pain. When you need to haul something, you can rent a big pick-up from Home Depot for $20 for 70 minutes. This is much cheaper than actually owning one.

 

When you need to get up a difficult road, say to get into to do Dreamer, you can always hitch a ride with an SUV-driving buddy, eh Matt? [smile]

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I almost forgot....the kids, they think the Civic hatchbacks are cool, so they are pretty easy to sell.

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I have 2.

 

I have an early 90s Nissan Pathfinder. It's perfect for alpine activities and a VW golf.

 

3 occasions this year my car would've been inadequate to get there.

 

2X were ground clearance issues 1X 4WD

 

The golf is great in the snow w/good tires. It's almost better than the 4WD of the Pathfinder on snowy roads. I love my pathfinder in Snow off road situations.

 

Can you keep your toyota? That's what I did. Bought the Golf and keep the Pathfinder as a second vehicle.

 

Do NOT by a newer pathfinder for this stuff.

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and an afterthought...

 

My insignificant other has a an audi A4. It may be the best snow vehicle we've got. It wasn't all that expensive.

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I have an 87 Civic hatchback 5-speed with the (preferred)larger 1.5 liter engine and get high 30's to 40 mpg. With a short wheelbase, fwd and engine over the front wheels, the snow traction is pretty good. I use studded snow tires on front when I know snow will be encountered. The car is so light that just one buddy is usually enough to push it out of a problem. With one rear seat folded down, three climbers and all their gear, for whatever, will fit.

 

The two main problems for me are going up to Paradise in the winter (a lot) and the south route road into Mt. Adams. Chains are a pain. The way out of it is to trade off with your 4-wheel buddies for the hard stuff, but then you are on their schedule not yours. I am very curious about the existence of a lift kit for a civic. That seems pretty doubtful though.

 

The Civic works great, but with a Subaru you wouldn't have to compromise. If you are a Microsofty wait for the new Volkswagon Touraq(?) that's coming out next year, it is the final solution, but costly.

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To second what minx said, the best car you can get for driving snowy roads is an audi w/ quattro, bar-none. Audi's AWD system is significantly better technology than anything else out there. Comebine that with snow tires and they are unbeatable ski rigs. Anybody who argues this hasn't driven one or can't drive in the snow.

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quote:

Originally posted by JoshK:

To second what minx said, the best car you can get for driving snowy roads is an audi w/ quattro, bar-none.

What? Audi? "Best"? The consistently high placing of scooby WRXs in international rally car competitions might indicate otherwise.

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consider a highly used vehicle. about three years ago i brought an '89 nissan pathfinder with 160k miles for $3k and spent another $1k on preventative maintenance. it has been extremely reliable. it will go just about anywhere, but only 2 or 3 times a year do i drive it someplace a sube wouldn't clear. it obviously has a lot of room - 4 people with tons of gear fits fine, and sleeping in the back is pretty nice. i often use the 4wd. i have used the chains a few times, mostly in canadaland.

 

point is for $4k i covered my needs. it only gets 20 mpg (compared to a sube's ~30 mpg) but i secretly feel superior to enviro-yuppies because i feel like i'm driving a recycled vehicle.

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Get a Honda Element when they come out in December! [big Grin] Chix and doods will dig you.

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I went through two subarus wagons before I got my Tacoma and I don't think I'd go back. The soobs were great ('89 wagon and '90 legacy) and I could get anywhere I needed to go, but having a truck with high clearance and a bed where I can chuck loads of gear, a dog, and move it all to one side so I can sleep back there makes it worth it. Also, not having to pull over to put on chains because I have a 4x4 makes it worth it.

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4x4 does not help as much as many people think in snow. when you go to whistler, every vehicle in the ditch is an suv cause they all think that 4x4 got them covered. but you will spinout just as much with 4x4 as otherwise.

 

best car for snow is an old 1970's wood panel station wagon with 6 bags of cement over the rear tires, chains, and some plywood sheets to stuff under the tires when you sink & spin.

 

the legacy is a good car. i got a 90 too. it isnt that great for bc mountaineering cause it is a wimp at getting over crossditches. but it rocks for roadtrips compared to a truck. mileages is better than a truck but not as good as a honda accord. sleeps 1 person in the back if you lie diagonally.

 

the new subarus like outback, i gotta say i think are too upmarket and not designed to actually go offroad. so buy something used.

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