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gearbot

Best type of car for the cascades?

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Hello all,

I have recently moved to the Seattle area and need to buy a car (sadly, my old car did not make the trip). A feature in a car that has always interested me is the ability to sleep in it. So, I would like to buy a car with a bed in it, like a VW bus, vanagon, eurovan, etc. (the night I slept in the front seats of a standard car, a VW rabbit, was not very satisfying).

I have a few questions for all you Pacific Northwest veterans before I rust out and buy one of these cars:

Do the police and the locals leave you alone when you are sleeping at a trailhead or rest area?

How do these cars hand in the winter in the cascades in the snow? Can you put chains on them and does it help?

In the summer in the cascades, on the drive to the trailheads, is there much driving dirt roads? How does these cars hand this?

Any information on this topic will be greatly appreciated.

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What you need is a pimped out Monte Carlo with tinted glass, man. And a bugle horn. You get some major trail head in that thing, man.

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Most Cascade trailheads are accessed by gravel roads, with the majority of these being passable in just about any car. Some require higher clearance than a normal "street" car. Many of the roads have brush growing in along the edges, so if you worry about your paint job, you may occasionally be dismayed.

 

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Subaru wagon. You can sleep in the back, they are at home on winter roads (my chains are still brand new), and they get good gas mileage. The things run forever, too.

 

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OK, I may get spray for this....but I have seen a lot of Subarus at trailheads. The roads are not so bad, and despite the ads, I see few SUV's at the trailheads, probably fighting out parking spots at the G-Store in Issaquah. The second most seen vehical is a truck, maybe with a canopy, I know several climbers who sleep in the back and get a early start in the morning. My Girlfriend has a Subaru, and I usually drive when we go to trailheads (my Honda has made some surprising ascents to say the least), but I have never slept in the back of either, but you can. I see very few of these vans (euro,vw...) at trailheads, but I bet they can get to 80% of the roads. In the winter chains do help, as do a few 2x6's (not me). The trailheads don't see many cops/rangers at night up on the logging roads or trailheads from what I have heard (usaully set up tent in brush), but have seen several parties sleeping in vehicles. Bill

[This message has been edited by To The Top (edited 08-20-2001).]

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I have to agree with Eddie on this one, subaru... i have a wagon and i've slept, in the back when it's really nasty, or when I'm really nasty... and they will go just about anywhere for as long as you own it... camper buses are cool too, but they tend to be a little high if your gonna put bikes on the top, especially the putting up and taking off part... the gas mileage on my subaru is pretty decent also...

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If you want to get a VW bus/van I recommend you look at the Synchro (VW's all wheel drive) option. I hear it works great. I had a good friend who drove a Vanagon with Synchro and loved it --- until his engine block cracked. He said it is not so uncommon for it to happen on Vanagon engines with 125K miles or more.

I used to have a Subaru and it is a great car, but once again, once the mileage gets up there the Sub's reliability decreases.

IMHO it is worth it to have 4WD in the Cascades. It's not necessary, but it's fun and there are many places that you can go to get away from the masses.

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I moved out here with a saturn 3 years ago and it has worked great for me. The clearance sucks but if I drive slow and careful, I can make it to most trailheads. I don't have problems with the snow. I grew up in it so if you are used to driving in snow\ice, anything will work (just watch out for everyone else). But do get chains, you will get a ticket if you don't have them when needed.

If the weather is nice at the trailhead, I through out my pad and sleep on the ground. If it is bad I am able to sleep comfortably in the front seat. I have never been bothered by police or rangers sleeping in my car.

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Toyota Previa is a kick ass van. Better than VW van especially the eurovan with the silly V5 engine. 5 cylinders? huh wha?

just got a 90 Subaru legacy wagon. Finally i have a climber mobile. "if this wagon's rockin' don't come knockin'" wink.gif

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Some of these posts have mentioned 4wd. I believe it is a nice feature, but it generally adds to the expense of a vehicle, usually reduces mileage, and is not at all necessary -- even if you are a back country skier. I currently own a 4wd, but I will not place much priority on that in my next vehicle. My previous 2wd pickup handled better and had a smoother ride, and it took me up all manner of logging roads, through just as much snow and ice or rocky ruts as my 4wd does. When I went somewhere with others in 4wd's, the 4wd drivers had the luxury of not having to take a run at rough spots but being able to creep over them, and when we got somewhere that was snowy or muddy they could turn around when I needed help from my friends. Also, they did not have to stop and put chains on when they were required on the highway (in the backcountry, they nearly always had to use chains any time I did). But we all got to the same place on any given day. Many will tell you they would never go back to 2wd but, in my opinion, clearance is a more significant issue than 4wd.

[This message has been edited by mattp (edited 08-21-2001).]

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the only benefit that 4wd gives is a heavy duty suspension. though you can put heavier shocks on any vehicle. 4wd typically and usually does gets the operater/owner into more trouble then good. i have 4wd truck, but only use 4wd to extract myself from situations. i look at it like my hopeful escape plan. pu's arr light in the rear end and will need significant weight in the back to hold good traction. though if you are living in it, then that problem is solved.

but almost any vehicle will work great, you just have to customize it to your liking.

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I have a Chevy extended cab silverado Z71-I do not recommend this truck for the city and use as a rec vehicle on the weekends. I have it for my job and when I lived in Wyoming. However, a pickup (4wd or not) is ideal. You can put a shell over the back, build shelves to the height of the wheel wells and then sleep on top. I have spent weeks roadtripping with it to places like Bishop, J- Tree, even Mexico. I like Toyotas

the best. Something like the Tacoma. It all comes down to personal preference and the gas mileage is almost half of what the Outback gets. But if that is what you are mainly concerned about, I recommend the new Honda electric car. Good luck!

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My vote is for a Jap club cab pickup, 2wd. I've had both the Nissan and the Mazda. The Nissan has slighly better clearance and engine, but the Mazda is quieter and has more room in the club cab. Toss a cap on the back and throw in some sand bags and chains for the winter. I took the Nissan through axle-deep mud repeatedly and took great joy in parking it, with mud spattered to the roof, next to shiny, never-touched-anything-softer-than-asphalt 4wds.

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Toyota 4 runner. Can sleep in the back,(unless exceptionally tall) has 4 wheel drive and high clearance. Way more reliable than most anything else. Can squash hoards of Subarus at trail heads! Only drawback is the gas mileage.

[This message has been edited by slaphappy (edited 08-21-2001).]

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My father-in-law had a VW Vanigan for years, and hated it: maintenance problems, underpowered, overpriced. Finally got rid of it and got a big Ford van conversion. (Not for backcountry, of course.)

I'd have to agree with chris_w; my wife had a Subaru Justy 4wd, and I only needed the 4wd once, on all the forest service roads I took it on. Most of the time, my Escort wagon does just fine -- good mileage, enough room for two or three, and cheap. As reliable as a Japanese car.

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Like I said before- Hummer. Don't worry about the wide body, just bash through whatever's in your way. Ground clearance 18 plus inches. Mount a .50 on top and don't worry about the bears or mounties. If you're worried about the gas mileage, you can't afford it. LOL

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I never did understand the big attraction to sleeping in a vehicle. What are you going to do, throw all your stuff outside to make room so you can fog everything up. Don't you have a bivy sack? If it's pouring rain, turn around and go home! Id' rather sleep under my car than in it!

For reliability, nothing beats Toyota. If you hate buying foreign then that's cool too. The 4x4 Tercel wagon (if you can find one) is awesome. Beats Subaru once you get to higher miles. Truck with canopy and chains should work too. You'll need to add sand bags in winter. Up to you if you want 4x4. A german friend (who did lots of research) told me the best year for Vanagon is 1993. If you are one of those ultralight gearheads, get a VW bug. They go great in snow! If you want a really cool car Citroen Deux Chevaux is also very easy to repair yourself (once you get the parts) and reliable. It's fun to watch everyone tell you what to get because they're going to tell you what they have! I don't know your budget or other needs....family with kids, work, commute, etc. Also, I firmly believe if you will be driving in snow, manual transmission is far better than automatic and is more important than what car you're in. Just sucks for driving in our traffic.

PS: I don't currently drive any of the above!

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David--

I can't believe you're recommending a French car!!! What is that old saying--- in European heaven the cars are German, the food is French, the cops are English, the lovers are Italian and the bankers are Swiss. In European hell the cops are German, the food is English, the cars are French the bankers are Italian and the lovers are Swiss.

Thanks Mattp for the correction ; - )

That said, a peppy rally car is fun with a capital "F". I love that Subaru ad for the WRX.

[This message has been edited by Matt (edited 08-21-2001).]

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you don't need 4wd in the USA but boy do you need it to go mountaineering in BC. either that or like adding 3 hours of approach and walk out. frown.gif

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Matt -

In European Heaven, add that the lovers are Italian and the bankers are Swiss; in Hell it is the other way around.

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Heading into our LZ for the Selkirks in B.C. the one car we had problems with was the Jeep Cherokee. The piecer 80's Mazda truck was fine, as was the beater rental picked up in Calgary! Flat tire on the Cherokee...turned out to be FS Wilderness AT. Go figure.

-Iain

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