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  1. #1
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    Good camping/biking/outdoors vehicle?

    Looking for a new(er) car or truck. I drive a 2 door sportscar and its useless for 90% of my life. Im keeping it, but I want a second vehicle for outdoor adventures.

    I have no desire to own a rock crawler or any real serious 4wd truck. I do need it to be able to handle fire road trails. Some trails are far too rough for a car, but a friend made it across in a stock 2wd F150 (albeit slowly) so it needs to be at least as capable as as that! Id like awd/4wd however.

    Better fuel economy and acceptable power would be nice. Right now Im considering a mazda tribute/ford escape... sort of loosely considering an older 4runner. After driving a few jeeps, Im pretty turned off by leaks and quality issues.

    Im kind of planning on being rough on it, so Id prefer something not too expensive.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Budget?
    I just bought a 2005 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner TRD

    I would look into the 4Runner.

  3. #3
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    Id prefer to spend less... If there was something just amazing out there I wouldnt mind spending around 20k. I dont mind an older car or repairing it though.

    The tribute has much more power and handles much nicer than the 4runner. The 4runners are just SO cheap (they all have blown head gaskets, which isnt an issue for me) I was considering one. They're very down on power and get bad mileage though, but again.. so cheap. A 4runner is a much more capable truck than what I need, that'd be more of a toy if I picked one up.

  4. #4
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    Subaru Outback? FJ Cruiser? Xterra? Not sure if you want car platform or truck platform.
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  5. #5
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    AWD minivan
    Come on dude it is perfect even if you have to lift it a bit that will just make it cooler. My minivan was the best bike vehicle I've owned. Take the seats out and you have a great place to sleep. Bikes fit inside wheels on too. They are less lame now than the cute utes you are looking at anyway.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Id prefer to spend less... If there was something just amazing out there I wouldnt mind spending around 20k. I dont mind an older car or repairing it though.

    The tribute has much more power and handles much nicer than the 4runner. The 4runners are just SO cheap (they all have blown head gaskets, which isnt an issue for me) I was considering one. They're very down on power and get bad mileage though, but again.. so cheap. A 4runner is a much more capable truck than what I need, that'd be more of a toy if I picked one up.
    If you have 20k to spend I think that would get you something a little better than a Tribute or Escape. Maybe a few year old Honda Pilot or F-150 4wd crew cab. Both can be had in great shape for under 20.

  7. #7
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    Xterra? they have a smooth riding suspension, really nice cargo area. bikes can easly fit inside with the seats folded down and used they are going for 9-15K in the 05-08 range. Plus they did come with a stick
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  8. #8
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    I can't say enough great things about the Honda Element!
    Last edited by rti27; 03-09-2013 at 01:11 PM.

  9. #9
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    Having owned a Jeep 2007 JK hard top I will agree they can be noisy I never had reliability issues with though but it was heavily moded out. But woul pretty much go anywhere off road I ventured on. I did also own a Xterra and can not knock it either. It served me well as a camping and hauling my bikes and gear. I did have a T2 bike rack for it so the bikes got carried on the hitch receiver rack.

    I currently have a Outback and really like it. Plenty of room. AWD. No complaints on it so far. I have hauled my bikes and gear over several states and it has been down fire roads and such with no problems. But I did really like my Xterra as well. The Jeep was cool at first but became a beat down as it was my daily driver also. Still have a heart for them though.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Id prefer to spend less... If there was something just amazing out there I wouldnt mind spending around 20k. I dont mind an older car or repairing it though.

    The tribute has much more power and handles much nicer than the 4runner. The 4runners are just SO cheap (they all have blown head gaskets, which isnt an issue for me) I was considering one. They're very down on power and get bad mileage though, but again.. so cheap. A 4runner is a much more capable truck than what I need, that'd be more of a toy if I picked one up.
    I think it depends on which 4Runner you're looking at. The 2nd gen models from the early 90s were notorious for blown head gaskets and being painfully slow. The 4th gen models (03-09) are far better and, assuming you leave them stock, have an extremely smooth and quiet ride and are solidly built. My '04 has 100K on it and the interior is squeak/rattle free, even after beating it up on rocks and washboard roads in Death Valley. These models are also not underpowered and you can even find some of them with the same 4.7L V8 they put in Tundras/Sequoias/Land Cruisers of that vintage. They aren't great on gas but if it's going to be used as a second vehicle, who cares? I'm very satisfied with mine.


  11. #11
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    I dont mind spending more, but it would have to be something perfect... I really want something much smaller than a 4th gen 4runner. For the price they ask (lots of overlap with the GX470 for the 4th gens!) its just not for me. Great vehicles, just not for me.

    If there was something out there like a jeep wrangler, but reliable with good mileage, that'd be perfect! Looking more towards small, but still has ground clearance. A subaru car like an impreza would be fine 7/10 times... the other times too low, but that sort of "offroad capability" is acceptable. A real truck with lockers and true 4wd is overkill.

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    I've got the same question. I've got a 91 Jeep Wrangler right now which is nice, unfortunately it's a 2.5L. I'm going off to school in the fall and I want something that's a little nicer on the highway.

    You mentioned an impreza, the only downside in my eyes are it really looks like a kids car unless you go '06 or newer. Plus you're guaranteed to go through a clutch, the whole AWD part burns through them even if you're gentle. Currently I'm thinking about buying a newer Jeep (TJ 1997-2005). Also I think an AWD Audi A4 would be perfect. They look really clean. I've read the upkeep is rough.

    Edit: I didn't fully read through the post, a hard top with hard doors is fairly quiet. The newer Jeeps have awful leaking problems but from the multiple TJs my friends have they have no complaints.

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    If the impreza is too low then get a forester.

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    Another vote for a Subaru Forester.

    We've had our Impreza wagon loaded down and still managed to hit the "High Clearance Vehicle Required" trails in Nevada, Colorado, etc. Not ideal, but extra ground clearance that the Forester brings is pretty much ideal.
    Oh noes. I'm going to drink the Kool-Aid.

  15. #15
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    Go to a busy trailhead and take a look around what others are driving, that's a good way to get a few ideas.

    A riding buddy loves his Nissan Juke with AWD, check it out, as well as other crossover SUVs. Sounds like something you'd like, with good gas mileage.

  16. #16
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    Ford Transit Connect

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by POG View Post
    Ford Transit Connect
    If the Transit Connect were available with a manual transmission I would be all over it. Even more so if it were available with AWD...

  18. #18
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    How about a 4x4 f150? With the v6 it'll get better mileage than just about any smaller body on frame suv. Get the cheapest stripped down trim and beat the h*ll out of it.

    Since you're keeping the sports car for daily driving/fun it makes sense to get something that'll haul as much crap as you can. Not many better outdoor adventure vehicles than a full sized truck. Except maybe a full sized van.

    A subaru seems like too much of a compromise for what you are wanting. They're really sweet 'one car to do everything' kind of cars, but just like a bike that attempts to do everything, they end up not doing anything particularly well. With the sporty end already covered, I'd forget about handling. Since you're probably looking at using it for long trips I would keep power as a priority though. Driving an underpowered vehicle that's loaded down with people and gear gets old quick.

    I'd look at either a full sized truck/van or a newer (2005+) xterra if you're really set on something smallish.
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  19. #19
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    A full sized diesel van would be pretty sweet if you can find one. If you can they are usually pretty cheap. One of the dodge/mercedes sprinters would be the ultimate bike vehicle and you can find them with AWD. They aren't exactly cheap though.

  20. #20
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    For reference, I had a mazda3 hatchback before and it was perfect for almost everything. Had no offroad capability at all, but size-wise that was perfect. Full sized trucks are far larger than what I need. Everything bigger is kind just dead space I have to tote around, but I know ill end up with that anyway, just trying to keep it to a minimum.

    Kinda digging the xterra. Im going to go find one to test drive. I dont think you could pay me to drive a van

  21. #21
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    double cab tacoma with a camper shell. The good thing about an actual truck is that when your bike is really dirty it doesnt make a mess in the cab. You can just hose the mud out. You will get decent gas mileage, have plenty of space in the cab, can sleep in the bed if you want. I also transport my bikes with the front wheel hanging over a bed extender for every day riding. This is by far the easiest way - no roof racking, no taking a front wheel off, dont even need to get into the bed.

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  22. #22
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    You like the Mazda 3, then go for a Forester,Impreza, or WRX. Off-road worthy and reliable. My 04 WRX wagon is my ATV. I've passed 4x4's stuck up to the axles in sugar sand at the beach and driven to Michigan from Georgia. Drives through the mountains were very fun, and when we hit the snow it was no big deal. Only time I ever got worried was going through a puddle that turned out to be a pond! This was on the road and the water went over the hood and onto the windshield! Made it through and learned a lesson, too.

  23. #23
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    Try looking at a honda ridgeline. Mid sized quad cab pick up with AWD. The rear seats fold up and it has a waterproof in bed trunk to store gear. It is by no means a 4x4 workhorse, but it does go right through some gnarly stuff and drives like a car

  24. #24
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    Re: Good camping/biking/outdoors vehicle?

    I have a 2012 Jeep Liberty just bought used with 28000 miles for $17000. Jeep would be the best if you go on any fireroad that can get muddy if you don't want a truck. Any sport utility like the Liberty, Xterra or Toyota FJ are the only trail capable vehicles available.

    For some a Jeep is overkill but they get 20mpg, have plenty of room and great ground clearance. A bounus is you can get rubber mats for the back for your wet/muddy riding gear.



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  25. #25
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    Dude, you're all over the place with your thought process...

    Just pick a car, seems like you have the knowledge base to make an informed decision.

  26. #26
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    What about a Honda Element. The back seat folds up towards the C/D pillar (if that make sense) and has built in rubber floor mats. It's more of a mid size SUV/Cross over.

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    Two words: Pontiac Aztec... j/k, kind of...

    There are a ton of options being tossed around here. I liked the previous poster who suggested going to a busy trailhead and seeing what others are using to get some ideas.

    I have to stick to a single vehicle budget right now, but if I had the coin for a 2nd vehicle that was going to be primarily a camping/bike outing vehicle then I would look hard at an older 4X4 quad or crew cab truck. Rhino-line it, put a topper on it, and have fun.

    Good luck-

    J.

  28. #28
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    I'm a big fan of the 90's Jeep ZJ and XJ, but your right about little leaks and issues adding up. That said, Jeeps are extremely easy to work on and every problem that comes up has multiple internet guidance. The ZJ and XJ in basic configuration are extremely off road capable, same as a wrangler and nothing will be built like them again, ever.

    For a smaller, rugged, little econobox, you may want to check out the Suzuki SX4. These things have an AWD center lock setting and can be modified to fit larger all terrain tires.

  29. #29
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    Being good (at everything). It's what makes a Subaru a Subaru.

  30. #30
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    An Outback would probably be good. Maybe a newer 6-cylinder model? If you don't want a full size truck maybe check out the Tacoma or Frontier. I prefer trucks to SUV's for the bed personally.
    :wq

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by acctnut View Post
    I'm a big fan of the 90's Jeep ZJ and XJ, but your right about little leaks and issues adding up. That said, Jeeps are extremely easy to work on and every problem that comes up has multiple internet guidance. The ZJ and XJ in basic configuration are extremely off road capable, same as a wrangler and nothing will be built like them again, ever.
    Sad but so true. I have / had an XJ till this past Friday when it got in a head on collision. Currently in process of replacing / repairing the old XJ. Would love to see a new vehicle with the utility of the old XJ.

  32. #32
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    It sounds like you want a Subaru. Check out their new XV Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback. Can't go wrong with any of them. I personally LOVE my XV Crosstrek.


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    I just bought the new Pathfinder. It is great and so far I have registered 22.3mpg in a mix of highway/city driving (best in class they say (20/26mpg)). It has a 260hp with a CVT engine that really works great and 3 rows (if you want to configure it that way) for people. It can also tow up 5000lbs. Look at truecar.com and go with the best 15% in price...that was the deal I got. Good luck!

  34. #34
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    Since you are keeping your sportscar, I think you are in a position to give up a little more in terms of comfort and gas milage for an off-roader. Having two cars at your disposal will give you a lot of flexibility.
    I was a total sportscar guy and then in 2009 I bought my first Jeep Wrangler (JK). I am now on my second... a 4-door Rubicon. There is nothing, NOTHING, like wheeling with the top off. It hauls anything and everything and it is my go-to vehicle for going to the bike trail head. In the winter, an absolute beast and a blast to drive. Oh, and both have been 100% reliable. Sadly, I could not say the same for many of my departed sportscars (M3's).

  35. #35
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    Before I bought my 2003 Tacoma V6 4X4 I was hell bent on a 2008 Forester XT manual. I wanted to put a small lift on it and larger BFG AT tires..add in a cobb access port and you've got a small monster. The main thing I got the taco for is that with the rear diff locker you can go just about anywhere and it still drives so so on the road (compared to most trucks, not compared to a forester XT) and I can sleep in the back of the taco.
    I like to ride bikes.

  36. #36
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    Sounds like you already know what you want, but I'll throw in there that a pickup is hard to beat for a camping/biking/outdoors vehicle. You can sleep in the back, and it is nice to have the space to put muddy/dirty bikes and gear into. So nice to not have to deal with roof or hitch racks -- just put the bike in the back and away you go. They can go pretty much anywhere you'd want to go. Plus, nice to have for the occasional home improvement project, drive-in movie trip, you name it. I really miss my pickup. A mid-sized (Tacoma, Frontier) won't be too big.

    I now have an '07 Subaru Outback. It'll go most anywhere I would want it to go. Decent space inside (although not comparable to the truck). Fuel economy is obviously better than the truck, but not so much that I'm really thrilled with the decision. Factory built racks make putting bikes on top an easy task, compared to other cars where you have to use aftermarket load bars and feet and all of that.

    Good luck!
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Looking for a new(er) car or truck...Better fuel economy and acceptable power would be nice. Right now Im considering a mazda tribute/ford escape... sort of loosely considering an older 4runner. After driving a few jeeps, Im pretty turned off by leaks and quality issues.

    Im kind of planning on being rough on it, so Id prefer something not too expensive.

    Any suggestions?
    How about a Mazda CX-5? I have had one for about 2 months now and I love it. It handles great for a crossover, has plenty of space for people or bikes in the back (via a simple rear seat latch release from the hatch opening), and gets great gas mileage - I average 27mpg with about 65/35 city/highway driving. A nicely equipped one would probably be around 25k, but they start around 22k and maybe less depending on the dealer you go to. 2WD or AWD options depending on what your needs are as well.

  38. #38
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    The Honda Element always seemed like it would be a good car for camping etc. It's roomy, you can remove all the seats. It's properly ugly too.

    Back to the pick up truck. My one gripe about my '03 Tacoma is the range. I knew I'd be lucky to get 20mpg but it has a 18 gallon tank. The light comes on when you have 3 gallons left so you're lucky to get 280-300 miles before refueling. I was in Joshua tree rock climbing and we had to leave the park to refuel which took half a day. I'm working on getting a hitch cargo basket and some NATO steel gas cans for extra fuel, which is a pain in the ass. The truck should have a 22 gallon tank at least.
    I like to ride bikes.

  39. #39
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    I love Suburbans. You get all of the functionality of full size pick-up w/cap, but with extra comfort, security and interior configuration options. I haven't even taken my son's and my bikes and gear out of ours in months; just leave it in there so we're ready to go any time. Great for sleeping in if you're too lazy to set up a tent, can haul most anything without bothering with a rack. Since it's a second vehicle, the gas mileage isn't a concern to me, but it's in the neighborhood of other full size trucks anyway. Great adventure/road trip vehicles.

  40. #40
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    Good camping/biking/outdoors vehicle?

    This is my setup... Come awn you know you want it! Lmao Good camping/biking/outdoors vehicle?-imageuploadedbytapatalk1363884935.178830.jpg

    Seriously though... Compact/mid size pickup, most versatile vehicle out there. Pick your brand... for 20k thats a lot of truck! Hell you should be able to buy two extra vehicles for 20k. I don't understand how some make it through life without a truck!
    I hope you have a big trunk... cause I'm gonna put my bike in it!

  41. #41
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    Get a 73-78 Ford F150 4x4 it will take any abuse you can dish out and if you do damage anything it is cheaper to fix than your newer AWD/4x4 vehicles fuel will be a bit of an issue I currently drive a 78 with 351M and get about 12 city 14 highway trruck goes where I want it to have 2 sets of tires one street for everyday and a set of agressive mud tires when I know that it is going to be a bad ride. plus with it being an older truck you can do most of the tune up, oil changes etc. yourself see them for sale around 1000 for rough but solid to 8000 up for a truck in excellent shape (i.e. been fixed up)
    I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. I sure hope I can!

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4x4guy View Post
    Get a 73-78 Ford F150 4x4 it will take any abuse you can dish out and if you do damage anything it is cheaper to fix than your newer AWD/4x4 vehicles fuel will be a bit of an issue I currently drive a 78 with 351M and get about 12 city 14 highway trruck goes where I want it to have 2 sets of tires one street for everyday and a set of agressive mud tires when I know that it is going to be a bad ride. plus with it being an older truck you can do most of the tune up, oil changes etc. yourself see them for sale around 1000 for rough but solid to 8000 up for a truck in excellent shape (i.e. been fixed up)
    Those older trucks are pretty sweet. Do you have any pictures of it?
    I like to ride bikes.

  43. #43
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    My Super Cab, 8' box F250 offers a bunch of flexibility, if you can stomach 8.5-9 mpg (gas) with the truck camper. A pop-up style truck camper is probably a little better if you do a lot of 4 wheelin' and for fuel consumption. Around town, we use an '06 Scion xB with a platform-style hitch rack. Fantastic mileage, but zero ground clearance and I can't sleep in it. Or, for an after work ride, we throw the hitch rack on my Chevy 2500 extended wheelbase van (11.5-17mpg) that has about an eleven foot floor. They all have their positive points, but if I could only have one, it'd be the van.
    I gave up on sports cars a long time ago. However, it's still fun to take a test drive every couple years or so.


  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by otis24 View Post
    The Honda Element always seemed like it would be a good car for camping etc. It's roomy, you can remove all the seats. It's properly ugly too.
    Good camping/biking/outdoors vehicle?-storage_element.jpg
    It is ugly, my GF when I told her I bought one was a disappointed... until she saw it. She actually fell in love with it right when he got in it. She said "this is the perfect vehicle for you."

    In this picture I was moving from my apartment across town. I have a On-One Fatty 16in with bot tires on, a small dresser, a floor lamp, a full size hamper with clothes in it, and a few other pieces. And it all fit just fine. Mine is a 2004 AWD EX model and when it dies I will look for a 2011 model, it's just hard to beat in biking/camping/fishing/any outdoor activity.

    If I had to choose another vehicle I would be looking at Ridgeline which is what I will probably get if I can not get an 2011 element.
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  45. #45
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    I'm not sure if the OP has found a new rig yet. In the event he's still searching, I'll throw my $3k workhorse into the equation.

    We moved to Salt Lake City, and I didn't want to use my 2010 GTI as a skiing/fishing/camping/biking car. It's a garage queen, and it's happy that way.

    I finally convinced my wife that a 3rd car made sense, and set off to find the best sub-$5k vehicle I could find. Why $5k? Several reasons really:
    • Car payments are lame
    • Mountain cars are supposed to be ugly and dirty
    • It's really cool when your bike costs more than your rig


    After driving Jeep ZJs and XJs, Land Cruisers, Pathfinders, and XTerras, I settled on a 3rd-gen 4Runner. They're absolutely bulletproof reliable, capable and not horrible on fuel.

    I bought my 'truck' for a cool $3,400 with 204k miles, from the original owner. It runs awesome, burns no oil and still gets 19/23 for gas mileage. It's also incredibly capable off road and in the snow, and is perfect for the weekend trips to Moab.

    And the best part is, I don't have to care about it at all. Mud, sand, rocks, no big deal. It just keeps on going. And the rear window rolls down for the dog!

    Good camping/biking/outdoors vehicle?-img_6511.jpg

    Good camping/biking/outdoors vehicle?-imag2010.jpg

  46. #46
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    Just got a Subaru Crosstrek. I love it. It's the perfect car for getting out there. It's on the smaller side so it's easy to drive, decent power despite only having 148 hp (I was sceptical), comfy, gets 30+mpg, and it's a Subaru. You can get one new in the low $20k's.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by crux View Post
    Sad but so true. I have / had an XJ till this past Friday when it got in a head on collision. Currently in process of replacing / repairing the old XJ. Would love to see a new vehicle with the utility of the old XJ.
    The XJ is a dead horse. You'll never see another one like it on the market. Too good of a vehicle.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by NWfreeride View Post
    I'm not sure if the OP has found a new rig yet. In the event he's still searching, I'll throw my $3k workhorse into the equation.

    We moved to Salt Lake City, and I didn't want to use my 2010 GTI as a skiing/fishing/camping/biking car. It's a garage queen, and it's happy that way.

    I finally convinced my wife that a 3rd car made sense, and set off to find the best sub-$5k vehicle I could find. Why $5k? Several reasons really:
    • Car payments are lame
    • Mountain cars are supposed to be ugly and dirty
    • It's really cool when your bike costs more than your rig


    After driving Jeep ZJs and XJs, Land Cruisers, Pathfinders, and XTerras, I settled on a 3rd-gen 4Runner. They're absolutely bulletproof reliable, capable and not horrible on fuel.

    I bought my 'truck' for a cool $3,400 with 204k miles, from the original owner. It runs awesome, burns no oil and still gets 19/23 for gas mileage. It's also incredibly capable off road and in the snow, and is perfect for the weekend trips to Moab.

    And the best part is, I don't have to care about it at all. Mud, sand, rocks, no big deal. It just keeps on going. And the rear window rolls down for the dog!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    NWfreeride, what year is your 4Runner?

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by trek7100 View Post
    NWfreeride, what year is your 4Runner?
    It's a 1999. The years to look for are '96-'02. Stock except for 265/75/16 Cooper AT/3 All Terrains. May get a safari rack, lights and full skid plates this year. Otherwise, I'm gunning for another 200k of adventures in this thing.

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    Looking for a new(er) car or truck. I drive a 2 door sportscar and its useless for 90% of my life. Im keeping it, but I want a second vehicle for outdoor adventures.

    I have no desire to own a rock crawler or any real serious 4wd truck. I do need it to be able to handle fire road trails. Some trails are far too rough for a car, but a friend made it across in a stock 2wd F150 (albeit slowly) so it needs to be at least as capable as as that! Id like awd/4wd however.

    Better fuel economy and acceptable power would be nice. Right now Im considering a mazda tribute/ford escape... sort of loosely considering an older 4runner. After driving a few jeeps, Im pretty turned off by leaks and quality issues.

    Im kind of planning on being rough on it, so Id prefer something not too expensive.

    Any suggestions?
    One thing to consider about rough fire roads beyond the need for 4wd or AWD is ground clearance. I have heard in the past Subaru owners say their Outback or Forester has 8 or 9 inches of ground clearance, that's the same as X,Y & Z SUV or truck. While this is one thing to consider it's the least regarding rough terrain. You also need to consider approach, departure and break over angles. Subaru sadly doesn't have this. If you could chop a foot or so off the front and back they'd go a lot further. Although, I have no idea how you'd fix the break over angle issue.
    I like to ride bikes.

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