• 01-17-2013
    zgroove
    Looking to buy a SUV that is good for the trail and family...any thoughts?
    I am in the market to purchase an SUV this year that is good for the trail, carrying a family of four, great gas mileage, low maintenance, and has a cool factor to it as well. Any thoughts? Send me your pics and details! Thanks for your help! :thumbsup:
  • 01-17-2013
    June Bug
    Yes, the SUV you are looking for is called a van (Toyota,Honda, Chrysler Town & Country), depending on how you define cool factor. The utility aspect (especially the sliding van doors) trumps all others. Open the back and just roll the bikes into the cavernous space. Otherwise, just get what appeals and add a hitch for a 4-bike bumper mounted bike rack -- I recommend Kuat.

    Sorry to be flippant, but we own a MAZDA MPV (Multi Purpose Vehicle) which is just an amazing vehicle for cyclists. Alas, that model is no longer made by Mazda, but Honda and ToyAuto have it pretty well covered. Bikes fit, seats fold up and down and all the amenities.
  • 01-17-2013
    zebrahum
    Well, I like my Touareg TDI but I suppose that depends on your budget. Big enough for 4 easily, enough room for a moderate amount of gear, TDI gets good mileage for how big the thing is and I don't think you can find an SUV that looks better from the front. Here's mine in a poor quality shot while performing its current most important duty: bike hauler.



    But perhaps you'd have better luck over in Car & Biker - Mtbr Forums instead of "Passion".
  • 01-17-2013
    Swerny
    Closest I can think of is the Mercedes Benz R-350 Bluetec, but it's $$$$.

    Which i don't think you can get in the US anymore.

    Mercedes-Benz R-class Reviews: 2011 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTec Tested

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    Well, I like my Touareg TDI but I suppose that depends on your budget. Big enough for 4 easily, enough room for a moderate amount of gear, TDI gets good mileage for how big the thing is and I don't think you can find an SUV that looks better from the front. Here's mine in a poor quality shot while performing its current most important duty: bike hauler.



    But perhaps you'd have better luck over in Car & Biker - Mtbr Forums instead of "Passion".

    My father in law has one and it's an excellent vehicle. He likes it a lot.
  • 01-17-2013
    CHUM
    1 Attachment(s)
    We just bought a damn minivan....Honda Odyssey.

    almost had to hand in my Man Card (luckily I still have a 'cool' car).

    But I gotta say - the minivan freaking ROCKS!. Way easy to get in and out, pull seats in and out, eleventyhundred cupholders and storage space nooks, 3 climate zones, remote opening everything, DVD player, wireless headphones, sliding doors,...it even has a built in cooler and rear view camera!

    not only can you fit 4'X8' sheets of plywood in it - you can fit 4 adults plus a 10' longboard and still have gobs of space...
  • 01-17-2013
    Hoban
    Depends on your style or budget. I'm not a Toureg or Mercedes kind of guy. I don't mind older vehicles as I do all the maintenance and save a lot of money up front. Buying a brand new vehicle for the sake of fuel mileage doesn;t make sense to me. But I understand the draw of a brand new car, too.

    My wife drives a Jeep Cherokee. Not great gas mileage, but you won't have to spend 30-50k for one. More like $3-5k. Tow of my favorites are the Jeep Wagoneer and Toyota Landcruiser FJ80. I can save 20k but get worse fuel mileage. :)
  • 01-17-2013
    TheSchwagman
    My Mtn Biking SUV is a 1997 Jeep wrangler. This thing sucks for room, sucks gas, sucks on the highway. But in the summer, top down, bikes on back to and from the trailhead ROCKS!

    If I had the coin to buy another, I'd simply move up to a 4 door Wrangler with a 4 bike Kuat on the back.

    (Edit) Great gas mileage-wise, try the '07-'08 Grand Cherokee CRD!

    (Edit part deux) The 2014 Grand Cherokee CRD is on the horizon.
  • 01-17-2013
    bamwa
    minivans have a much lower floor than suvs. I keep the middle seat out of my voyager and just roll the bikes right in. Better that having them on the outside while hitting a resturaunt after a ride.
  • 01-17-2013
    Giant Chachi
    I'll put my $.02 in for my Jeep Patriot. Small SUV, fits my family of 4 and our Boxer too! I average around 22 MPG, which is mainly city miles. It has 4x4, fits my bike inside with the seats down if needed, and I like the looks because it looks like an updated Cherokee and I always liked those. Tons of head and leg room, even for the back seats, and some cool built in features (rear cargo light doubles as a flashlight). Plus, it is a Jeep, so you get the off-road coolness factor too!
  • 01-17-2013
    cutthroat
    The Honda van is a great vehicle, but cannot be taken off road in any serious way. If they would just build it on the Pilot chassis with the higher clearance and all wheel drive, I'd buy one in a heart beat.

    For all around MTB use, camping, and hauling, I love my 2004 Tahoe - not particularly great on gas, but checks all the other boxes.
  • 01-17-2013
    stremf
    SUV and "great gas mileage" will be a tough roll to fill. I've got a family of 4 and luckily, the wife refuses to drive a minivan. So we got a Subaru Outback. Close to 9" of ground clearance, 30+ MPG on the freeway and good amount of room inside. Does great in snow, sand, etc. Priced at ~$30k, it was a good buy. And it's definitely cooler than CHUM's minivan. :p
  • 01-17-2013
    Lenny7
    Love my 4 door jeep Wrangler. If you get a Sahara hardtop they are pretty plush these days too.
  • 01-17-2013
    millargeo
    I have a Honda Pilot with a hitch mount rack. Cool factor of zero, but with two kids, and two dogs, and a need for AWD, it works pretty well.
  • 01-17-2013
    zgroove
    Minvan was not our first option, but I definitely appreciate the feedback on them. It makes me take a second look at them and I like the fact that rolling the bike in and out and not having to worry about them when I am in a pub is great. We have been looking at the new Lexus RX F Sport or the Acura MDX, mainly because living in the Bay Area, we do not want to big of a vehicle when we go into the city. Does anyone have either model or know someone with those models? Any feedback would be great! We still have to check out the Subaru's and Jeeps as well.
  • 01-17-2013
    ATown17
    A 4 door Jeep (Wrangler or Grand Cherokee) will give you everything you need EXCEPT gas mileage. A mid-sized, 4-door pick up truck would get better gas mileage in most cases and may fit your needs even better. I wound up with an older Honda Accord and a Wrangler. My brother and I trade off with these two until the Wrangler is too built for daily driving and then he'll buy a dd and I'll buy the Wrangler from him as a second vehicle. Best of both worlds.
  • 01-17-2013
    icsloppl
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zgroove View Post
    I am in the market to purchase an SUV this year that is good for the trail, carrying a family of four, great gas mileage, low maintenance, and has a cool factor to it as well. Any thoughts? Send me your pics and details! Thanks for your help! :thumbsup:

    2004-5 Forester. Quite capable. Cheap. Excellent mileage and reliability.

  • 01-17-2013
    Shmoo
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by millargeo View Post
    I have a Honda Pilot with a hitch mount rack. Cool factor of zero, but with two kids, and two dogs, and a need for AWD, it works pretty well.

    We have a Pilot as well, with the Yakima Stickup hitch rack. We have averaged 24mpg on the highway. Only off-road we have seen is on the beaches of Outer Banks.
  • 01-17-2013
    PoisonDartFrog
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by CHUM View Post
    We just bought a damn minivan....Honda Odyssey.

    almost had to hand in my Man Card (luckily I still have a 'cool' car).

    But I gotta say - the minivan freaking ROCKS!. Way easy to get in and out, pull seats in and out, eleventyhundred cupholders and storage space nooks, 3 climate zones, remote opening everything, DVD player, wireless headphones, sliding doors,...it even has a built in cooler and rear view camera!

    not only can you fit 4'X8' sheets of plywood in it - you can fit 4 adults plus a 10' longboard and still have gobs of space...

    Welcome to the dark side, bro - been in a minivan since 2001. If it makes you feel any better, I once read that only difference between a van and SUV is perception... either way you are sitting in a big box with lots of room behind you. Except with more headroom , a better ride, and better mileage.

    One car I have been in is a Dodge Grand Caravan for the last 4 1/2 years. The Japanese models get higher ratings, but I got mine lightly used and it was way cheaper; paid cash for it. Plus the seat fold into the floor, so they are always there - you don't have to take them out and sit them in the garage. 100% reliable.

    Plus, you can rig a camping hammock in a minivan and use it like an RV:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyyoFujk8K4
  • 01-17-2013
    TrailNut
    1. Jeep Wranger Rubicon
    2. ToYo' FJ Cruiser
    3. Jeep Grand Cherokee
    4. a diesel pickup with 4WD, lockable differentials, and extended cab...that's what I'm looking for
  • 01-17-2013
    Camel Toad
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by stremf View Post
    SUV and "great gas mileage" will be a tough roll to fill. I've got a family of 4 and luckily, the wife refuses to drive a minivan. So we got a Subaru Outback. Close to 9" of ground clearance, 30+ MPG on the freeway and good amount of room inside. Does great in snow, sand, etc. Priced at ~$30k, it was a good buy. And it's definitely cooler than CHUM's minivan. :p

    I ended up with an Outback as well, and am happy with it. Rolling with a Kuat NV rack and two bikes works great.

    Now, it's not particularly "fun" to drive compared to other vehicles I've had in my life. It certainly isn't fast, either. It doesn't pretend to be anything like that. It does its intended role exceedingly well, and has a pretty nice interior. I really like the heated seats and dual-zone climate, as they save a lot of arguments about it being too cold in the car. Also the iPod interface works really well, and will even play Pandora (and display artist/song) rather than only your iTunes all through the iPod input (no AUX cable needed) and charge the iPod/iPhone at the same time.

    :thumbsup:
  • 01-17-2013
    stremf
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TrailNut View Post
    1. Jeep Wranger Rubicon
    2. ToYo' FJ Cruiser

    For a family of 4? Not sure if you've spent any time in those vehicles, but Rubi's are not comfortable. The back seats might as well be made of wood planks. The very upright position sucks as well. Cargo room is almost non-existent. Only cool things are how off-road capable it is (if that's important to you) and the drop top.

    The FJC. Suicide doors and families don't mix. Back seats are super cramped and you'll be sure to get lots of complaints and kicks to the back of the seats.
  • 01-17-2013
    cutthroat
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PoisonDartFrog View Post
    I once read that only difference between a van and SUV is perception... either way you are sitting in a big box with lots of room behind you. Except with more headroom , a better ride, and better mileage.

    I can't say I would want to take my Odyssey on any kind of rough 4WD road, but other than that I agree. If you're not doing any back country driving the van option is awesome.
  • 01-17-2013
    PoisonDartFrog
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cutthroat View Post
    I can't say I would want to take my Odyssey on any kind of rough 4WD road, but other than that I agree. If you're not doing any back country driving the van option is awesome.

    Shoot guys, I'm sorry - I misread the whole 4wd part... never mind my minivan post.
  • 01-17-2013
    Natedeezy
    XJ Jeep Cherokee....but I'm biased
  • 01-17-2013
    Boyonabyke
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Swerny View Post
    Closest I can think of is the Mercedes Benz R-350 Bluetec, but it's $$$$.

    Which i don't think you can get in the US anymore.

    Mercedes-Benz R-class Reviews: 2011 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTec Tested



    My father in law has one and it's an excellent vehicle. He likes it a lot.

    Add me to the list of satisfied Touareg TDI owners, but bank on the repair bills not being cheap, when they occur. Drive it hard, and your wallet will pay hard with repairs and routine maintenance expenses that will drive you to poverty. It's my belief, being a long time VW and TDI owner, that Vw's are not for every one, and they are very quirky to work on, period.
  • 01-17-2013
    DevsP3
    I has a 2006 jeep srt8 which was an amazing vehicle. Tons of room and dripped performance. Was unfortunately a flood victim of hurricane sandy. Took the check looked at tons of SUVs and cars...BMW, Lexus, Infiniti, Chrysler, Audi, Vw, and Ford. After cranking numbers I went with a fully loaded black ford edge. It is a great vehicle tons of room, style, huge glass roof....while I don't have a family besides my fiancÚ and our dog it can easily haul 5 people and our gear.
  • 01-17-2013
    Significant Otter
    I can throw multiple bikes, TONS of gear and four people in my Suburban ('03). Mileage isn't the greatest but it's off-road capable and doesn't have the "lame" rep that a van does. With the third row seat in I can fit six people plus driver, it can tow, has roof racks and a hitch for a bike rack if you choose. The LS V8 makes plenty of torque to get it moving and it makes such nice noises compared to a minivan :-)
  • 01-18-2013
    TrailNut
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by stremf View Post
    For a family of 4? Not sure if you've spent any time in those vehicles, but Rubi's are not comfortable. The back seats might as well be made of wood planks. The very upright position sucks as well. Cargo room is almost non-existent. Only cool things are how off-road capable it is (if that's important to you) and the drop top.

    The FJC. Suicide doors and families don't mix. Back seats are super cramped and you'll be sure to get lots of complaints and kicks to the back of the seats.

    They're Four Door Rubicons now: get 'em before they start making them in "Commie" China.

    Our Family of 3 plus dog was fine with 2 Door Wrangler in terms of comfort, for ten years, but cargo space was severely limited for 3 mountain bikes for multi-night trips.

    Wranglers with off-road differentials (mech' or e-locking or "limited slip" differentials) are the best as adventure & off road exploration car, for mere $31K, unless you can afford 'Benz G`wagon for $85K.
  • 01-18-2013
    Eacook1
    1 Attachment(s)
    Have you considered a Toyota 4runner? I bought mine for $2000, put another $1500 in it. Now I have a super solid, fun to offroad, kid hauler, bike hauler, camping vehicle, exploring vehicle.

    The wife likes it because it has plenty of room for the girls and the dog when she wants to go to the park. I like it, well just because I have always liked the 4runners. Plus if you like to offroad there are tons of goodies for them, similar to jeeps.

    It gets about 18mpg on the freeway which isn't great, but for the price I paid I can buy a lot of gas.

    If you want something newer then the new 4runners are very nice and much more comfortable than my old 2nd generation. They obviously get better mileage too.

    Attachment 753976

    Also, you can't deny Toyota longevity, I just clicked over 200K on mine.

    I have also had a 4wd suburban which was great but it was just way bigger than we needed or wanted.
  • 01-18-2013
    TrailNut
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Eacook1 View Post
    Have you considered a Toyota 4runner? I bought mine for $2000, put another $1500 in it. Now I have a super solid, fun to offroad, kid hauler, bike hauler, camping vehicle, exploring vehicle.

    The wife likes it because it has plenty of room for the girls and the dog when she wants to go to the park. I like it, well just because I have always liked the 4runners. Plus if you like to offroad there are tons of goodies for them, similar to jeeps.

    It gets about 18mpg on the freeway which isn't great, but for the price I paid I can buy a lot of gas.

    If you want something newer then the new 4runners are very nice and much more comfortable than my old 2nd generation. They obviously get better mileage too.

    Attachment 753976

    Also, you can't deny Toyota longevity, I just clicked over 200K on mine.

    I have also had a 4wd suburban which was great but it was just way bigger than we needed or wanted.

    4runners (and tacomas) are, indeed, outstanding as are the similar offering from Nissan: Frontiers & Pathfinders.

    A Pathfinder rescued my big fat pig 4WD pickup in the snow in s. l. tahoe area

    most of a real 4WDs I've seen in mountain fire-road trails are mini-suv or mini-puckups (Wranglers, G. Cherokee, Tacoma, 4 Runners, Frontiers, Pathfinders).
  • 01-18-2013
    edubfromktown
    I went with Honda Crosstour EX 4WD (18x8-inch wheels) instead of an SUV. I would have got an older 4Runner (hate the new big/ugly/boxy ones) but my back would get too pissed off bouncing around on a truck chassis particularly on longer road trips which I go on frequently for vacation and MTB riding adventures.

    Fits my large 29er's inside (I use a hitch rack most of the time- get the OEM hitch if you end up with a Honda), room enough for family of 4 to go on vacation, better gas mileage and very quiet.

  • 01-18-2013
    NYrr496
    Chevy Suburban here. I know it sounds crazy, but compared to my 98 Yukon, my 09 Suburban gets excellent mileage.
    I have four kids. We travel to Florida regularly. I use a Thule T2 to carry four bikes and I disassemble my son's bike and put it in the back. When the older kids go, I use a roof box. It rides great and is very comfortable.
    When I'm just using it in my daily life, I keep all my bike stuff in a plastic storage bin in the back. It's always at the ready. Just throw a bike on the back and go.
    My brother also has four kids and didn't listen to me and got a Tahoe instead. Now, when he has all four and has the third row up, there's minimal space between the back of the seats and the tailgate. My truck always has space.
  • 01-18-2013
    captain smoke eater
    Nissan Pathfinder,
  • 01-18-2013
    kbike01
    one more vote for a 4runner! super reilable, tough and trail worthy.
  • 01-18-2013
    stremf
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TrailNut View Post
    They're Four Door Rubicons now: get 'em before they start making them in "Commie" China.

    Our Family of 3 plus dog was fine with 2 Door Wrangler in terms of comfort, for ten years, but cargo space was severely limited for 3 mountain bikes for multi-night trips.

    Wranglers with off-road differentials (mech' or e-locking or "limited slip" differentials) are the best as adventure & off road exploration car, for mere $31K, unless you can afford 'Benz G`wagon for $85K.

    I was actually referring to the 4-door JK's. I guess comfort depends on the tolerance levels of each individual. Which may mean I have spoiled family members. But cargo capacity for extended trips is still a concern in those things. The off-road capability with the triple lockers, sway bar disconnect would be awesome. But I feel that the JKU's intended purpose filled the need for maybe 5% of the buyers, but people buy them because they're cool (and they are). 95% will never use it to the full potential of these rigs. Especially the OP, who is probably looking for something more practical, comfortable and better MPG. And IFS rig, or even IFS/IRS with good GC and cargo should fit the OP's needs better.

    For what it's worth, the head of Chrysler/Fiat said this morning that Wrangler and Grand Cherokee will always be made here in the US, but other models could be sent overseas for production.

    Oh, and as a Toyota enthusiast with a Land Cruiser that I love, I vow to own a G-Wagen some day. Too bad we don't get the cool options like in EU.
  • 01-18-2013
    BShow
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zgroove View Post
    I am in the market to purchase an SUV this year that is good for the trail, carrying a family of four, great gas mileage, low maintenance, and has a cool factor to it as well. Any thoughts? Send me your pics and details! Thanks for your help! :thumbsup:

    If you want great gas mileage, you'll probably not find it in an SUV. Some parameters to reference would help narrow down the answers here. Price, new or used, are two good starting points.

    When you say trail, are you meaning that you want to off road in the thing or just get you to the trail with your bike? If the former, I think the Nissan XTerra will be tough to beat - though the mpg is 15-20. If you're just looking to get to the trails with your bike, then you can put a rack on just about anything.

    If I were in your shoes, I would look for comfort and safety for the family first. Then weigh the reality and need for awd/4wd. That should narrow down your search quite a bit.
  • 01-19-2013
    scanny
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zgroove View Post
    I am in the market to purchase an SUV this year that is good for the trail, carrying a family of four, great gas mileage, low maintenance, and has a cool factor to it as well. Any thoughts? Send me your pics and details! Thanks for your help! :thumbsup:

    I vote for Toyota 4Runner, maybe it's just me, but I can't see any better SUV on the market for the money.
  • 01-19-2013
    crux
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by joynanbaby View Post
    yeah,XJ Jeep Cherokee....but I'm biased

    +1 for the Jeep Cherokee. If you can find a clean one they are a great bargain. It has great 4x4 capabilities, holds quite a bit of gear and still seats 4 comfy and 5 if they don't mind sitting in the middle. It is older but still reliable. My 96 keeps on ticking with minor service every so often. If the trail gets tough I just pull the sway bar and can go nearly anywhere I want. Highway it is a bit louder than newer vehicles but still for an inexpensive 4x4 I don't really think it can be beat.
  • 01-19-2013
    the-one1
    Honda Element

    1. SUV yes
    2. good for the trail good, not great. AWD, not 4x4
    3. carrying a family of four seats four, no more
    4. great gas mileage meh, 24 on hwy
    5. low maintenance Its a Honda
    6. and has a cool factor subjective, but I like it

    Flat rubber floor for easy cleaning. Seats fold up or can be taken out for bikes
  • 01-19-2013
    StevieGriff
    Toyota Hilux.
    Nissan Navara.
    LandRover Defender or Discovery.
    Subaru Forester.

    I'll get flamed for this...but don't buy American...especially not a Jeep.
  • 01-19-2013
    bsdc
    Great thread. I'm currently driving an F150. I'm selling my travel trailer and looking for a vehicle that will hold a couple of 29ers inside on a fork mount and get good gas mileage. I've had a number of cars in the past. I've loved my big SUVs ... except gas mileage. A minivan makes a lot of sense and would work great 99% of the time and the other 1% of the time it would work but I'd have to drive slower. A Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4 or something similar might be the best compromise utility, a little added clearance, and decent mpg.
  • 01-19-2013
    PoisonDartFrog
    Be sure to do a good test drive of the FJ, if you are considering it. I loved the styling, but I couldn't see out the thing. Between the 18" c-pillars and the hatch-mounted spare obscuring the middle of the rear glass, it was a big rolling blind spot. Drove me crazy - wanted so much to like it but I didn't see how I could stand driving it every day.
  • 01-19-2013
    AWDfreak
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zgroove View Post
    I am in the market to purchase an SUV this year that is good for the trail, carrying a family of four, great gas mileage, low maintenance, and has a cool factor to it as well. Any thoughts? Send me your pics and details! Thanks for your help! :thumbsup:

    * good for the trail, how bad will the "trails" be that you'll be driving on? Something gnarly or just simple fire-road duty?
    * most SUVs can carry a family of four, so that's set
    * great gas mileage means you'll have to abandon most traditional body-on-frame SUVs (read: actual trucks), and you'll likely have to resort to a unibody SUV (such as a Honda Pilot, Subaru Tribeca, Jeep Grand Cherokee, etc)
    * low maintenance, newer vehicles are a little more maintenance-intensive but not to worry if you're buying new or pre-owned (but avoid luxury brands)
    * cool factor is entirely subjective and up to you!

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zgroove View Post
    Minvan was not our first option, but I definitely appreciate the feedback on them. It makes me take a second look at them and I like the fact that rolling the bike in and out and not having to worry about them when I am in a pub is great. We have been looking at the new Lexus RX F Sport or the Acura MDX, mainly because living in the Bay Area, we do not want to big of a vehicle when we go into the city. Does anyone have either model or know someone with those models? Any feedback would be great! We still have to check out the Subaru's and Jeeps as well.

    Based off of that, you want a mid-size SUV.


    Now, I would recommend avoiding luxury brands as the extra electronics become a maintenance nightmare in the long run.

    For a non-luxury brand unibody mid-size SUV that's trail-worthy, I only have two in mind.

    It seems the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the most popular unibody SUV recommended. Because it's a Jeep, it definitely has off-road credentials and the new Pentastar V6 has impressive numbers. A Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4 with the V6 gets 16/23 MPG while outputting a generous 290HP.

    A Subaru Tribeca, which is the only other one I would recommend for off-roading purposes, gets 16/21 MPG while generating a mediocre 256HP out of the flat-6, so in the city, both may be similar. For highway cruising, the Jeep beats out the Subaru.


    Cool factors... The Jeep is trail-rated (if you get a trim level and 4X4 matched for off-roading) and got quite a few awards, while the Tribeca doesn't really have any real cool factors that most would care for.


    Between the two, if you drive light to medium trails, the Subaru will be optimal (it's slightly lower than the Jeep), while the Jeep will have "overkill" on your side if you do genuine off-roading (as in, something that requires decent ground clearance).
  • 01-20-2013
    kbike01
    element is a crossover not an SUV
  • 01-20-2013
    solidass
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zgroove View Post
    I am in the market to purchase an SUV this year that is good for the trail, carrying a family of four, great gas mileage, low maintenance, and has a cool factor to it as well. Any thoughts? Send me your pics and details! Thanks for your help! :thumbsup:

    I like the Ford Escape. If the new model has similar interior cargo dimensions as the previous model (which I have), it can fit THREE MOUNTAIN BIKES inside AND THREE PEOPLE including driver!

    That's how we used to go up to the trails, my two buddies and me.

    The fit requires removal of the removable rear bench seat and a short supporting jig with two axle clamps. And it's not really a squeeze either. Just careful placement. :D
  • 01-20-2013
    the-one1
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kbike01 View Post
    element is a crossover not an SUV

    So are:
    VW Touareg
    Jeep Patriot
    Subaru Outback
    Honda Crosstour
    Ford Escape
  • 01-20-2013
    zgroove
    Thanks everyone for replying and helping me out in this future investment of an automobile. I believe that our decision will be leaning towards a Toyota, Honda, or Subaru. A few auto shows have just passed and each auto maker is really coming out with some cool body styles and technology is making it a tough choice, but I think either way we go will be a solid choice.
  • 01-20-2013
    DNye
    Highly recommend the 4runner. I am on my 2nd one.

    The first one I traded in when the transmission was starting to go at 250,000 miles. That would have been the 2nd repair required for the life of the vehicle. That is hard to beat.
  • 01-21-2013
    GpzGuy
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PoisonDartFrog View Post
    Be sure to do a good test drive of the FJ, if you are considering it. I loved the styling, but I couldn't see out the thing. Between the 18" c-pillars and the hatch-mounted spare obscuring the middle of the rear glass, it was a big rolling blind spot. Drove me crazy - wanted so much to like it but I didn't see how I could stand driving it every day.

    I had my heart set on replacing my old, trusty Isuzu with an FJ Cruiser.
    Felt like I was driving a panel wagon with no windows. Test drive drove me nuts, couldn't imagine living with it, so I passed and bought a Nissan Xterra, which was rated #1in its class by Car and Driver that year.

    That was in 2008. I absolutely love my Xterra. Hauls everything from kayaks to bikes and all the gear, comfortably seats 4 adults, with room for 5, with reasonable storage behind the rear seat, which also fold flat.

    Love my Xterra so much that we bought my wife an Armada to be her mommy taxi for our 4 kids.
  • 01-21-2013
    scanny
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zgroove View Post
    Thanks everyone for replying and helping me out in this future investment of an automobile. I believe that our decision will be leaning towards a Toyota, Honda, or Subaru. A few auto shows have just passed and each auto maker is really coming out with some cool body styles and technology is making it a tough choice, but I think either way we go will be a solid choice.

    If we are talking about a family SUV it's better be a midsize one. Not sure about Subary, they seem smaller to me, but I was shopping for an SUV in 2010, so they might came up with bigger models since then. Between Toyota and Honda there's really 3 choices Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and Toyota 4Runner. If you're going to explore some trails and not mainained logging roads 4Runner would be the best choice. All 4Runners have locking center differential with low range. It drives like a truck though and lower models are part time 4x4. Some like part time some don't. Highlander drives more like a car and it has full time 4x4 with open differentials and electronic traction control to simulate limited slip differentinals. This limits its offroad capability but Higlander would be suitable for easy trails. Pilot is "AWD drive" - front wheel drive with rear wheels connected when electonics detects slippage. Rear wheels can be turned on with a button, but only on low speeds and it will turn back off when overheating. So I'd say Pilot has worst offroad capability from those 3. But it has tons of space and it quite nice it you're stay on roads.
    so good luck with your shopping : )
  • 01-22-2013
    stremf
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by scanny View Post
    . All 4Runners have locking center differential with low range. It drives like a truck though and lower models are part time 4x4.

    scanny, not to get nick picky, but part time 4x4 means no center diff.
  • 01-22-2013
    scanny
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by stremf View Post
    scanny, not to get nick picky, but part time 4x4 means no center diff.

    Your're right, I stand corrected. To be precise 5th generation 4Runners Trail edition and SR5 are part-time and have lockable transfer case and Limited model is full time 4x4 and have lockable differential. And I think you can buy 2wd 4Runners in US, but I definetely wouldn't recommend it.
  • 01-22-2013
    rideut
    Post a pic of this if you have one
  • 01-22-2013
    Danke
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by scanny View Post
    Pilot is "AWD drive" - front wheel drive with rear wheels connected when electonics detects slippage. Rear wheels can be turned on with a button, but only on low speeds and it will turn back off when overheating. So I'd say Pilot has worst offroad capability from those 3. But it has tons of space and it quite nice it you're stay on roads.
    so good luck with your shopping : )

    Not exactly. The wheels are all driven all the time. I have the pickup version of the Pilot but the mechanics are the same.

    The button on the dash is a electronic lock; just like having a locking diff in an old jeep. If you're really bogged down or going for a slippery incline you can put it on and all wheels drive vs. having the one spin and the other not drive.

    Also since the rear suspension is independent you get a better ride over a solid rear.

    Over a more pure 4wd you loose ground clearance. So if you plan to crawl up rocks to get to the trail you'll have a problem. But if it's just a bad road you're fine. I've taken mine up and down decommission logging roads at speeds that would have the family barfing out the windows and swearing never to get in again if they'd been along.

    If either model fits your particular needs they are phenomenal performers. Snow, ice, slippery mud, gravel, anything goes.




    Big long explanation.

    Ridgeline Owners Club | Variable Torque Management VTM-4 Explanation
  • 01-22-2013
    stremf
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Danke View Post
    The button on the dash is a electronic lock; just like having a locking diff in an old jeep. If you're really bogged down or going for a slippery incline you can put it on and all wheels drive vs. having the one spin and the other not drive.


    Big long explanation.

    Ridgeline Owners Club | Variable Torque Management VTM-4 Explanation

    Correct me if I'm wrong. But from that link, that's not what it's saying at all. VTM lock button does NOT work like a locking differential. It is more like an LSD system with traction control that brakes the slipping wheel to force the power to go to the other wheel. All it really says is max torque gets sent to the rear wheels (whatever that % is) and levels off until 18mph. I'm sure it's useful, but its not the same or as strong as a locking diff. This is why vehicles like an FJ Cruiser has the ATRAC system as well as a rear locker.

    And for whatever its worth, test of AWD systems.

    Subaru AWD Uphill Comparison Test - YouTube
  • 01-22-2013
    Danke
    When VTM-4 is off you have one front wheel and both back wheels pushing independently if conditions require.

    When VTM-4 is engaged both back axles are locked. 

    Re the video the CRV doesn't have the same system as the Pilot and Ridge so I wouldn't use that as a how it works explanation. I will say I do like Subaru, I love the hill lock and I'd have a WRX to hoon around in a heartbeat but it's not a practical choice for me.
  • 01-22-2013
    stremf
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Danke View Post
    When VTM-4 is engaged both back axles are locked.

    No, the rear is not locked! Nowhere does it say anything about the rear diff being locked. The diagram shows no signs of a locker. All it's doing is sending power to the rear driveshaft. Slipping wheel causes brakes to stop the slip and send power to the non-slipping wheel. It's still an open differential - not "locked." Please see link below on how a locker works.

    The Locking Differential Explained
  • 01-22-2013
    Danke
    I'm not explaining it very well methinks.

    I've driven offroad vehicles with a locking differential. The electronics in these 2 vehicles duplicate that feel when you are to push up a slippery or steep section.

    the only way to effectively get the thing stuck is to high center it.
  • 01-22-2013
    stremf
    Hm. I could have sworn that it was a limited slip system. Seems like it is "ALMOST" a locker. Some Ridgeline owners are confused themselves:

    Is the Honda VTM-4 a real "locker" - Honda Ridgeline Owners Club Forums

    Too bad Honda didn't put a low range transfer case in these.
  • 01-22-2013
    the-one1
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by stremf View Post
    Hm. I could have sworn that it was a limited slip system. Seems like it is pretty much a locker. I stand corrected. Apologies, Danke. Some Ridgeline owners are confused themselves:

    Is the Honda VTM-4 a real "locker" - Honda Ridgeline Owners Club Forums

    Too bad Honda didn't put a low range transfer case in these.

    Seeing how the Ridgeline is based on the Odyssey/MDX/Pilot and none of them have an LR xfer case, the Ridgeline won't.
  • 01-22-2013
    Danke
    It doesn't have the ground clearance so a super low range wouldn't be much good unless you started a new sport of driving up super steep but smooth roads.

    In any case it's a great "get yourself & your gear into the middle of nowhere and have a good time vehicle". If when you get into the middle of nowhere you want to drive up and over the rocks and trails instead of riding on them then it's not what you need.
  • 01-23-2013
    AWDfreak
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by stremf View Post
    Hm. I could have sworn that it was a limited slip system. Seems like it is "ALMOST" a locker. Some Ridgeline owners are confused themselves:

    Is the Honda VTM-4 a real "locker" - Honda Ridgeline Owners Club Forums

    Too bad Honda didn't put a low range transfer case in these.

    It's clearly an electronically-controlled LSD. Not a true locker, but still good enough to get it through some pretty tough situations. I've driven a Ridgeline extensively in the sand and Honda's VTM-4 AWD system works pretty well. It's equipped in certain Pilots, MDX's, and Ridgelines.

    And yes, I too think it's a little bit of a bummer that it doesn't have low range, but at least it's an automatic (meaning no clutch to burn up).
  • 01-23-2013
    scanny
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Danke View Post
    Not exactly. The wheels are all driven all the time. I have the pickup version of the Pilot but the mechanics are the same.

    Honda itself says exactly this ( 2013 Honda Pilot ) :

    " Unlike some systems that only engage when the wheels actually slip, the VTM-4 system anticipates the need for all-wheel drive and automatically engages the rear wheels whenever the vehicle is accelerating."... "When added traction is needed, while accelerating or on slippery surfaces, the VTM-4 ECU signals the rear differential to engage, seamlessly transferring power to the rear wheels"

    So I guess rear wheels are not engaged all the time. Folks discussed locking button already, I'm in no means Honda expert, I got my info mostly from Honda web site and Pilot forums i was browsing when I was looking for a new SUV. By the way one of my friends got a Pilot - very nice vehicle, but I wouldn't take it to a really bad logging road. If you chose between Highlander Pilot and 4Runner, I would put Pilot on 3rd place in offroad capabily. Just my opinion though I got myself 4Runner after all : )
  • 01-23-2013
    AWDfreak
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by scanny View Post
    Honda itself says exactly this ( 2013 Honda Pilot ) :

    " Unlike some systems that only engage when the wheels actually slip, the VTM-4 system anticipates the need for all-wheel drive and automatically engages the rear wheels whenever the vehicle is accelerating."... "When added traction is needed, while accelerating or on slippery surfaces, the VTM-4 ECU signals the rear differential to engage, seamlessly transferring power to the rear wheels"

    So I guess rear wheels are not engaged all the time. Folks discussed locking button already, I'm in no means Honda expert, I got my info mostly from Honda web site and Pilot forums i was browsing when I was looking for a new SUV. By the way one of my friends got a Pilot - very nice vehicle, but I wouldn't take it to a really bad logging road. If you chose between Highlander Pilot and 4Runner, I would put Pilot on 3rd place in offroad capabily. Just my opinion though I got myself 4Runner after all : )

    I beg to differ. If I were to rank those three in off-road capability it would be this:

    1) 4Runner (locking diffs)
    2) Pilot (electroincally-controlled clutch-type LSD)
    3) Highlander (open diffs)
  • 01-23-2013
    steadite
    you guys are trying to sell the OP on a full-on off-roader, and probably all he really needs is a minivan...
  • 01-24-2013
    scanny
    Oh well, question was about SUV good for the trail and family of 4. We need to hear definition / pictures of planning trails to decide on a vehicle : )
  • 01-24-2013
    Danke
    That is a definite question mark. Here where I am the active logging roads are in great shape because they're running equipment on them so they're constantly being maintained. You can drive them in a junky old sedan with no problems.

    When they're done they cut deactivation trenches but those are still passable. The roads start to get impassible when rain or melt water starts to wash them out. Even then traction isn't an issue. Ground clearance is key.

    Devils advocate; I like the Toyota FJ and Nissan Xterra also but I need a bed to haul motorcycles. The only other thing like it when I got into the Ridge was the Avalanche and I'm glad I didn't get one of those. Coming on 8 years with the Ridgeline and still happy.

    Maybe the OP can post a bit more info on where he lives, and plans to drive.
  • 01-25-2013
    RollingWanderer
    I'd have to vote for the best vehicle I have ever owned...a Toyota FJ Cruiser.

    It's the only vehicle that I've ever owned that consistently gets me out of trouble instead of into trouble.

    -RW
  • 02-20-2013
    otis24
    How about a Tacoma 4 door? You could put a camper shell on the bed. Plus if you get the TRD Off Road you get the rear diff locker and low range. I can tell you first hand the diff locker is like magic. Three wheels on the ground? NO PROBLEM!

    I picked up my 03' taco extended cab and love the thing. However, it's not my daily driver. It's my TAV (Trail Head Approach Vehicle) I didn't get the 4 door because I wanted a bed big enough I can sleep in.
  • 02-26-2013
    supersedona
    2005 Jeep liberty has been good for me. 25mpg with a 210 hp engine and 4wd is a fair balance for something that can handle a couple k lbs of trailer hitch(or hitch rack). For mpg exclusively, I have an Escort wagon since 34mpg is much better but the liberty is the go anywhere do whatever when the car can't. So far it's up to 105,000 miles with no work other than plugs and oil.
  • 03-05-2013
    Blk02
    I recently went through this buying decision and I ended up getting a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon with every option except an engine block heater for about $39k. I initially wanted a 4dr SUV with a little more interior room than what the Wrangler Unlimited offered but the pricing of larger SUVs pretty much drowned that idea. It seems impossible to get a good size SUV at or below $40k with all the goodies (nav, heated seats, leather, etc) that does not look like a kid hauler (ex. new ford explorer). My height and age also played a large role in what I purchased (6'-2", 29yrs, and single).

    My dream SUV would probably be the Land Rover LR4. It has plenty of headroom and cargo space plus it looks like the older iconic Discovery. It also has much better reliability than the older Land Rovers from what I have read online, but you have to be able to shell out about $50k for the base model without options, pay for premium fuel, and be happy with about 12mpg. My next purchase will probably be a 2yr old used LR4 HSE for about $47k.

    That being said the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is no slouch it drives on the road great compared to older Jeeps and it is quite responsive with the 4.10 gears and new 285hp engine. I just threw on a 8" hitch extension and my 1UpUSA rack and I was good to go. I considered a 4dr truck for a little while but I really wanted interior storage space for gear and road trips to Colorado. At 6'-2" I still have a few inches of head room left in the hard top variant of the Wrangler Unlimited.