Best SUV for internal Bike Storage & transpo- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Best SUV for internal Bike Storage & transpo

    my 1995 isuzu trooper with 160k miles that is getting a bit old and dirty.

    i store my bike inside the cargo area laying down upon the folded rear seats. my bike and gear is always in the trooper ready ride when i need to sneak out from work for a ride.

    a friend has a trooper with fork mount installed in the cargo area that allows him to secure his bike.

    i really need another SUV vehicle, no minivans or elements, that can store a bike inside the cargo area all the time. i recently rented a Toyota Highlander which was too small to store my bike.

    i've seen late model troopers, which were discontinued in 2002 go for 10k or under. this would give me something that's not so beat up and fewer miles.

    i can afford up to 35k.

    any comments or suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Well, I'm partial to the quality and reliability of the Japanese offerings. I personally drive a Nissan Pathfinder. I always remove my wheel if I store it in the back but I'm assuming you need something a bit bigger/longer for the bike with wheel on.

    If so, I would recommend a Toyota Sequoia or the NEW Pathfinder, which is bigger, more powerful, and handles even better. The new XTerra is very nice, especially since the entire back behind the front seats is easily cleaned and designed for cleaning up a dirty/muddy interior. With 265 HP, it has enough power and excellent ground clearance.

    The new 4Runner is pretty cramped though the V8 is awesome (same one in the Sequoia). The Sequoia is not as off-road capable but has the most interior room. The other two from Nissan are the best choices if you like going offroad as well. If you go offroad a lot and get your interior dirty, go for the Xterra. Otherwise, the Pathy rides better and is more refined. That would be my first choice in SUVs since I only go light offroad 5-7 times per year- no mud or bouldering unless it's not by choice.


    My

  3. #3
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    It is not a mini-van

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  4. #4
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    I have a 2003 Honda CRV which works fine with two bikes and gear inside but you have to take the front wheel off. With the front wheel off you can have both bikes standing and only one of the rear seat folded so you can still afford to have 3 people in the car.

    I know it's probably not for you since you're probably looking for something bigger but for me it's the perfect SUV, it's not too expensive to buy, it does not take a lot of fuel and it is pretty convenient inside.

    Hope you find what you're looking for. Have fun shopping.

    Quote Originally Posted by mappable
    my 1995 isuzu trooper with 160k miles that is getting a bit old and dirty.

    i store my bike inside the cargo area laying down upon the folded rear seats. my bike and gear is always in the trooper ready ride when i need to sneak out from work for a ride.

    a friend has a trooper with fork mount installed in the cargo area that allows him to secure his bike.

    i really need another SUV vehicle, no minivans or elements, that can store a bike inside the cargo area all the time. i recently rented a Toyota Highlander which was too small to store my bike.

    i've seen late model troopers, which were discontinued in 2002 go for 10k or under. this would give me something that's not so beat up and fewer miles.

    i can afford up to 35k.

    any comments or suggestions?

  5. #5
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    I went through the same thing - wanted bigger with more room and looked at all of them.
    I ended up buying a full size F150 4x and put a shell on it.
    Plenty of room, just hose out the back
    Only downside is the gas mileage - but I knew that going in

  6. #6
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    Internal Bike Storage Transporter

    More for anti-theft security during transportation, I'm also interested in knowing if anyone has used a Toyota Matrix or Subaru Outback for internal bike transportation. Anyone have carpet cleaning or scratched plastic issues, etc? I have a C-dale Prophet.

  7. #7
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    my VW golf fits my bike (often two bikes actually) fine in the back w/ one seat folded down. and i get good gas mileage, am safe, and see all the other cars around me :P

    and my 'special' golf is AWD and has more hp and tq than most SUVs. yess.


    so my point is. are you sure you need an SUV?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BanzaiRider
    I have a 2003 Honda CRV which works fine with two bikes and gear inside but you have to take the front wheel off. With the front wheel off you can have both bikes standing and only one of the rear seat folded so you can still afford to have 3 people in the car.
    If you face two backwards and one forwards, you can get three bikes and three riders in a CRV. I've had 3 of either road or mtb's in mine. But, if a Highlander isn't big enough for the original poster, I wonder if the CRV will be. I've not seen the inside of a Highlander.

    Kathy :^)
    Look where you want to go. This is as true in life as it is in mtbiking.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by XCProphet
    More for anti-theft security during transportation, I'm also interested in knowing if anyone has used a Toyota Matrix or Subaru Outback for internal bike transportation. Anyone have carpet cleaning or scratched plastic issues, etc? I have a C-dale Prophet.
    I looked at the Matrix, I think it can fit two bikes inside.

    I bought a Renault Megane II sedan, which is a car, the backseats folds and I put a big blanket to cover for the bike and it works pretty cool.

  10. #10
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky
    . But, if a Highlander isn't big enough for the original poster, I wonder if the CRV will be. I've not seen the inside of a Highlander.

    Kathy :^)
    I've got a CRV and my dad has a highlander. The CRV has a lot more room. In fact, it has more room than any of the smaller SUV's I can think of (ex: Pathfinder, 4-runner, Cherokee, Explorer)

    Actually, I don't stick the bike inside often. What sold me on the CRV was the swinging gate. With a spare tire rack the bikes are always out of the way.

  11. #11
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    I concur. Fuel Mileage better than nearly all of them, even the high roof version.

  12. #12
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    I'm not sure where you live but if faced with hills, you want around 250 HP. The smaller SUVs are pretty underpowered and struggle on uphills.

  13. #13
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    4Runner works

    My mountain bike (size 15.5") with wheels attached fits just fine in the back of my 2003 4Runner. I lay the bike on its side. There is at least 6 inches to spare between rear wheel and tailgate - but this is based on my front seat position which is probably more forward than most since I am short (not my fault).

    I tested the fit before buying as this was my primary requirement! I have had this truck since new and would by it again without hesitation.

  14. #14
    ride hard take risks
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    GMC Safari passenger van, remove the seats, pleanty of room for bikes & gear, great to sleep in also no need to pack a tent.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    I'm not sure where you live but if faced with hills, you want around 250 HP. The smaller SUVs are pretty underpowered and struggle on uphills.
    My CRV has a little 4 banger in it with nothing close to 250 hp (more like 160 I think) and it NEVER struggles up a hill. I live in the Sierra Nevada near Tahoe (plenty of vertical) and I am never wanting for more power. I just climbed 7,000 feet coming up from Auburn and I could go 85 at any time I wanted with plenty of punch left if I wanted to go faster. How much more power do you need? Of course mine is a manual tranny, so that may help.

    Smaller SUV's (or any car) don't need the horsepower because they don't weigh as much. If you are worried about hills, get a lighter vehicle or get a manual tranny.

  16. #16
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    You are so right Kapusta. I don't know why some people think that a smaller car or SUV will not have the power to go uphill. I would be ridiculous for car makers to make a car that can't climb hills. What smaller vehicules are not designed for is pulling trailers, not pulling their own weight! If people would take the time to check the specs, they might even realize that the CRV (and probably most others like RAV4,...) are also as fast as bigger models on the 0-60 acceleration.

    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    Smaller SUV's (or any car) don't need the horsepower because they don't weigh as much. If you are worried about hills, get a lighter vehicle or get a manual tranny.

  17. #17
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    4Runner

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil
    My mountain bike (size 15.5") with wheels attached fits just fine in the back of my 2003 4Runner. I lay the bike on its side. There is at least 6 inches to spare between rear wheel and tailgate - but this is based on my front seat position which is probably more forward than most since I am short (not my fault).

    I tested the fit before buying as this was my primary requirement! I have had this truck since new and would by it again without hesitation.
    I have a 2002 4Runner and my Yeti 575 fits laying down with one seat folded down. I personally use an internal rack to keep it upright and could easily add a second maybe third bike upright.

    Comfortable ride, quite, 20mpg on the interstate to Tahoe, plus you could put gear up on top or on the back hitch if needed.

    just my .02

  18. #18
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    Good job! Honda Element

    Bikes easily roll in and out. The floor in non-carpeted, so clean-up is easy. Seats are made of water resistant fabric and fold away or removed in seconds. I love my Element.

  19. #19
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    Well, my Pathy weight more than a CRV but I pass so many small SUVs that weigh 3500 lbs going uphill, especially if they are loaded down. They struggle and struggle and 160hp pulling a 3500 lb vehicle is not party. Tahoe has nowhere near the inclines that Colorado does. I snowboard there often (great, wide, slopes, by the way)- Casinos suck though.

    Anyway, I like the AWD wagons a lot (Outback/Cross Country/Avant) and I like mid-size SUVs. They seem to be the best all-rounders. Sometimes in Colorado, I wish I had a V8. My Pathy can tow stuff too- I just helped a buddy pick up a R6 racebike and extra motor/six tires/body plastic/parts on a pretty long trailer and it went up and down the mountains pretty well (still wished for a V8 on a couple of inclines but we were between 5,500 - 11,000 feet so it didn't feel like a Tahoe would ) Even more important than having adequate HP is having enough torque.

    I would buy an AWD wagon over a small SUV and the mid-size SUV is perfect. The old Trooper has a lot of room- a good used one makes sense at $10K. I got my Pathy pretty cheap, especially for a fully loaded LE. Do let us know what you decide. I'm very curious to know what you end up with.

  20. #20
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    One thing I didn't mention and I agree with a couple of guys here on is that the older 4Runner is a great option- the seats fold perfectly flat and they appear to have more room that the new one. neight one had enough headroom for me so I went with my other option but they are great vehicles- great offroad and very reliable.

    The new 4Runner has that killer smooth V8 and a superb suspension but the seat foldded leave some odd holes and undulations that my Boxer did not like. Plus there was the headroom issue due to a high floor- I needed more clearance for the occasional offroading. My sister has a 2001 and I love it. She throws her bike at the back with the wheel on and her fat Doberman gets in there as well (without the bike). If you're close to 6 ft tall, make sure you are okay with the headroom. Stellar SUV and like the Pathy, it gets 20-21 on the highway and around 16-17.5 in the city. I check mine at every fillup and while that isn't great, it is better than most. Even the V8 4Runner gets like 1mpg less than the V6. You have to drive that V8 to believe how smooth it is. If you have a dog, watch the back of the new one- there are places the dog's foot could get caught and undulations that prevent it from being a completely flat area.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    Well, my Pathy weight more than a CRV but I pass so many small SUVs that weigh 3500 lbs going uphill, especially if they are loaded down. They struggle and struggle and 160hp pulling a 3500 lb vehicle is not party. Tahoe has nowhere near the inclines that Colorado does. I snowboard there often (great, wide, slopes, by the way)- Casinos suck though.

    Anyway, I like the AWD wagons a lot (Outback/Cross Country/Avant) and I like mid-size SUVs. They seem to be the best all-rounders. Sometimes in Colorado, I wish I had a V8. My Pathy can tow stuff too- I just helped a buddy pick up a R6 racebike and extra motor/six tires/body plastic/parts on a pretty long trailer and it went up and down the mountains pretty well (still wished for a V8 on a couple of inclines but we were between 5,500 - 11,000 feet so it didn't feel like a Tahoe would ) Even more important than having adequate HP is having enough torque.

    I would buy an AWD wagon over a small SUV and the mid-size SUV is perfect. The old Trooper has a lot of room- a good used one makes sense at $10K. I got my Pathy pretty cheap, especially for a fully loaded LE. Do let us know what you decide. I'm very curious to know what you end up with.
    I think we may be using the term "small SUV" differently (or I have been using it inconsistently) In my book the Pathfinder IS a smaller SUV, But I guess if you start looking at some others like the Liberty, x-terra, etc., it is not so small anymore. Also, with the new plethora of "crossover vehicles" I think the line between AWD wagon and small SUV is getting somewhat blurred. For example, I know the CRV is classified as an SUV, but I think it is really more of an AWD wagon. It definitely has a car chassis and suspension, just with a little more clearance. Not meant for any serious off-roading or towing, but has the room of a mid sized SUV, much like many AWD wagons do. It handles more like a car than an suv as well, and gets almost car-like gas mileage (25 mpg)

    So, yeah, I agree that awd wagons are a good option (in my mind the best option). I guess my point is that some small SUV's are, for all practical purposes, just large AWD wagons. I don't have any experiences with any of the smallest true suv's (like the liberty or the x-terra), so I won't comment on their power. However, I do have experience with some "crossover suv's" that are more wagon-like with car-like suspensions. They are the 2003 CRV (mine) and Highlander (my dad's that I have driven a lot). Neither of them are slow. I have driven my CR-V quite a bit in Colorado. No problems over Loveland pass going either way. The only few times I am slowed down is one stretch going east I notice all the bigger SUV's are slowed down just as much, except those with REALLY big engines. Also, don't assumne that just because people are going slower means they can't go any faster. A lot of it has to do with how hard people want to push their cars. Next time you are going 80 up a long steep grade that everyone else is going 55, take a look at your tachometer.

    Yeah, I know that on paper 160hp pushing a 3,500 lb car doesn't sound too good, but from experience it works out in my case. Perhaps it has something to do with the efficiency of a car-vs-truck, I don't know. I do know that I pass plenty of SUV's of all sorts all the time on hills, but like I said before, it probably has as much to do with having a manual tranny (which too few SUV's offer) or I am just pushing harder.

    You bring up a good point about towing. If you are going to tow anything of real weight you want a real truck, not a crossover SUV.

    Anyway, all this may be a moot point because it sounds like the poster wants a real SUV, and I am guessing that something like a Pathfinder is more along his lines, and I agree that they are great vehicles.

    Kapusta

  22. #22
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    My wife drives an 02 Liberty with the 3.7L V6. It's got a good bit of power to it (235tq 225hp). I live in W. PA, so we've got some pretty steep grades and it doesn't have trouble with them. I haven't tried cramming our bikes in the back of it, though, so I can't comment on that aspect.

    The passenger area of it is pretty roomy, but the cargo area has a little to be desired. The seats do fold almost perfectly flat, so that helps. I'd suggest taking a look at one, at least. If you get the CRD version, you get V8 torque and power with better fuel economy. The V6 doesn't get the fuel economy I'd prefer (20-21 highway), but it's not horrendous.

    I drive a little 98 Ford Ranger 4 banger with a manual. I have to watch my RPMs on the inclines. I can't go 80 up a mountain, but the mountain roads here are so twisty that even if the engine could handle it, I couldn't take the corners at that speed anyway. The truck is our typical bike hauler.
    Last edited by Harold; 11-06-2005 at 05:11 PM.

  23. #23
    jrm
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    Re: 4runner

    I have a 98. i have a piece of plywood with 2 QR fork mounts screwed into it.i can fit two bikes with front wheels off and seats lowered including gear for 2 riders i trade off between it and the rack depending on the circumstances.

  24. #24
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    Security, clearance, cleanability.

    Roof racks are not an option. I know of 6 seperate guys, all friends, birght, thoughtful people, who have created their own hazards with roof racks. I am sure that one night after a long ride I will drive my Stumpjumper into the golden arches overhead: end of story. I just came back from a muddy ride (at our 6:30 am staging on guy had a bikes falling sideways off of his rack so now it is 7) and my Toy Tacoma handles muddy bikes in a truck bed as you might figure. However, I would like to have a bit more security so I have been looking.
    I checked out numerous cars and such by first putting my bike in the back; no fit? I'm gone! Matrix, small suvs and such; they all handle ONE bike layng down. The key is that for my son and I we need to stand two bikes up and that means door clearance. Now, if you are going to do the muddy bike thing you need to be able to clean up; mud, caprpets......been there.
    The last vehicle on my list, and the furthest from my mind, was the Honda Element. As soon as I opened the doors and sat in the space between the front a back seat on the drivers side I could see myself changing clothes and not worrying about getting mud on the floor; the flooring, though not soft and cushy was eminently cleanable, as was the upholstery of the seat. When you enter inthe back doors the egress was high and rolling the bike in was a breeze. Good mileage/not as much poop as I would like. Seats were not as substantial as my truck. And this year they have offered the option of more continuity of color between the fender panels and the body. In the rear it is wide open and fork mounts can be installed in the floor.
    I'll drive it this week.

  25. #25
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    my vote for the cherokee, always a jeep fan, with the back seat down, you can get a lotta bikes in there and plenty of room for storage too, i was thinking of making some internal mounts on my wrangler from fender to fender, but i'm not sure how practicable it would be the hitch will have to do for now
    "Get a bicycle.You will not regret it if you live." Mark Twain

  26. #26
    jrm
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    I did too.

    sleeping in the 4runner is so easily done also. You will want a bed pad and ive found that removing the bottoms of the rear seats makes for more leg room. I slept on mine many times...it works out well.

  27. #27
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    Interal bike mounts?

    what about the Nissan Xterra or Honda Element with the internal bike mounts option. No laying them flat you just put them in like you would if you had a flat bed.

    Of course you could easily devise your own with wood and the fork mounts.

    I have a friend with a LandRover Discovery and he just puts his whole bike in the back. Of course they may blow the budget; but if you wanted "easy". And this guy had a really tall bike, he I was 6'5"

    I'm not certain; but i'd bet some of the other SUV's out there have the bike clamp option.
    See You On The Trails!

  28. #28
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    Honda Element

    I gotta say the Element. I use mine to camp in, haul stuff and get dirty. My bike will just roll into the car with one of the seats "stowed". I had the same criteria when I bought it, but I did find that there are a LOT of other vehicles that fit the bill.

    Oh, the "water resistent" seats are a plus too.

    Good luck

    Matt

  29. #29
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    Xterra

    I have an 05 X and it is awesome for transporting the bikes. Since the whole cargo area is plastic it cleans really easy. I got a piece of channel tubing and 2 yakima blockheads (50 bucks total) and have a sweet rack for my bikes. I love the X!

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    I'm not sure where you live but if faced with hills, you want around 250 HP. The smaller SUVs are pretty underpowered and struggle on uphills.
    Maybe if you are pulling a boat. 150hp is fine on any hill I have ever been on.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiggy
    It is not a mini-van

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    It's even better: it's a re-badged Mercedes. These things are absolutely great.

  32. #32
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    CHEVY AVALANCHE

    great truck great suv. you owe it to yourself to give one a quick look. i was reluctant at first. now i wish i had gotten one sooner. check out

    http://www.chevyavalanchefanclub.com/index.html

    tons of info. you will see that avy owners have a passion towards the avy similar to bikers and their bikes

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