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going to the dark side... looking for an SUV

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going to the dark side... looking for an SUV

Old 12-28-04, 10:38 PM
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going to the dark side... looking for an SUV (updated, purchase made)

I have been toying around with the idea of buying a SUV within the next few months. I have a mitsu 3000 gt now and would like to move into something with more carge space as i always need to purchase misc things for my house that are bigger than my car.

I had my eye on Ford Explorers and went to a Ford Dealer to test drive one. I test drove a 2003 Explorer and 2003 Escape. I must say that the Escape was pretty nice and now I am considering that as an alternative as well. The driver/passenger area of the escape/explorer are indentical in size, suprisingly... of course the escape has much less rear seat/cargo room in the back. I like the "soft" feeling of the explorer, whereas i liked the get up and go of the escape.

I want to keep the price within the $10-15,000 range. Perferablly the low side. Which is almost impossible when looking for the 4x4 escape.

Anyone have any expereince with either vehicle?

How about some 4x4 V6 alternatives? anyone have a pathfinder/4runner/durango/blazer/passport/cvr etc?

Last edited by jasonr114; 01-07-05 at 07:34 PM.
Old 12-28-04, 10:40 PM
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Can't go wrong w/ a 4Runner, imo.
Old 12-28-04, 10:58 PM
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Isn't the "dark side" bolting on a blower on a NA car?

I'd pass on all Izuzu's.
Old 12-28-04, 11:05 PM
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Passport is Izuzu but with Honda badges. I had one and it was crap. The Xterra is not too bad, nor is the Pathfinder. The CRV is decent, but after driving it and the Element, I went with the Element. Sure, it looks like ass, but the cargo room is amazing, and the engine is amazing as well. Easily the most versitile vehicle I have ever owned.

I don't tend to trust any rig other than Honda and Toyota, however, so I would pass on the Ford's. Crap, the Nissans are good too, but I tend to stick with the other two.
Old 12-28-04, 11:10 PM
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If you mostly want to haul stuff, you may want to consider minivans too. They offer about the same flexibility between cargo and passengers. Most are front wheel drive so they aren't too bad in snow but not as good as 4WD obviously, and they are not for off-road. They might fit your budget better, however.

I have no experience with Escape. 2WD Explorers do poorly in snow (worse than a minivan by far), 4WD drive does fine. In 4WD, the V6 does a little better in snow than the V8 due to weight distribution, and gets better fuel economy (by a little). The V6 has all the power I really need, but the V8 has that nice "shot from cannon" feeling; I usually get the V6.
Old 12-28-04, 11:33 PM
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Hyundai Santa Fe
Old 12-28-04, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by B.A.
Can't go wrong w/ a 4Runner, imo.
I own a 2004 Toyota 4Runner Limited and I LOVE it.....best car I've had so far.
Old 12-28-04, 11:56 PM
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just get a subaru outback...all the room none of the dark side
Old 12-29-04, 01:17 AM
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Got to tell you, I rented a Chevy Tahoe over Thanksgiving when we had extra family in town and I'm very, very impressed. Yes it is big, but doesn't drive as big. It handles better then my Dad's Explorer (2003), better then the Trailblazer I have been renting while working in Flordia.

I had not been in the market for a car and currently have a 2000 Blazer (that I really don't like). But that Tahoe is really sweet.

BTW since these are such expensive car's, I'd highly recommend renting a couple for a few days.
Old 12-29-04, 08:57 AM
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check out the Toyota Matrix, they even call it an SUV. It looks small, but it can carry a lot of stuff.
Old 12-29-04, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Trigger
Hyundai Santa Fe
Our 2003 is going strong.
Old 12-29-04, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
check out the Toyota Matrix, they even call it an SUV. It looks small, but it can carry a lot of stuff.
My sister just bought a Toyota Matrix. She loves it. It's a CUV a Compact Utility Vehicle.
Old 12-29-04, 10:03 AM
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Thanks for the advice so far. I want a 4x4 so i am am not interested in getting the 2wd explorer escape.

I like the toyota 4 runner, but damn are they pricey!
Old 12-29-04, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by So_Cal_SAHM
I own a 2004 Toyota 4Runner Limited and I LOVE it.....best car I've had so far.
Yep. Get a 4runner, and get it at carmax, to save a bundle.
Old 12-29-04, 10:17 AM
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What size are you looking for and what payload requirements do you have?

I bought a Ford Expedition last year, and I'm loving the room and tow capacity....

On the other hand, 13 miles per gallon is teh suck.....
Old 12-29-04, 10:26 AM
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why were you looking for 4wd? you won't be able to much beyond fireroads in an escape 4x4....but it may give you better handling (depending upon tires) in the snow.

i drive an xterra and love it...but the gas mileage isn't so hot and engine could be more powerful. it's absolutely amazing offroad, however and fits my space requirements to a 't'. my brother in law has a tahoe which i find quite roomy and powerful. and very refined. hell, it has leather seats!

my brother owns a jeep cherokee limited. it's kinda crappy feeling and has terrible road manners. has stranded him twice and has major engine work done....all before 60,000 miles on it. it has leather seats too.

i also drove a rodeo for 7 years. very reliable truck...never stranded me anywhere and the only part i replaced that kept me from going anywhere was the starter at about 100,000 miles. now....it *did* need a quart of oil every 10-14 days....but that just kept me from having to change it

like kvrdave and others said....stay small if you can. gas mileage is very important these days. with the choices listed, you can get great cargo space and some level of fuel efficiency all in one package. i'd just re-think the 4x4 aspect if you really don't need (or really want) it.
Old 12-29-04, 11:36 AM
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My vote is for a 2001-2003 Nissan Pathfinder, preferrable the LE. I bought my 2001 LE for $19,800 from a private party in August of 2003. By now, you should be able to find similar models with under 60k miles in the $16-18k range.

These vehicles are incredible values, especially compared to their closest competition, Toyota 4Runners. 4Runners are great vehicles, but hold their value just a bit too well if you are buying used. For less than a similar Toyota, I was able to get a V6 with 240hp vs. the Toys 190hp V6 at the time.

Dependability wise, Toys are usually a bit better than Nissans, but not by much and it will really come down to how the previous owner maintained the vehicle.

The reasons I love my Pathy are:

-Solid feel. This vehicle drives like it is made of a solid piece of Titatnium. Not a quiver or rattle over the harshest roads. It feels like a Mercedes or BMW
-Handling. The PF sits lower than most trucks so it has a lower center of gravity and less body roll. The steering is also very tight and precise with a nice feel.
-Power. The 240hp V6 moves the truck quite nicely and the trottle response is very quick. No problems getting on freeways or passing on highways.
-Part time AWD. The LE model has a part time AWD system that makes the vehicle weather proof. You can have 2wd for better gas mileage, centrally locked 4wd high and lo for really deep, slippery mud and snow or set the knob to AUTO and the system will seamlessly engage the front wheels as slippage is detected to keep you on your intended path. The AUTO mode is just incredible. When in 4hi I can easily get the vehicle to fish tale and spin a bit. With it set to AUTO, you really have to try hard to get the vehicle to miss a step. Toyota does not offer such a system on last gen 4Runners.
-Space. The PF has more interior room than the last gen 4Runner, so it is much more comfy for long drives.

The newer Explorers seem nice, especially with the 4 wheel independent suspensions, but I never looked at them closely as they were out of my price range at the time of my purchase and I have never liked the seats in Fords.

I did drive the Escapes, but found the interior cheap looking and engine to loud/raspy. Other than that, they seem like good vehicles for the price. For a more civilized small SUV, I would recommend the Honda CRV or Element. They drive like a civic, have super smooth and efficient engines and great interior room. I almost bought the CRV, but choose a used PF for the luxury of the cabin and better towing capacity.

Good luck and have fun with your purchase!
Old 12-29-04, 11:45 AM
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I had a 2001 escape until this year when I traded it for a 2005 Escape. Both 4x4 and while it hasn't snowed yet this year, the 2001 handled great in the snow. It had a switch you turned if you wanted to force it into 4x4 otherwise, it was set to AUTO. I had no problems with it. The seats fold down easily and i used to put all sorts of stuff in there. Moved a recliner, a loveseat, tons of boxes when I moved a year or so ago...

for the Escape

The 2002-2004 Escapes I believe have a recall for a sticking accelerator cable so make sure you have the dealer fix the recall before you take delivery if you get one.
Old 12-29-04, 12:00 PM
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We've got a 2001 Buick Rendezvous. We have the 2WD, i assume it has an option for a 4WD. We've never needed 4WD, so that was an additional expense we decided not to have. Ours was a program car, so it was low mileage, low price, and great shape. Size and safety of an SUV, rides like a car.
Old 12-29-04, 12:14 PM
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2wd suv = minivan w/ less room

go for a 4runner. my old roomate had one with 260,000 miles on it. re-built engine at 190,000 miles and normal maintenance only.
Old 12-29-04, 03:55 PM
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Again thanks for the insight, i will look into the 4 runner and pathfinder some more.

I dont "need" 4wd, as i have been dealing with the PA winters with a my 3000 gt, i would however "like" to have a 4wd if i do go up to a suv. I have a few places that i can go 4 wheeling, although if i bought something over $10,000 i would would probably stick to the trail for quite some time before i did some risky driving.

Although gas mileage is important, my daily commute to/from work is less than 7 miles. When i goto the gym, the commute jumps to 10 miles! So, althought the 2 hour drive to my parents would suck every other month.... i can deal with sub 20 mpg gas mileage.

More than likely, whatever i buy, i will drive for about 5 years, and than move onto something else...
Old 12-29-04, 04:34 PM
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toyota matrix comes in AWD
Old 12-29-04, 05:01 PM
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I'd love to pick up one of these



EDIT: Oh wait, I just saw your budget. Sorry about the suggestions for the Tahoe and this. My bad...
Old 12-29-04, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Luddy
I'd pass on all Izuzu's.
WHOA.... maybe the newer Isuzus, but I have a 1992 Rodeo that I bought new 12 years ago and that bitch just keeps on going! 150k in miles and she's never (knock wood) had any major repair work, just the regular maintenance oil, brakes, belts, ect. She's not as quick as she use to be but she works great for the trips to Home Depot and surfing every Sunday. I truly believe Isuzu made their cars much better way back when, before they started mass producing for Honda. So I'll be keeping my Rodeo until the day she calls it quits, cause she's cheap to maintain.

Speaking of SUVs my wife and I bought a new Chevy Suburban a year ago, and even with two kids sometimes it doesn't seem big enough, with a stroller in the back and packages from shopping that thing fills up fast!

Small vehicles are just too impractical for our family, altho I wouldn't mind one of Fords new GTOs.

Good luck with your purchase, there are some pretty amazing cash back offers from the manufactures right now if you're going to be buying new.
Old 12-29-04, 06:37 PM
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Definately try out the Element. The 4 wheel drive system only kicks in if you need it, so you still get decent mileage.

Okay, this is no joke. My one complaint about mine is that they really souped up the engine. Going 70 on the freeway, I will be at about 3500 rpm. Seems like the mileage would be better if they could have that down around 2500. I have never downshifted to pass, or go up a steep grade. And here is the wild part. From a dead stop, I can take off in 1st and get to about 4-5,000 rpm, then put it in 2nd and it will peel out at 20 mph (until the AWD kicks in). This thing has insane power for a 4 cylinder.

Funnest rig I have ever owned. And easy the most practical, and more legroom and headroom than anything else you will look at.

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