Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

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bogleviewer
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Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by bogleviewer » Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:10 pm

I'm looking for some recommendations for a vacation type spare vehicle that will be used for a few months of the year and sitting for most of the year. There is snow in the winter months where the vehicle will be so I'm looking at something with AWD/4WD, preferably all the time. Below is some criteria:

MUST
  • SUV or Crossover (no cars/sedans)
    Will be used in an area that has snow/ice so performance in that climate is important
    AWD/4WD, preferred all the time
    2005 or Newer
    Reliability is incredibly important
    Maintenance/Repairs affordable
    Under 75,000 miles
    Under $20,000
    I hate vehicle depreciation, so I don't want to spend more than I have to as a vacation type vehicle.
    Average to Good resellability (I don't want something no one wants and is hard to sell when I sell it)
With this in mind, however, I am willing to spend a little more for the nicer things in life. In other words, a few thousand dollars isn't a big deal if it means leather, heated seats, heated steering wheel, etc. Do not need towing. Do not need storage. Do not need a truck. :)

Here is some information I've conducted to give you an idea of where I've headed (please steer me!)
  • Toyota RAV4 (2006 - 2009ish) will be $13k to $15k. V6, AWD although it has to be turned on if not mistaken. Has a lot of power but interior feels cheap and it isn't very heavy so I don't know how well it would do in the snow. Very practical vehicle.

    Infinity FX-35 (2006-2009ish) will be $17k to $20k. V6, AWD, all are leather, heated seats, etc. It is a luxury brand. It doesn't have nearly the "get up" as the Toyota RAV4 but it is a much nicer vehicle and heavier (better in snow maybe?). Reliability worries me as I've never owned an Infinity. Seemingly practice given the price but will probably fall faster in value than Toyota and probably more money to repair/maintain.
Last edited by bogleviewer on Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

letsgobobby
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by letsgobobby » Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:15 pm

RAV4 does fine but it only seats 4 adults comfortably and the true 4WD only operates below 25 mph. We've used ours in snow, mud, rocky trails, etc., very nimble. Definitely get 6 cyl, the 4 cyl is underpowered in the hills.

Used Highlanders and Sequoias come to mind. The other well-respected vehicles might be a Chevy Traverse, though the 2013s got a much improved transmission so the older ones, while cheaper, are less desirable; or Subaru Forester or Outback legacy (not sure if that meets your definition of a Crossover or SUV).
Last edited by letsgobobby on Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

The Wizard
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by The Wizard » Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:22 pm

I like the idea of a 4WD pickup for this sort of thing, since it's got a lot more utility for HAULING STUFF year round.
But for the OP, that'll depend on whether you're a do-it-yourselfer with stuff to haul from time to time.

This winter, snow hasn't been so bad around here, so the Mustang has been usable most of the time. But one January a few years back, it was in my garage for all of January, until the roads cleared up again...
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yukonjack
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by yukonjack » Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:51 pm

Maybe a mechanic could step in here but aren't there significant issues with essentially parking a vehicle for 3/4 of a year?

MikeinNJ
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by MikeinNJ » Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:56 pm

I owned a 2009 Rav4 V6 4WD Limited (Loaded with heated leather seats, backup cam, etc)

It would probably work well for your purposes. I HATED mine, got rid of it after 9 months. Luckily I got a great deal on it certified preowned and I traded it for $200 less than what I paid.

Things I hated:
The transmissions on all of the V6 models made a loud whine at speeds over 40mph. There is a TSB out for you to get a remanufactured transmission for free where they hone the top gear so that it doesn't make a horrible whine. The TSB came out in 2010 or so and Toyota continued using the noisy transmissions until they dropped the V6 in 2013.

The seats were HORRIBLE for my back/legs. I'm 6', 25 y/o male with an athletic build and a very strong back. I could drive 24+ hours straight with zero back pain in my old Jetta. The Rav4, my back would be killing me for hours after even a 45min drive. The lower cushion is very short, does not tilt up, and though it had power lumbar, it was at a fixed height. I'm back in a VW again and love it to death; maintenance is not a concern as I know these cars in and out and have had great luck over the last 8 years. Definitely take an extended test drive of the Rav4 or rent one and see if the seat bothers you. It's definitely made for smaller people or women. Also, you will have leg room problems up front if you are taller than 6' 2". Someone on the Rav4 forums found a company that makes Rav4 specific seat rail extenders to push the seat back further.

The fuel range on the V6 was horrid. Not the MPG, but the range. The Rav4 would get about 24MPG highway/18ish city (and I do have a heavy foot) but with a paltry 14 gallon tank with a somewhat thirsty V6, I would get around 200 miles per tank. So frustrating to have to fill up so often.

The interior was horrible noisy on the highway, especially at 70mph and over. Very little refinement there. I had every option too (Keyless, backupcam, leather, sunroof, tow package, etc). Also, the heated seats (one of my must have features) were terrible. The heat would stay on for MAYBE 10min or so and then go off for about 40min, even though the switch was still on. Toyota's way of saving power apparently. The seats do not stay warm like all the other cars I've driven.

Tie rods rust out, there's a TSB for this too. Lot of rust spots underneath. They don't really put much in the way of rust protection on these cars. I got mine with 40k miles and the exhaust, suspension, and metal bumpers underneath were all rusting.

Due to crappy brake design, the rotors/pads wear unevenly, so after just a few thousand miles, you will get a weird wobble sensation in the steering wheel when coming to a stop. Also, my Rav4 just decided to NOT BRAKE at all several times. I had my foot planted, the vehicle acted as if I was only applying 10% braking pressure and eventually came to a halt. Then all the dash lights lit up and cleared themselves. Dealer couldn't replicate and couldn't find any codes. When this happened with my grandmother in the car, I knew I wasn't keeping it much longer.

There are several pages of TSBs and recalls for this body style, moreso with the V6 because of the transmission.

The good parts: GREAT power off the line. Nice ground clearance for a small SUV. 4WD is ondemand btw, so there is no on/off switch. It automatically comes on when it senses loss of traction or that you are trying to accelerate. There is no way to manually lock it into 4WD mode.

If you are looking at this car, go with a Subaru Forester. 4WD is much better, though towing capacity is less than the Rav4 V6 (1500lbs vs 3500lbs).

I would suggest going with a used Ford Explorer. I know they do not have the best reliability compared with the likes of Toyota's supposed reliability (which is NOT what it used to be; neither is build quality), but they are a dime a dozen and you get a lot more for your money. A close friend bought a used but very clean 2002 Explorer Eddie Bauer edition in 2010 for $7500 cash. Also the 2002 is the same style up to almost 2007, so it still looks relatively new. Has a powerful V8, controllable and lockable 4WD, lots of room, very comfortable heated leather seats, woodgrain, sunroof, and since the explorers are so popular, parts are very cheap and easy to come by. He regularly tows his toolboxes, friends, and in the summer a 20' boat with no issue.

Good luck!

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BrandonBogle
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by BrandonBogle » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:04 pm

Different type vehicle, but I love my 2006 4Runner 6 cyclider 4WD (Sport edition), particularly when traveling in the snow (going skiing tomorrow). Not the most luxurious ride, but very effective and I get 20 mpg in NC using it as my daily driver.

For short usage though, you might want to consider buying/selling a 4WD vehicle each year so you don't have to worry about year-round maintenance. You would have to look at whether this is more cost effective.

jebmke
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by jebmke » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:10 pm

I have a 2008 RAV4. The seats may be the most uncomfortable car seats I have ever sat in (in the US, I don't count taxis in India). There have also been a lot of recalls for various mechanical problems. I haven't had any failures but it has been into the dealer for recall maintenance several times and one recall is still outstanding (no fix yet).
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jfn111
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by jfn111 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 5:14 pm

I like the Honda CRV AWD. Kelly Blue Book says a 2005 would be worth $8-$10 from a private party.

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Svensk Anga
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by Svensk Anga » Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:05 pm

I cannot believe the negative review of the RAV4 above. I have owned a 2009 since new, for 50,000 trouble free miles. I am 6-2 and the seats work just fine for me. (I am long torso, short legs, so apparently a more favorable proportion for this vehicle than the earlier reviewer.) I regularly take 2500-3000 mile driving vacations, with 600-700 mile days, with no problem. Mine is 2WD, so I get much better mileage and range, up to 360 miles per tank without lighting the low fuel warning. It is not luxury SUV quiet, but I did not pay a luxury price either. (and Obama helped with 4 grand.)

I wonder if you really need 4WD/AWD. I once drove my father-in-law's fwd sedan maybe 40 miles in a blizzard with maybe 8" of snow on the ground and had no problems. This was early 80's, so I suspect things have improved since then with anti-lock brakes and stability control. It was a world better than the rwd vehicles I had driven in snow previously. Also, if it is for a vacation retreat, that implies to me no need to get anywhere on a schedule. Wait for the roads to be plowed.

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Dutch
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by Dutch » Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:14 pm

bogleviewer wrote:I'm looking for some recommendations for a vacation type spare vehicle that will be used for a few months of the year and sitting for most of the year.
I'm not sure I fully understand the concept of a "spare" vehicle, but hey different strokes for different folks.

A rental maybe?

02sbxstr
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by 02sbxstr » Thu Jan 16, 2014 7:49 pm

If you really need mobility in snow country, you need a truck-based 4wd vehicle with a low range gearbox. Today's cross-overs are toys. I am in southern New England, where it does (occasionally) snow alot. When I had a 600 ft driveway with a 50ft uphill gradient, I had a '94 Nissan Pathfinder. I could drive the Pathfinder up in low range easily in 8 - 12 inches of snow. I'm now retired and have a VW awd Tiguan. Works fine in our snows but then I don't need to get out. The Tig would not have worked 20 years ago. As to leaving the vehicle for long periods: leave it with a full tank of fresh gas, add a fuel stabilizer, and put it on battery tender. Pay attention to the battery. I've done this over winters (4 months or so) with my Porsche and never had a problem in the spring.

Atilla
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by Atilla » Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:11 pm

I drive a Hummer and my wife has a G35X - basically the sedan version of the Infiniti FX you are considering. We have lots of snow and ice here, so here are my impressions:

Hummer - I run BIG tires on it and it is unstoppable in pretty much any deep snow condition. I've comfortably driven the thing through snow deep enough to pack the radiator openings full. But...on semi deep streets that have been traveled - say six or eight inches of packed road stuff ...the tires tend to float and the front end pushes to the outside going around a turn. Not ideal.

Wife's G35 X running good all-season MIchelins - runs on rails through packed snow as long as it isn't deep enough to bottom out the car. It really is impressive.

The comparable Infiniti SUV you are considering I guarantee will be awesome in anything under a foot or so of snow on the roads as long as you run the appropriate tires.

Infiniti reliability from our experience has been excellent. And the FX just like the G35 will have a decent low-luxury interior and will be a general all around enjoyable vehicle. Put real snow tires on that sucker and you will be waiting for a good snowfall to go out looking for trouble.
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Watty
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by Watty » Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:17 pm

Dutch wrote:
A rental maybe?
+1

Look for short term leases.


Don't forget that you will likely need to pay for car insurance year round especially if you have an umbrella policy.

tim1999
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by tim1999 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:20 pm

The V6 in the Infiniti is a very solid engine from a reliability standpoint. I would have no fears of reliability on one of these unless the previous owner beat the crap out of it.

tim1999
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by tim1999 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:22 pm

Dutch wrote: A rental maybe?
With my employer's negotiated corporate rate, I could rent a 4x4 Tahoe or Suburban from Enterprise for about $1,000 per month. Not cheap, but not a bad deal if you only need it 2-3 months per year, since mileage is unlimited and you have no maintenance costs unless you damage it somehow.

btenny
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by btenny » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:07 pm

I think we need some more data on your needs and plans to help you adequately. I live in deep snow country in Tahoe and have two AWD/4x4 cars. Are you going to use your snow car for mostly town driving or for lots of going back and forth to some big ski resort and doing lots of road driving? My reasoning is that these are different needs.

I have a Jeep Grand Cherokee with 112K miles that is wonderful in deep snow and any kind of road conditions like ice, etc.. It is a perfect Tahoe local type car and there are hundreds of them and other older true 4x4 cars all around town used for mostly winter use. A true 4x4 is dramatically better in the snow or ice than any Rav 4 or Infiniti or similar AWD car. The key is that a true 4x4 just works a lot better in snow and big snow burms and all kinds of ice conditions versus a AWD car.

But if you need a car for longer road trips in snow country you do need a better AWD car/SUV. I have a Subaru for road trips and that has special AWD-X that works very good in deep snow and still gets good highway MPG. It is better in snow than a Rav4 and dramatically better than the Infiniti. So I recommend you investigate one of the various Subarus if that is your need.

bogleviewer
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by bogleviewer » Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:35 pm

btenny wrote:I think we need some more data on your needs and plans to help you adequately. ....... Are you going to use your snow car for mostly town driving or for lots of going back and forth to some big ski resort and doing lots of road driving? My reasoning is that these are different needs.
Indeed and sorry for not clarifying. It is mainly around town driving. Some freeway driving, city driving, etc. Not going skiing in it or going on high adventures. Just want better traction around town doing errands.

A short term lease isn't a solution I'm interested in because it may turn into a car that is used 6+ months out of the year. In other words, the flexibility of it being a vehicle that actually gets continued use is there. Also, rental/short term lease will be significantly pricier than a depreciation during the same time period.

travellight
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by travellight » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:15 am

I have the situation you described and chose a Kia Borrego. It was about 18 to 20k, I don't remember exactly.... very low miles, about 2 years old.

It has worked well for me but I am rarely leaving it unused for more than 2 to 3 months.

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prudent
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by prudent » Fri Jan 17, 2014 7:57 am

If traction in snow is a key consideration, don't skimp on tires. I think the tires are more important to snow performance than what vehicle you have, assuming you're on paved maintained roads.

nordsteve
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by nordsteve » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:42 am

A recent Outback meets your criteria or Forrester meets your criteria. Once you pay attention you'll see them all the time in winter vacation areas.

I'd put some Blizzaks or similar on it if it was going to be a winter driver.

Iorek
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by Iorek » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:57 am

I'd third looking at Subarus.

jmg229
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by jmg229 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:39 pm

Iorek wrote:I'd third looking at Subarus.
Yes to this. And specifically, I am in love with the Crosstreks. Only available new, but the gas mileage on them is great and it is a really nice AWD vehicle. Spacious without being as large as an SUV (plus, it comes with heated seats standard).

Greatness
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by Greatness » Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:34 pm

Kayne West doesn't like Rav 4's either...

tim1999
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by tim1999 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 8:51 am

Greatness wrote:Kayne West doesn't like Rav 4's either...
Well played. :-)

MikeinNJ
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by MikeinNJ » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:07 am

Greatness wrote:Kayne West doesn't like Rav 4's either...
What you think he raps for? Lol

Also Nicki Minaj raps about the Rav4 in one of her tracks. LL Cool J also did a couple of commercials for the Rav a couple years back. Something about the Rav4 attracts rappers.

Can't believe I just brought up Nicki Minaj on a finance forum.

BuckyBadger
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by BuckyBadger » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:21 am

I also recommend a subaru. Excellent reliability and resale value.

arkerr123
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Re: Spare SUV vehicle - Snow Travel

Post by arkerr123 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 9:58 am

Yep, I also recommend Subaru.

Their AWD is different from other manufactures AWD. If necessary, it can spin just one wheel.

Nice video of it here.
http://www.subaru.com/engineering/all-wheel-drive.html

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