What'a a good daily driver 4x4?

Discussion in '4x4's, SUV's and P/U Trucks' started by Kwon, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Kwon

    Kwon Active Member

    Been talking with my dad, planning ot either buy or lease a new vehicle in the next 12 months or so, and I'm torn between a fuel efficient city car and a go-everywhere 4x4/SUV.

    I'm wondering if there's a compromise someplace, a 4x4 truck or SUV that is very capable off road that at the same time gets ok mpg.

    The budget's $23,500 ($3500 is trade in value of my current vehicle).

    My dad is willing to either help me pay 50% to buy my own car or he'll just lease a Honda CRV. He says it can go off road. I don't think my dad really understand what I mean by off road. not a graded dirt road, I'm taking like a rough rocky road in the mountains.

    A Jeep is ideal in terms of off road capability, but they get terrible mpg. i also heard they got some reliability issues.

    So, can anyone help me? point me in the right direction? suggest something?
  2. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    get yourself a 10 year old Jeep Wrangler and use the rest of the money to buy stock in a gas company.. you will grin every time you fill up the gas tank.
  3. MaxxMPG

    MaxxMPG Hasta Lavista AAA-Vee Von't Be Bach

    Apply the laws of mathematics:

    Enter the number of days a year you will be driving on asphalt in sunny Southern California.

    Divide by the number of hours a year you will be driving on rocks on some distant hill.

    It doesn't matter what the answer is to whatever math there is - the answer becomes apparent. Jeeps or other 4x4s are fun for that one weekend a year that a minority of Jeep owners actually take them off road. For the other 364 days, they're burning gas at an alarming rate, chewing up tires and brakes, and spending too much time in filling stations.

    Think about getting an older 4x4 in primer gray with a bandana tied to the antenna (there are a bunch of them on craigslist) and use that for trip(s) to the mountains. They can be had really cheap (a couple of thousand?) because their current owners are being bankrupted with fuel costs. With the bulk of the the money, buy something small and fuel efficient. Accent/Rio/Sonic1.4t/etc. Maybe even a Prius c-1 if you can find one at a dealer that doesn't gouge.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  4. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Super Moderator Staff Member

    A rock-crawler is not going to be efficient on the road.

    $23,000 could buy a used rock-crawler and a used Prius (or other car).

    (Assuming you drive enough (miles/city miles) to offset the additional cost of two vehicles and have space for two vehicles.)
  5. CRT1

    CRT1 Newbie McNewbster

    There is no intersection of your two wants/needs. I would suggest two very cheap used cars, one rock crawler and one a late 90's Honda Civic with a manual transmission or something like that. With some hypermiling you will get 40+ or even 50+ mpg easy in the Civic and go have fun in the Jeep on weekends.

    Sounds like you are young if your Dad is going to help. Save your money, pay off all your debt, drive old used cars for a few years and then upgrade when you are sitting on a pile of cash. Just a little 20/20 hindsight from someone a few years down the road.
  6. lxmike

    lxmike Well-Known Member

    You just "Want" a 4X4, correct?? How often will you actually be going off road where you will really need to have a rugged 4 Wheel Drive Truck??

    You say a jeep gets terrible mileage, so what is ok to you??
  7. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    Although no longer in production (Ended this year) an Escape Hybrid 4wd may be something to consider. I've been getting between 30-36 MPG this summer
  8. ksstathead

    ksstathead Moderator

    It has the mpg and decent clearance, but I'd think twice about using it as a Jeep replacement.
  9. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    As you've already been reading, "good daily driver 4x4" is considered an oxymoron around here. Even a CR-V is considered a gas hog around here, and there are a few 4wds that do better.

    If you REALLY have your heart set on owning an offroad-capable vehicle, I would second the advice two buy TWO cheaper used vehicles, like a Civic that's a few years old and an older 4x4. I really do think that's your best option.

    Even most relatively efficient 4x4s are going to burn a lot more gas than an efficient city car, but if you're going to buy a 4x4 daily driver here are the options that come to mind:
    • Top of the list would be the Mazda CX-5, and you should be able to negotiate the price to under $23.5k. That may mean the base model with MT, but that's still a really nice rig, and its mpg blows away pretty much everything else out of the water.
    • I'd like to recommend something like the Suzuki SX4 or Subaru Impreza, which also beat most other 4wds for fuel economy, but those have considerably less ground clearance than the CR-V so they probably won't work for you.
    • Ford Escape. My impression, having driven the ICE-powered Escape, is that it is a bit more offroad worthy than the CR-V, and I was impressed even with the 2WD version. Just avoid the petro-pig V6 that I had, and you should get similar mpg to a CR-V. If you get a used Escape Hybrid you'll get far better city mpg, but I'm not sure if the hybrid has slightly reduced clearance.
    • Jeep Patriot. At 23/29mpg it's much thirstier than an efficient city car, but nowhere near the guzzler that the Jeep Liberty and Wrangler are. It is claimed to be a lot more offroad capable than most small SUVs, so it's a reasonable compromise -- in that respect. But the reviews I've seen say that except for the offroad capability it's very subpar for the small SUV class, and you will be dealing with Jeep reliability problems, so there's no question that it IS a compromise.
    • Wait a few more months for the Subaru XV. This will be a Subaru Impreza jacked up 3", providing 8.7" of ground clearance. Fuel economy will no doubt take a hit from the regular Impreza's now-impressive figures, but it will have the same excellent engine so it shouldn't be too bad. I've taken Subarus into terrain where some 4x4 owners would fear to tread. They can be pretty amazing as long as you have a limited slip rear diff (optional on some Subarus). I've owned Outbacks both with and out the LSD, and I can attest that it makes a HUGE difference; make sure to opt for that if it turns out not to be standard on the XV.
    • Get a mountain bike or (if you've just GOTTA have a motor) a dirt bike. I'm serious. I've owned four 4WD/AWD vehicles and used to drive them in very rough terrain. I'm a skilled rough-road driver still take my 2wds into relatively rough terrain (compared to what average drivers would dare to do) ... but a number of years ago I although I still like exploring the jeep roads (especially in the vast Oregon Desert), I decided that if the terrain was more than a car with 6" of clearance could handle, then it's time to park the car and start pedaling. Back in 2008 I had an absolute blast in your neck of the woods, exploring parts of Death Valley NP with my mountain bike. I visited both Chloride City and Echo Canyon, both popular 4x4 destinations, and the fact that the roads were technically open to motor vehicles (of which I saw very few) did not detract from my fun. Given another couple days I would also have done Cottonwood Canyon and Titus Canyon. Given a week, Racetrack Valley and Steel Pass.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  10. Kwon

    Kwon Active Member

    I haven't been able to go off road nearly as much as I like, on account that I've gotten stuck about 1/2 the time I've tried, 30 miles from cell reception and I always forget to bring a spade!

    if i have a off-road capable vehicle I'll probably go off road once a month. I only have enough money for one vehicles, not two, and certainly not enough to insure, title, etc two vehicles!

    my current daily driver gets 15 MPG EPA and I manage 20-35 hypermiling. my standard for "good MPG" isn't exactly high. I'm looking for something with a base mpg (epa rating) that's at least 20, and hopefully I can push 30-40 mpg out of it as a daily driver. it helps if someone else drives it and also hypermiler, so I can get an idea of what kind of mpg to expect.

    the main reason to get a 4x4 is because this has happened repeatedly, the front two wheels get stuck, spin, and I can't get out. last time we were lucky enough a neighbor gave us a short tow. AWD is an alternative. clearance is also important, looking for at least 8. bottoming out in the dirt is a big contributing factor of getting stuck. I'm also worried that big rocks can cause serious damage to the underside even if I'm only crawling around at 5 mph.

    i won't be like really going off road, not rock crawling, but I will be going places where the road at most is a dried creek bed or a very rough dirt path in the mountains. it's still a road... if you've got a hummer.

    I also just bought a scan gauge ii and really enjoying it, it's already paid for itself but I want to continue using it, so I can't buy a pre-96 or non scan gauge compatible vehicle.

    can't go mountain bike or a dirt bike, the main reason to go off road is hunting and target shooting...

    I'm really hoping the more car-knowledgeable people here and suggest alot of things that helps me pick out something. or at least research a few options. it's very difficult to research every SUV, truck, jeep for sale, mostly because i don't know where to start!

    I was thinking about Jeeps but I heard they got reliability issues and worry about it's "value". my current car has 110,000 miles on it and never had a serious mechanical problem. at most it's the alternator died at 86k miles, the stupid AC keeps breaking (I learned to go without it), or the battery needs replacement every 4 years.
    I heard jeep has reliability problems, and problems pop up after 4-5k miles. that's pretty alarming in my opinion. I'm not a car mechanic or really understanding cars, serious problems like that scare me nd I worry it could turn into a bottomless money hole.
    as for epa mpg, it's not bad. 23/29 is more than 10 over my current car. I haven't read too many hypermiler reports about it though, but I think I can get another 10 on top of that easy. 30-40 mpg would be a significant improvement over what i have now.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  11. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    See if you can dig up one of the Jeep Liberty diesels. I think they were only made in 2005 and '06.
  12. worthywads

    worthywads Don't Feel Like Satan, I am to AAA

    You might as well be asking for a good "muscle car" with ok gas mileage.

    No such beast.

    You can't get low quarter mile times or capable offroad abilities and remotely ok mpg,

    Reality check.
  13. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Nothing wrong with getting an old Jeep and learning to wrench on it, its an interesting hobby.
  14. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I want my free lunch , and I want it NOW , dammit.
  15. Blackbelt

    Blackbelt Well-Known Member

    A liberty diesel would be a good choice, but they are rare and have been somewhat unreliable.
    WRI, this may surprise you, but a Suzuki SX4 has MORE ground clearance than a CRV.
    I have to agree with most of the people here that the ideal setup would be 2 vehicles. Sya, a Jeep Cherokee for $4K and a new Elanatra. You could afford to buy both, but since you said that insuring/registering 2 vehicles is out of the question, then you are going to have to compromise.
    I would suggest a Suzuki SX4. I have had one for almost 3 years. They have a 2 liter, and the current ones are 6 speed manuals(mine is 5), and i can hypermile mine into the high 30's with little difficulty. The do not have a 2 speed transfer case, but they DO have a "4 wheel lock" mode that does a 50/50/ front to rear torque split. It automatically disengages that mode after 35 MPH, but it would be useful off road. They have 6.9" of clearance stock, so you would have to lift it. There are a number of people on the sx4 forums http://clubsx4.com/forum/forum.phpwho have lifted theirs with great success.
    Of course an SX4 will not to the things a Cherokee or wrangler will do, but it is a decent compromise, and you can buy one for well under $18K, so you will have leftover $$ to lift it and put some better off road capable tires on it. Another nice feature is they have a decent warranty, 3/36 B to B plus a 7/100 powertrain, all transferable to the next owner.
  16. Kwon

    Kwon Active Member

    is hypermiling with a CVT the same as a normal AT?
    jeep patriot with it's 22/29 is pretty good in my opinion. it's not excellent, but better than what i drive now. at the very least i'll get better mpg city, which is what i drive 85% of the time) than what I make now.
    I'm not really comfortable with a manual, my brain gets overloaded really quick even doing nice-on gliding. Might look into the Suzuki sx4 if they got an AT option.
  17. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    Hypermiling with a CVT is not exactly the same as a regular transmission. The CVT is a lot more forgiving though.
  18. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Other than hybrids, my only CVT experience is with a rented Nissan Sentra. It was NOT very hypermiling friendly, because it didn't like being taken out of and put back into gear. After a stretch highway coasting, if I put it into D it would rev to 2200 or so and hold there (scrubbing off a significant amount of momentum) before settling down into a taller gear. Very wasteful.
  19. 08EscapeHybrid

    08EscapeHybrid Moderator

    I've never tried neutral coasting in the CVT. After I had to pay over $1,000 in transmission repairs a while ago in another vehicle which I feel constant manual shifting had at least contributed to the failure, I stopped doing it.
  20. Blackbelt

    Blackbelt Well-Known Member

    Hypermiling a CVT is a little different. The Suzuki has a CVT also, so if you want an automatic in a new SX4, thats what you get.
    I would choose the Suzuki over the Patriot. i had a Caliber R/T with AWD. The patriot is based on the Caliber, same drivetrain, the 2.4 with CVT. The Patriot/Compass/Caliber series have had some real issues with fron suspension, mostly tie rods and ball joints failing every 20-20K miles. They are also very hard on brakes, figure 25K for a set of front pads and rotors.
    The SX4 with the 2.0 will be better on gas.

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