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What make and model SUV should I buy?


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11-17-16, 04:09 AM   #1 (permalink)  
What make and model SUV should I buy?

Hi everyone. I wanted to stop in and get some suggestions if I may please. Within the next year I will be retiring and once that happens I will want to lease a new vehicle; preferably an SUV. Presently living in the northeast by Penn/NYork state lines so the snow gets pretty deep around here during the winter months. Especially where I live because the towns (small towns) take forever to get out and plow after a snow fall.

I presently have a SUV that has realtime 4WD. It is ok in the deep snow but sometimes backing I get stuck in a moderately deep snow drift (maybe backing out of a spot or pulling out of a parking spot on the road after a deep snow) and my wheels spin. I had several Jeeps years ago but that was when the company I worked for gave me the vehicles as a company car so cost was not much of an issue. I do remember though with the Jeep it had something like 3 selections; 4WD part time, 4WD full time and LOW (for those times you got stuck). This is what I am basically looking for in an SUV. Although I like the realtime 4WD I think I would like one with an option of LOW for those times that you need that little extra torch to get out of a snow pile.

I don't know much about vehicles at all. OK, you got me; I know how to put gas in one and maybe check the oil if I can remember where that stupid dip stick is. I use the terminology of LOW because that is what I remember it as. If that terminology is incorrect please by all means let me know. A little education prior to leasing a vehicle goes a long way.

Not too concerned if it is one make or another or one model or another or domestic or import at this point until I get a lot more information and suggestions from various sources.

I lead a simple life and don't want anything nor can afford anything fancy. I want practical more than anything. I don't have large trailers, camper, etc that I have to haul at this moment and don't plan on having any. Maybe a small light trailer to pull a row boat or a snow mobile in the future. I believe since I have it already a 4 cylinder is just fine so I don't have to worry about a gas hog killing my retirement payments going towards gas each week.

I am looking for a starting point. Not worried about leather seats, great sound system, special fancy wheels, navigation system etc. I am a basic guy. I want to put the money towards reliability and longevity instead. Presently looking to lease new but if my budget does not allow me to lease new for the type of SUV I would like to get I may consider leasing used in order to meet my budget.

Also, I more than likely won't have the down payment required on most leases; just too much cash up front. So I will have to find a leasing company that will take that cash up front and put it into the monthly payments. I know that may limit my selections.

So now you know what I am looking for in a vehicle. I am a trades person and use my SUV for hauling my tools and supplies around now. When I retire I will only of course work when I want to not because I have to but it wont be that often. I have some physical limitations and have to watch how much I do each day. I will try and keep my present SUV for small jobs here and there once I retire but use my new leased vehicle for pleasure etc. I am not too worried about mileage at this point as I don't drive long distances. I don't see that changing much once I retire. Certainly not planning on driving cross country.

Thank you all for reading my history (novel) and appreciate any suggestions you may have and I understand many may be personal opinions etc and that is what I am looking for. Just as if someone asked my advice on a project for my trade I would use my experience and personal opinion to guide them.

Thank you very much

 
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11-17-16, 04:19 AM   #2 (permalink)  
Our (former) Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd. had Quadratrac and I had issues in reverse as well. You don't use Low for anything but creeping. It is in 4WD all the time. However, by today's technology standards an AWD vehicle just about has all the kinks worked out of it. We live in the mountains and can have some snow/ice making it difficult to transverse. Wifey bought a Honda CRV, and it performs well. Now, it is not a large hunking SUV like the Jeep or others, but the AWD works well. Crossing over, I drive a Dodge Ram dually with 4WD, but it is manual and you have to physically place the lever in gear. I like the feel of doing that as opposed to letting some electronic servo try to do the job. I can't recommend one vehicle over the other, but just some points to ponder.

 
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11-17-16, 04:24 AM   #3 (permalink)  
WOW. Car selection is such a personal thing.

I've heard good things about Suburu. I have a 2005 AWD GMC Safari and never had a problem (I live in Buffalo, Ny area). I think tires have more to do with traversing deep snow than the car itself. If you think you will be driving in deep snow often, then plan on summer/winter tire changes.

That's all I got!

 
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11-17-16, 04:35 AM   #4 (permalink)  
IMO a jeep wrangler is the best 'off the shelf' SUV. As far as I know it's the only one that still has a straight axle in the front. Mine has traction control which also comes in handy. Both TC or lockers will help any 4x4 go when some of the others won't. There are scarifies with the wrangle as it doesn't get as good of mpg and the ride is a little rougher. Mine goes better with the factory street tires than my old cherokee did with snow tires.

I use 4 wheel low a lot in the winter but I do have a steep driveway that winds down the side of a mountain. Not all jeeps have the 'part time' selection in the transfer case - that's a nice option but most jeeps don't have it.


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11-17-16, 05:56 AM   #5 (permalink)  
Leasing Vehicle

What will you do at end of the lease? Will you lease again or buy the vehicle?

 
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11-20-16, 04:42 AM   #6 (permalink)  
Thanks for all your fine suggestions. Much appreciated!!

I think the Wrangler may be too much of a rough riding vehicle for me. But I will consider it but it may be lower on my list than others.

I can't have any vehicle where I have to get out and do something manually in order to get it in to 4Wlow. I don't want that inconvenience.

I have no idea yet as to if I will go for a different lease at the end of the lease term or buy the vehicle out. Depends on many factors. I think now is a bit too early to decide that. But, a good question though and I will keep it in mind while I shop for a vehicle and leasing that goes with it; I am sure that this has to be consider when making my choice of a vehicle and a lease.

At this point I am attempting to get a basic education of the different types of 4wd vehicles there are on the market. What the particular termonlogy means when it come to things like TC etc; which of course I know nothing about. Then as I learn more about that I can then put in line vehicles that have the particular options in the way of the 4wd that I like and then check their reputation and then finally the pricing which will help narrow down my selection to maybe one or two.

I do know though I will be some what limited because of the fact that I will not be able to put money down.

Any other suggestions are more than welcomed.

Thank you all again.

 
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11-20-16, 05:13 AM   #7 (permalink)  
I can't have any vehicle where I have to get out and do something manually in order to get it in to 4Wlow. I don't want that inconvenience.
Most modern day 4x4s have constant hubs [no ability to unlock them] but if you get one that does have locking hubs you could always leave them locked. My ford 4x4 has locking hubs but about the only time I unlock them is if I expect to drive a good distance on pavement.

I didn't know much about traction control prior to buying my 2010 wrangler [still don't know a lot] but it does make a big difference when going up my driveway in the snow. The salesman at the jeep dealer didn't even know it had TC and claimed it was the way it was geared. The wrangler does seem to hold it's value more than the other 4x4s.


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01-03-17, 02:39 PM   #8 (permalink)  
Subaru .......and a road service that is dependable

 
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01-03-17, 03:12 PM   #9 (permalink)  
I don't know if this is any help but in California you must have chains to drive thru snow.
Even the best 4wd is not allowed to pass without them.
That's over mountains.

I never had chains growing up in Ohio, but they seem to help.


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01-03-17, 03:34 PM   #10 (permalink)  
Based on your requirements, I would look at the Ford Escape. They are smaller and get good fuel mileage, but can do some light towing. They can come with 4 wheel drive and all sorts of bells and whistles if you want. I think they start in the mid $20K. Otherwise, if you move up into a truck type SUV your looking at easily $35K or higher.

If you want to go foreign look at the Kia Sportage or Sorento. You really can't beat their warranty. The Hyundai Santa Fe sport or Tucson are some other options. All are under $30K


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01-03-17, 04:04 PM   #11 (permalink)  
Thank you again for all your suggestions. So very much appreciated.

No, no chains needed where I live. But thanks for the heads up though.

I have been looking at some of them already online. Just so much to learn about the options. Wow, overwhelmed to say the least.

I will make a decision soon.

Again than you.

 
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01-04-17, 05:54 AM   #12 (permalink)  
With my last vehicle I knew I would be going to a SUV. My first ever SUV so I test drove EVERYTHING. Exhausting Saturday's scheduling 6-8 test drives a day. For vehicles that all appear so similar differences do become apparent after you drive a lot of them and you start to learn what's important to you. The short story is you have to get out and test drive and find out what's right for you.

Now for the longer story...

In my case having at least 3'500 pounds of towing capacity was one of my requirements which cut the field in half. Most smaller non-premium SUV's have no rated towing capacity or it's quite low. The same size vehicles in a luxury brand tends to have a higher rated towing capacity.

Higher trim levels in non-luxury SUV's are assumed to be baby carriers and some brands include stuff like rear seat DVD entertainment systems standard. You can't get that trim level without the DVD so you might be paying for something you don't need. Luxury SUV's do not include the back seat DVD's standard.

There is a big split between those having a 3rd row and those that don't. If you get one with a 3rd row these days they all fold down which means: 1. You are paying for the 3rd row seats even if you don't want them. 2. You are always carrying the 3rd row seats with you even when not using them. 3. The rear deck is noticeably higher in vehicles with a 3rd row to make room for the seats to fold down.

Handling... Oh, this was one of my biggies. I was going from a 400hp sedan and didn't want to have a rolly polly SUV that wanted to roll over on curvy back country roads. Some were surprisingly bad like the Lexus RX. Even F-Sport equipped it was very disappointing. Then at the other end the BMW X3, especially with the 6 cyl drove much more like a sports car. Go another step and the X5 is tall enough to feel "tippy" and the sports car feeling is gone again.

These days the nav/entertainment system is a major part of the vehicle. You don't have to get far off a base model to have a nav/entertainment system so you're very likely to end up with one. There is a huge difference from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some use touch screen while others have a cursor device down on the center console. Some use on screen, others use two and some have drive in movie theater size screens. You need to read the reviews about each type and try them yourself to see what you like. I personally hate touch screens. The smudges on the screen and the bumps when driving can make it difficult to hit the right spot on the screen. You also have to take your eyes off the road to put your finger on the right part of the screen.

Another thing to check out is buttons. How do you do simple tasks like adjust the radio volume or turn up the heat. Some vehicles have separate old fashioned buttons and knobs in addition to allowing control through the nav screen. Other models ONLY allow you to do some of those very frequent things via the nav screen. I found it very annoying that some vehicles did not have a stereo volume on/off knob. You could only change the radio volume by going to the audio screen and tapping the volume control on the screen or use the button on the steering wheel. Same for changing the temp. If you're in the stereo or nav screen you can't do it. You have to change to the climate control screen before you can change the temp.

Then there is the steering wheel. Some manufacturers have gone crazy putting buttons on the steering wheel. They love to show you how clean and sexy the center console looks but the steering wheel is a mess of tiny buttons on both sides and on stalks off the back side. I counted over 20 steering wheel buttons on some models... talk about a learning curve.

Spare tire??? Do you need a spare tire or feel that you need one? Some SUV's come stock with a full size spare though they are extremely rare. Most include a small doughnut spare tire. Some have the carrying space under the rear deck for a spare but it does not come included you have to purchase it as an option. Then there are the ones with no provision for a spare tire at all and rely on run flat tires. You can't even add a spare if you wanted unless you want to go buy your own tire, rim, jack and carry them in the back seat.

 
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01-14-17, 12:01 PM   #13 (permalink)  
+1 for the Subie.

The Subaru Forester was Consumer Report's 2016 Best Small SUV. They mentioned how so many people call Subaru "the official car of New England" (because they spend so much of the winter covered in snow), but that the Forester was good enough to be "the favorite car of Everywhere." They rated it above-average reliability and 26 mpg combined hwy/city. That (brief) write-up was in the April 2016 print issue, and there's a short CR video here. CR's (brief) online review of the 2017 model is here. Edmunds automotive's "real people" reviews of the Forester is here.

I bought my first Subie (an Outback Wagon) in 2008. I wanted something I could go off-roading in but didn't want one of the more truck-like SUVs. To my delight, it turned out to be the most sure-footed car I ever have driven, with the lone exception of a military Hum-Vee. On the rare occasion that it snows around here, my 160-hp OBW becomes the fastest car in town. Turns out "Subaru" is Japanese for "can't get it stuck" (who knew?). My older model is far more limited by ground clearance than by traction. After I owned it for a few months, I realized what a dunce I had been never buying a Subie before. Not just because of its offroading prowess, but also because it's just a very sensible car, very easy to live with. And it's my first choice for a bug-out vehicle in case of The End Of The World As We Know It.

40 Years of Not Getting Stuck: A Subaru AWD History

The US Auto Club tests the AWD systems of the Japanese SUVs: video1 video2
Bottom line, so long as a Subie has one wheel getting anything vaguely resembling traction, it'll keep moving forward.

And the 2017 Forester is a "Top Safety Pick" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Part of that is because the boxer engine sits low in the chassis, lowest of any engine design, so it's easier to design it so it'll slide underneath the cab of the car in case of a heavy front impact.

On the down-side, they're not exactly fire-breathers. The base engine for 2017 is a 170-hp 2.5-liter H-4. Subaru only builds "boxer" engines, like Porsche did, before they lost their mind and built the (V-8) 928. The base engine usually is a 4-pot, but they have a 6 (also a boxer) available in some lines as an "upgrade," or in other lines, the upgrade is a turbocharged 250-hp 2.0-liter H-4. So acceleration with the standard engine is ...ahem ...leisurely, and towing capacity suffers compared to more truck-like SUVs with V-8s.

Gas mileage is nothing to brag about but it's on par with other AWD cars (the AWD system adds weight and mechanical friction) with such a fairly tall vehicle. Newer cars get better mileage than mine (and have more bhp to boot) because they've since gone to direct fuel injection, but steady highway driving, my OBW will go 400 miles before the low fuel warning light comes on, at which point I know there's at least 50 miles remaining in the 16-gallon tank before I have to put on my walking shoes.

For better or worse, Subaru has abandoned the "conventional" automatic transmission if favor of a "continuously variable" transmission. They've been building CVTs since (IIRC) the 1984 'Justy' model, longer than anyone else in the business, but I'm still not that keen on them. Sometimes they act like they have a mind of their own (which they do), they're just not as "decisive" as a good 'ol automatic. Ten years ago I rented a Mercedes A-Class (econobox) in Europe that had a 7-speed automatic. It was so smooth shifting you could have mistaken it for a CVT, and it had none of the CVT's 'nervousness.' And now Mercs are up to 9-speeds with their automatics, and are smoother still. I think it was a cheaper and technologically more sustainable solution to build a multi-speed automatic that pretends to be a CVT than to build a true CVT. But Subie obviously has got the CVT's bit between its teeth and ain't giving up. My older model has a conventional 4-speed automatic, which Subaru discontinued (IIRC) in 2010 or 2011. With the 2017 Forester, the only choices are the CVT and a stick, and the stick is only available with the base engine.

However, the newer CVT is engineered to mesh more effectively with the Symmetrical AWD, and coupled with the fact that it literally never shifts gears, it's made the thing even more sure-footed.

Subie owners in general (not just me) are nuts about their cars, so resale prices of used models tends to be ridiculously high (in these parts, even worse than Hondas), which is a good thing if you're buying new, but a horror if you prefer to buy "experienced" cars.

 
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01-14-17, 03:59 PM   #14 (permalink)  
Years ago I had occasion to travel between Sacramento and Tahoe and Sacramento to Reno. I remember renting chains on one side and returning them on the other. IIRC It was a pretty good rip off. I wonder why it's not required in places like Colorado where they get real snow.

We're on our 2nd Grand Cherokee w/AWD. Unless you are planning a lot of off road driving the AWD vehicles are fine in snow. I get more concerned about high centering in deep snow than getting stuck.

 
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01-15-17, 05:41 PM   #15 (permalink)  
Fred... not trying to hijack this too much, but I've always been tempted by Subarus... The concerns of mine: Head gaskets. Read lots of horror stories about the 4-cylinder head gaskets going out around 100K. Any thoughts on that in your experience? Also, are they pretty much a "take it to a specialist or dealer" kind of car, or are most reputable shops able to work on them?

 
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01-16-17, 05:17 AM   #16 (permalink)  
I've had Subaru's since the early 90's. Two 4 cyl ones went to 100'000 and one of them (2002) had a terrible problem with head gaskets. One side had to be replaced at about 75'000 miles and the problem reoccured at 90'000.

 
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01-16-17, 06:01 PM   #17 (permalink)  
SuperSquirrel, there's an old aviation joke,

Q. How do you know if a radial engine is out of oil?

A. It stops leaking.

Boxer engines, regardless who builds them -- Subie, Porsche/VW, take your pick -- tend to have that same Achilles' heel. If not head gaskets, then valve cover gaskets. I gather it doesn't affect that many Subies but the ones that get it do tend to be hard to fix. Or worse.

My current Subie has a little more than 200k on it, and it was tight until about 10k ago when it developed a seep from the left-side valve cover. Which ends up wending its way down to the exhaust manifold (Oh, joy!). I'm going to add a bottle of Lucas stop leak the next oil change ...and pray.

I'm fortunate to have an imports-only auto shop in my (one-horse) town that does excellent work. I'm not exaggerating when I say I won't buy a brand of car they don't work on. It's not a high-end shop, just some fellas who decided to specialize, and got good at it. But whether Subies are harder in general to get good work done on I couldn't say.

I'm inclined to think not, because I try to do as much maintenance as I can myself, and I've always found them easy to work on. They're kinda backwards from what you'd be used to in a car with an engine that "stands up" rather than "lays down." Most of the stuff you're accustomed to having to crawl under the car for is accessible from on top because a Subie's engine is at the bottom and most of the accessories are on top of it, in plain sight when you pop the hood.

 
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01-17-17, 09:16 AM   #18 (permalink)  
Of course, the frequency of a problem in any vehicle is always hard to determine. People always flock online to complain about what doesn't work, but never to say that everything is just fine.

Maybe the orientation of everything on the engine makes it harder for folks to spot problems until it's too far gone? I dunno.

Subies, to me at least, seem to fall into one of two categories: 1) it died at 75,000 miles. Or 2) it's got 200,000 miles and still going strong. When I see a lot of them for sale around the 75,000-100,000 mile mark, I have to wonder if it's people deciding to trade in when they think they're getting into the head gasket "danger zone."

I really like the OBW. It ticks all the boxes for my family. The only hangup is my history with vehicles. If something can go catastrophically wrong, it usually does.

 
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01-19-17, 01:56 AM   #19 (permalink)  
Well, I can see that I have a lot to learn before I make my selection but I have some time to better educate myself.

Thanks for all your input here with your suggestions etc. It is very much appreciated!!

 
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07-23-17, 05:35 AM   #20 (permalink)  
Gee, this last post dated 1-19-17 just popped up in my e-mail as a new response to the original post.

But, since I just bought a new car I may as well comment. I just purchased a 2017 Chevy Travers. Will take possession in about a week. Put my beloved Safari van up for sale. If I had a place to put it, I would keep it. I even offered it to my kids, cost free, but no takers. Anyway, it's in great shape and who ever buys it will get a great utility vehicle and passenger vehicle to boot. So you may ask why did I buy a new car? Two reasons. One I need extreme reliability and the van, although is in great shape, after 12 years and several thousand dollars of repair over the years I never know what might go next. It could be a radiator, or a bearing or an alternator or anything, and a 120 mile drive about once a week in isolated country and towing a trailer is not reassuring. And two, I'm due for a new car. If I was only to run it in town I would've kept it and skipped the new car.

It was a tough choice between a KIA Sorento and the Chevy Traverse. Both rode well and both had the towing capacity I needed. The Sorento had lots of bells and whistles on it and it was very enticing to buy it. It also had better EPA mileage rating and a better warranty term. But the Traverse had a bit more room and felt sturdier and more like the van. Both me and wife were convinced as soon as we drove both. The biggest downside of the Sorento was the ability (or should I say inability) to enter and exit the third row seat. Although it won't be used very often, that was the deal killer for the Sorento.

I've heard good things about the Traverse. Most people like it. The one downside I heard it that they go through tires rapidly. But I think that is just a fluke and that one owner. I had a choice of the 18" or 20" wheel. I choose the 18" wheel. Don't need the added cost of a big 20" wheel.


Last edited by Norm201; 07-23-17 at 06:04 AM.
 
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07-23-17, 07:28 AM   #21 (permalink)  
There was a spam post this morning which I removed. That probably triggered your "new post" Email.

I always like the smaller rims. Unfortunately the modern fad/style is for large rims. More sidewall on a tire provides a better ride and is able to soak up severe hits without bending a rim so your choice of the 18" rims was a good one.

 
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07-23-17, 09:32 AM   #22 (permalink)  
There was a spam post this morning which I removed. That probably triggered your "new post" Email.
Good to know. Thanks_________________________________

 
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