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Cheap reliable Camping, snowboarding, towing up to 5000 lbs. Second car.

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


Thinking of getting an electric car for my commute. Currently have 2006 Sienna with 155,000 miles and 3000lb tow capacity. Want 5000 lb tow cap with AWD/4WD. For camping, snowboarding, etc. I have snow tires for the Sienna but still have missed days on the mountain without 4WD. My kid will start driving one of the cars next year when he's 15. Key is cheap, used, safe. Love the 4runner for reliability but they are super pricy. Ideas?

Preferred Bodystyle(s): SUV

Car Needs: Family transporter / Long trips

Primary Driver(s): Short driver

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 120000
Maximum age: 15 years

Maximum price: US $ 10000

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Response from mkaresh

12:22 am August 18, 2015

This is a tough one.

The 4Runner holds its value because they are so much more reliable than any other similar vehicle.

Will you often be towing 5,000 lbs., or usually only the same load you've been towing with the Sienna? For frequently towing a heavy load, I do prefer an SUV to a car-based crossover. I also don't think they started rating crossovers for 5,000 lbs. until fairly recently, so used ones with this spec will be well over $10k. But for infrequent towing of the sort you've been doing with the Sienna a crossover could be okay, especially if fitted with sufficient engine and transmission coolers.

The domestics, Nissan, and Kia haven't fielded a reliable midsize true SUV, so there aren't any I feel comfortable recommending unless you're willing to take a chance on a few repairs. Then maybe a Ford Explorer (iffy transmission with the 2006) or Nissan Xterra or Pathfinder (make sure the radiator has been updated on the 2005-2007 to avoid a failure that kills the transmission, most but not all have).

The full-size SUVs (Tahoe, Expedition) seem more reliable, but then you're dealing with a very large vehicle, which wouldn't be best for a new driver.

Also worth keeping in mind is that the older the vehicle, the less likely it would fare well in the latest crash tests or to be equipped with stability control.

Sorry I don't have a good answer. Cheap + safe + reliable + AWD + 5,000-lbs towing can't all be done in the same vehicle.


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Response from melissalb

7:53 pm August 18, 2015

Thanks for the feedback! My little Kit Companion doesn't weigh much (maybe 1500lbs empty?) but I'm always hearing to go bigger with the tow vehicle so we can make it over the pass and in case we want a bigger trailer. I haven't towed yet with the Sienna. I've been researching the 4Runners and in Seattle they have a crazy high resale value. I've been looking at other options: Durango, Jeep, Trailblazer, Yukon, Xterra, Pathfinder, Pilot. But I've had a hard time figuring out which vehicle would be best if I'm buying it with higher miles on it. Any other thoughts?


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Response from mkaresh

8:51 pm August 18, 2015

If you're really serious about towing, my friends that tow stress the advantage of a long wheelbase. One who has a 4Runner and an Expedition always uses the Expedition to tow. I have a little better feeling about the reliability of the Ford than the Tahoe / Yukon, but both are neither great nor awful in this regard. They are large and thirsty, so prices tend to be lowest when gas prices are high--meaning not at the moment.

There are more horror stories with Dodges and Jeeps and with the Ford and GM midsize SUVs than with the Ford and GM large SUVs.


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