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Dog/Camping/Grocery/Trip Hauler

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

mewri

A utilitarian hauler for dogs, camping/canoeing gear, groceries, etc. Easy access for a large, older dog is a must. Rear seating, don't much care. My Honda Element has fit the bill perfectly and would buy another in a heartbeat, but those with low-ish miles are few and far between. Looked at a GMC Terrain, which I liked (nice inside) but isn't really my kind of hauler. Also a Honda CRV, a bit more useful than the Terrain and better MPG. We have a Subaru Forester which is meh, and I like the Nissan Xterra, which mostly fits the bill, but awful gas mileage. Thoughts?

Priorities: Cargo capacity / Reliability & durability / Front seat room

Preferred Bodystyle(s): SUV

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Family transporter / Errands about town / Long trips / Towing or hauling / Off-roader / Fun toy

Primary Driver(s): Senior driver

Need minimum of 2 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 60000
Maximum age: 7 years

Maximum price: US $ 20000

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Response from jasonmreece

12:45 pm April 1, 2016

I did a quick search on Cars.com (nationwide) and found 54 Honda Elements under 60k miles. If you're willing to go up to 70k miles, there are 87. Since you were so happy with the Element, it would be worth checking to see if any of these might be close to you. You didn't mention if AWD/4WD is a requirement, but it looks like about 40% of them are AWD.

If FWD works for you, I would encourage you to check out the Kia Soul. The looks might take a little time to grow on you, but the quality, driving experience and interior won't. You could easily get a brand new Soul for $20k and that would include a 5yr/60k Limited Warranty and 10yr/100k Powertrain Warranty. I'd skip the base model (they use 'Base', + (plus), and ! (Exclaim) for trim levels). It comes with a weak 1.6L 130hp engine and the upper models have a 2.0L 164hp engine that is much better all around and it even gets better fuel economy on the highway. The interior features on the + and ! are much nicer as well. The interior space is almost identical to the Element, including front seat legroom and cargo volume. It's worth a look.

Finally, and this is a bargain buy and not one that most would probably not even think to consider- a Suzuki Grand Vitara. It's slightly larger inside than the others and it's actually more truck-like, similar to the Xterra. If you can find one, it would be worth a look also.

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Honda Element
Kia Soul
Suzuki Grand Vitara

Response from mewri

6:47 pm April 2, 2016

Regarding the Elements, I've looked at cars.com as well, but am not willing to go more that 200 miles, and that and wanting only AWD have been the issues. Kia Soul is an amazing little car, but tiny and no AWD. I should have mentioned AWD in the profile. Will consider the Suzuki -- never even thought of them. Thank you.

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Response from mkaresh

6:21 pm April 3, 2016

What do you dislike about the Forester? If you hadn't ruled it out I'd probably suggest it.

If you didn't need AWD I'd suggest a Ford Transit Connect, as it has a very low load floor and tons of space for your gear. The short wheelbase version is probably as close to an Element as you can get in a recent car.

If you really do need AWD, maybe a Toyota Venza. I think it has a lower load floor than most crossovers, but still has a little more ground clearance than the Element. Other Toyotas, such as the RAV4 and Matrix (last offered in 2013), might also work.




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Ford Transit Connect
Toyota Venza

Response from mewri

8:24 pm April 3, 2016

The Forester: rear seats don't fold flat and (this is a senior writing) the front seats bother my knees on long trips.

We do need all wheel drive: Iowa isn't all flat and we live in a city/regions with serious grades. I drive a "minor" 6% grade multiple times/week.

Never thought of a Venza -- I'll look into that. Thanks!

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Response from mewri

8:27 pm April 3, 2016

PS: the RAV 4 might have fallen off the list because the salesman was such a jerk.

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Response from mewri

10:38 pm April 15, 2016

Looked at a Suzuki, but didn't care for the overrall feel. MPGs ber damned, I came close to a replacement with the Xterra, but then I was informed in clear, crisp English that the Element would be replaced with an Element. No discussion. Don't take "Whatever" as permission. The search continues ... there's a good one 70 miles away that will be checked out tomorrow.

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Response from mewri

8:52 pm June 2, 2016

Bought a 2010 Honda Element, 69k miles. Nice car, local trade, AWD, auto transmission. I will miss the 5 speed manual in the old Element.

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Response from NormT

2:28 pm July 21, 2017

The rear sliding seat in our GMC Terrain worked well for our older Labrador that couldn't jump up to the rear seat bottom. The rear seat slides back and he was able to jump to the floor and then to the seat bottom. But he never learned when getting out to do it the same way he got in and had to catch him jumping from the back seat, 70 lbs and all!.


Our new 2016 Buick Envision also slides and reclines the back seat. Sliding it forward outs it closer to the back seat and the rear seat vents.

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Buick Envision
Chevrolet Equinox
GMC Terrain

Response from mewri

11:01 am July 24, 2017

Thanks for sharing. However, the search was completed a year ago -- bought another Element and have been blissfully happy with it.

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