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Fuel-efficient, fun to drive, mountain adventure vehicle capable of towing small camper

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

aastacia

Three years ago I "bit the bullet" and sold my BMW M3 and bought a Honda Ridgeline - gave up fun for a practicle truck that could get my bikes and dog where we wanted to go. Unfortunately, my "reliable" Honda is having major issues and it's time to get something different. This time around, I'd ideally love something a bit more nimble and fun to drive, better MPG, able to tow a small camper, all while getting my bikes and dog out on mountain adventures. I feel like I'm trying to find a unicorn! I've been looking into VW Touareg TDI and like what I'm seeing, except for the reliability piece... What other suggestions are out there? I appreciate any and all help! Have a great one :)

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Fuel economy / Towing

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 150000
Maximum age: 12 years

Maximum price: US $ 18000

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Response from richardaz

9:01 pm June 10, 2019

I drive an Audi SQ5. While you may not be able to find an SQ5 for $18K, I would recommend you look into a basic Q5. While it may not have the power of the SQ5, it meets all your other criteria. I would recommend one with the factory trailer hitch as the conections also control the transmission, rear-view camera, etc. They are fun to drive, seats are comfortable, and they get reasonable mileage for an AWD mid-sized SUV.

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Audi Q5

Response from AcuraT

11:02 pm June 10, 2019

I would say the Rav4 but the 2017 in your price range only tows an anemic 1500 lbs. The 2017 Subaru Forrester on the other hand can tow up to 3500 lbs which is within your range, and is fairly reliable. I say fairly because they are known to burn oil, and while not critical if you monitor your oil levels, if you don't maintain your car it can be a problem. I own a 2013 Subaru Legacy which can tow up to 3500 lbs as well, and I have towed about 1500 with no problem. The engine does burn oil however but with almost 90,000 miles on it that is the only concern I have had - no other problems.

The newer Subarus have a CVT and not the 5 speed automatic I have, and those have had some issues as well but generally speaking are fine.

An alternative that may work is the Mazda CX-5. which can tow up to 2000 lbs and generally speaking is also fairly reliable and in your price range going back two years. it cannot tow as much as the Subaru but more than the anemic Rav4 and Honda CR-V.

Audi SQ5 could work (base model as mentioned) if you can find one not to old in your price range. Won't be as realiable as any of the above but for a luxury car it is fairly relliable.

Best of luck.

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Response from LectroFuel

9:53 pm June 11, 2019

Everywhere I see, the Forester tows 1500 lbs, even in XT form.

2009 or newer Highlander has a 5000 lbs tow rating with the V6. Plus, the powertrain is durable so you likely won't have any problems. The Highlanders before 2014 were not that big. The Highlander Hybrids can tow 3500 lbs and you'll be getting decent mileage.

2016 and newer Kia Sorento V6 can tow 5000 lbs. Might be out of budget.

If the Highlander and Sorento are too big and heavy, the Mazda CX-5 can tow 2000 lbs. They were pretty reliable.

The 2014 and newer Chevy Equinox V6s could tow 3500 lbs I think. I would worry a little about reliability though. The 2011-2013 had a lot of engine problems and the newer ones don't have a track record.

Lexus RX 350 has luxury and can tow 3500 lbs. Very reliable. 2010 would be an ideal year.

I think the VW Touareg is a bad idea. They are hard to work on and many little things break on old German cars. You'll probably be getting into the same situation you are in now.

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Toyota Highlander
Lexus RX
Kia Sorento

Response from AcuraT

2:38 pm June 12, 2019

I stand corrected. I looked again and the 2017 Subaru Forester only tows 1500 as Lectrofuel correctly states. Sorry about that.

I would not buy the Equinox from Chevy - it is not unreliable but it can only tow 1250 lbs, less than any other car listed here. Same as the Buick Envision. Neither car is really built for towing.

Mazda will work as listed, so will the bigger Toyotas (not the smaller ones) Best of luck.

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