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Near-unicorn SUV (capable off-roader with latest driver assistance tech.)

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

legacy97

I'm looking for anSUV (5-seater) with decent fuel efficiency and driver assistance tech (lane drift warning, adaptive cruise control, backup camera, etc.) Diesel option would be great. Requires a real4WD system and prefer body-on-frame construction, but unibody is okay too. Strongly prefer cars that get full marks on IIHS crash test scores, including offset-front crash tests.

Priorities: Safety & braking / Audio & nav systems / Fuel economy

Preferred Bodystyle(s): SUV

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

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 50000
Maximum age: 5 years

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Response from dfj240

6:57 pm June 30, 2016

Your unicorn exists. It is called the Toyota Land Cruiser. It continually, as it always has, sets the bar for SUVs. It sets it in performance, reliability, durability, comfort, safety, and, oh yea, price.

While it's difficult to find the safety ratings for it by the IIHS because they haven't tested it since the new model came out in '15. The 2015 Land Cruiser received near perfect marks by the European IIHS equivalent, ANCAP. They have a similar test to the small offset frontal collision test that they call simply the "Pole Test". The Land Cruiser was one of the only vehicles tested by ANCAP to receive perfect marks in that category. It is a beast of a truck. No diesel option, but it uses a 380 hp, 400 tq 5.7 Liter Toyota V8, built in conjunction with Yamaha, and it is no slouch. It only comes in Full Time REAL 4WD, and it is hard to beat as an off-road capable monster. The only caveat, as I alluded to earlier, is the price. It starts, and also pretty much ends, at around $85,000. That said, there are no packages, no extra configuration options, no optional accessories. It is Toyota throwing every bit of tech and performance that they have into an SUV and slapping a window sticker on it. It only comes with everything. Outside of this, yes, I do belive you may be searching for a unicorn. The GMC Yukon Denali gets close, but I don't know that I would give it a go off road. It definitely feels like more of an on-road SUV in my opinion. The Sequoia, and possibly the Armada, though it badly needs an update, would be the other possibilities that I could see honestly. The old Ford Excursion was always a nice choice, and you had the diesel option, but it went the way of the dinosaur a while back.

I feel that it's worth noting that I currently own, and regularly drive and abuse a 2001 Toyota Sequoia Limited 4WD. It is fully loaded, even down to having the very rare Gold Package. It just rolled to 270,000 miles, and she still starts up every time and she enjoys the beating. I'm not particularly nice to her, including taking her off road, albeit relatively infrequently, but she seems to enjoy it and just keeps on going without a fuss.

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Toyota Land Cruiser V8
Toyota Sequoia
Nissan Armada

Response from legacy97

7:41 pm June 30, 2016

Thanks dfj240!

The Land Cruiser definitely fits the bill. If only they offered a turbo diesel here in the States. Kind of shocking that it gets similar mileage as a 4Runner too, although I like the 4Runner's size more.

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Response from dfj240

8:16 pm June 30, 2016

Agreed. The 4Runner would be my preferred choice personally, especially if it came with the V8 like it did in the mid-2000s. It does lack the safety tech, even in fully loaded Limited trim, that you're looking for, but the price is, obviously, much more attractive than the Land Cruiser. The safety overall is a bit of a concern. The frontal collision is good, and in general, it just fine, but the rollover risk appears to a bit higher than it's competition. To me, that's a bit disconcerting in 2016. And obviously, anyone who disputes the 4Runner's ability off road is, well, a ninny. :)

The Highlander has all the safety tech, but the Highlander is hardly heralded as the king of MOAB. The new Explorer is actually well equipped, but in the same league as the Highlander in my opinion. Dodge, Jeep, and the like are too unreliable to be considered as an everyday contender, and the Audi/Porsche/VW side is just too pinky-finger-in-the-air pretentious in my personal view to be taken seriously, not to mention the cost of maintenance and repairs. You are indeed on a wild goose chase. There's a wild goose right in front of all of us in the Land Cruiser, but the price of admission is one that not many are prepared to shell out or even if you get one, are you going to want to risk an $85k purchase on the uncertainties of off-roading. A tough predicament indeed...

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Toyota 4Runner

Response from legacy97

9:00 pm June 30, 2016

Yeah, and it's unclear if the market is even receptive to a truck-based SUV with the bells and whistles. I saw one review say they moved something like 3- or 4,000 units a year, which is pretty miniscule if true. And at $85k it's entering Ranger Rover territory (although I'd still prefer the Toyota), especially for something that may be subject to harsh terrain. But then again, if I was going to do a lot of rock crawling and stuff, I'd probably just get a Jeep and ditch the electronic doo-dads.

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Response from dfj240

10:29 pm June 30, 2016

I couldn't have said it better myself. That's part of why the resale value stays so high. Look at the FJ Cruiser.

The road friendly SUV is filled with tech and all but completely incapable off road, while the off road SUV is ill-mannered and lacks even some of the more basic tech one would expect for a vehicle of this generation.

It really is a market where you can have your cake, but you can only sample it, too. Lol.

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Response from mkaresh

6:51 pm July 6, 2016

The Jeep Grand Cherokee probably comes closest to what you're looking for. Drives far better than the Toyotas. My review is linked beneath the photo.

The 2014, especially the diesel, has had a high repair frequency, but the 2015 looks much better so far, about average. No data yet on the 2016.

Marginal small offset test score, and a high center of gravity like any true SUV, but overall they're safe vehicles.

If you've willing to spend more money and take a larger reliability gamble, the Range Rover Sport is now offered with a diesel. These drive surprisingly well.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee
Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Response from legacy97

10:08 pm July 6, 2016

Thanks Mike!

I came really close to buying a GC diesel in 2014 but the initial reliability reports scared me off. Marignal small offset scores turn me off too. I hope the next refresh will take care of those issues.

Funny you should nemtion the RRS td6. I have been watching reviews on Youtube about it for a few days and am really tempted to get one. But like you say, everyone says it's a reliability gamble.

I'm even eyeing the new Volvo XC90.

I think in my internal set of priorities, the crash safety and fuel efficiency is now ranked higher than raw towing capability and off-road worthiness.

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Response from mkaresh

12:41 am July 7, 2016

For good fuel efficiency in the XC90 you'd need the hybrid, which is fairly pricey. A bit early to say how reliable they'll be.

If you're trying to maximize reliability, the first year of a redesign or refresh is rarely a good idea. Especially not with an FCA product.

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