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The Never-ending Quest for Balance: Rugged 4WD and Efficient

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Member6376

Hello TrueDelta Members!

I have been researching vehicles for years - for fun (as a car/truck geek) and in anticipation of the day I sell away my trusty '98 Toyota Tacoma TRD that I have owned for 15 years. These days the Tacoma mostly sitsidle beside the more frequently used '10 Subaru Outback. I had not considered getting rid of the Tacoma until we had a child. The Tacoma is not kid friendly option for transportation. A child's seat does not really work in this vehicle.

So, now that I am family man I need a new vehicle soon - a vehicle that is rugged, with four doors and efficient. We live in Helena Montana where driving 100 miles to the next town is normal, and the roads to get there can be rough, unpaved and unplowed! The tails into the mountains are usually pretty rough too - so having the ability to go into 4-wheel low is sometimes necessary. Montana requires vehicle that strikes the perfect balance of ruggedness and capability with efficiency - a balance that, as you know, is very difficult to find.

In my research I have become intrigued with the offerings from Jeep. I was lead to the Jeep brand with the hype and anticipation of the new Renegade TrailHawk CUV, but after spending some time behind the wheel of a new Cherokee TrailHawk, I do not think I can go smaller than a mid-size vehicle. However I cannot go larger either - our garage space is somewhat limited and poor fuel efficiency of larger vehicles is a concern.

Having very few issues with my Tacoma for over 15 years has spoiled me. My only fear with the Jeep and the Cherokee is reliability. Other options that I have considered are the new mid-size truck offerings from Chevy and soon from Toyota , but to be honest, I am ready to move on from pickups. I have always admired the Toyota 4Runner and Nissan Xterra, but both of these vehicles are so inefficient. With about a year before I purchase a new vehicle, I feel like I am getting tunnel vision on the Jeep Cherokee. Am I missing any other models that I should consider? Thanks, Kevin

Priorities: Fuel economy / Off-road capability / Rear seat room & comfort / Cargo capacity / Warranty, maintenance cost

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Wagon / SUV / Pickup

Car Needs: Family transporter / Off-roader

Primary Driver(s): Tall driver

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider new cars only

Maximum price: US $ 32000

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Response from mkaresh

3:31 pm March 17, 2015

As you've no doubt noticed, there aren't many midsize and smaller vehicles with off-road capability. Many manufacturers have given them up in favor of car-based crossovers.

I'm not a big fan of the Cherokee's handling in on-road driving--it feels heavier than other compact SUVs, partly because it is--but for people who really will use the Trailhawk's off-road capabilities there aren't any clear alternatives. When I reviewed the 2015 Outback recently, I compared it to the Cherokee. Reliability has been pretty good so far, but it's too soon to say how they'll hold up over time.

The Nissan Xterra is ancient, inefficient, and about to be discontinued. I think it can be ruled out.

The 4Runner's key strength is durability. Its efficiency isn't awful. So this could still emerge as the winner.

Jeep offers a diesel Grand Cherokee, but these are very expensive.

If you were to consider another pickup, GM will soon offer a diesel in the new Colorado / Canyon.

Since you have the Outback I assume that when you say you need 4L, you need 4L. But if the Outback does okay, might a Forester also do okay? The latest Subarus are much more efficient than earlier ones.

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