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Old 08-23-2010, 06:29 PM
31 posts, read 114,404 times
Reputation: 16


I just bought a house that is about a 1/2 mile away from the county road on a private driveway/road that is very steep in one section. I live in MD in an area that usually gets moderate snows, 6-10" or so at a time. So now I'm looking for a 4wd vehicle which would probably only get used around 10 times a year. There's a lot of reasonably priced old Ford and Chevy trucks out there, and I could also get an SUV such as a Honda CR-V, Subaru, Toyota 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, etc. So which is a better choice for steep snow, a SUV or 4wd truck?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 08-23-2010, 07:34 PM
Location: Vancouver, B.C., Canada
10,715 posts, read 22,321,366 times
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a nice ford bronco, K5 blazer, dodge ramcharger or jeep wrangler rubicon they are dirt cheap and some of the best off-road trucks out there

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Old 08-23-2010, 07:43 PM
Location: Eastern Washington
13,388 posts, read 42,701,155 times
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To answer the question you asked, assuming an empty bed on the pickup, some sort of SUV or Jeep will climb better than the pickup.

Depending on how rough the road is, some sort of Subaru car might be worth considering. Or an Audi, but seeing you asked for "cheap", an AWD Audi isn't.

I don't think you will find it practical to only use the truck/car/whatever only 10 or so times per year, if you were really going to do that you would need to keep it on a Battery Tender type charger or equivalent, any vehicle needs to get out say once per month at least, otherwise the seals dry out, other storage problems.
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Old 08-23-2010, 07:50 PM
Location: Phoenix metro
20,005 posts, read 67,942,110 times
Reputation: 10043
Get a late model Jeep Wrangler YJ or TJ with the 4.0L. Cheap and fun enough that youll want to use it in the summer, too. The Wrangler Rubicon's are nice, but arent really all that cheap.
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Old 08-23-2010, 10:25 PM
Location: NYC & NJ
747 posts, read 2,209,252 times
Reputation: 326
What you want is probably a serious 4x4 with a low-range in its system, and preferably 3 locking differentials? The list is fairly short (4Runners, older Land Cruisers, Wranglers, Hummer H3s, Toyota FJs, etc.). The last 2 are too recent to be really 'cheap' on the used car market, but the first 3 have been around forever
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Old 08-24-2010, 06:59 AM
Location: The Sand Hills of NC
8,776 posts, read 14,134,753 times
Reputation: 11850
IMO the absolutely best 2nd 3rd vehicle you can own is a pickup with an 8 ft. bed. Get one with 4 wheel drive and you will be all set for the occasional 10" snowfall plus all the items you need at the home improvement store and nursery.

I tries a couple of SUV's Bronco and Ramcharger but I'll take my F250 4X4 diesel over any suv.
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Old 08-24-2010, 09:21 AM
10,868 posts, read 41,128,193 times
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IF lowest cost is the factor with a vehicle that will do the task, I'd be looking for a Ford Ranger 4x4 pick-up truck. Adequate for the climb, ground clearance, and 4x4 traction.

Alternative choice: Subaru Forester, very capable AWD vehicle.
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Old 08-24-2010, 09:29 AM
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,523,609 times
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Go to some place on a flat warm coast, where 4x4 is of absolutely no use, and buy your used vehicle there. First, the 4x4 is unlikely to have been abused there, and second, there is little demand there for a used car with 4x4, so the price will be lower than in your neighborhood, where everybody wants one.

You're probably going to be looking at Subarus, which are economical and pretty reliable and family-friendly.

A couple of years after Subaru came out with the first small 4x4, and they started showing up as trade-ins, there was a regular convoy of used units being bought in eastern suburbs and driven to Colorado to be resold for about a $2,000 markup.

Welcome to Garrett County. Have a front tooth pulled, for cosmetic purposes.

Last edited by jtur88; 08-24-2010 at 09:41 AM..
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Old 08-24-2010, 10:09 AM
5,092 posts, read 4,357,785 times
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With 10" of snow you will want to stay away from most car-based SUV's as they will tend to not have the clearance you will require. Subarus are fine vehicles, but in your situation most have the possibility to get stuck because their underbodies will ride up on the snow and their tires can't reach down to the ground beneath the snow. Newer truck-based SUVs tend to have less road clearance than 4x4 pick-up trucks; the manufacturers lowered the height of their SUVs due to concerns about roll-over accidents.

Diesel engines are superior to gasoline engines in power and performance, but for short trips a gasoline engine is better. A diesel engine needs to reach full operating temperature when it's driven - otherwise you'll send it to a early death.

Big fat tires like the ones shown in the second post of this thread are made more for driving through mud and sand, but they aren't as good as skinny tires in the snow. The tires in the second post look great, but they will tend to float above the snow. A skinny tire will dig down through the snow to the ground underneath and provide better traction.

A snow tire will perform better than an all terrain tire in the snow, but if you do a lot of dry pavement driving with your snow vehicle those snow tires won't last nearly as long as an all terrain tire.

Don't reject pickup trucks because they may have a light rear end. You can always add weight into the bed of the truck. Sand bags are best as you can spread the sand under the tires for extra traction if you get caught on an icy patch of road.
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Old 08-24-2010, 10:26 AM
Location: U.S.A.
3,306 posts, read 9,006,224 times
Reputation: 2919
Subarus are good in the snow as long as it isn't too deep. They have dismal clearance and their AWD is not necessarily a revolutionary design by any means. That said their handling characteristics make snow driving very fun, especially with a stick. But if you are going the car route their are several other AWD options to consider.

If you are going to be chugging through deep snow you are going to want a truck SUV. A pickup is a viable choice as well if you are willing to spend $20 on sand bags to throw in the back. Just place them over the axle and call it a day. With snow, you want lots of weight and "pizza cutter" tires. This combination makes for optimal traction.
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