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Old 08-30-2011, 08:58 PM
 
Location: Silverthorne, Colorado
884 posts, read 1,463,087 times
Reputation: 736

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Kind of a long post, sorry for the novel!

Dear small SUV experts of City-Data, you're one group of people I'm seeking some advice from...

Background info: I'm a mountaineer. My current vehicle is a '99 Mitsubishi Eclipse. It gets me to places in the mountains with paved roads and easy dirt roads with not much in the way of protruding rocks... but it's becoming obsolete for me since I'd like to be able to take myself further to more places.

I need something with 4 wheel drive that I can take into the mountains for trips and that will do decently off-road. However I don't want to be throwing Benjamins into a gas pig unless I HAVE to. Note: when I say "off-roading", I mean taking the vehicle off of paved roads onto, at most, really bumpy/rocky dirt roads. I'm not talking about boulder hopping with Jeeps.

I've seen many Escapes and Rav4s (even CRVs) at places that I would like accessible (included steep grades, ruts, decently-sized holes, etc), so don't give me the "those vehicles suck at all off-roading" BS. Again, I'm not talking about what I call "Jeep off-roading".

Anyway, I'm concerned as to which would be BETTER. I've done research but I have yet to find some reliable info comparing these two vehicles and other similar ones. The Escape seems to have a little more in the way of clearance than the Rav4. I've also seen much talk about the Rav4 being underpowered. However the Rav4 gets better fuel economy than the Escape, but not by so much that I would get it just for that reason.

How about the Escape Hybrid 4x4? Apparently it has a lot of power for a hybrid, anybody who's driven one care to clarify or compare? This one is ticking with me, and I've been trying to find a lot of info.

Another thing is that I like to sleep in my vehicle the night before camping. It looks like both the Escape's and Rav4's back seats fold flat, which means I can make a good pad to sleep on. Sweet deal. Any year of these models whose seats don't fold perfectly flat? Must avoid...

The last thing I'm worried about is reliability. Rav4 is made by Toyota. Kay, reliability checkmark there... But what about Ford? I know Ford makes good stuff, and it seems like the Escape is included in the good stuff list. Anybody care to elaborate?

The last thing I want to say is that if anyone has any similar suggestions then please let me know, and why you would suggest that particular vehicle for my lifestyle.

If I HAD to, I would consider Jeep Liberty or Toyota 4Runner. Why would these be better? The Liberty looks like it has the clearance of an Escape, maybe an inch or so more, so what's with the difference in capability?

Kay, that's all I promise. Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:23 PM
 
Location: Clovis (Fresno), CA
4 posts, read 9,810 times
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I drove a 2007 Rav-4 base model (4-cyl) for 4 years before selling it and going with a 2002 Mazda Tribute (6-cyl) - the Tribute is a Ford Escape with different badging. Both cars back seats fold flat down but the Tribute you have to take the headrests off, I think the Rav-4 folded flat with them on. The Rav was very peppy for a 4-cyl, I couldn't tell the difference between that and the 6-cyl Chevy Blazer I had before it. I would have kept the Rav except I couldn't do payments anymore. The Escapes have a decent rep, but have had transmission issues since day one, including new models. They both have decent room inside. Google "Escape City" for an Escape forum or "Rav4World" for a Rav forum where you can really get some answers from actual owners.
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Old 08-30-2011, 11:34 PM
 
9,816 posts, read 19,014,998 times
Reputation: 7537
The Subaru Forester is the way to go. More room, handles much better and has a better vehicle dynamic control and all wheel drive system than the RAV4.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:11 AM
 
Location: Columbia, California
6,662 posts, read 25,329,136 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by screak View Post
Both cars back seats fold flat down but the Tribute you have to take the headrests off.
Same with the Escape. My wife keeps her head rests over the washing machine. Very capable vehicle. As nice but not as road worthy as my Explorer Sport Trac.

Some people are Chevy people, some are Ford. A lot of high end products made today. My wife and I chose Ford after decades of chevy abuse. You stated you have enjoyed Mitsubishi in the past. They make a few off road vehicles as well. Stick with what works for you.

We have a Autohome Columbus for camping. AutoHome Columbus—the roof top car tent for any vehicle
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Old 08-31-2011, 01:21 AM
 
Location: Not far from Fairbanks, AK
16,166 posts, read 27,421,913 times
Reputation: 11834
Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
The Subaru Forester is the way to go. More room, handles much better and has a better vehicle dynamic control and all wheel drive system than the RAV4.
That's bunk. I had a 2009 Forester and traded it for a 2010 Rav 4 V6, and can tell you that the Rav 4 can run circles around the Forester with its 5-speed transmission and over 200 HP over the anemic Forester with 170 HP motor and 4-speed transmission. Both have excellent traction controls, but the Rav 4 is a lot more sophisticated (more features) than the one on the Forester.

Both can be turned off to allow the system to go into 4x4. For example, when getting stuck in deep snow you want to turn off traction control and go into 4x4. The same when pulling a boat-loaded trailer out of the eater, for example. But the Rav 4 has a fe more features. For example, if I want to use engine-braking to the fullest when crawling down a steep incline, one turns a switch and then **** the automatic transmission to 2nd or so, and the Rav 4 uses the motor to keep itself moving slowly down the hill without the driver having to stomp on the brake pedal. Also, there is no way that you can compare a V6 Rav with 260 HP and a 4-cylinder Forester with 170 HP, while the first using just about the same amount of fuel as the latter.

And no, the Forester does not have more room than the Rav 4. Where did you get that idea from? The Rav4 has a lot more interior room than the Forester. It's even taller.

You pay more for the Rav 4 for a reason
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Old 08-31-2011, 06:08 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
28,381 posts, read 50,562,503 times
Reputation: 28605
We have a Liberty, and it would suit your needs and more but you would be buying more gas, as it gets about 15 normally, 22 freeway. If you look up the actual clearance it's higher than all of the others and was built to be used off road though few actual see dirt. For your planned use you don't really need a Liberty.

The RAV4 is going to cost you a premium for the Toyota name, while you can find a deal on an Escape. The Hybrids have been pretty trouble-free compared to the non-hybrid, and have a different transmission.
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Old 08-31-2011, 07:21 AM
 
Location: Silverthorne, Colorado
884 posts, read 1,463,087 times
Reputation: 736
Thanks for the insight so far! I'll definitely Google those sites.
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Old 08-31-2011, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Twin Lakes /Taconic / Salisbury
2,256 posts, read 3,385,010 times
Reputation: 1834
Rav4 def over the Ford Escape. If you want better mileage go with the 4. If you want BIG power in a lil SUV go with the V6.

If you get the Escape hybrid, the drivetrain is basically Toyota, as it is built using all of Toyota's patented HSD. The rest of it, Ford/Mazda. Just like with the Nissan's that wanted to use the best hybrid system available, so they used Toyota's patented technology instead of any of the other more compromised systems.
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Old 08-31-2011, 10:29 AM
 
14,777 posts, read 34,490,118 times
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I would simply scratch the Escape off your list. It is not anywhere near as good as the other options out there. What I would be looking for in your situation is the vehicle that is going to blend the best AWD system with the best fuel economy.

As I am sure you are aware, there is a difference between 4WD and AWD, though people like to use the terms interchangeably. A true 4WD system is rear wheel based and uses locking transfer cases and/or differentials to apply power to all 4 wheels. This is the type of system used on trucks, real Jeeps, SUV's like the Tahoe, etc. AWD is a system wherein the vehicles computer controls the amount of power sent to each wheel using transfer cases and differentials that are generally filled with clutch packs and a computer allocates power on the fly. The problem with many of these systems is that they generally operate as FWD until slip is detected, then they send power to the other wheels. In an offroad situation, it may be too late when that happens and you're stuck. However, there are some AWD systems that operate with all wheels constantly engaged, they are primarily Subaru's and Audi's systems.

Now, I need to add the fact that the Rav4 has one feature that makes it a bit of a hybrid. It offers a selector switch that allows you to lock in the AWD from 0-25mph and it will operate pretty much like the Subaru system at those speeds.

At this point your choice pretty much comes down to the Rav4 or the Subaru Forester/Outback. In the offroad arena, the Subaru's are superior. Their AWD system is full time, they have over an inch of ground clearance more than the Rav4 (Forester = 8.9, Outback = 8.7, Rav4 = 7.5) and they have more aggressive approach and departure angles. Additionally the Forester has an optional low range gear setting that is not available on the others, allowing it to better control hill climbs and descents.

Now, the Rav4 offers some better features. It has more powerful engines, better MPG, better resale and better onroad manners.

So, it really all comes down to how much "offroadability" you really need. If it were me, I would probably lean towards one of the Subaru's. If better road manners and MPG are a higher priority, then I think you will find the Rav4 to be a good choice, even if it is less capable offroad.
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Old 08-31-2011, 11:25 AM
 
9,816 posts, read 19,014,998 times
Reputation: 7537
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayinAK View Post
That's bunk. I had a 2009 Forester and traded it for a 2010 Rav 4 V6, and can tell you that the Rav 4 can run circles around the Forester with its 5-speed transmission and over 200 HP over the anemic Forester with 170 HP motor and 4-speed transmission. Both have excellent traction controls, but the Rav 4 is a lot more sophisticated (more features) than the one on the Forester.

Both can be turned off to allow the system to go into 4x4. For example, when getting stuck in deep snow you want to turn off traction control and go into 4x4. The same when pulling a boat-loaded trailer out of the eater, for example. But the Rav 4 has a fe more features. For example, if I want to use engine-braking to the fullest when crawling down a steep incline, one turns a switch and then **** the automatic transmission to 2nd or so, and the Rav 4 uses the motor to keep itself moving slowly down the hill without the driver having to stomp on the brake pedal. Also, there is no way that you can compare a V6 Rav with 260 HP and a 4-cylinder Forester with 170 HP, while the first using just about the same amount of fuel as the latter.

And no, the Forester does not have more room than the Rav 4. Where did you get that idea from? The Rav4 has a lot more interior room than the Forester. It's even taller.

You pay more for the Rav 4 for a reason
I've done thousands of laps in both vehicles at speed and have extensive experience with both working for the manufacturers as a professional driver.

The RAV4 does have less room and it's much harder to put stuff in the back.

The Forester is also not limited with a 170hp engine, but also has a 224hp engine available.

And it will outperform the RAV4 in any loose grip conditions and on any dynamic handling course. We've had them on off road courses and there is no comparison, the RAV4 gets stuck constantly. We used to call the RAV, the "vomit comet" because doing emergency lane changes in them, would make people ill, there is so much weight transfer involved.

You also have the ground clearance issue as well and the Subaru is far superior.
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