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Old 02-11-2014, 09:11 PM
 
Location: Spokane, WA
847 posts, read 3,011,955 times
Reputation: 879

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I grew up around Seattle and moved to New Mexico about two years ago. I'm finding that many roads here and scenic drives that I want to take have signs posted saying "caution: high clearance recommended" or "four wheel drive recommended." My Pontiac Vibe is aging and it just doesn't seem to cut it anymore for being able to explore new areas. I also enjoy car camping and the Vibe limits the areas I'm able to get to.

So, is it necessary to have 4WD, or would a higher clearance 2WD vehicle like a truck or compact SUV be sufficient? It hardly ever rains here, so mud isn't really an issue except on occasion. There is some snow up in the mountains, but rarely is it down in Albuquerque. Rocky terrain and gravel roads are very common and my car's clearance, though does work for the most part, makes me hesitant to try out some of these roads.

I would just get a 4X4, but the prices are much higher than the base models and I don't want to spend the extra $4,000 for something that I may not need. I'd love to take a jeep out into the Arizona canyons and go exploring, but it's probably unlikely that I would ever do that.

Any suggestions? I'm looking at Toyota Tacomas, Nissan Frontiers, and Jeep Patriots. I may be priced out of the Tacoma (especially the 4X4), but the Nissans seem more reasonable. The Patriots are downright cheap.
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:20 PM
 
Location: CA
1,544 posts, read 1,844,849 times
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IMO, maybe consider a truck (2WD) and get a side-by-side 'quad' for the exploring and 'rough road' ahead.
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:37 PM
 
Location: Western Pennsylvania
2,429 posts, read 6,297,889 times
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I love my 4WD Silverado, mostly because I don't have to plow my 400' driveway anymore, but I'm in snow country. The dealers around here don't even bother to stock the 2WD version.

But I admit it's a pricey solution. Maybe look for a used 4WD pickup, especially in the sub 1/2 Ton size, like Ford Ranger, or a used 4WD Chevy Trailblazer. If you want new, maybe wait till fall for the new Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon, although I haven't seen prices on them yet.
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:09 PM
 
16,504 posts, read 17,550,486 times
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A 2wd with a locker will go pretty far. But a real 4x4 is better. Plenty of 4x4s out there that will fit your needs. If you stick to. Just graded dirt roads you'll be fine with 2wd. If you throw a locker and better tires you can get through some rougher stuff.
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:17 PM
 
10,871 posts, read 41,174,133 times
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Outside of ground clearance issues on the trails you may wish to travel with your truck ...

problems present in the areas near Albuqq:

seasonal snow in the areas higher elevations

slick conditions when the snowmelt season is going on in the high country (or rainfall) on the high clay content soils. In my experience, the "graded dirt roads" of the area are frequently as slick as icy roads with only minimal amounts of moisture needed to turn them into a skating rink.

If you're really serious about wanting the freedom to explore the area off paved roads, 4x4 is not optional.
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Old 02-12-2014, 01:34 AM
 
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It is better to have 4wd (even if you will not use it always) rather than you need it but you don't have it.
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Old 02-12-2014, 01:59 AM
 
Location: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
11,269 posts, read 12,488,136 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erric17 View Post
It is better to have 4wd (even if you will not use it always) rather than you need it but you don't have it.


That's the rule lol
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Old 02-12-2014, 02:27 AM
 
8,386 posts, read 7,376,508 times
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The type of roads you mentioned with those warnings, if you want to travel them definitely 4 wheel drive. Try some of those with a 2 wheel drive, and you may have to walk out a long ways in very hot weather, or when snow hits. Remember you can't call AAA on a cell phone in those out of the way places.

If you only want to be on pavement then either one will work just fine.
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Old 02-12-2014, 02:35 AM
 
Location: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
11,269 posts, read 12,488,136 times
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Another nice thing about 4X4, at least with my 91 Wrangler, is let's say you break a u-joint in the rear driveshaft, you can always remove it/strap it up, put her in 4WD, and still get home using FWD.
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Old 02-12-2014, 06:59 AM
 
Location: Spokane, WA
847 posts, read 3,011,955 times
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Thanks for all your help. I would like to buy new, considering the value retention of these things. Toyota Tacomas with 100,000 miles are still selling for $20,000! I know they last a long time, but it seems pretty high to me. The Nissans are a bit better, but they all seem to have really high mileage or much older. The Patriots are much cheaper, but they have pretty low price retention and I'm concerned with reliability. I know with Nissan and Toyota that they'll run forever.

I saw the new Colorados were coming out...I actually really liked the styling of them as well. I wonder what the prices will be on them.

For those of you who have four wheel drive, how often do you actually use it while out and about camping? Do you typically only use it if it's muddy or snowy? What about when it's just rocky or not maintained well? Like I said, I'd go with the 4X4--I'm just trying to justify the cost and make sure it's worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snorpus View Post
I love my 4WD Silverado, mostly because I don't have to plow my 400' driveway anymore, but I'm in snow country. The dealers around here don't even bother to stock the 2WD version.

But I admit it's a pricey solution. Maybe look for a used 4WD pickup, especially in the sub 1/2 Ton size, like Ford Ranger, or a used 4WD Chevy Trailblazer. If you want new, maybe wait till fall for the new Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon, although I haven't seen prices on them yet.
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