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Old 05-29-2010, 10:11 AM
 
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I am moving to Durango in two months and was wondering if I have to buy an SUV. (Currently I have a sedan.)


Any suggestions are welcome.
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:45 AM
 
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That all depends on what you want to do, how good of a winter driver you are, and what you can afford. Durango does get its share of winter weather, and an AWD or 4WD is nice to have for those adverse conditions. That said, a front-wheel drive car and winter tires, preferably with traction control, will do pretty well in all but the more adverse winter conditions. If you plan on traveling on any of the backroads, then a good AWD or 4WD is pretty much a must. No vehicle is much good for winter driving if the driver lacks the skills to drive it properly. 4WD or AWD is not a substitute for crappy winter driving skills.

The tradeoff that too many people fail to consider is the cost of an AWD or 4WD. By necessity, they are more mechanically complex, heavier, and less fuel-efficient than a similar sized 2WD vehicle. That translates into both higher acquisition and higher maintenance costs.

Though it seems counter-intuitive, many of us who live in rural Colorado keep two vehicles--a fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive as a "daily driver," and a used "beater" 4WD for those times that require one. In my case, a used 4-cylinder sedan and a used 4WD (both in good shape) were way cheaper to purchase than one new SUV. Plus I'm not stuck driving a 15 mpg SUV all the time--I drive my 35-40 mpg sedan most of the time. One does pay extra for insurance and licensing for the second vehicle, but I only carry liability insurance on it and the license plates for a year cost less than 2 tanks of gas. I've had my used 4WD for nearly a decade, and it will last at least another decade because I'm not putting umpteen thousand miles per year on it just driving up and down the highway. If you can afford only one vehicle, a small AWD SUV is probably the best bet--my personal favorite of those is the Subaru Forester. It gets at least OK fuel economy (don't buy the turbo--it isn't particularly fuel efficient and requires premium fuel), is pretty reliable, and actually has sufficient ground clearance for mild use in the backcountry. A 4-cylinder AWD Ford Escape would be a second choice--quite a few of those come out of the rental fleets every year and can be bought fairly economically.

Thanks to the rotten economy and soon-to-be-exploding fuel prices (in my opinion), there are quite a few pretty low mileage 4WD's for sale out there at fairly reasonable prices. I wouldn't buy a new SUV or 4WD now--when fuel goes up, they're going to depreciate like crazy.

As for preferences, for an AWD, I would look at a Ford Escape, Subaru, Honda, or Toyota. For a good, actually backcountry capable 4WD, I would look at one of the Toyota models, or a Nissan Frontier pickup, Pathfinder or Xterra. Most models of the full-size American pickups are OK, too, but none of them get very good fuel economy. Jeeps used to be good, but their reliability has fallen to crap in the last 5 years.
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Old 06-01-2010, 01:46 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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You'd better get some kind of 4 wheel drive. Not necessarily an SUV but any car or truck that has four- or all-wheel drive. Durango gets a LOT of snow in the winter and there are a lot of hills and mountains in the immediate vicinity.
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Old 06-03-2010, 02:37 PM
 
Location: Del Norte NM
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I think a front wheel drive sedan is better on the road in snow than a 4 wheel drive personally. You have less of a chance to roll over.
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Old 06-03-2010, 03:26 PM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
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I think they'd let you buy one elsewhere and bring it in, but I could be wrong.
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Old 06-03-2010, 03:43 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziasforever View Post
I think a front wheel drive sedan is better on the road in snow than a 4 wheel drive personally. You have less of a chance to roll over.
No, four points of traction are better than two on any loose terrain.
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Old 06-03-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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it really depends on how long you plan to stay. If you think you'll be there for the long haul and can afford it then you won't regret having a good 4wd or awd in those parts. But if you move is only temporary or on a shoestring budget then don't bother. Either way you'll need good winter tires for sure. I recommend the arctic claw.
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Old 06-03-2010, 05:10 PM
 
3,460 posts, read 4,793,244 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 80skeys View Post
No, four points of traction are better than two on any loose terrain.
You've only got that half right. Four points of equal traction are better than two on loose terrain.

On slick roads, the two most important things are tires and vehicle balance. A rear wheel drive BMW with a nearly perfect 50-50 weight distribution and a set of Blizzaks will drive circles around a typically front heavy 4wd pickup/SUV with the same tires.

Having weight over the drive axle only helps to get you going in snow, but to corner and stop in a decent fashion you need equal traction from all 4 wheels. Otherwise when you need to swerve or slam on the brakes to avoid deer or Texans, the unloaded rear tires will break loose before the front tires and send you into a spin.
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Old 06-03-2010, 08:50 PM
 
Location: mancos
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well i have been driving my 2 wd 1984 f 150 for 23 years now with no problem, over Mancos hill and Hesperus hill only has to chain up twice so far.the last time we had an ice storm and i was putting my chains on and noticed an old man in an suv 200 feet below who lost control and went down the shoulder. a sheriff came up on me and threatened me with blocking traffic and other offences so i pointed down the hill to the old man and off he went. if i didnt stop to chain up that old man would have died. the only time i ever got stuck bad was in a 4x4 a 2x4 cant get you that stuck
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:23 AM
 
Location: Del Norte NM
529 posts, read 1,138,456 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sterlinggirl View Post
Otherwise when you need to swerve or slam on the brakes to avoid deer or Texans, the unloaded rear tires will break loose before the front tires and send you into a spin.
At least the Texan will stop and help you anyway he can. The Cali or Colo or NYer will just flip you off as they go by and watch you bleed...or burn.
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