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Old 01-04-2011, 08:31 PM
 
Location: AK
339 posts, read 635,033 times
Reputation: 127

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I've been living in AK for 3 years now, and I spose it's time I invest in having a vehicle up here.

I want a small SUV thats good on gas but can handle icy winter conditions and mountain driving.

Recommendations? I'm looking at a Ford Escape right now, others have suggested Jeeps would be better. I'm looking at 10,000-15,000 as a budget, shopping for used.

Thanks.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:06 PM
 
Location: Lyons, France, Whidbey Island WA
18,555 posts, read 14,606,444 times
Reputation: 10039
Honda CRV and Toyota Rav4 would be your best bet to get the mileage you want. if you move to Jeeps or 4Runners mileage can suffer.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:44 PM
 
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,368 posts, read 35,371,036 times
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Subaru Forrester, thought I'd beat Ray and Stiffler to it.
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:48 PM
 
Location: Not far from Fairbanks, AK
18,909 posts, read 33,271,093 times
Reputation: 14938
Quote:
Originally Posted by warptman View Post
Subaru Forrester, thought I'd beat Ray and Stiffler to it.
I traded the 2009 Forester for a Toyota Rav 4 V6 ( a present to my wife). Now I drive the Suzuki Sidekick she drove for a few years

While the Forester had a manual transmission, something that I prefer over automatics, the 2010 Rav 4 V6 has a lot more power than the 2009 4-cylinder Forester (269HP versus 170HP or so). The Rav 4 is a blast to drive but I released my "white knuckles" from the steering wheel, and handed the key to my wife. Fuel mileage is about the same for both (from 20-22MPG during the winter, combined mileage), and around 25-27 during the summer.

Last edited by RayinAK; 01-04-2011 at 11:09 PM..
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Old 01-04-2011, 11:10 PM
 
Location: Bethel, Alaska
21,368 posts, read 35,371,036 times
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My brother has a 2008 Rav 4 with the third row seating, it's a nice SUV. Way beyond my price range though.
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:31 AM
 
Location: Not far from Fairbanks, AK
18,909 posts, read 33,271,093 times
Reputation: 14938
Quote:
Originally Posted by warptman View Post
My brother has a 2008 Rav 4 with the third row seating, it's a nice SUV. Way beyond my price range though.
Yes, they are pricey. My wife's does not have a third row, just the front and back seats. Since the Forester was nearly paid for when I traded it, it was a pretty good deal not only because it was almost paid for, but because it was in perfect shape in/out and I asked for a "clean trade" price ($17K). The dealer said, $16K, and I told him that it was $17K or I would just forget about the deal and walk away. Anyway, before he knew I was trading, I told him, "take $1,000 off the top on that Rav 4, and i will buy it today. Then I handed him my phone number and walked away. He called me an hour later.

Subarus are nice little cars on icy roads, and not bad on fuel. But older models from late 90's up to 2003 or so had head gasket problems. Subaru is pretty good with customers and usually takes care of the problem, but it's something that worried me before, until I got an extended warranty for it. The Rav 4 4WD does just as well on ice and snow since both Subaru and Toyota have amazing traction controls. If I had to make a choice today, I would go for the Rav 4 V6, because of the extra quickness, and the way it feels on the road (fun to drive).

Honda CRV: the older ones look great, and are quite nice. The new models are quite nice inside, but the body's exterior design was changed for the worst. Honda turned it into a fat and uninspiring jellybean.

Last edited by RayinAK; 01-05-2011 at 12:44 AM..
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:20 PM
 
Location: AK
339 posts, read 635,033 times
Reputation: 127
Alright, so, Forester, CRV or Rav4. All 3 look pretty good to me. Can't wait to go shopping. Thanks guys.
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:35 PM
 
1,314 posts, read 1,257,177 times
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I know several Alaskans with Escapes; they like them. The Subaru is ubiquitous and probably a good choice, though they are overpriced and hard to come by in AK - high demand!
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Old 01-09-2011, 12:38 AM
 
Location: Manhattan Island
1,981 posts, read 3,519,424 times
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I would strongly recommend the CR-V. I don't live in AK, obviously, but I live in a very icy/snowy mountain area, and I have done a lot of vehicle comparisons in these conditions. I am slightly biased, as I am a Honda guy, but I believe that the CR-V not only has by far the best "fun-to-drive" factor, but also Hondas are known for their engines being the best in the business. Also, the suspension and steering are far more communicative than Toyota. With the Honda, there is a lot more information being passed to the driver through the steering wheel and suspension, so when you hit a rougher patch of road or lose traction, you will notice it more in the Honda.

Put simply, Toyota has a more luxurious ride, but has more body roll through turns, and Honda rides a bit harsher (though certainly not plain harsh) but handles much more sharply. So it's all up to taste. They both can be had with AWD, and on the older models (probably mid 2000's and earlier) you can find a manual transmission, which is sooo great to have.

I don't even mention the Subaru, and that is intentional. I find Subaru engines to be rather coarse, and the gas mileage is basically the same on that lower powered 4 cylinder in the Subaru as it is in the 6 cylinder Toyota/Honda. Also, Subarus are pricier to work on, and they need work more often. Sure, they are great cars, but they are just more expensive to own without ANY real benefits. I think a large number of people (NOT all, mind you) buy Subarus at least partly for the image.

So really, CR-V or RAV4, just depending on your taste, as I described above. P.S. - I'm a car nerd, so sorry if this post is a bit long.
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Old 01-09-2011, 10:07 AM
 
4,715 posts, read 9,766,566 times
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I don't have a lot of winter driving in small SUVs - so this thread was an intriguing read.

I always thought of subbies being one of the ultimate winter cars? I guess they really are for Northeasterners and Coloradan's only.... I owned an impreza WRX wagon for a couple of years and the thing drove like it was on rails... I never saw the dealer for anything while I owned it. We really liked it and wouldn't have gotten rid of it, expect we didn't have enough space once baby #2 came along. The only thing that worried me about subbies down here is that the dealers are few and far between, but it ended up being a non-issue.

Personally, I really don't like the way RAV4's and CRV's drive. ShipOfFools42 observation (for me) is correct. Unfortunately, I can't get comfortable sitting in the RAV4, although the ride is "comfy" and the CRV almost gives too much driver feedback - it feels sloppy/top heavy TO ME. (At least the couple I took on test drives did) The older ones are actually bigger too - they rounded the back out and made the opening smaller.

Ford Escapes are nice, but overpriced -not sure how the used market is on them by you, especialy since the body style just changed. I had a loaner and it did ok. 19-20 mpg, adequeate power, but I don't know how it would do in snow/ice.

I like jeeps, but expect low teens for mileage which is something that has always beent he deal breaker for me. Although finding a manual shouldn't be too hard - about the only brand left that makes manuals in any great numbers.... They are easy to work on, especially if you get the 4.0L straight six. There are at least 3 different 4x4/AWD systems out there for them and they all work a little differently - some can be on all the time, some only can't be used on dry pavement.

My wife LOVES her GMC Terrain (equinox is the chevy clone), although a used Terrain is probably out of your budget range, so look at older equinox's.... One reason I like GM products is Onstar - I assume it works in AK since the "phone" is by satellite?

Are there Volvo dealers up there? V50 would be the small wagon/SUV. If you don't have a Volvo dealer near you, I wouldn't even bother with it. Down here they are a little pricey to fix - I have never owned one past the warranty, but the warranty repairs "bills" I thought were high. Not sure about used price points on them...

I have other ideas, but the vehicles are larger, not great on gas and/or out of the OP's price range.

My suggestion is drive a bunch of different vehicles at a dealers lot. Then research the one that you liked the best and go from there. I can't help on the cold weather reliability as I just don't drive enough in it to know that. I do like AWD, ABS and traction control when I do drive in the slippery stuff. It has saved my bacon on a couple of occasions.
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