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Old 09-06-2013, 02:08 PM
1 posts, read 4,401 times
Reputation: 11


First time poster. Hello all. I have the potential of accepting a job at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the next month or so. I have lived in Chicago, IL my whole life and a short time in Nashville, TN so I guess I would be considered a flatlander. Having said that, I don't think it will be hard for me to adjust to life out West.

My question is that I've always had a economy car (i.e. Honda Civic) that was great on mileage that works great at 300 feet above sea level. I understand all the mechanics of what altitude does to a car, but I'm curious to know if anyone has any insight on the types of cars people have in this area at 7000 feet as I really have no working knowledge or experience. Will a 4 cylinder economy car be able to make the climb from Albuquerque to Santa Fe on a semi-regular basis? I believe Santa Fe and Los Alamos are basically the same altitude so that shouldn't be an issue once the car's ECU reprograms itself (minus a little power loss). Basically if I'm driving a Honda Civic in this region are people going to be looking at me funny?

I'm pretty sure Subarus are fairly common do to their AWD capabilities.

Any insight would be beneficial and appreciated.


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Old 09-06-2013, 05:20 PM
Location: New Mexico U.S.A.
26,530 posts, read 49,111,980 times
Reputation: 31258
A reliable front wheel drive vehicle with decent all weather tires should work. We've used '99 Ford Mini-Van, Chevy Malibu, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Sonata and a '84 GMC Pickup with no problems...

You might read these threads:
Is it necessary to own an AWD vehicle to live in Santa Fe, NM?
What Vehicle to Use in New Mexico
Vehicle Question - AWD, SUV, Truck, Car, Van etc
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Old 09-06-2013, 06:02 PM
Location: Boulder, CO
380 posts, read 612,106 times
Reputation: 611
I'm getting an AWD or 4WD within the next month. Leaning toward a Subaru Forester. I had a 2WD Ranger last winter (my first winter here), and it was a nightmare.
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Old 09-07-2013, 07:30 PM
Location: Western NC.
1,324 posts, read 2,390,208 times
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We have a 2005 Suburu Outback and have taken it from Western NC to Olympic Peninsula Wa, through Tetons, Yellowstone, out to North Rim of Canyon, NM and Arizona all pulling a teardtop camper. It performed like a champ and is great in the Blue Ridge Mountain wintets. Our son has a Forester he routinely takes on trips to Az. Mountains. They are great cars this is our 3rd all had high mileage, last one went 240, 000 before we sold it.
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Old 09-13-2013, 10:46 PM
963 posts, read 2,221,068 times
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You won't have a problem with the Honda. I see them on the road all the time in Santa Fe and ABQ. Is is a gradual ascent to Santa Fe so you are not going to struggle.
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Old 09-17-2013, 11:51 AM
Location: New Mexico
4,342 posts, read 6,431,477 times
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If you are planning to commute to Los Alamos from Albuquerque, you should consider using one of the shuttle services and save the wear and tear on your car. I had a Civic for 10 years here and had no problems (although I did not commute to Los Alamos). Nobody will look at you funny. I'm sure some people make the commute even in Smart cars.
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Old 09-23-2013, 10:35 AM
Location: Santa Fe, NM
974 posts, read 2,228,003 times
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If only for the increased safety when you're ascending and descending La Bajada hill during inclement weather in the winter I'd get an all-wheel/4x4 vehicle. I've got a 4x4 4 cylinder turbo and it's great (it's more about torque than horsepower); but then I do off-roading too, and live on a dirt road. Given our terrain and winter weather an all-wheel drive car will get you virtually anyplace you want to get to - as opposed to a 2-wheel drive car that won't.
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:21 PM
Location: Las Vegas, NV
455 posts, read 601,808 times
Reputation: 526
Good tires are probably the most important thing, but AWD is a good idea too. Maybe not a requirement, but there will be times when you are glad you have it.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:35 PM
100 posts, read 269,840 times
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You may have already moved here so I'll keep this short. I already owned a Subaru before moving here 10 months ago and I am very happy to have it. AWD is not a necessity but I am still happy I have it. Having good tires and not RWD are the two most important things.

I referred to my Outback Sport as my 4-cylinder muscle car back in Austin, TX. It is not so muscley up here. A civic will be fine but you WILL notice the power difference.
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:37 PM
209 posts, read 447,646 times
Reputation: 301
I have had AWD Honda CRV (07) and it works in Santa Fe. Needs 88 octane gas. The major problem is that with AWD vehicles, if a tire gets damaged and it is not repairable, you have to replace all 4 tires if the mileage on them is more than very little...like about 2000 miles or less depending upon the make/model. I don't believe the Civic has this problem (being 2 wheel drive). If you have a damage replacement warranty and keep the rotation up, the AWD tire problem is solved because they (depending on the warranty/dealer) will replace all 4. I ended up getting a 4x4 high clearance vehicle to get to where I need to go...just got tired of ripping up tires and flipping rocks on Buckman Road. Short answer to the question is that the Civic will do fine, but maybe a little slow on the up hill to Los Alamos.
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