Monday, April 23, 2012

The Quest For a Suburban Survival Vehicle

     I have been looking into buying an expedition type vehicle. Something that has off road capability, is a daily driver, gets fair gas mileage, decent towing/hauling capacity, and room for 5 plus some gear. It should also fit my standard sized garage. I don't want anything extreme or technical to maintain. I'm not looking for a rock crawler or a swamp buggy.

     I currently have three vehicles (I'm downsizing to 2 vehicles), and I know what I like and dislike about them all. So maybe that's a good place to start:
    F-150 4X4 - I bought this truck new 12 years ago. It's been a champ. It has a big V-8, and an extended cab. I use the bed alot, but I use the extended part of the cab more. The cab is too small, the people sitting in the back seat are cramped  I have 3 kids now, and it's a chore to get everyone loaded inside. There's not enough room left for everyones stuff, so that goes in the truck permitting. I also can't leave valuable tools or equipment in the bed of the truck unattended for very long.

   Toyota Sequoia - I bought this SUV new about 10 years ago. It has a big V-8, but is 2WD. It has plenty of room for my family and their stuff, and loading it is easy. I drive it daily, it's reliable for now, but I can't haul as much in it as I can haul in the bed of my truck. But I like that everything I lock inside the SUV, is inside the SUV and out of the elements and a little more difficult for someone to steal. I've bought lumber, pipe, and yard stuff and I was able to load it all into the SUV without an issue. Plus the rear window rolls down, which is a feature I use almost everyday.

    Honda Odyssey - I bought this mini-van new about a year ago. It's the most practical vehicle I won. It's really easy to get the kids into it. The doors are all automatic and key fob closed. It can hold a good bit of cargo (like full sheets of plywood or sheet rock) if you remove the seats, and has a V-6 engine. It's the ultimate grey vehicle. Just try counting all of the mini vans you see in a suburban neighborhood, they're EVERYWHERE.

      So that's what I have, and what I like about them. I definitely want 4X4, and a large V-8. I know I  want 17 inch rims and 285/75 tires, fog lights, recovery hooks, and skid plates. I'm stuck between a 4X4 SUV probably another Sequoia, and a full sized truck, probably a Ford.

     If I go with the pickup truck my first choice would be a F-250 Super Duty. I can get the Crew Cab option, the diesel engine, and a full sized bed. However I'll seriously under utilize the truck. I most likely will never haul or pull anything even close to the weight capacity of the F-250 Super Duty. It's about 10K more than the F-150 I would buy in it's place. I'd like to say "comparably equipped F-150" but that's not true. You can't get a diesel engine or a crew cab/full sized bed option in the F-150. If I go with the F-150 I'm afraid I'll always wish I had the F-250 even though it won't fit in my garage.

    If I go with the SUV, I will probably buy another Sequoia. I looked at the Tahoe, and even looked over one of those hybrid trucks that is part truck, part SUV, and not very good at either one. I can probably get a Sequoia for less than the F-250 but slightly more than the F-150 if I skip the Limited package and get the SR-5 package instead.  I really like the rear window rolling down in the Sequoia, it makes putting small things (like groceries) in the back really easy. I use that feature almost every day.

     This is a big decision for me. I keep vehicles a long time, so it's a decision I'll have to live with for quite some time. It's a BIG financial decision as well. I have friends that get new vehicles every 2 to 3 years.  They always have nice new cars and trucks. There's times I'm glad I'm not like when I go 8 years or so without a car payment. Then there's times when I'm rattling down the road in a 10 year old SUV, or 12 year old truck....that I envy them a little (or a lot).

     Another choice for trucks in the Toyota Tundra. I own a Toyota Sequoia, so I'm familiar with the fit and finish of the truck. It's 22 inches longer than the Sequoia, so it'll be a tight fit in the garage. Parking on the driveway is not going to be an option for me....for many reasons. This might rule out the F-150 as well as it's 18 inches longer then the Tundra, so...3 1/2 feet longer than my Sequoia. After breaking out the tape measure and checking some manufacturerrer specs, neither the Tundra nor the F-150 will fit in my garage and allow me to close the door. I could still park them outside, but I'm not very inclined to do that.

     As the time draws closer to making a final decision and buying a vehicle, I'll keep you posted as to which way things are going.

     Input and suggestions always welcome...ESPECIALLY on this topic. I'm not an expert and I don't play one on the Internet. As always, thank you for reading.


  1. I know you ruled out combo trucks, however I have to make a suggestion. You mentioned you like the Honda Odyssey, so I have to suggest the Ridgeline. One it is made in at least North America, commonly Alabama which is a selling point for me. Two, it has a crew cab, bed and lockable trunk. The trunk is water tight and not even obvious. It will tow up to 5000lbs and is 4x4. Only a v6 but gets upto 20 mpg. I got one used in the fall and absolutely love it. Allows me to haul all our gear camping, both dogs (80 to 100 lbs each) and handles forestry roads and the like wonderfully. Can't guarantee it is for you, but definitely worth a look. It will also most likely fit in your garage as well.

  2. You can always get a used F250 Crew Cab. The diesels are just breaking in at 100k mi and you should be able to pick up an 02 for a reasonable price. Then put a cap on the bed and you can lock your supplies and tools. If you need to carry something large, they come off pretty quick. And the F250 comes in 4x4. With the cap you can carry just about anything in the back, and comfortably fit 3 kids in the crew cab and 2 up front.

  3. You can always get a used F250 Crew Cab. The diesels are just breaking in at 100k mi and you should be able to pick up an 02 for a reasonable price. Then put a cap on the bed and you can lock your supplies and tools. If you need to carry something large, they come off pretty quick. And the F250 comes in 4x4. With the cap you can carry just about anything in the back, and comfortably fit 3 kids in the crew cab and 2 up front.

  4. You can get a cap for the bed of a full size truck. That would give you the carry capacity you want for supplies, and the crew cabs have plenty of room for the family. The caps also come off pretty quick if you need them too.

  5. A full sized truck won't fit in my garage. it's 18 inches too long.

  6. Ford 150 super crew now has eco boost turbo v6 that has 5 more horse power than the v8 350, also fastest 0 to 60 except for raptor. it's great on gas and seats 5 comfortable - best thing is it's built with rogue pride, Dearborn, MI super quiet - have a fusion and when its running at idle next to the truck you dont know the truck is running - max tow package lets you pull 11,200lbs and thats with the v6 - love it, and the mossberg 930 SPX too

  7. theres a short bed one too - 36 gallon tank with ecoboost will take you over 600 miles with no refuel - ford 150 2012 with max tow

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