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Old 11-24-2013, 09:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Best picks for 4wd?

I am student teaching soon in an area where I was offered a job position. It is higher elevation and a 40 minute trip through areas that see more snow/wind/ice.
Obviously, when I can I will use the motorcycle and car (insert future results from my other thread)
I own a 15' MFG boat and have a family of four.
What 4x4 vehicle is best in the mpg class and can be used to put a small boat in and out of the water?

There is a 97 Jeep Wrangler w/ 5 speed on the lot down the road that caught my eye, but internet says that will range from 17-21.
Subaru is out. Great in snow, but not fun to work on and parts aren't cheap. Plus, I don't think a wagon would like getting its rear dipped in the water.

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Old 11-24-2013, 10:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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What's the price range? Without knowing, some general suggestions:
older, less $ and MPG
-Sidekick/tracker/x90
-suzuki sx4 (lift)

middle ground
Subaru outback editions, with lift
Escape hybrid- My pick
Jeep Compass

Newest, most $
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have a 96 Tacoma 4x4 with the 2.7 4-cyl (auto) that I bought because of gas mileage. I haven't done a LOT to modify it and I can average out around 21 mpg.

When I was researching 4x4's with best mileage, the Ford Ranger had the best numbers at fueleconomy.gov
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Although I usually suggest the Escape Hybrid like xntrx in threads like these, I would think that vehicle might be a bad idea. The reason why is because it only has a load capacity of like a 1000 pounds. It's not driving forward that's the issue, it's driving backwards. In reverse the hybrid only uses the battery/motor, so it can't have heavy loads in reverse, something you need to do to get the boat in the water. The other reason is because the batteries are just under the rear cargo area. If you accidentally get water in there...

Other than that, I think the Escape would be a great idea. How much elevation change?
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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In reverse the hybrid only uses the battery/motor, so it can't have heavy loads in reverse, something you need to do to get the boat in the water.
Maybe a quibble, but why would you have heavy loads getting a boat into the water? Most boat ramps I've seen slope down enough so that you can pretty much just coast in.

And for the OP, for your high-elevation winter commute, keep in mind that having 4WD doesn't do anything to help with braking. Unless you'll be driving through snow deep enough that you need the extra clearance, a 2WD with chains will do just fine. I drive over 8500 ft Sierra passes in winter snow, in my 1st gen Honda Insight. No problems unless the snow is deeper than the belly pan.

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Old 11-24-2013, 12:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My friend uses a 1996 4cyl 5-speed Tacoma.
It works great for pulling fire wood by the ton and it does great off road and in the snow.

I have never herd of a jeep wrangler getting 17mpg let alone 21mpg, more like 12-15.
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Old 11-24-2013, 01:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Maybe a quibble, but why would you have heavy loads getting a boat into the water? Most boat ramps I've seen slope down enough so that you can pretty much just coast in.
I will admit I don't know the average weight of a boat, let alone the OPs. Although it may be possible to just coast down the ramp, you still have to get to the ramp. Maybe the OP doesn't reverse to park the boat, but people I have seen usually have their boat on the side of their driveway, meaning they had to back it in.

Again, if 1000lbs is enough and you're not worried of potentially wet batteries, I would go for the FEH.
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Old 11-24-2013, 03:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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What about an 80s model chevy k5 blazer with a 6.2 diesel. Ive gotten 22 mpg on the highway in mine and i've heard of others getting 25. The four wheel drive is great and it will deffinately pull a boat and haul the family around. Just remember to plug in the block heater if you want to go anywhere when its cold
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Old 11-24-2013, 05:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Elevation is not that much, lol. About 1550, but the difference puts more snow and ice up there than I see in town. The issues is steep hills, wind, snow and ice in the middle of nowhere.
Also, it is a teaching job, so if the weather is too bad, I shouldn't be on the road.

The boat weights about 600 lbs.
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Old 11-24-2013, 06:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If you really want to get good mileage and are not towing your boat across the state, I would look at something like the Toyota Corolla station wagon from the late 1980's, they would get 30+mpg and had 4 wheel drive with a 6 speed where they had a sub 1st gear/low speed for crawling along, they would tow 1,000 pounds, haul your kids too.

Other thing to think about is just a 2 wheel drive vehicle with good snow tires, part of snow tire design is wet traction, something you need to pull a boat out and at that point you could get away with pretty much any decent car that had a solid enough body to put a trailer hitch on.
Either way, good snow tires on a 2 wheel drive car can be better then a 4 wheel drive vehicle, besides many 4 wheel drive vehicles are not designed to drive over 55mph in 4 wheel drive.

Or if it's only a few times a year that you use the boat, rent or borrow a vehicle, that is what I've done with my boat.


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