Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Mid Week Match-Up: A Cheap SUV For BionicTorqueWrench

Today's Mid Week Match-Up comes to us from BionicTorqueWrench who is seeking a $5k SUV to use for a long cross country trip.  From the Bionic man himself:

I am from New Zealand, living in the SF Bay Area for the last few years.  My wife and I are approaching the end of our time here in Spring 2016, and want to take a drive around the US for six weeks before we go.  We have a son, who will be circa nine months at the time.  

I'm thinking something like: Tahoe, down to the Grand Canyon and Arizona, across the Rockies to Colorado, North to Yellowstone, into Montana, then left to the Pacific Northwest.  

Our currently car is a 2001 Audi A4 wagon.  But it is pretty small for an infant and infant-related paraphernalia, as well as two grown adults and luggage to keep them all going for six weeks.  I'm looking for a vehicle that I can buy now, so I can sell the Audi, then take the new vehicle on the long trip in six months.    


Can the commentariat advise:

Firstly a vehicle:
- probably an SUV.  I don't need full off-roading capability, but I do want to have all weather tyres and 4wd and cross mountain passes in Spring while avoiding snow chains as much as possible.  And I do want to go down dirt roads and ford streams when the mood takes me.  (I am familiar with light to moderate off-roading.)  

- comfortable to drive and ride in.  

- with good rear leg room (baby car seats are surprisingly long) and good luggage space.  

- that will be reliable.  That I can pull into a mountain town in Idaho to get the fan belt replaced or the wheels balanced, and they won't give me a line about working on "funny furrin cars".  (I don't know what would count in this category in rural US.  Is a Toyota SUV ubiquitous enough that I could rely on mechanics anywhere?)  

- that costs less than $5000, and is already in the Bay Area.  

Secondly:
Is there an easy way, once back in the Bay Area, to sell a vehicle before going to the airport?  Would I recover any real money, or does the cost-benefit trade-off make it just as easy to donate to charity?
  

DT E-i-C Vince: My recommendation would be to pick up a used Nissan Xterra, like this 2000 model year example with 177k miles on the odo offered for $4,500 in Tracy, CA via craigslist.  The Xterra shares a chassis with the capable Frontier pickup and this one is powered by the upgraded 3.3 liter VG33E V6, good for 170 horsepower, but you could hold out for a supercharged version that pushes out 210 hp and 246 ft-lbs of torque.

What do you suggest?  Comments below.

29 comments:

  1. Here's a 1999 Chevy Tahoe that passes smog with 101K on the clock for $4.4K in Walnut Creek for sale by a curbstoner. The paint is bad, so maybe you can knock a few bucks off.

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  2. Awww...a year ago I could easily have gotten you my in-laws' '99 Land Cruiser for that money, strong like bull and all that, and with a little effort you'd have sold it for a profit before bugging out.

    Otherwise, I'm very, very fond of the GMT800 Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban family, okay the material quality ain't quite Toyota and the dash displays are funky but they're very reliable (you can ignore the clunking steering shaft) and incredibly useful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For those not into nomenclature arcana, GMT800 = 2001-2006 big GM SUVs. 2003-up had some detail improvements.

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    2. A shame. Land Cruisers have always treated me well.

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  3. Ford Explorer - best you can find for your budget. There's a reason they sold gazillions of these things.

    [IMG]http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NjAwWDgwMA==/z/HLkAAOSw14xWHvBQ/$_35.JPG[/IMG]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As for selling the car, maybe you could run a no-reserve auction on eB*y during the last week of your trip (with SF listed as the location). Roll in to SF and meet the auction winner. Done.

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  4. infant + mountain passes + $5000 ... hmm ... why not put $5000 down on a certified pre-owned, get the longest loan you can, and sell it back to the dealer when you get back - you'll get a nearly new reliable vehicle, with a warranty, for worry free and safest possible driving - you might lose a couple thou... hang on... you'd lose that much almost no matter what you did... so how about a rental? - hey, even fewer worries - just don't wreck it off road

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    Replies
    1. of course, there's a legal issue - most places will only do 30 day rentals - you could do a southern loop and a northern loop, stopping back in SF between the two to re-up the rental agreement

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    2. renting cars is a lot cheaper than renting SUVs - you could get a car for the southern loop and an SUV for the northern - dollar cost average could be a big savings

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    3. It hadn't occurred to me to try renting until after I had sent the match-up in. But started researching, and might just be the simpler option. It seems a number of the big firms do have long term rental arrangements, with 28 day minimums. You end up $3000 down, but I suspect I end up that way anyway.

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  5. Replies
    1. My first thought was a Mercedes wagon, but Kansas won't have parts, it's not reliable, and it's got no ground clearance.

      That's three strikes.



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  6. First hit in my search, done. 1988 Toyota 4x4 Van, just like you'd find down underer http://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/cto/5306495152.html
    Hilux based so people with British accents can't kill it as proven by that show. You can get anything anywhere in the US as long as you can wait a day, esp. auto parts which you can often get the same day if you ask in the morning. Orders of magnitude cooler than a SUV.

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    Replies
    1. Heh. In New Zealand, that would be a $500 van. And he's asking $4500, and it needs the head rebuilt. Nope.

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  7. I would go for a trailer hitch and a low profile trailer. The trailer should be smaller than the Audi body to reduce drag.
    I pull a trailer and a jet ski behind my 1984 Audi 5000 Avant with no problems

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here is a picture of the 1984 Avant fully loaded with stuff and the jet ski.

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  8. 6 weeks in a car with a 9 month old? You are a braver man than I. I recommend an RV. Otherwise you'll make it to roughly Idaho before you've expended your time and have to turn around. A 6 hour drive with our 6 month old takes us closer to 12 hours due to having to stop every 2 hours.

    Also, 2 adults, 1 child, 6 weeks, don't get a CX-5.

    For long trips, our 1998 4Runner fits the bill nicely.

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  9. 1998 Toyota 4runner 4cyl, 5 speed, 4x4.

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/cto/5299178357.html


    Capitola. The perfect combo for high altitude/slow driving= 4 cylinder and a 5-speed. Seems to have lots of service records and stuff. Cant go wrong with the 4runner.

    I bet you could fire sale it for $3k when you get back in a day or two. Just post it for sale the week before you get there and give yourself 2 days to sell it. Or give someone you know 25% of the proceeds for selling it for you.

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  10. Take over this lease - 9 months left 2012 Mercedes-Benz GL550 lease - Sherman Oaks, California, $781.30

    http://www.leasetrader.com/2012_Mercedes-Benz_GL550_227001.xhtml

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't show my wife that one or I'd need to figure out what the buyout is, we've talked about one of those and that one's damn close to right.

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  11. How about these two:

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/cto/5241786790.html

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/cto/5291861707.html

    Neither has an operable AC but the second is still owned by the guy who drove it off of the lot!

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    Replies
    1. There is this very ubiquitous one also:

      http://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/cto/5297855525.html

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  12. Im from idaho. Its nothing but subarus and quad cab crop dusters. Go with giannis chevy. You should be able to drive through without needing any spare parts. Also try the fried pickles in arco.

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  13. Please drive a frame-on 4x4 before buying it. A substantial drive. If you are coming out of an Audi, best prepare yourself to realize this ponderous, thirsty, ill-handling, wallowing things have almost nothing like an Audi's driving experience.

    Get the cleanest E39 525 or 528 (not 540) BMW Touring. Larger than the E46, but ride beautifully and will still pull on either side of 30mpg. Unless you are incredibly lucky, you won't find a stick, but you might get lucky. Look on BMW boards and note the well known mechanical issues and only buy a car with a service history.

    Get the right one and the trip will be fantastic. Beautiful cars, cheap money and you'll want to keep it after the trip.

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  14. I suggest a full-size Ford or Chev passenger van with windows and working heat/AC, lots of room for the baby & stuff and he can nap in it when needed. I love travelling with a full-size van (alone or with partner). All your stuff fits in, never gets wet and you can have a nap when tired. Any garage can fix them.

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  15. Cannot comment on a rig but if you can go thru Canada it is amazing the Glacier Park side lots' of wildlife and the Beer is pretty good also roads are amazing and less traveled then US clean and people friendly .

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  16. Not sure big enough Suzuki SX-4 but seen a few for under 3k good on gas 5 speed.

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  17. Always keen for a new ride, but I'm still trying to figure out why you can't travel 6 weeks in the Audi? A wagon no less! Game on, you can do it! Save the money and spend it on good food and hotels.Get a rooftop cargo box for the extra baby goods if you must, but take less stuff overall and you'll be a lot more comfortable on the road. Oh - if you're going north through Colorado, stay on the western slope. It'll take longer but it's worth it. Enjoy the trip.

    ReplyDelete

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