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.
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.