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Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

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  • Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

    Had no intention of buying a new vehicle until later this fall - except some woman chatty on her phone, didn't pay attention to her driving, and caused a frotn end collision to my 2000 Caravan. Insurance wrote it off...

    I'm hoping to upgrade by 2-4 years. Insurance gave me $4800 to replace my van. I'm planning to toss in another $3-$4k.

    Tow Vessel is a 18 foot Princecraft, on a single axle. Trailer is rated for 1800#. I imagine the whole package deal is 2000#. I don't plan to upgrade this for a few years...

    I don't want to simply get another van. I own my own business, the van works great with it, as I need the space in the back for stuff, but a truck is definitely out. too much wasted space in the box area that I could use...

    In the last 9 days, I've looked at several dozen vehicles. I still can't find something I like, and I had to return the rental truck already.... (my parents were kind enough to lend me their extra wheels)

    The drive to the launch is 3 miles. I go 2-3 times a week. Once in the sumemr, she'll get tower 120 miles (150kms) and back again.

    95% of my driving is in the city.

    I need to be able to put stuff in it (boxes of paper and office equipment I deliver) - wanting to stay away from Vans, and keep my manhood! lol I'm divorced, no kids, I never have passengers in the vehicle (rare) which is why I'm thinking SUV.

    That being said, I've looked at Grand Cherokee (v8), Trailblazer (4.2L V6), Liberty (v6) , Jimmy(4.2L) Envoy (4.2L) and Ford Escapes and MAzda Tribute... I'm sure I missed one or two..

    Not a fan of foreign cars..

    I did a lot of research, the older Escapes are horrible on fuel, and with the short wheel base, not recommended as a tow vehicle..... although it would be perfect for my small boat.... I can't find a single person who says anything nice of the 2003/2003 models.

    The Grand Cherokees.... seem to only come in V8 (although I test drove one with the straight six) and ask any number of people, I can't find any opinions that are consistent... "good fuel economy" "bad fuel economy" "tranny problems" ...argh

    Love the Envoys and all the GM line.... but then reading about the poor fuel economy in general.... am just having a difficult time committing to one of the other..

    Am I missing any other options here??? Is there any other vehicle I should consider? (I've looked at a Subaru Forester also, really not for me)

    I keep mentioning fuel economy.... I'd like to be somewhere in the 17-20mpg range.... but flexible.. Also, I don't do a ton of driving, 9,000 miles a year maybe (12-14,000kms)

    Really would lov some feedback or ANY advice here to help sway me.
    sigpic
    1999 Princecraft 166 Pro
    1998 Evinrude 70hp
    2003 GMC Envoy 4.2L 4x4


  • #2
    Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

    The 6 or 8 cyl grand cherokees are in your fuel mileage range. i have an 04 6 cyl i like it and i tow a 21' cuddy cabin with it. it is true to be mindful of the transmissions. but like anything you can get them to last if you do the recommended service intervals on them. I've beaten the crap out of mine in the time i've had it and only broken one thing, a pickup sensor on the transfer case (if i had a skid plate on the transfer case that would not have happened). Overall though, they ride nice, decent mileage, and can usually pull a house down. That reminds me too stay away from the AWD ones if possible. old school transferr case or 2wd is the way to go. unless your ramp is really slick but down here in the salt water i never have to put mine in 4. hope it helps.

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    • #3
      Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

      Horrible gas mileage to one person is not so bad to another. You are overlooking some very good tow vehicles in the Chevy/GMC (S-10 Blazer) style vehicles. 4.3 V6 with plenty of grunt for trailer towing and the vast majority are 4WD. Your 2000 - 2500# rig will be towed by one of these just fine and well within your price range. Look for one with 3.73 gears and you will be able to tow in overdrive. 3.53 gears will likely mean direct (3rd gear) towing.

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      • #4
        Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

        You are flirting with some vehicles that are unsuitable for towing your rig. Any Jeep is going to need upgraded rear suspension, any Escape is going to be tow rated too low.

        You can get a small, economical SUV or you can get a tow vehicle. I don't see an option for both.

        Weigh your rig. My guess is that it is over 2,000# ready to launch; maybe 2,500#. Then, when shopping vehicles, don't even look at anything that isn't rated for 3,500# or better.

        I love my Forester but it is not a tow for over about 1500#. I think I would shop mid size Toyotas like the 4Runner. #3 daughter tows her Boston Whaler Outrage 17 with her V6 4Runner and is very satisfied with it. She also tows it with her (formerly my) '99 MB ML430 V8, but that is an expensive car to maintain and it has to have premium fuel.
        sigpic

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        • #5
          Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

          Hyundai Sante Fe... V6, 4X4

          By the way, not the same vehicle as a Kia Sorento. The Sorento is a real truck but I did not care for it.

          Built in Alabama, Designed in California so not technically a foreign vehicle.

          TerryMSU

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          • #6
            Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

            2003+ V8 Exploder, here is onehttp://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Ford-...fCarsQ5fTrucks for 8g's and being that its a V8 its got a great motor and transmission along with a sweet interior, another 100,000 miles left in that truck with a little care and maintenance.
            Somebody paid $40,000 dollars for that SUV 7 years ago.

            I have 192k problem free miles on my 99 V8 now and have my mind made up that the next one will be a 03-04 V8, I will probably wait until I can buy one for $5k tho, I plan to get atleast 250k from this 99.
            I also have a 99 6 cylinder Grand Cherokee and surprisingly no trans problems and running great @ 187k.
            I do love the 4.0 straight six mainly because it was an American Motors engine and Kenosha built as well as being bulletproof it has enough power for my liking. Heated seats in the Exploder make it a preferred ride for me.
            I kind of like the Ford Expeditions and Excursions but for me they are too big and I would be wasting for no good reason.
            S10 Blazers suck, dont waste your time, I'm not really that impressed with the 4.2 Trail-Voy's either, I'm sure the SS or atleast V8 flavored variety would be a piece more appealing I dunno maybe the interiors is what turns me off on those. Dodge Durango ? eh meh bleh.

            Probably could maybe get a pretty nice Yukon or Tahoe for that money too, depends on what you want.
            1977 Starcraft American 18' 165 Mercruiser.
            http://s226.photobucket.com/home/win...obra/allalbums

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            • #7
              Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

              OP says "mid/small SUV" but doesn't like foreign.

              Oops, that takes one of the best vehicles in that category/price range off the list: 2001+ Pathfinder or QX4. With the 3.5 v6, 4x4 or AWD and a real truck frame, it is probably the best smaller SUV made for towing. It'll get about 18-19mpg all around, and they are super-reliable. But the back seat is cramped, not as roomy as a 4runner, but it is more powerful than the 4runner.

              Don't forget, some of the domestics are more foreign than you may be comfortable knowing!

              Comment



              • #8
                Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

                Originally posted by JB View Post
                You are flirting with some vehicles that are unsuitable for towing your rig. Any Jeep is going to need upgraded rear suspension, any Escape is going to be tow rated too low.

                You can get a small, economical SUV or you can get a tow vehicle. I don't see an option for both.

                Weigh your rig. My guess is that it is over 2,000# ready to launch; maybe 2,500#. Then, when shopping vehicles, don't even look at anything that isn't rated for 3,500# or better.

                I love my Forester but it is not a tow for over about 1500#. I think I would shop mid size Toyotas like the 4Runner. #3 daughter tows her Boston Whaler Outrage 17 with her V6 4Runner and is very satisfied with it. She also tows it with her (formerly my) '99 MB ML430 V8, but that is an expensive car to maintain and it has to have premium fuel.

                I have to disagree. There are many many many used Jeeps WITH the towing packages and some of the V8 models can have tow ratings up to 6500 pounds. My father has a Grand Cherokee with a 5000 pound tow rating and would and has towed boats of that size and larger with ease. One boat that it has towed quite a bit is a 19 foot Starcraft Islander I/O which when fully loaded for a day of fishing is definitely more than the Princecraft in question.

                The Ford Escapes can be had with 3500 pound towing capacity if properly equipped and properly equipped used Escapes are out there. Yes you have to check the specs of the vehicle you are buying, but saying that "any" Escape is tow rated too low is just not true.

                Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if the towing capacity and GCVWR are within the manufacturers limits then you are fine as long as you drive the vehicle like it should be driven while towing. The manufacturers limits don't have to be 50% higher than the load being towed. The manufacturers have a vested interest in establishing towing ratings that the vehicle can handle due to liability and warranty reasons. I trust the manufacturers tested numbers more than opinions.
                1988 Sea Ray Seville 16 BRO w/1997 Mariner 115
                My build thread
                My upholstery thread

                Comment



                • #9
                  Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

                  Try a Chrysler Pacifica. Stylish IMHO. 3500 tow capacity. Around 20 mpg(mixed). You can find them priced pretty reasonable. Well equipped and even a 3rd row seat available. I have a heavier boat and shorter distance to tow. It works just fine. Only gripe is visibility out the back.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

                    In that size range, the Trailblazer 4x4 should work well for you. I know a few people who own Trailblazers and have ridden in and driven them quite a bit. I would be surprised if your highway gas mileage would not be quite good. Even my 3/4 ton GMC with a 6.0 gets relatively good mileage.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

                      Originally posted by Sikiguya View Post
                      Try a Chrysler Pacifica. Stylish IMHO. 3500 tow capacity. Around 20 mpg(mixed). You can find them priced pretty reasonable. Well equipped and even a 3rd row seat available. I have a heavier boat and shorter distance to tow. It works just fine. Only gripe is visibility out the back.
                      Had one. It was our favorite vehicle we've ever owned. Currently shopping for another one
                      1976 18' Starcraft SuperSport 90HP Evinrude
                      Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=357767
                      1966 16' Starcraft Jupiter 85HP Johnson
                      Restoration thread http://forums.iboats.com/showthread.php?t=338633 sold

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                      • #12
                        Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

                        Originally posted by 109jb View Post
                        I have to disagree. There are many many many used Jeeps WITH the towing packages and some of the V8 models can have tow ratings up to 6500 pounds. My father has a Grand Cherokee with a 5000 pound tow rating and would and has towed boats of that size and larger with ease. One boat that it has towed quite a bit is a 19 foot Starcraft Islander I/O which when fully loaded for a day of fishing is definitely more than the Princecraft in question.

                        The Ford Escapes can be had with 3500 pound towing capacity if properly equipped and properly equipped used Escapes are out there. Yes you have to check the specs of the vehicle you are buying, but saying that "any" Escape is tow rated too low is just not true.

                        Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if the towing capacity and GCVWR are within the manufacturers limits then you are fine as long as you drive the vehicle like it should be driven while towing. The manufacturers limits don't have to be 50% higher than the load being towed. The manufacturers have a vested interest in establishing towing ratings that the vehicle can handle due to liability and warranty reasons. I trust the manufacturers tested numbers more than opinions.
                        You are absolutely correct. I ran my keyboard while brain was not engaged.
                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

                          I had this same sort of dillema last summer. Needed to upgrade towing my 4k rig from my minivan to a true truck based SUV. I went around the horn looking at all the domestic models and each had something that turned me off. I finally found the Buick version of the Trailblazer/Envoy. They come with only a few options so even the cheapest one is completely loaded plus older folks bought them so they are also lightly used. I ended up with the 5.3 V8 and all the optional equipment and can't say enough about its ability to tow my measly 4000 lb rig as it is rated at 6500lbs towing. Now if you get a 2005 and up v8 with cylinder deactivation you will be dissappointed with mileage. It is horrible in town and on the highway. The inline 6 standard power will come very close or match your needed mileage and still tow very well. You could possibly find a 2004, AWD version right in your price range. I will mention what makes the Buick attractive for towing is that the 3.73 rear end is standard as is the G80 locking rear differential (also leather, power seats and lots of other stuff is standard only on the Buick version) Even those simple, cheap towing related items were like finding a needle in a haystack on the Trailblazer and Envoy version since they were options on all the other models. The best thing about all the GM products is they depreciate so fast. My Buick was $45,000 (out the door by the previous owner not MSRP) and I paid less than 1/4 of that a few years old but still like new. It's hard to get that much SUV for so little money.
                          2003 Chaparral 183SS

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                          • #14
                            Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

                            I tow a 21ft Bayliner Trophy with a 97 Grand Cherokee, 4 liter straight six. I added an aftermarket tranny cooler and converted the engine cooling fan to electric.

                            The suspension is adequate (coils on the rear as opposed to leafs on the cherokee sport), but air shocks would also be a good addition.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Mid/Small SUV Recommendation under $8k

                              My father has a 05' Chevrolet Trailblazer...Bought it for 12k. Came with a low 42k miles..There are other Trail Blazers around your price with higher miles.... We tow His 21' foot Wellcraft..The Boat and trailer weigh 3500 combined... Has not a problem. We tow my 16 foot bass tracker without a problem too. Check them out-there pretty good towing vehicles..

                              _D

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