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Old 07-31-2014, 11:43 AM   #1
UngaWunga OP
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small suv advice

So my lovely wife turned yet another decent automobile in to a $500
as-is for parts only "vehicle", and we need to get her something
else.

My wants:
cheap to work on
sturdy
decent mileage
automatic for her.
can tow a small trailer would be nice.

She wants: 535xi. I thought that was hilarious. She didn't... lol
Toyota Rav4
Ford Escape
Honda CRV

So, basically a small suv that has AWD. Any advice? I might be able to
talk her into a Subaru, but I've lost track of their engine
oil/headgasket problems. And those flat 4 engines look a like a bitch
to work on.
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:48 AM   #2
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Honda CR-V or Hyundai Santa Fe / Tucson

Honda for the reliability and serviceability (well, for a transverse engine)

Hyundai Santa Fe for Bang-for-the-Buck, great warranty.

The Lotto clan has owned both in all wheel drive versions. The only problem on either was one loose window track bolt in the Hyundai.
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Old 07-31-2014, 11:52 AM   #3
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A 535 xl is a great car. Get her what she wants and she'll take care of it. Current model has been around for 4 years so there should be lots of great CPO's around.
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Old 07-31-2014, 12:05 PM   #4
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A 535 xl is a great car. Get her what she wants and she'll take care of it. Current model has been around for 4 years so there should be lots of great CPO's around.

Yeah, no. I'll be paying for maintenance and insurance. The way she turns nice cars into steaming shitboxes = she's not going to get an expensive car.
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Old 07-31-2014, 12:09 PM   #5
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+1 on CRV and Rav-4. Both great cars. Alternatively, you could pick up a used subaru wagon that would likely fit your needs.
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Old 07-31-2014, 12:11 PM   #6
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we have a 2012 Rav4 i4 4wd 3rd row. Not a very fancy car but gets the job done. It is the wife/family car. Drives nice. Gets about 25mpg. enough ump from a 4 banger than maxes out a 179 hp.

She is not into cars so doesn't mind the fact that it is "boring". I have a Z, Nismo Frontier, and my bike to keep me happy. however I always smile when I drive the RAV. So easy to drive.

The 2012 is the last year of the 3rd gens. I would not get a 3rd gen with the 2.4l (pre 2009?). Not that the .1 L makes a difference but there were some issues with the car itself that were fixed when they did the update.
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Old 07-31-2014, 12:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by MrPulldown View Post
we have a 2012 Rav4 i4 4wd 3rd row. Not a very fancy car but gets the job done. It is the wife/family car. Drives nice. Gets about 25mpg. enough ump from a 4 banger than maxes out a 179 hp.

She is not into cars so doesn't mind the fact that it is "boring". I have a Z, Nismo Frontier, and my bike to keep me happy. however I always smile when I drive the RAV. So easy to drive.

The 2012 is the last year of the 3rd gens. I would not get a 3rd gen with the 2.4l (pre 2009?). Not that the .1 L makes a difference but there were some issues with the car itself that were fixed when they did the update.

Good advice, thanks.
That's what I'm looking for, what years of those cars to avoid.
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Old 07-31-2014, 01:06 PM   #8
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In 2013 they came out with the 4th generation of these cars. They put an auto 5 speed in that upped the MPG by a couple of points. The 4 speed auto that was in these things before was outdated. We could have waited for the 2013 to come out but I do not like getting a first model year vehicle. They also canned the 3rd row in 2013, which was a must for us. Wife really wanted the 7 passenger capacity. Not that we use it all the time but we have 2 kids and a 3 sets of grand parents. When they come up we find ourselves driving 2 cars. 3rd row seats are a bit small but they work fine for short trips.

Not sure I would be into the 2nd gen, defiantly not a first. I think that the 2012 is the best year of the 3rd gen. Last year of production they really worked out a lot of the kinks. It is the only year that added bluetooth. Didn't think that was going to be a big deal, but man is it nice. Having used it, if I was to do it all over again BT would have been on the must have list.

Like I said avoid the 2.4L 3rd gens and get a 2.5L I believe the year was 2009-2012.

As for the V6. The V6 RAV4 (only available in the 3rd gen) was the fastest car that toyota made power to weight wise (in 2012). I really wanted one. Only suffered one less MPG. But in some real world situations it gets better gas mileage than a i4 due to the higher gearing and and available power. The only draw back is that it is a higher maintenance engine. Timing belt vs chain, and more prone to issues. It also kills transmissions which is a weak link on these things. Toyota has been making bomb proof 4 bangers forever. Recall the legendary 22r and re. And just like it this current 2.5 L (2AR-FE) is pretty stout and produces good power. My buddy in high school had a Cadillac coup de'ville with a 500ci V8 that made 190 hp (Quadrajet carb version). That is 8 Liters. The 2.5 makes 179 hp!!!

Finally the stability control is unreal. Took the car out one snowy night to do some snow/ice drifting around the neighborhood. Cause that is what you do with a new car. GO into a corner a little hot pitch it sideways, as soon as I do so lights start to flash on the dash, weird abs type noises start to happen and the car straighten up and goes though the corner perfect. Hit the button to turn off the traction control. Try it again, but faster with the e-brake. Same results. WTF. Talk to some forum guys and they say that I simply turned off the traction control. Unbeknownst to me the car has stabilty control; if you hold down the traction control button for 3 seconds it turns off the stability control. Armed with this knowledge I was out in a snowy parking lot, turned off all control ninnies, got up to speed and yanked the steering wheel and the e-brake. Was almost able to 2-360's AWESOME. Turn on the traction/stability control and tried again, and within the nose of the car pointing 20 degrees off track the computer kicks in and straightens things up again. Amazing. Gives me a lot of confidence driving this thing in the snow.

The RAV4 is basically a corrola with the camry i4. The highlander is a camry based SUV. The RAV is considered 4wd (if you get the 4wd version), as it only engages 4wd when it is needed. The transmission is a transaxle (3 out puts), no low range. Most of the time it runs as a FWD spinning the rear drive shaft to the rear diff with a electronic coupling clutch. When needed the clutch will grab and deliver power.
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrPulldown View Post
The RAV is considered 4wd (if you get the 4wd version), as it only engages 4wd when it is needed. The transmission is a transaxle (3 out puts), no low range. Most of the time it runs as a FWD spinning the rear drive shaft to the rear diff with a electronic coupling clutch. When needed the clutch will grab and deliver power.
At least some Rav4 models have a driver-selectable center diff lock, I know that my mom's '07 Sport V6 model has it. However, she's had to replace the rear diff twice already (130k miles total on it now).
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:14 PM   #10
Tripl Nikl
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Subaru.

For parts, http://www.superrupair.com/ is awesome. I got a used rear diff and axles for my 03 WRX at a very reasonable price (I forget what was, but it was reasonable). Subie doesn't change things "just because," so parts typically crossover multiple years, reducing maintanence costs.

Mind my asking what she does that kills cars? Loads of short distance driving or something?
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:32 PM   #11
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Mind my asking what she does that kills cars? Loads of short distance driving or something?
Not that interested in subarus and head gasket problems and difficult to work on flat 4 engines.

She drives them. She's inattentive, she speeds, she brakes late for stop signs and red lights, she hits things, she spills crap inside them, doesn't clean them, drives through potholes. Cell phone while driving... She once had a state trooper trying to pull her over for a few miles down the interstate because she had the stereo cranked and didn't see or hear him.

Basically, your stereotypical woman driver who has no mechanical sympathy. Just beats the crap out of cars. She's been in.... 5 wrecks since I've married her (20 years). Rolled my Toyota truck. Had to be cut out of my Mazda 3. Drove our volvo into a ditch on a straight road. Et cetera.

She's who you fear meeting while riding a motorcycle.

So we need something sturdy and easy to fix.
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UngaWunga View Post
Not that interested in subarus and head gasket problems and difficult to work on flat 4 engines.

She drives them. She's inattentive, she speeds, she brakes late for stop signs and red lights, she hits things, she spills crap inside them, doesn't clean them, drives through potholes. Cell phone while driving... She once had a state trooper trying to pull her over for a few miles down the interstate because she had the stereo cranked and didn't see or hear him.

Basically, your stereotypical woman driver who has no mechanical sympathy. Just beats the crap out of cars. She's been in.... 5 wrecks since I've married her (20 years). Rolled my Toyota truck. Had to be cut out of my Mazda 3. Drove our volvo into a ditch on a straight road. Et cetera.

She's who you fear meeting while riding a motorcycle.

So we need something sturdy and easy to fix.
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Old 07-31-2014, 04:06 PM   #13
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Long-lost sisters?

My wife is also a Destroyer of Vehicles. Unfortunately, she has to drive a lot for her job.

She drives a RAV4 with about 330,000 miles on it. I long ago ceded my Corolla to her and it has about 345,000 miles now. (I ride everywhere unless it's snowing pretty hard.)

'Nuff said?


We've been through at least 10 or 12 bent wheels and damaged tires (she once managed to rip a foot-long hole in a tire by hitting a fire plug that's been in the exact same spot next to our driveway for decades.), a couple of headlights and marker lights, three or four windshields, a couple of door windows, mirrors galore, and I'm not entirely sure what killed the last radiator.

Right now I'm waiting on new glass for the rear hatch to get here. She somehow managed to put a boat through it last week. A fucking boat. (And no, we don't have a boat.)

Both vehicles look and smell like a stable after a week. She turns into a complete slob when driving (nothing unusual about that), but part of her job is hauling people around. So she just lets them eat and drink and fart and spill all they want (I'm about 99.9% certain one guy never showers or wipes his ass), and leave their trash in the car. They also leave loosely capped bottles of soda (with sugar, of course) and leftover lunches under the seats all the time.

If Toyota came out with a vehicle with quick-release seats and floor drains, it would make the weekly mucking out a lot easier.

As a wise English friend once told me, "It's a good job they've got vaginers, or we'd frow rocks at 'em!"

So yeah. Toyotas are tough and easy to work on.
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Old 07-31-2014, 04:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UngaWunga View Post
Not that interested in subarus and head gasket problems and difficult to work on flat 4 engines.
they aren't hard to work on at all, at least in my opinion. worked on several imprezas, a WRX and my own forester and never had a bad head gasket, but ours was a 2006 and it is my understanding that the pre 2005 ones were the ones using the inferior gasket material.

i wouldn't discount it outright - i flogged the shit out of that forester, gave it to my mom at 160k miles and she is still driving it without a single issue (except that she turned the aftermarket radio to XM and couldn't figure out how to turn it back )
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Old 07-31-2014, 07:09 PM   #15
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Add a +1 to the RAV4 bandwagon.
We got a 2010 and it gave us 50k miles of trouble free driving.

It became the 'truck' when we sold the Tacoma. Not abused, but definitely used well. Stood up to everything we threw at it and cleaned up well

Bulletproof drivetrain, decent in the snow (no Subaru, but decent with good winter tires)

So why did we sell it? Boring as fuck.
It was the first auto either myself or my wife owned in 50 combined years of driving. The day we sold it, I probably still put my left foot to the floor looking for a clutch...after 3.5 years of ownership. We never got used to the auto and she wanted to give herself a graduation present (accounting designation) of a new 'fun' car. Anything you want, sweetie.

Lots of 4th gen coming off lease...prices are good because of the 5th gens out there. Find a colour you like... The v6 will likely be harder to find.

Good luck!
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