Edmunds Answers



  • knowledgepower 04/13/10 6:41 pm PST

    I would start with a Jeep Wrangler, that would be in your price range. Check Edmunds.com and it will help you compare.

  • Stever@Edmunds 04/13/10 6:56 pm PST

    I wouldn't worry as much about the Prius suspension as I would about the ground clearance.

    You could split the difference with a Subaru.


  • zaken1 04/13/10 8:10 pm PST

    I would suggest one of the following five vehicles, which are all heavy duty designs; after you test drive and compare their ride quality. 2010 Dodge Nitro; 2010 Dodge Ram Pickup 1500; 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser; 2010 Toyota Tacoma; and 2010 Dodge Dakota Pickup. I have worked up an Edmunds comparison of these 5 vehicles, in the link referenced below. The engine, transmission, and body configuration was selected for the best combination of low initial cost, and ride quality. With all other factors being equal; the longer a vehicle's wheelbase; the better the ride will be over bumpy surfaces. In that category; the long bed Dodge Ram, Dodge Dakota and Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks should exceed the ride stability of the other vehicles. But you might find that the suspension design of the Toyota FJ Cruiser or Dodge Nitro overrides the pickups in ride comfort. Only a test comparison will tell.

    Source: http://www.edmunds.com/apps/nvc/edmunds

  • boomchek 04/13/10 8:37 pm PST

    No point looking at a Prius because it's not high enough for what you're planning on using it for.

    I'd seriously look at a Jeep Wrangler. They're inexpensive, have decent fuel economy, and the current models are better suited for daily use than the older pre 07 models due to better ergonomics and insulation from the elements.

  • morin2 04/13/10 11:29 pm PST

    I'm surprised that more people don't consider road conditions when car shopping. As state budgets become more strapped each year, road maintenance budgets are an easy target to cut. Of course, in some parts of the country, like New England, the roads have always looked like they were bombed.

    Forget the Prius. I've test driven the FJ Cruiser and was impressed with it. Pay attention to the rear visibility issues. Its not a problem if you're used to driving a cargo van.

    I would test drive the vehicle on the roads that you plan to drive. I would lean more towards trucks because the front end components will be larger and more durable. I like full-size trucks, but not everyone has parking for one.

    I'm surprised by the Jeep CJ recommendations. I haven't driven one recently enough, I suppose, but the wheelbase is still short. Drive one and see how it handles the potholes and tracks after impacts at highway speed. Off-road ability doesn't always translate into highway performance. There's a big difference between rock crawling, mud bogging, and hitting a massive pothole at 65mph.

  • zaken1 04/13/10 11:55 pm PST

    I'd also like to add one more vehicle to consider: 2010 Toyota RAV4. This vehicle has 7.5" ground clearance; which is very close to that on the Jeeps, has a lower price than the Jeeps, and gives much better gas mileage than any of the other vehicles. Incidentally; despite the type of roads you mention; I would not recommend ordering a vehicle with 4 wheel or all wheel drive, unless you definitely need it for dealing with mud or snow conditions. A vehicle without 4 wheel or all wheel drive will be a lot less expensive to buy, and simpler and less costly to maintain.

  • morin2 04/14/10 7:51 pm PST

    Once you narrow down your list, you'll also need to consider how the vehicles are equipped. There has been a (ridiculous) trend toward low profile tires on expensive alloy wheels. Hit a bad pothole with one of those and you may have a spectacular blowout and wheel damage. I was recently behind two such blowouts right in front of me on the Cross-Bronx Expressway and observed a bunch of disabled vehicles. Some trim levels of otherwise good choices - such as the RAV4 "Sport", may have wheels and tires unsuited to driving over bad potholes. Often, the base level with steel wheels and higher profile tires are the best choice for bad roads. This is another advantage to trucks and truck-based SUVs which often come with 70 or 75 series tires.

  • motorstreet 04/14/10 10:52 pm PST

    Just about any small SUV would have a strong enough suspension. I wouldn't recommend a Prius, the last one I was in was falling apart after a couple years in San Francisco. The Subaru Forester is the best all rounder I can think of in this class, but if you need something more rugged you should consider the Jeep Patriot or Suzuki Grand Vitara. The Honda Element would also be good. If you want a fuel efficient car the Volkswagen Jetta or Golf TDI would be the only one strong enough for those circumstances.

  • zaken1 04/15/10 4:09 pm PST

    The new Chevy Equinox would also be a good choice. It has slightly more ground clearance than the Toyota RAV4, and gets even better highway gas mileage.

  • verdugo 04/15/10 7:38 pm PST

    "I'm surprised by the Jeep CJ recommendations. I haven't driven one recently enough"

    That's because it's not the CJ. The CJ was last made in 1986. This is the JK. It's pretty different than the CJ. It's also availalable as a 4 door if that's something the OP needs.

    I think the Wrangler JK is a great vehicle for the conditions you describe. The 2011 should be changed a bit (and MAYBE get the new Pentastar engine). If you can wait, check out the new changes. If they're not worth it to you, pick up a 2010 on the cheap.

  • zaken1 04/15/10 8:23 pm PST

    The Jeep models everyone has been recommending are priced far above the 23K that was specified as a maximum. There is another Jeep model called the Patriot; which is the only Jeep model that fits within the specified price range. It also gets considerably better fuel economy than the other Jeeps.

  • boomchek 04/15/10 8:31 pm PST

    A 2010 2 door Jeep Wrangler starts at under $22k with manual transmission, and under $23k with automatic (destination included). Less rebates and plus taxes it should fit under $23k out the door.

  • zaken1 04/15/10 9:07 pm PST

    I rechecked Wrangler prices, and found that the Rubicon 2 door and the Sahara 2 door both are priced over the limit. Those were the models I was previously looking at. But I also found that the Sport 2 door is less than the price limit. I had incorrectly assumed that the Sport would be more expensive than the other models. Sorry 'bout that mistake. Nevertheless; none of the Wranglers gets over 19 mpg highhway; and he stated that his minimum acceptable gas mileage was 20-25 mpg.


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