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Thread: Compact SUVs

  1. #1
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Compact SUVs

    My 2000 Toyota Solara has served me well. Probably the best car I have ever owned. Still runs like a top and even being kept outdoors and driven on the slushy, salt laden winter roads of Western PA, I only have a very small area of surface rust anywhere on the body of the car.

    But I think it is time to buy a new car. I would like to buy 6-12 months from now. Keeping the Solara through one more winter, I think I would like a compact SUV. I will probably buy used. Maybe something like a Ford Escape.

    Any thoughts on which SUV to buy?
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

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    Senior Member jdon's Avatar
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    Rav 4.

    I have 2 and they have been excellent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    My 2000 Toyota Solara has served me well. Probably the best car I have ever owned. Still runs like a top and even being kept outdoors and driven on the slushy, salt laden winter roads of Western PA, I only have a very small area of surface rust anywhere on the body of the car.

    But I think it is time to buy a new car. I would like to buy 6-12 months from now. Keeping the Solara through one more winter, I think I would like a compact SUV. I will probably buy used. Maybe something like a Ford Escape.

    Any thoughts on which SUV to buy?
    My company owns a Ford Escape and I have to drive it occasionally. My wife and I rented an Escape a couple of years ago on a vacation trip. I was impressed that both of these were solid vehicles, although not very exciting. These were both the older style Escapes, I don't know how different the new style is overall, but it looks more interesting from the outside.

    I think the Escape would be a good vehicle for someone that needs to carry a lot of stuff occasionally, otherwise you could just get a small passenger car.

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    The Forester is the top rated, but it's really what floats your boat, as the RAV4, Honda CRV and Mazda CX-5 are right up there in terms of quality. The 2015 Subies have a CVT transmission and while it's probably the best example of that system, is not for everyone. A buddy is on his 3rd Honda and loves it.

    I used a rental Escape a few weeks years back and liked it, but when shopping a year ago found that the an AWD Escape with auto put it way above the prices of the vehicles mentioned above, go figure. Some of that was timing as there were no dealer/factory initiatives at the time.

    I also and surprisingly, did not find the Kia's or Hyundai'S to be good deals. And could not find any Mitsubishi Outlanders. I skipped the Rogue, not reading anything good about it at the time, but the '15 is spoked to be better.

    I ended up up with an '11 Forester used with 9500 miles and have been very happy with it. One thing I like about the Forester is great visibility. Many of the others feel like your sitting in a cave, especially in the back seat. The Forester has a very open feel. As well, I can fit a road or mt. bike in the back, seats down, without removing the front wheel. The CRV is tall enough inside to sit a bike upright with the front wheel removed, and not needing the seat lowered.
    Last edited by Steve B.; 10-12-14 at 06:36 PM.

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    Senior Member Will G's Avatar
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    The wife just bought a 2014 Toyota Venza. Been very impressed with it so far but we've only had it a month.
    Flying a jet is no different than riding a bicycle. It's just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdon View Post
    Rav 4.

    I have 2 and they have been excellent.

    Was just reading up on the Rav 4! I like the idea of the ample cargo space. Cargo space is one of the reasons I want an SUV. It would be nice to have the option of stashing my bike in the back as opposed to having to use a rack.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will G View Post
    The wife just bought a 2014 Toyota Venza. Been very impressed with it so far but we've only had it a month.

    What is the difference between the Venza and the Rav 4? At first quick glance they look the same. Is the Venza larger?
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    We shopped the compact SUV's just before settling on the Altima on Memorial Day weekend. We took a Tucson (or Santa Fe Sport) for spin, wife climbed into the cabin of an Escape and didn't even bother starting the motor because she didn't like the seats/ergonomics, and the Mazda CX-5 didn't have the color/content at a price we liked. I tried to get my wife to look at the Rogue*, but a) she was getting tired of looking at cars, b) fuel economy was very high on the list, and c) the factory incentives on the Altima made it a no brainer.

    *Not sure if it still applies, but at the time there were actually two Rogues. The Rogue was the new generation and the Rogue Select was the previous generation- Reviews of the older Rogues (now Rogue Select) were less than stellar. The new Rogue is built in the US, the Rogue Select in Japan.
    Last edited by no1mad; 10-13-14 at 11:47 AM. Reason: updated info
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    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    What is the difference between the Venza and the Rav 4? At first quick glance they look the same. Is the Venza larger?
    Think of the Venza as a beefy station wagon. I would've loved to have put this on our list when we were shopping, but the sticker price is above and beyond the budget. The closest non-Euro/luxury comparable model would be the Dodge Journey.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
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  10. #10
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Love my 2014 Outback, although the lag of a CVT took some getting to. I looked for used, but it's insane what they're asking for for 4-5 y/o Outbacks with 80k+.

    I've switched cars about every seven years. But I can see keeping this one much much longer.

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    Go with a 4wd wagon or something more like the forester if you just want something with good traction and cargo space. Escapes and Rav4's are decent cars, but IMO almost all small SUV's are awful for passenger comfort, particularly the rear seats.

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    I have a ’13 CRV and have nothing but good things to say about its ride and build quality. I can easily put my bike inside with the front wheel on and or 3 bikes, 4 if needed, on top. I put just the smaller of the back seats down and carry tripods/monopods extended with no problems. It has a good navigation system and a good back-up camera. I wouldn’t have a car anymore that didn’t have a back-up camera. I can get 30+ mpg on the freeway. I looked at and test-drove the Forester, BMW 3, Audi Q5 and RAV 4. The Q5 was the only one I liked better than the CRV but it was 10,000 more. Now Audi has the Q3 which should be more comparable to what I was looking at then. Before the CRV I had an Audi A3 and would have bought another one had they not changed to a sedan instead of a 5 door hatchback model.

  13. #13
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    I have been noticing that the Rav4 2012 and older have an exterior spare tire. That is a really nice feature. Does it give the 2012 more cargo space or are the newer models a bit larger to accommodate the spare?
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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    on by skijor's Avatar
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    The newer Rav4s got a lot bigger. It's partly why I was swayed to the Outback. I can wash mine without needing a step ladder.
    I had a '99 CRV which was nice, but woefully underpowered. The Popular small SUVs of the previous few generations had external spares. Didn't matter much to me as long as it wasn't underneath and external.

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    14' Forester XT.. no regrets.. awesome vehicle... especially if safety is #1 priority.

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    Senior Member Will G's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    What is the difference between the Venza and the Rav 4? At first quick glance they look the same. Is the Venza larger?
    Never looked at the RAV4 so I really couldn't say what the difference might be. We were also looking at the Highlander but those things are quite popular and the dealers weren't coming too far off the sticker price.
    Flying a jet is no different than riding a bicycle. It's just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes.

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    Senior Member eastbay71's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post

    Any thoughts on which SUV to buy?
    Honda Element although getting harder to get a good one since they quit making them. They have a very capable 4WD system, flat rear floor, easily removable seats camping kits etc. Great small SUV. I can also say I totaled one going 55MPH directly into a tree and I didn't get a scratch (well okay my shin had a bruise from the dashboard but that's it)
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  18. #18
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    I have been noticing that the Rav4 2012 and older have an exterior spare tire. That is a really nice feature. Does it give the 2012 more cargo space or are the newer models a bit larger to accommodate the spare?
    I have a 2013 RAV4, had it almost 2 years.

    The answer to your question of the 2012 and older cargo space is yes, there is more space in the cargo area with the spare on the outside. The extra space is depth from floor to ceiling. Put a fork mount in the older model cargo area, take off the wheel and set the bike in upright. In my 2013 I need to drop the seat a couple inches to mount the bike upright in a fork mount. I put the bike inside on longer drives, on the roof rack around town and shorter drives.

    The thing I like about the 2013 is that the rear hatch opens up, older model opens to the side. I also very much like the 4 cylinder engine with the six speed auto transmission, great performance and excellent gas mileage. Another thing I like is the four wheel drive lock with a button on the dash. This has taken me up snowy hills safely when It would not go up in normal AWD mode.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  19. #19
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    You might also look at and drive the KIA Sportage, good car and a 10 year warranty.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

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    THE STUFFED Leukybear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdon View Post
    Rav 4.
    The new one is butt ugly....

    Sharpened pencils.... in my eyes now.

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    Senior Member bikebuddha's Avatar
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    The correct answer is the Mazda CX-5.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spdntrxi View Post
    14' Forester XT.. no regrets.. awesome vehicle... especially if safety is #1 priority.
    I have a '14 Forester as well--though mine is low spec and cost a little bit more than half the price of a loaded XT. Mine has a 6-speed manual transmission and it's really the only vehicle in the segment that can be had with a clutch pedal if you roll that way. With the rear seats down I can close the tailgate on two DF bikes by removing the front wheels and lowering the saddles all the way (I have the headroom special with no sunroof). I can also fit my SWB recumbent inside though that requires fiddling with the front passenger seat a bit.

    The Subaru is awesome in snow as well and has great safety ratings. If you will ever have to put kid seats in the back you won't find more room than the Forester unless you go to a minivan.

  23. #23
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    I noticed the Rouge has a significant amount of space under the rear deck. How do they do that with a spare in there? Is the deck just raised?

    Do any other SUVs have space under the deck? One of the big problems with SUVs is a place to stash valuables. Yeah you can get a privacy screen but I would think even a privacy screen might invite the curious thief, though they might move on to the vehicles were the valuables are in plain sight.

    The reason I ask is because my co-worker just had his SUV broken into. Lost a window and a bunch of valuables but I think they coulf be seen from the window.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    I can tell you not to get the Jeep Patriot.

    My firm rented one for my family and I on a mostly business trip to one of our mountain offices during last winter (I worked and the family played in town). It handled the roads just fine, but man, that thing was uncomfortable to sit in and drive in for more than a couple hours. Also, its 2.4L engine didn't have very much oomph and required too much downshifting to make it up the mountain passes.
    Last edited by mikeybikes; 10-13-14 at 08:55 AM.
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  25. #25
    derailleurs are overrated bigbenaugust's Avatar
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    We have an '09 CR-V (FWD with leather seats) and we love it. It's our only car, so it's both Mommy's kid-mobile and Daddy's truck. If we were in need of a second car for me, the Element would be pretty high on the list, as they're based on a shortened CR-V chassis.

    Even without 4WD, we have chugged it through gravel, mud, snow... and that is just getting it out of the driveway, not to mention the epic winter drive up 95 for Christmas. It is currently in Florida with 3 adults and 2 kids.
    Last edited by bigbenaugust; 10-13-14 at 08:40 AM.
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