Brick Kicks Tires...All of the Tires

Discussion in 'General' started by brick, Apr 3, 2016.

  1. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Anyway, back to the subject at hand.

    '16 Honda CR-V

    No dice. The current generation CR-V has the same ergonomic problem as the Accord and the Rav-4. The seat travels just far enough back for me but I'm left reaching in front of me for the wheel. It's a shame because it's an otherwise likeable car. Not too fancy but not lacking anything I'd want (EX trim) and generally a nice place to be. I didn't spend a whole lot of time poking around, though, because it would have been pointless. On the other hand, the sales guy told me that he's expecting the next generation to show up sometime in the fall. I told him I'd be back.

    Jeep Cherokee
    Yeah, I went there. I've never been a fan of Chrysler products but what the hell, right? I actually test drove a 3.2L V6 4x4 Limited with the "altitude pack" (I think) which adds...less chrome? If I'm being really, brutally honest I found things to like about it. The driving position was good for me and I found nothing to complain about in the seating department. I might have liked a little more rearward steering wheel travel but it was comfortable enough. The only points deduction in the front is headroom, which was a little tight with the panoramic sunroof. I had to sit with the seat all the way down in order to clear, yet somehow I felt like I was too low relative to the instrument cluster. I'm not sure what that's about? There's just something funky about the dash layout. I forgot about it immediately after setting off, though. Rear legroom was a little tight for me with the front seat adjusted for my driving position, but most people would have been fine back there. I found nothing to complain about in terms of rear cargo space. It's nice and rectangular, just as it should be.

    I've always wanted to try the much-discussed ZF 9-speed transmission so I was pretty excited to take it for a spin. Bottom line, I didn't find anything truly objectionable on my short loop but it is a little different. The first few gear changes were absolutely buttery smooth, then there was a pause for a dog clutch to couple or uncouple, then it went back to smooth shifting on up the gears toward the other dog clutch. The only time it might be annoying is when kicking-down across the dog clutch to pass. In normal driving I can't see it being a problem. Plus the little truck moves just fine without being pushed. I found the 6-cylinder smooth, unobtrusive, and more than up to its task. At this point I think I'm supposed to moan about 6-cylinder fuel economy, but its EPA rating is surprisingly close to the 2.4L I-4: 21/28 for the 2.4L vs. 20/28 for the 3.2L when equipped with the basic AWD system. Behold the miracle of many gears, I guess? Or perhaps the horror of a vehicle that can't be made efficient no matter what's under the hood? Call it what you want. At least it rode and drove well. It was compliant but I didn't get that isolated "marshmallow" feeling that the NX200t gave me.

    Next question: Would I actually spend my own money on one? Having sat for a while and thought about it, I don't think so. While the Cherokee would be a mostly adequate car I'd have a hard time placing it ahead of some of the other options. For example I'd have a very hard time taking a Cherokee over the spacious, more efficient, historically reliable, and very capable Outback (though I have yet to actually drive one). I don't even think I'd take it over an RDX, which would be in the same sad fuel economy class but offer a somewhat better driving position, headroom, and rear seat space. But as my wife once pointed out, the Cherokee is fashionable. I might want one more if I cared.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
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  2. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I had a rental Cherokee and found the highway driving dynamics to be just right, spot on. It was composed and stable, but absorbed bumps smoothly.

    For how big it is, the interior was strangely small. Even with the smaller engine the fuel economy wasn't great. I got about 24 mostly highway. (in a company-paid rental, so I wasn't exactly babying it. ;))
     
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  3. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I like reading about your tire-kicking, Tim. I may not have the same ergonomic issues that you have with these cars. (5'6",155 lbs) I also have not found any reason to buy a Chrysler product since my 77 Dodge pickup , which was horrible. Of course , ALL cars made in the 70's sucked. Anyone who talks about the "good old days" is either senile , or an imbecile.
     
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  4. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    One thing I'll add about the Cherokee is that it gave me a strange sense of comfortable familiarity. It finally dawned on me that it was because of all the Chrysler products I rented when I used to travel for work more frequently. I'm not saying it felt low-rent by any means but that the switchgear, sound of the dinger, even the specific new car smell triggered some of those road trip memories. The only past Chrysler I didn't get along with was the Liberty, which was a god-awful cinder block of a lumbering, uncomfortable 14mpg pig. It's probably quite capable for actual off-roading but I hated driving it on pavement. The Cherokee is a space ship by comparison. IDK. I still don't see myself buying one but I'll keep it on my ever-shrinking list.

    Oh, and on a side note the fully-loaded trailer "only" seems to have hit the Ody's fuel economy by about 10% on yesterday's long highway run. It still stings considering a starting point hardly above 20mpg but I was afraid it might be worse. Plus it forces my wife to drive at safer speeds.
     
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  5. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Trailering Considerations
    I'm really glad the trailer situation came into the picture before making my mind up on a car. I never realized what a morass of specifications I'd have to wade into to make sure that a vehicle can safely (and without voiding its warranty) pull a load. Our trailer weighs 850lb dry and can gross up to 1750lb. Loaded down with 6 dogs, mats, gear and water I doubt it'll ever be over the 1500lb mark, and if it were we could lighten it if necessary. Since I'm mostly looking at CUVs and crossovers and wagons and things with >=1500lb tow ratings this should be easy, right? Not quite.

    The complication is braking. This trailer isn't braked, which is perfectly legal at those weights and seems safe enough behind the Ody. Thing is, if you just go by published ratings in the glossy brochure you miss the fact that advertised ratings are for a trailer with its own braking system. At high gross weights you run into legal requirements for brakes anyway (3000lb in NY). But most of the smaller CUVs, crossovers, wagons, etc. that I'm looking at have unbraked limits much less than their maximum braked capacities. For example, Subaru requires that any trailer over 1000lb have its own brakes. (Compare that to a 2700lb max rating.) Honda/Acura and Ford have "recommended" limits for brakes (1000lb for an RDX, for example, and 0 for every Ford I've looked at) but no hard requirement. The only way to know that, as far as I can tell, is to download every owner's manual and read it. So that's what I've done.

    This gives me a couple of choices. One is to narrow the field only to vehicles with acceptable unbraked tow ratings, which leaves me with plenty of options but none that are particularly fuel efficient. That's silly. The better option is just to add brakes to the trailer. Fortunately for me, the axle on our trailer does have bolting flanges for electric brakes. It looks like I just need a couple of brake assemblies plus compatible hubs for the trailer and a brake controller for each tow vehicle. Looks like $500 worth of equipment, maybe less? Not too bad in my mind, and probably a good idea anyway.

    The things you learn...
     
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  6. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    Really great info and I think you've picked the better solution with the "braked" trailer retrofit. Can't be too safe with the cargo, not to mention the vehicle occupants.
     
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  7. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Numbers and stuff
    As much fun as the in-person shopping part is, I'm trying really hard to stay objective. That shouldn't be too tough because I can't muster much in the way of excitement about anything currently on my list. Still, I like to stay organized. Prepare to be bored!

    I have a spreadsheet tracking prices, fuel economy, utility, my own test scores, etc. Here's a quick summary of what's left including things yet-to-be-seen in person. Cost, except for one case, is MSRP for a '16 or '17 model configured the way I'd probably want it. In the FE section I've been keeping track not only of EPA scores but fuelly averages since not all ratings tend to pan out in the real world. I came up with estimated repair costs by looking at True Delta repair frequency and cost data. That number is sketchy, I think, but it's probably good enough to differentiate between good and bad. TCO includes purchase price and depreciation, tax, fuel (@ $4), and estimated repair cost. Bottom line: cars are expensive.


    ..................................Configured..............EPA...................Fuelly......max cargo.....towing.......estimated...estimated
    Make.....Model....................price...........city.highway.combined...average..volume (ft^3)..capacity (lb).. repair cost..9-year TCO

    Acura...RDX............$41,510......19...28....22......22.6.....61.3.......1500.......$2,180....$52,124

    Ford....Escape.........$31,420......20...27....23......22.3.....68.0.......3500.......$2,496....$43,239

    Ford....Edge...........$35,725......20...28....23......20.4.....73.4.......3500.......$2,735....$47,131

    Hyundai.Santa Fe Sport.$34,345......19...26....22......20.9.....71.5.......3500.......$3,610....$47,475

    Kia.....Sportage.......$30,295......19...26....22......22.2.....60.1.......2000.......$3,848....$44,277

    Lexus...NX300h.........$42,260......33...30....32......30.3.....54.6.......1500.......$2,433....$48,410

    Lexus...RX450h (PO)....$32,000......30...28....29......25.3.....80.3.......3500.......$2,205....$40,526

    Mazda...CX-5...........$31,925......24...30....26......26.4.....64.8.......2000.........$440....$39,987

    Nissan..Murano.........$39,550......21...28....24......21.8.....69.9.......1500.......$2,646....$49,700

    Subaru..Crosstrek......$28,840......26...34....29......26.3.....51.9.......1500.........$345....$35,985

    Subaru..Forester.......$31,645......24...32....27......26.6.....74.7.......1500.......$2,516....$41,363

    Subaru..Outback........$28,570......25...32....28......25.9.....73.3.......2700.......$3,662....$39,472

    Volvo...V60............$42,600......25...37....29......26.9.....43.8.......3500.......$3,749....$51,062

    Volvo...XC60...........$44,345......20...28....23......25.8.....67.4.......3500.......$3,749....$55,457


    Ergonomic and driveabilty considerations aside I could almost pick the winners right now. CX-5 and Outback offer a really attractive blend of FE, utility, and overall cost. I also threw in the RX450h (and maybe HiHy) as a used option since it makes a reasonably compelling case for itself thanks to FE, reliability, and outright hugeness. (New is completely out of the que$tion.) When the time comes I'll probably consider going used no matter what but I don't want to throw that wrench into it right now...too many variables. Forester and Escape are pretty well-balanced cars, too, although Ford is a little behind on FE across the board. Some cars on the list will have to blow me away to overcome shortcomings in the FE, Price, and/or utility departments.

    A whole bunch of cars have been removed for various reasons. Sedans are out, obviously. Hyundai Tucson and Nissan Rogue are gone since they only tow 1000lb max. That's a bit of a shame in the Hyundai's case since it was a stand-out in the IIHS passenger small overlap test. On that note the Cherokee and Tiguan are gone because they did poorly on that test even on the driver's side. (Since I have a choice I'm ditching anything that didn't at least score Acceptable.) Rav4 and CR-V are gone due to ergonomics, although the CR-V will get a second look when the next generation hits showrooms. And realistically anything with a sticker price over about $32k (new or ~3 years used) won't likely make it to the final round. I just don't feel like I should have to spend more than that to get something good.

    So this begs the question: what have I forgotten? I feel like I've been paring-down from a fairly comprehensive list but it's always possible I've missed something. I did just now realize that the Equinox/Terrain twins probably deserve a look. Somehow I completely forgot about GM!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2016
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  8. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    Not sure of the cost of ownership or reliability aspects, but a used Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 3.0 diesel would make a very useful vehicle especially with some towing duties and reasonable/good fuel economy. I took a quick look at local used vehicles (Massachusetts) and there is a 2014 with 60k miles for about $28k. That seems high to me but not out of your range.
     
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  9. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Yeah, actually, that would be worth a look. It would be more than up to any task I'd throw at it and FE with that diesel should be reasonable when treated well. Good tip!
     
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  10. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    I had a 1994 Cherokee Sport with the 4 liter straight 6 and manual transmission. It was a trouble-free vehicle even though I abused it a bit with off-roading including a week around Leadville, CO. MPG was pretty good, around 30 iirc, but before my consciousness was opened with hypermiling so not terribly well documented or monitored. It eventually died of some body rot and I gave up 4-wheeling.
     
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  11. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    I'm going to need a doctor or an exorcist or an optometrist or something because I've found myself strangely, shamefully attracted to this: the 2017 El Hondino.
    [​IMG]

    1) Shame it doesn't have more diesel. 2) There's an antibiotic or something I can take for this, right? 3) Hopefully it will have CR-V ergos and I'll be able to claim that I was just joking, and you can politely pretend to believe me.
     
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  12. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    2017 Ridgeline
    I figure if I looked at the Prius end of the FE<----->utility spectrum I may as well journey all the way to the other side, so I found a new Ridgeline to look at. An obliging salesman let me spend about 10 minutes poking around, and I didn't ask to drive. My first impression is that it isn't that large of a vehicle in the grand scheme of things. If you're used to the bulk of a minivan in your driveway then a Ridgeline isn't terribly imposing. I mean, it is basically an Odyssey minus a third row and plus a 5-foot bed. (Some will claim that I'm wrong and that it's really a Pilot, but I tend to think of a Pilot as an Odyssey minus utility plus SUV fashion.)

    From the driver's seat the Ridgeline is spacious, clean, and well thought out. Unlike other Honda products the driving position was great. I think the upright minivanishness is what does it. With a low, car-like driving position it takes more horizontal space to make room for a 34" inseam between the seat and the pedals. In a truck or minivan, with the seat higher off of the floor pan, the seat doesn't need to be as far back for me to fit. The wheel therefore doesn't have to come as far out of the dash to be comfortable. And that, I think, is why the Ridgeline works for my frame. The other thing that distinguishes something of this size is how much head and elbow room it provides. Coming from a small-ish car the center console and armrest are almost comically wide.

    Then again, when you get to the back seat you remember that the Ridgeline is not a half-ton crew cab truck. I can sit behind myself, but only just and not without my knees either buried in the back of the driver's seat or splayed around it. Is that actually a problem? Probably not for me as it's still miles better than my little sedan. But someone using it to haul a tall family with tall teenagers might find it a little tight.

    The clever fold-up bench makes plenty of room for stuff when you don't need passengers. There's a lot of volume behind the front seats and the floor is flat enough for it to be truly useful. I know those full-size trucks are impressive but I can't imagine realistically needing more interior space than a Ridgeline provides. I think you could just about fit a couple of medium-sized dog kennels back-to-back, although I don't know if the doors would swing wide enough to get them in. The dogs would probably be happier and equally safe on the floor in some sort of harness, anyway.

    As mid-size trucks go the bed seems really well configured. The wheel wells are only a couple of inches high and there's plenty of room between them for 4x8 plywood, drywall, or whatever. (My recollection is that the Tacoma and Colorado/Canyon can't quite manage that.) The bed is obviously short but there are more than enough anchor points to secure most loads. For 4x8 I'd probably run a pair of nylon webs from the forward anchor points, around the end of the load, and down to the safety chain anchors on the hitch. But only on a dry day ;) . The under-bed "trunk" is pretty cool, too. It's a good size and the compact spare sits just ahead of it instead of under the truck exposed to winter salt. The whole layout is just practical and smart. The only negative is that the bed does sit pretty high to make room for what's under it, and the rails aren't all that tall. Still, I can't see the average suburbanite needing more.

    But what about me? I don't know. On the one hand I do see the point of it, and I mostly get why people buy trucks in their various types and sizes. The ever-expanding DIY/small business support element of my life would be a hell of a lot easier if I could just go get things done without having to figure out if I'll have access to the Ody or some other vehicle to transport equipment and materials. But convenience ain't free. At 19/26 in FWD trim,18/25 in AWD trim the rating is probably 25% below what I'd generally consider acceptable, 50% below what I'd consider desirable. And my standards are pretty low compared to a lot of you. As I've said before, I haven't driven more than 8k mi in a year since 2010 and the return of $4-5 fuel...which will happen...wouldn't be a real financial concern. But that's not the point.
     
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  13. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Tim:

    My take on the new Ridgeline, pass. The 3.5L is anemic when towing, the rear seat room is for small children only and the bed is almost useless for truck work. It is just far to short height wise.

    Wayne
     
  14. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Wayne,
    I appreciate your take on it. I haven't driven it but I can't argue with you on the rear seat and bed height. The cramped rear seat in particular was a surprise. I'm torn on it. A huge number of people drive half-ton pickups with combined FE in the teens for no damn reason. Yeah, they throw a few sacks of mulch or a few sheets of plywood in the bed once in a while but we're talking about payloads under 1000lb or maybe a toy on a trailer at a couple thousand pounds. I'm probably missing something important but for those folks I can't see why a Ridgeline wouldn't do the job while being at least a little less insane to drive the rest of the time. It's also a less expensive (before incentives at least) when equipped with the kind of tech most people insist on these days.

    Then again, if someone is already committed to a pickup then I can see why the Ridgeline might not be so attractive. The Colorado/Canyon twins are available with a [rather expensive] 2.8L turbodiesel. That answers FE and towing needs, the bed rails are taller, but the bed is pretty narrow and I don't see the back seat being any more spacious than the Ridgeline. I can't find a way to option a Duramax crew cab/long box for under $40k. For that money you can just about get into a crew cab Ram Tradesman EcoDiesel 4x4. (HFE 4x2 is a bit less but a tough sell in snow country.) I'm sure it's a fine truck but it's also a lot of truck for someone who doesn't actually work out of it every day. Ford's best offer is the F-150 with a 2.7L EcoBoost rated at 19/26 or 18/23...numbers that nobody seems to be able to substantiate. (Have you tested that one? I can't remember.)

    Bottom line, if you need full-size capacity then I don't think any mid-size truck is going to cut it. They all compromise on something. For lighter-duty stuff the Ridgeline may not be ideal but it seems more reasonable than under-utilizing an expensive and/or very thirsty half-ton, no?
     
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  15. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    It's about as useful as any pickup with a 5-6 ft bed. And that sort of "truck" is what most people seem to be using for personal transportation and ego support. Trucks that are actually used for work have an 8 foot bed. Edwin has spoken.
     
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  16. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Tim:

    Not that I am pointing you towards a full size pickup but the RAM 1500 Std. Cab Tradesman with the EcoDiesel can be picked up for just over $25k. Amazing deal for an efficient pickup imho. Are you really sure you have to tow. Moving into that realm is setting you up for failure "if" we see $4.00+ fuel again.

    The new Murano was also impressive both inside and out. Great highway FE. Around town it is like every other 5-passenger CUV. The Tucson Eco can be picked up for a song right now too. I like the exterior and efficiency in Eco trim but it is a bit smaller than some on your list.

    Regarding the F-150 w/ the 2.7L EB, the temps were lousy and the results were horrendous. The 3.5L EB was/is more efficient.

    2015 Ford F-150 4X4 w/ the 2.7L EB and 3.73 rear end Steady States

    The Super Duty w/ the Power Stroke and RAM 2500 with the Cummins can bury the 2.7L!

    Wayne
     
  17. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Wayne,
    Yeah, modest towing capacity is a necessity but I don't see it as that big of a deal. Most cute 'utes and such will tow what I want them to tow. Hell, if that were the only consideration I'd be tempted to throw a hitch on the 3500lb-rated S60 today, buy out the lease at the end and forget about this whole thing. In some respects insisting on some towing ability is a benefit. At least a couple of our own members use a utility trailer and their FE daily drivers to do the kind of occasional work that others do with a daily-driven half-ton pickup. I'm not sure where another trailer would live but in concept that's pretty darned optimal. Plus I've driven enough 3/4 ton pickups and full-size vans to know how much "fun" it is to lumber around in something of that size class. I'd go there out of absolute necessity but my preference is small and maneuverable.

    I don't know. My perspective changes pretty much every time I think about it. Choosing a direction would be easy if life were a little more straight-forward but things are constantly changing shape behind the scenes.
     
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  18. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I think the bed rail height is a non-issue. By the time you're filling it up that high, you're WAY over payload weight.

    A couple years ago I saw an F350 8' bed with a full load of sand, slightly heaped above the rails. It was sagging so low the rear bumper was nearly scraping. The whole truck was tilted back at about a 10° angle, headlights to the sky.
     
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  19. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Yeah, I'm thinking back over the last few years about the bulkiest, heaviest things I've needed to haul around and they were generally banded onto pallets and/or easily strapped-down. Bed width is important there (which Honda got right) and naturally load rating but bed depth didn't come into play. Some of those things were strapped onto other people's trucks (the 6' tall dog kennels were exciting), others like the recent load of flooring were broken down from the pallet and stuffed into the minivan piece-by-piece. The next time I need mulch or sand or crushed stone or whatever I'm paying a local vendor to bring it to me and dump it within wheel barrow distance.
     
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  20. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    OK, not that I'm committing to anything but...I just ordered a Curt hitch and wiring harness for the S60. If nothing else, for $200 I get the peace of mind that I can pull the trailer & dogs home in the unlikely (but not impossible) event that the Odyssey decides it doesn't want to. This will also let me use my cargo carrier in the much more likely event that I find the S60 to be lacking cargo capacity the next time I want to go anywhere interesting. Supposedly this doesn't require any cutting or other permanent alteration of the vehicle so it shouldn't be an issue as far as the lease is concerned. Somehow it seems like a tremendous bargain? If I can somehow make this work, keeping this car is simultaneously the least expensive and second most fuel efficient (and by far the most subjectively enjoyable) option on my list. I know I already said I'm not looking at sedans, but this one gets special consideration since it's already parked in my garage.
     
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