Brick Kicks Tires...All of the Tires

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

  1. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    So, this is sort of a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that I'm now completely, 100% sure what my vehicle needs are going to be for a good long while. It's well-defined and totally in my control. The bad news is that it's because I suddenly find myself single again. Yeah. Life just keeps 'em coming! :confused: It's a long story and I don't feel like getting into it, so for the purposes of this thread I think it's best if we agree that she was a fembot all along and then get back to car stuff. Deal? Deal.

    Dodge Grand Caravan SXT, Rented
    So the Ody is gone, the trailer is gone, but I still have three pups that travel well but absolutely have to be crated in the car. There's no way to do that in the S60 so I rented a minivan for my Thanksgiving travel. Enter the Grand Caravan, which I just returned after a week with it.

    Overall I'm pretty happy with the current evolution of the same Chrysler formula that I grew up on. It's a giant box on wheels that gets you and your family where you need to go, and it does it better than anything other than another minivan. "Stow-N-Go" seating is a nice touch since it eliminates wrestling with a pair of 60lb captain's chairs or an even heavier rear bench when you want to treat it like a truck. Pull a few straps, flop the seats over, and get on with it. With the seats stowed I was able to strap down three good-sized Veri kennels so that my girls would have plenty of room. There was ample volume left over for food, belongings, etc. Piece of cake (or this week, pie). On the road I found the GC completely unobjectionable. It drove surprisingly well for what it is. I mean, yeah, I didn't want to go canyon carving in it or anything. The steering is a bit vague and the handling isn't what you would call "precise." But it went where I wanted it to and stayed comfortably flat in the corners. I was grateful to find a good driving position with out much effort, too. Three hours at a time behind the wheel wasn't a problem. It took a little while to acclimate to the tunnel-like visibility, but I got around that with properly adjusted mirrors as usual. I didn't have any problems driving around town or on the highway. Fuel economy was, I think, OK for something that big: 24.8mpg over about 400mi without really trying.
    xcel and BillLin like this.
  2. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    About the woman....... been there , done that. This stuff happens. You'll be fine.
    About the car : So you liked that Chrysler "mini" van , huh ? Remember when they truly were mini ? Now , they're gigantic. Nice that you were able to get comfortable in it. I know from your other posts that you can't be comfortable in every car out there. We had the same vehicle when we were in Colorado in early October. I was just a passenger in it , with five others , but it seemed to work pretty well. Even in the mountains.
    And I drive in a "tunnel" every day. They call it a "Prius".
    xcel and BillLin like this.
  3. xcel

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

    Hi Tim:

    Pacifica PHEV?

    Also, the Niro Hybrid CUV is just around the corner. Probably a little small to meet all your needs incl. no tow rating specs yet but it is definitely worth a look given the CUV platform, low emissions, low fuel consumption credentials.

    BillLin likes this.
  4. Kinder

    Kinder Well-Known Member

    Hi all--thought I'd jump back on the website with a long-winded update. This has been a very informative thread, I found it really quite useful for my own situation. I hope what follows is likewise useful for some of you.

    We have a '12 Accent 6mt we bought new. It's had 80+k trouble-free miles as our primary car. We (wife, two kids both born after we bought the Accent) moved back to rural Minnesota a couple years ago and I picked up a 98 Toyota T100 4x4, 5MT for a back-up vehicle and to help in building a very energy efficient and compact house on a few wooded acres. Every weekend it is hauling firewood, lumber, or towing a trailer full of supplies, or at the least going on a hunting or mountain biking trip. My wife went back to work in August and so the truck was pressed into covering my weekday commute and daycare drop-off duties. The plan: Finish the house this January and then get an Ioniq or Prius, with the Niro and Civic hatch also under consideration. Something a little bigger than the Accent but yet more efficient. Keep the truck for occasional snowstorm and hauling/towing duty (we live in a hilly area with roads that are not plowed very quickly or well + a 600' driveway) and drop its annual miles from 10k to more like 3k. Keep the Accent too but slide it from family car to commuter car. Sounds good, right?

    That all changed in the last week. I'd never been in a wreck of any significance in the 25 years and many hundreds of thousands of miles since I got my license. In short, a week ago just after dark, I was driving the truck home on the freeway and got hit by a charter bus at 50+mph. Conditions included black ice, low visibility, and high wind gusts, etc... I crawled out the back sliding window on the cab (truck ended up on its side/driver's side down). It was terrifying and I am so grateful that I am here and able to tell the tale. And yeah, the truck is toast.

    To the point here... all the cars on my list had to penciled out with no towing ability and limited hauling capacity, just months before pulling the trigger on one. I don't need a truck long-term, but I still need significant ability to haul bulky stuff and tow at least a light utility trailer. And ground clearance/AWD is useful more often than you might think for my situation, which includes those poorly plowed hilly dirt roads and summer vacations west that include end-of-road places like forest service access points deep in the Bighorn Mountains. Top safety ratings also went to the top of my priority list...

    So I found Brick's spreadsheet, added a few candidates. Was thinking of buying used, but got a new 2017 Outback base model for $50 under invoice/a little over $2000 off MSRP. $25k plus TTL. Special interest rates right now too through Subaru, and resale is so strong on them that buying used seemed pointless. My take was that it was a decent deal considering I needed to move immediately and Outbacks are selling in record numbers. If it isn't ideal for us down the road, we might not entirely lose our shirts. I installed a 2" hitch to take advantage of that healthy 1000/2700lb tow rating, which seemed to beat anything else with a 30+mpg highway rating in wagon/hatch/SUV form (we drive 90% highway). I wish I could run that T100/Ioniq combo, but my collision puts it all in perspective. For hauling, towing, toting two kids in carseats, etc,... it'll do nicely. For example, I already hauled a load of solid birch flooring since buying it, and those 12 cases/250sq ft fit in the car easily with folded seats and a closed hatch. Yeah, the double jogging stoller fits (and does not in the Accent or even an Impreza/CrossTrek--I used to literally strap it to the roof rack if I wanted to go a trail run with the kids).

    In summary, between capabilities, safety, value, and passable efficiency--it was squarely in the sweet spot for me, given my current needs and short timeframe. Nothing is perfect but this will work.
    ksstathead, Mendel Leisk, Jay and 2 others like this.
  5. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Thanks for the report, Kinder. Glad you were not hurt in that accident. The Outback should be a great car. I don't need the ground clearance , so I look at the new Impreza hatch and I like that a lot.
    BillLin likes this.
  6. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    Wow. Glad you're ok after that wreck! I was reading the next section and my first thought was an Outback, then I saw that's what you got. It sounds ideal for your situation.

    I'd love to hear more about your home setup if you have the time / willingness to share.
    BillLin likes this.
  7. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    Kinder, your situation is much like mine (without the wreck). I'm shopping for a lot to build on and hope to start construction on a home in spring. I will probably need a truck but I hate them so much I will not buy one till I'm absolutely sure I can't get work done without one. I will buy used and get rid of it ASAP if I need one. I still want an Ioniq or Niro, but no towing ability there at all. Subarus are extremely popular here and I could see owning one but I don't think I need AWD and especially not full-time AWD. Why did you decide on the Outback and not Forester?
    BillLin likes this.
  8. Kinder

    Kinder Well-Known Member

    Thanks, all!

    Edwin--the Impreza seems pretty great, and my sister & her husband own a Crosstrek and Impreza sedan. They love their cars, so that was helpful in deciding to get serious about Subarus. The sedan (maybe a 2015 or so?) matches our Accent on efficiency and is a hair bigger + AWD--40mpg on highway trips is easily doable in warm weather. New ones should be even better.

    Jay--the Forester vs Outback is a tough call. If the dealer had had a 6mt Forester, I would have taken a harder look at the Foresters, but maybe it was for the best as I preferred the Outback in most all other ways. Subjectively, I preferred the slightly more wagon-like driving position and appearance of the Outback vs a more traditional SUV. It felt more solid and hefty--and in fact is a fair bit heavier--and after the crash, that was probably comforting on a certain level. The form factor of Outback is amazing for hauling bicycles inside--such a long cargo space. Forester is still very good there but taller rather than longer. The rear visibility in both is really good--I was worried the Outback wouldn't have it, but my sightlines were excellent in both cars. So incredibly superior to the Accent and the pickup w/ camper top. But the Outback's other advantages were improved NVH, an additional 1200lbs towing capacity, and wider rear seat so that it is quite easy to fit a passenger between the car seats, or even to add a third car seat if we ever have another kid.
    BillLin likes this.
  9. Kinder

    Kinder Well-Known Member

    Our house... first, I need to mention the setting. We are on 7 acres that is 200' wide (lakeshore! On a small private lake with 20' of clarity and great bass fishing) and 1000+' long, but the house was required to go in a narrow ribbon 100-300' from the lake. That's fine, but that strip consists of a steep south-facing slope that was densely wooded or else delineated wetland. The glaciers really went crazy around here, it is quite hilly with lakes all over the place. Anyway, the house had to somehow fit on the hill, with a driveway skirting the bottom between it and the low-lying area. The big decision: We decided to go with a footprint of 24'x24', or about the size of a typical new 2-car garage. It does have three levels so we have a little more than 1400sq feet in total, though the basement will not be fully finished. This decision made it possible to build an extremely high-quality custom house. If we had gone bigger or fewer levels, many compromises would have been made. Much more excavation and retaining walls would have been required, plus the most expensive parts of a house are the concrete foundation work and the roof. This way, we preserved the natural slope and go with a standing seam metal roof. The three basement walls set into the hill are 12" thick--4" of foam board insulation sandwiched between 4" poured concrete walls. No way we could have afforded that in a ranch-style house of even 30x40. But when you live between Fargo and Minneapolis, maxing out the insulation is key (more on that below).

    Layout: It's a cute little cottage with a walk-out basement, then main level, and then an upper level that is 16x24 with gables & killer views on all four sides. The upper level is master bed/bath. Main level is kitchen, living, and kids room (boys gotta share) plus a 3-season porch on the lakeside that is 8'x22'. Lower level is bathroom, utility/laundry, and then basically a mudroom/family room with a big woodstove (Woodstock Ideal Steel hybrid stove). There is a central staircase that is 8x8 and so the entire house pivots around that in 8x24' sections. This allows for great summer air flow regardless of wind direction as I have windows in all corners, and great winter heating as the wood stove is main heat source and the heat should rise throughout. The stairs also mean very few interior walls, and zero hallways, yet provides privacy and cozy, distinct spaces when we or the kids need it.

    Heating: Again, woodstove but with back-up heating in form of electric cove heaters that were cheap, quiet and hopefully will never get turned on unless we are in Colorado for New Year's. Site clearing left me with 3+ years of high quality firewood, mostly oak. No central furnace, no LP tank to situate. Phase two should get built in under five years (shed/garage with PV solar on roof, including space for an art studio for wife/bike repair shop for me) and then the house will be net zero. Maybe we can get a used Volt or Leaf for a song and replace the Accent at that point! The shed will have to go 130' back from the house, but would be out of the woods in full sun. Rest of house is also well-insulated--2x6 walls with blown fiberglass, plus zip-system sheathing that includes 1" of foam to avoid thermal bridging. Marvin Integrity windows. No, it is not a "passive house" but it is actually staying warm right now with two electric space heaters despite the single digit temps. I might not install all the cove heaters currently spec'd after all.

    Other eco-highlights y'all might find interesting... Standing seam metal roof (50+ year lifetime and recycleable), board and batten cedar siding on upper 2/3 of house (biodegradable, naturally rot-resistant and strikingly beautiful), 100% LED lighting, extensive use of salvaged steel siding for basement siding and basement interior ceiling (from my uncle's old machine shed), reused and refinished interior doors for the few we needed & a salvaged hutch (all from my wife's uncle's old house and 100+ years old).All plumbing is in the NE quadrants of the house to minimize the pipes and heat needed to bring that water to bathrooms/kitchen & we have a heat pump water heater.

    Well, now you know why I don't post too often! But it is getting close to completion. Painting interior walls and putting in flooring starting tomorrow.
  10. BillLin

    BillLin PV solar, geothermal HVAC, hybrids and electrics

    Two thumbs up!!
  11. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I LOVE it. Thanks so much for that detail.
  12. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    Wow, really glad you made it out of that wreck OK. I've been in one minor collision in broad daylight and that was traumatic enough. FWIW I really dig the current Outback. Maybe it's not the most FE thing on the road but it's probably the best utility-per-gallon vehicle available, especially if you live in snow country and can justify AWD, and priced pretty reasonably IMO. I'd probably go with the Outback over the Forester because it seems like just a bit more car for not a whole lot more money. (A bit longer, a bit wider, and just a little bit nicer.) I'm also a sucker for wagons and I always will be, even if the difference between a wagon and a CUV is purely semantic today. At some point my friend with the '12 OB is going to let me cram dog crates into his just to see how it might work.
  13. Kinder

    Kinder Well-Known Member

    Nice articulation of why an Outback rather than Forester. As the sales guy said to me, "there are Outback people and there are Forester people." With cost and specs so similar, ultimately it came down to my personal preference for the wagon/Legacy roots of the Outback over the SUV approach the Forester takes (or multiple other SUVs that may then have entered in the picture).

    Nothing yet to report on the FE front, but with 5" of new snow over the weekend and a temp of -2 this morning, the new Outback got me and the kids to our destinations safe and sound.
  14. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    2016 Toyota Sienna XLE, Rented

    I traveled again for Christmas, this time with a Sienna. Technically that was a free "upgrade" vs. the GC but, if I'm honest, it turned out to be a case study in "more equipment does not a better car make."

    If I were looking for a minivan to own it would be tough not to look at a Sienna just for the sake of expected reliability. I also found it to be a slightly better layout for what I was doing with it, especially because the rear cargo area is at least an inch wider and therefore better able to accommodate my kennels. The middle seats have to be removed manually but they don't weigh as much as you might think. The only mark against it for cargo is that those middle seats, once remove, leave behind a sliding "trolley" mechanism which sits up about an inch and a half from the load floor. I don't think it's a huge deal but it precludes a truly flat floor from front to back. In terms of overall design and materials, I couldn't find much to complain about. The interior and cockpit were pleasing enough to my eye with good enough materials. It felt like a solid vehicle. Fuel economy was nearly identical to the GC at around 25mpg in similar conditions.

    The driving position was acceptable for me but compromised by the usual Toyota steering wheel-to-seat geometry. It was OK but still a bit of a reach for me. But the seat...what is it with Toyota and uncomfortable seats? After 90 minutes I started to feel like I was sitting on a 10-way power adjustable church pew. My ass actually started to go numb, which is something even the Prius didn't do to me. I don't have as much padding back there as I used to but I'm not that bony. Maybe leather upholstery makes for a firmer seat? In terms of the drive, I felt that it had a strong, smooth powertrain but with a floaty suspension and extraordinarily vague steering. Turns were pure guesswork while I got used to it. It didn't wander as badly as my Prius used to but the Sienna still floated around a bit. The GC felt more competent on the road overall.

    The cockpit layout was kind of a mixed bag IMO. Gauges were clear and simple, the 3-zone climate control was intelligible and had nice, chunky knobs and buttons, but infotainment was pretty unpleasant to use. All I wanted was FM radio but I had to navigate two or three touch-screen clicks to get to the right "app" before setting my station. I just think that if you're going to put a touch screen on a car, something like the radio should be a single control action away no matter what you're doing. This one tended to be a little slow, too. My current, probably outdated car uses hard buttons to get you into each function and I think that's probably the right way to do it if you insist on running everything from a MFD.

    To sum it up, I guess I just want a long-distance box-on-wheels to excel at box-on-wheels stuff without making me squirm, and I don't care much about the frills. This particular car didn't really do it for me.
    BillLin and TheFordFamily like this.

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