By on December 23, 2011

 

Josh writes:

I’m currently in the market for a 2005 or 2006 Chevy Tahoe Z71 and was wondering about when would be the best time to buy. Before you question the Tahoe, I’m probably one of the only people who can justify one. I live in Colorado and spend almost every weekend in the mountains hauling people and their gear up 4wd trails and snowy roads to trail heads and sleeping in the back.

I figure that given gas prices going up, this summer would probably see the values drop off. I like to do the opposite of everyone else who will be buying fuel efficient vehicles. But then I read an article by Steve that said the used car market is going to be getting worse. I’ve see prices go down some over the last 6 months (been watching the market), but not by much. So does this summer sound good, should I buy now, or wait for the future?

Steve Answers:

The stock market and the car market have one thing in common.

You can’t time them… unless you happen to be the .001% that have reliable inside information.

However you can look at certain indicators such as ‘days in inventory’, incentives, rebates, and unusually generous financing terms. Automotive News and a number of other automotive sites track these figures like clockwork.

But even with these opportunities, you are still going to be subjected to a sophisticated and long shell game at the dealership when it comes time to buy.

There is ‘some’ truth that the last few days of the month may lend themselves to special bonuses and incentives for a given dealership ‘if’ they hit a certain quota. However this numbers game isn’t always linear because not all sales become a reality.

A new car dealership has to deal with the fact that a lot of deals that are ‘written up’ during the weekend fall through the following Monday due to consumer financing issues. You also have folks who will get buyer’s remorse or simply lie when it comes time to buy their supposed new car. They walk away and all the dealership gets is wasted time and recycled paper.

My advice is not to prognosticate your way through this process. If you’re a ‘keeper’, just buy a leftover 2011 and consider that wise decision a healthy victory.

Sajeev Answers:

Don’t look at me: anyone who lives in Texas better NOT hate on someone for buying a Tahoe! That’s an executable offense!

And while I am no Steve Lang, I pretend to be for parties…or any special occasion.

I believe that summertime is the best time to buy. Wintertime brings lower gas prices (sometimes), snow, slick conditions and extended families arriving for the holidays: which brings families together into something more Tahoe like. And everyone knows a Z71, its a brand cache that’s rather hard to avoid in the flyover states. SUVs in your price range are old enough that buying new will never make sense…even if the used market pretty much sucks for a potential buyer at the retail level.

My only advice? Consider avoiding the Tahoe just like any value conscious sedan buyer avoids CamCords. Tahoes are in fact the CamCord of SUVs. Look at the Ford Expedition, it chronically sells for less. I haven’t seen much on the Jeep Commander, but I suspect it will also trade less than a Z71…and be even better off-road.

More to the point: have you considered going Commando(er)?

 

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com, and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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103 Comments on “New or Used: The CamCord of SUVs?...”


  • avatar
    grzydj

    These aren’t bad rigs, but they aren’t very good either. Be prepared for a myriad of things that WILL go wrong.

    Blower motor resistors go out on about a yearly basis. That means your heater is either stuck on 5, or won’t turn on at all. Transmission cooler lines last about 2 to 3 years at best and will begin to leak right on cue. No worries, your friendly GM shop will cover these under warranty.

    A few years down the road all of the A/C lines will go bad in a hurry, usually the auxiliary lines first. They’re a super huge hassle to replace, and they will go bad, especially if they throw down road salt in CO.

    Front axle seals usually go out in the first 3 years, but aren’t too bad to replace. Again, that’s usually covered under warranty.

    The shocks for the Z71 are astonishingly expensive to replace when they go bad, and they will too.

    I’d lease one of these pigs, but I wouldn’t own one unless it was covered under warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Don’t forget the window motor problems (endemic to many GM models from ~’97-’05) and GMT-specific bad gauge clusters.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        And wheel speed sensors, which is the entire hub/bearing assembly. You’re right about the cluster, which isn’t covered by warranty because they usually go wrong at about 50k miles. It’s about $500.00 to make it right again.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Not defending clusters but seriously, $500??? If you are incapable of swapping out the gauge cluster on a GMT800/GMT900 vehicle as a DIY project you should just park whatever you drive in a garage, close the door and breathe in the CO long and deep.

        You can buy clusters all day long for $170 to $200 new – or send out the broken one and have it repaired for $50. R&R is about ten minutes to get it out, about five minutes to get it back in. A child could do it.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        @APaGttH

        500 cash monies is for the new cluster installed and programmed to match the VIN by the dealer. To do it right, you have to have the engine hours, miles etc.

        Of course it’s an easy thing for a shadetree mechanic to do on their own, but the mileage will be off, unless you have it programmed beforehand somehow.

        EDIT: This should be further down the thread.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I see the dealer really has you sold. The $50 repair options returns a VIN matched cluster to your vehicle. Engine hours/miles/etc. are stored in the BCM not the cluster and reported back to it. It isn’t a “shade tree” mechanic repair. There are reliable operations all across the United States that do these repairs and do it for very little money. There are also shops that will program your cluster properly, following GM specifications for $30 to $90 depending on where you live. I use an operation down in Kent, Washington – they charge $65 to do the programming if you have to do a 1:1 replacement. Do a search – there is a massive cottage industry for swapping GMT800/900 gauges out there (e.g. putting GMC gauge in a Chevy because the GMC gauge set has a tranny temp gauge and the Chevy doesn’t) and people do this every day, all day long.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The caveats outlined by grzydj and KalapanaBlack are both accurate and I can add my personal experience.

      My father-in-law had a real estate business for decades and he owned several 4X4 Suburbans, Tahoes and Yukons for the business to show his clients the properties in the mountains, year ’round. Invariably, those SUVs all had the same maladies that popped up.

      Among them were the half-shafts of the front wheel drive that stripped out, fuel injector jackets that cracked, blower motors, radiators that cracked down the side, ACs that lasted only 50-60K miles, electronic instrument panels that went dead, window motors that died, Alternators, transmission seals, and probably a few more that I forgot.

      The best of his bunch was his 70′s era Suburban 2500 4X4 454, which he still owns today. It soldiers on and nothing has been able to replace it. All his newer models died early deaths.

      It is true that you can keep any car running as long as you replace the broken or worn-out parts in it. Just be sure you know what you’re getting into and budget accordingly. These are not the CamCord of SUVs and require maintenance and repair more often than is warranted if you actually use them daily.

      Buying new, with warranty, would be a better option, if you can afford it. Another option would be to buy a Jeep Wrangler 4Dr 4X4 or a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4. They are rugged and don’t break down as often.

      But be careful buying any used Jeep. People don’t get rid of their Jeeps unless there is something wrong with them. In the case of Jeeps it is cheaper to repair them than to replace them.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I had a GMT800 Avalanche for 4-1/2 years and 74K miles. I beat the crap out of it carrying loads, off-roading, and using it for my business. I had the rear shocks replaced under a TSB and I had a front axle seal let go. That was it. I got about 60% of value at trade-in, and that was with a small but very visible and needing repair dent on the driver side rear.

        YMMV

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        If you go Jeep and want something decent well under $15k, the 4.0 liter ’03-’04 WJ Grand Cherokee is the one to get. My parents have a Grand that they bought nearly a decade ago. It’s a pretty basic 4.0 liter Laredo with Selec-Trac 4×4 where you can run in full time 4WD, part time 4WD, or 2WD. 178k miles on original engine and tranny. It’s had a couple power window switches go out and it blew a transmission control module about 4 years ago that caused only 2nd and 3rd gears to work, but other than that it’s been pretty reliable.

        On the newer WK Grand Cherokees: The 3.7 liter SOHC V6 isn’t liked very much on the Jeep forums. I’ve heard things about slipped cylinder liners at under 100k miles. Ditto the related 4.7 liter V8. The 5.7 liter HEMI V8 is a pretty reliable but slurps lots of gas – but if you’re fine with that, might as well go big and get the HEMI.

        I am surprised about the comments on the GMT800 trucks. I thought those things were practically Camry reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        The problem with the Jeeps (and a lot of other options people mentioned) is they are too small, actually the GC is kind of tiny inside. The OP needs to haul people and gear, and sleep in back. Full size is the only way to go.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @SamP: WRT GMT 800′s: Lots of axes to grind, IMO. I’ve known several people with GMT 800′s, they only complained about gas mileage.

        I would wonder what a Commander would go for used. They look big enough to do the job.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        There’s an ’06 Commander 4×4 with 27k miles for $22k from a Dodge dealer near me. Not a Hemi though.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The Jeep 4.0 I6 is an awesome engine, though the quality of the electrical systems in the Grand Cherokees that came with it isn’t the best.

        Personally I’d skip the Commander. I love the looks, and the prices are right, but somehow Chrysler managed to take what’s basically a rolling cube and design an interior that’s shockingly tight on space and that pokes and prods in all the wrong places. YMMV, and perhaps it’s worth taking one on a drive, but as much as I really really wanted to like the Commander (it just looks so cool) the interior just killed it for me.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Sam P, a few weeks ago while on our way home to New Mexico, my wife spotted a new WK2 Overland Summit V6 4X4 on a flatbed as we were passing through Phoenix.

        She really liked the color and styling so I bought it for her to replace her 2008 Japan-built Highlander Limited 4X4, and she hasn’t found anything to complain about. We kept the Highlander in case this JGC develops an attitude or penchant for warranty repair.

        I owned several used Jeeps over the years to use as mudders, along with my 70′s IHC Scouts and those were bullet-proof all-terrain crawlers. And with a small-block Chevy like a 283 retrofit those Wranglers hauled ass over all kinds of terrain.

        I don’t expect my wife to do serious rock-crawling in her new JGC, but I have no doubt that it is capable of serious off-roading like all other 4X4 Jeeps. It has proven highly competent and sure-footed on logger-roads in the Lincoln National Forest with mud and/or snow up to its axles.

        That new V6 is even smoother than the old I6 was, and that was a good engine. Considering that the new V6 is based on an old and established Mercedes-Benz engine, I expect that it may also have the same maladies that M-B engines had.

        Then again, we only plan to keep it for as long as the warranty covers it, 5yrs or 100,000-miles. I hope that Fiatsler will still be around in five years.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        Two things since I last dropped in on this subject:

        -I have absolutely no axe to grind. I’ve been rooting for GM for years, and come from a strictly GM family. I convinced my mom to buy her ’02 Aurora. I still think that car is absolutely gorgeous. Too bad almost everything has failed or been replaced on it. 9 years old, 68,000 miles as of Thanksgiving, and we’ve replaced 7 window motors. And both rears are currently bad. I genuinely wish that car had been more reliable…

        -Also, RE: Jeeps, most of the “Jeep people” I know won’t touch the 4.0 made after the ’99-vintage Chrysler redesign. Which includes every WJ 6-cyl made. I’ve known people that have put a ton of miles on WJs, but the older 4.0 with AMC-spec parts seems to be the really reliable one to have, made circa-1992-1999. Also a shame about the Commander and its feeble drivetrain. I always thought they looked really tough (man are they hard to wash, with all those boxes and bubbles!) and drove well.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @kalpanablack: No worries. Ask me about my 1983 Trans Am sometime. Or my 2004 Aztek. I can understand your POV, considering my experiences.

        @golden2husky: No problems. it would be a pretty sad world if we all liked the same things all the time.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        KalapanaBlack, some people construe any kind of constructive or factual criticism as an ax to grind. I am equally critical of all brands, I call’m as I see’m, although I continue to believe that the US government has no business in deciding who lives and who dies in business. As far as I’m concerned failed is failed, dead is dead. Eternal life-support is not an option.

        When it comes to SUVs, based on personal experience in keeping my father-in-law’s GMTs running over the past 30+ years, I would not classify GMs SUVs as being the CamCords of SUVs.

        Sure, there are instances where an owner got a good one, but more often than not, all GM products required more maintenance and repair than those of Toyota or Honda.

        That’s what led to the mass exodus away from GM, Chrysler and Ford over the last three decades. And that was but one reason why GM and Chrysler both died. Not enough people bought their sh1t.

        I am not saying people shouldn’t buy a Tahoe or its sibs. If they do they should budget accordingly and they will get exactly what they deserve, good, bad or indifferent.

        I think the 5.7 Sequoia 4X4 would be the better choice than a Tahoe, if I were to buy an SUV for myself. I’d stay away from Nissan’s Armada although it is built on the Titan’s frame.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        @APaGttH

        I’m not sold on dealer anything. I’m just quoting generally accepted prices for having a cluster replaced by a dealership, that’s all. No wonder there’s a cottage industry for replacements on these, given what poor quality they were to begin with.

        What you’ve posted is good information that others will find useful replacing their own at a much cheaper cost.

        EDIT: Why can’t I just quote every comment rather just a string of comments? Whatevs.

    • 0 avatar
      TOTitan

      Maybe its the exception, but my sister bought a 03 tahoe in 06 with 60K on the clock. My bro in law drives the piss out of it, and has it serviced per the book. It now has 175K and has had none of the problems listed above. The only problem is that people keep rear-ending it and ruining the liftgate….3 time so far.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I’d be willing to bet that some posters go to the forums and look up what people have had gone wrong and then post them here as if they personally had to deal with the problems themselves. The same names pop up here again and again doing this. When you produce hundreds of thousands (or millions) of units there are going to be pattern failures. But to say that if you buy a Tahoe you are certain to have an axle seal fail is BS. This is just fanboi stuff. Going after GM for a Cav (sorry geozinger), I get it. But these trucks are were done right, for the most part. And beefing about the cost of the shocks? GM actually put good units on that truck (DeCarbon IIRC) instead of the usual cheapo crap.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        @golden2husky

        Ask any GM service adviser how common axle seal leaks are on this truck. I think you’ll find that this isn’t an exaggeration of any kind. Like I said before, they’re good trucks, but not great.

        The axle seal issue seems to be exacerbated by cold temps, but I only have anecdotal evidence to prove that.

        I wasn’t complaining about the cost of the shocks, it’s the customers who do when it comes time to replace them. It’s a much bigger pill to swallow when the air ride suspension goes bad on these rigs too as the bill to put it right (compressor, airbags etc) is well into 2 grand.

        I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one of these rigs if I knew what the operating costs were going to be. That’s the point I’m trying to drive here.

  • avatar
    dang

    I doubt there’s much cyclical behavior in the market for Tahoes, since they’re mostly used as commuter vehicles.

    There’s definitely upside to be had if you’re patient, though. Keep an eye out for specific good deals, and execute when you find one. Watching the market near your desired price point will help you feel confident that you’re getting a good deal when you buy.

    The Tahoe is Some Car — it won’t do you wrong (the rare lemon excluded), but it’s certainly an uninspired choice. While you’re watching for the ideal one to show up on Craigslist, check out other competitors. We own a Z71 and a Sequoia, and the Sequoia is a better vehicle, without question. If the Nissan Armada is in your price range I’d check it out, too.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Armadas, like almost everything built at Nissan’s southern US plants, had some pretty horrific quality problems for most of the ’00s. I’d steer clear of them, especially second-hand.

      I found them and the Infiniti offshoot quite nice new. Too bad about the quality gaps.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Automotive search engines like cars.com and everycarlisted.com are a good way to look for deals. Look for a vehicle that matches your specs with photos and a decent price, run the carfax report then go to see the vehicles that are real possibilities.

      It’s worth noting that dealers often post a lower price on an Internet ad than they put on the car in the lot. I guess the idea is that they don’t want to scare off Internet bargain hunters. It might also be a lot less work for them if a buyer zooms in from 200 miles away, and buys the car, and leaves. In any case, having a print-out of the lower price in your hand is a good idea if you want to talk price. And I’ve found that driving 200 miles to buy a car save me quite a bit of money, even if the logistics and risks are higher.

      I bought a car like this last weekend. It was from a Chrysler dealer in the middle of a cornfield in rural Illinois. They were selling a lot of cars, though, and they are very Internet-savvy. My impression is that they specifically target Internet bargain hunters to get them out to their rather remote location, and it worked. I bought a car, and the salesman only interacted with me in person for about 25 minutes over a couple of hours (though there was clearly a lot more behind the scenes work). They had the right car at the right price, and that got me out there. It was still the right car at the right price when I looked at it, so we did business and it was easy for both parties. The poster’s situation may very well lend itself to this kind of deal.

      I regularly run in to people have never thought of looking for a car this way, though. I think it’s very strange to just look at local used car lots or whatever, because the local car lots near me just don’t have a great selection.

      • 0 avatar
        thejtk

        I was at a dealer last weekend and while I was there no fewer than three couples showed up and said “We want something that carries 5 people and is good in the snow.” I felt like shaking their shoulders and saying it’s not 1993, we have the internet now. Cars.com, Autotrader, and especially model specific forums have completely shifted the buyer/dealer equation over to the buyer. I haven’t talked to one dealer who knew even half of what I know about any particular car.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The internet is a great source of information, but the motivation has to be there to actually do the research. As this is a car enthusiast forum most of us here are more knowledgeable than the general populous about cars, but no one has the time to know everything about everything. I don’t particularly care about fashion for example. I could spend the time Googling around to find out what’s in style, but personally I find it tedious and I’d rather just ask the guy at Men’s Wearhouse what suit I should buy that fits in my budget.

        Used car salesmen are at a disadvantage when it comes to product knowledge because anything could show up on their lot. At my dealership the used car guys who have been around for a bit know the Ford and Lincoln lines pretty well, and those who have come from different franchises know those, but it isn’t practical to expect them to know the ins and outs of every vehicle of any model year from other makes that shows up as a trade in.

        Still, I’d say the average car salesman knows a at least a little bit more about cars than the average customer who doesn’t really care about cars when it comes to what’s on a particular lot. Research helps, and I recommend anyone looking for a used vehicle to do some beforehand, but I don’t begrudge anyone who asks the sales staff for their recommendations, because after all, that’s what we’re here for. I purchased one of the best cars I’ve owned, a Mazda Protege5, after originally stopping at a lot to look at a used BMW 3 Series, and after getting sticker shock taking the sales guy’s advice and taking the Mazda for a spin.

  • avatar
    damikco

    “I’m probably one of the only people who can justify one.” Well if you live in snow country need to haul something, have a few kids maybe a dog and need to get groceries you could use one. Well just about 70 million Americans fit that description. Id buy one in a heartbeat i have friends that have had them and that’s all they buy ive seen them get over a half a million miles on these things and not much go wrong with them, this is one reason why they hold their resale value so well. Americans make better and sale more trucks than the Japanese.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniorMint

      “Well if you live in snow country need to haul something, have a few kids maybe a dog and need to get groceries you could use one.”

      Remember when people fitting this description used to purchase a station wagon? My dear mother managed exactly the above – with four kids, no less – in a Ford Escort station wagon (and the occasional truck rental).

      If you’d like half the car payment I can probably put her in touch with you.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Not only would they get a station wagon, they’d go get the groceries ahead of the storm. And, if necessary, they’d use tire chains.

        For most Americans there are inexpensive alternatives to SUVs. We seem to have lost track of these alternatives, somehow.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Amen brother. Love the self-answerable argument we as Americans give ourselves now. That we must be able to move 5 or more people in the worst weather for something as mundane as groceries.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Well thats also partially because those SUV and crossover options didnt exist back then. Had they had the sheer volume of choices we have today, I think many families would have chosen something bigger and more capable. Carrying 2 adults and 4 kids in an Escort station wagon these days isnt just ridiculous, its illegal.

        There are no station wagons that can offer the towing capability of a full size SUV, thats one of the primary reasons people “should” use for buying them. So many families have boats or campers, and therefore an old-school station wagon is out for them. Plus, not everyone needs to spend as little as possible to do a certain job. I would say given the OP requirements to run people up to trail passes in the mountains in snow, and sleep in the back, he needs a real truck of some kind, and not a station wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        damikco

        they did this with horses to but why bother when there is a much better alternative to the station wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        My late uncle lived in Kremmling, CO — elevation 7,000 ft+. I remember visiting him in the early 1960s . . . and his car was a ’57 Chevy wagon with a 283 V-8 and overdrive, equipped with snow tires and chains when needed, of course.

        He did have a surplus Jeep that he used to drive to remote locations for his favorite activity — trout fishing. But he only bought that in 1970, and the family car was still a big Chevy sedan.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    Having owned a hand-me-down Z71 Tahoe and driven a Deali from the same generation, they are not the most impressive vehicles.

    Used examples are cheap, but so much goes wrong with them and when it does it’s damn expensive. Depending on what year your ‘hoe is you could have problems with the steering intermediate shaft which starts to pop and groan under operation then eventually decides that any feedback from the wheels is optional.

    If you have a sunroof, it will break.

    The HVAC fans are notorious for going out.

    The 3 zone AC has lots of gremlins and you will either star to leak refrigerant or it will just stop working.

    If your transfer case was never used, odds are it will stick the first time you use the pushbutton dashboard controls. If you have a floor moutned manual t-case shifter you might be able to jimmy it back into hi-range… maybe. Same goes for the locking rear diff.

    The ugly ass interior bits either fall off, break, or stop working. An angry ex once slammed the door and the plastic door lock popped off. The rubber boots came off of the power seat rails which then proceded to gouge shoes and eat coins–ultimately jamming in whatever position I had left them in. The paint has a way of flecking off of the steering wheel, radio, and HVAC controls–so you get good at remembering what the hell a switch does. You may one day notice that one of the side mirrors is flopping about back and forth, because the plastic part that keeps it locked in place decided to break. Worse yet, you may have the mirrors default to pointing down at the curbs when you’re backing up (another dumbass GM feature) instead of backwards at people or things you may run over. You can reset it, but the computer flashes it to the default retard setting once you turn the engine off.

    The speedos on that model GM truck will one day break and you will astound friends with a 70mph reading when you’re piddling around a parking lot at 5mph. How long and how much that takes to fix depends on the competence and legitimacy of your local dealer.

    The shocks and coils wear out surprisingly fast (I don’t think they were designed for such a heavy vehicle) and you get the hooptie bounce VERY fast. If your ‘hoe had the active stabilizing suspension the truck will actually try to counteract this and make it act like a drunken cow.

    Have you seen GM trucks driving around with one of the DRL’s out? Yep, that will likely happen. And it’s suprisingly hard to fix because it’s an issue with the wiring.

    One day the On-Star will jam in the “on” position as if you’re trying to call them after an accident and only pulling fuses will reset it. That’s assuming you can get the hood open because the frail plastic hood release comes off in your hand.

    The four speed hydramatic and the 5.3L engine won’t break… ever, and give some of the most impressive (maybe frightening is a better word) acceleration for something this heavy.

    The second one of these things comes off warranty, sell it and run the hell away.

    • 0 avatar
      Rental Man

      FJ60Landcruiser It seems like you say Go Toyota all the way if not leasing new?

      On the rental side we never got the Z71 PKG always the base versions, mostly with leather. Z71 seem to be rental free unless GM had a bad year and dumped loaded Z71 @ Avis for a short rental time.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      If your transfer case was never used, odds are it will stick the first time you use the pushbutton dashboard controls. If you have a floor moutned manual t-case shifter you might be able to jimmy it back into hi-range… maybe. Same goes for the locking rear diff.

      As a former owner of a GMT800 Avalanche, it states right in the owner’s manual to cycle the transfer case periodically to circulate lubricants – I followed the manual, never had an issue.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        Too many people equate trucks as cars now.

        Actually, the headline of this article was unfortunate, because it’s not analogous.

        Some of the GMT800 maladies are stupid and needless, like the DRL. Others are just a matter of owner neglect. As trucks have become more car-like in terms of amenities and comfort, people assume you just jump in them and drive like a passenger car. Then they complain about them being “unreliable”. More mechanical parts makes it more likely something will go wrong. No Camry or Accord has a transfer case, for example, or load-levelling suspension.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        Very few SUV owners actually know the proper maintenance of a t-case (cycling low range once a month, driving a few miles to keep the gears lubed, etc.). Most people don’t know the difference between driving in “auto 4wd” and having the diffs open so you can get better on road traction from actually being in a hi-range mode with diffs locked (or even how to properly shift into low range and back).

        I cringe when I see a small spare on the front or back of a truck that needs all same-sized tires all around to keep the drivetrain from being chewed up, just as I cringe when I hear the characteristic pop and grind when some idiot drives on pavement with diffs locked and then tries to execute a sharp turn and there isn’t enough slip in the tires.

        When I buy a used 4×4 I am as worried by the ignorant asshole who doesn’t know how to use a transfer case and four wheel drive system as I am by the moron who tries to drive off road like they do on the commercials.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        @86er

        Don’t you remember the Toyota Camry All-Trac? There was also a Celica, Corlla and Previa that used the same All-Trac AWD system.

        I don’t know what maintenance was like on these, but they’re very difficult to find parts for, and very, very expensive to replace if you do manage to find them.

        Personally, I liked the Previa All-Trac.

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    Might I suggest an older Land Cruiser/LX? Seems like it might be a damn sight more reliable. I know the resale is high, but unless you’re going 10 years old and high-mileage, Yukhoeburbalades carry shocking MSRPs and almost-as-shocking resale values, at least in the areas where their 4WD would be considered a selling point.

    The Commander is a nice ride – I’ve been in quite a few, with every engine. The V6 is terribly underpowered, the 4.7 is adequate. I’m not sure how well I’d trust an older one to hold up.

    You could also go absolutely bonkers and find a well-kept last-gen Trooper (SLX?) or Montero. Parts could be iffy, and the reliability wouldn’t be of Land Cruiser grade, but I bet you’d be the only person you know with one!

    • 0 avatar
      FJ60LandCruiser

      There are a few problems:

      -parts are damn expensive
      -the fact that they are virtually unkillable and expensive to maintain means the 3 or 4 owners who had it before you didn’t do ANY preventative maintenance and ran it into the ground
      -they are very capable off road, so someone may have beat the hell out of it
      -most average 8-10mpg
      -the ancient 4.5L inline 6′s have no horsepower, but tons of torque

      If you’re in the market for one, try to buy a Lexus LX450 over an 80 series, odds are it will be in better shape because very few of those made it off road. I recently bought one and installed an entire ARB parts catalog on it.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        What about a Land Cruiser Lite? 4Runner aka Land Cruiser Prado.

        I’ve had mine for just under 2 years and 27k miles. It has seen quite a few camping/offroading trips and just takes everything you’d reasonably consider throwing at a new SUV. $36k gets you a premium package SR5 4WD (leather, bluetooth audio streaming, moonroof, reclining rear seats, backup camera, rear radar, etc). It is part time 4WD, which I like, others don’t and you have to step up to the Limited for full time 4WD. The 4WD system is very capable, though. Can’t say enough good things about it.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Isuzu troopers are pretty incredible vehicles that got a bad rollover reputation, and their price reflects their unloved status. The low beltline gives great visibility, and the drivetrain is durable as hell. The Trooper is the budget version of the Land Cruiser.

        The Jeep Commander is the opposite in every way except that it deserves its unloved status. Cheap penalty box interior, terrible visibility, cost engineered to death, and ugly.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        On the topic of unloved Japanese SUVs, the Mitsubishi Montero could be something to look at (the real Montero, not the Montero Sport). It’s fully capable off road, pretty nice inside, and if I remember correctly there’s a way to fold the rear seats down into a bed, or at least there was in the ’02 model I had.

        The engine doesn’t make a ton of power, premium fuel is recommended, and scheduled maintenance was expensive at the dealer, but I have a lot of fond memories of that vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        100 series. Odds are it hasn’t been off road and the 4.7 is sweet. Much better on road then the 80 series (my ride…the 1fz-fe has plenty of power thank you). Just as durable as an 80 but more geared toward the road and lighter trails.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Land Cruisers are incredible trucks. But prices reflect that, by the time they hit that 15K price window you’re buying 10-12 year old rubber and plastic no matter how well engineered and assembled it was to begin with.

      A 1st gen Sequoia isn’t overbuilt like the LC100 but they can take all the unpaved winter roads you’ll give them and 15K will get you about 5 years newer.

      • 0 avatar
        thejtk

        I’ve looked at 4runners and Sequoias, but they’re too expensive and don’t come with a lot of features like stability control.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        @thejtk

        I think you’re going to have to get used to everything about SUVs being expensive. Even if you can find a good deal on a used one, maintenance on them is just plain more expensive. Tires are bigger, brakes are bigger, everything is bigger and thus more expensive. Set a budget for your purchase, and for what you’re going to spend to keep it on and off the road.

      • 0 avatar
        thejtk

        I know about maintaining an SUV. I currently drive a 24 year old Chevy. Which, surprisingly, has been very reliable (put 14k miles on it this year) and dirt cheap to fix.

    • 0 avatar
      JayDub

      @KalapanaBlac: “find a well-kept last-gen Trooper (SLX?) or Montero.”

      I cannot speak highly enough of my mid-sized 2006 Mitsubishi Montero Limited in carbon grey (blue) metallic. Mine has been bulletproof. Unique but classic styling. Heated leather seats fold flat and combine with the second row to make a king-size bed. Giant moonroof. Almost as good on technical trails as my previous 1986 LandCruiser and 1999 Tacoma 4×4′s. You could pick up an excellent condition 2006 Montero for approx. $17K…And forgo the Tahoe stereotypes…

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        If you don’t mind me asking, how many miles do you have on it?

        I, being the Mitsubishi fan I am (my God if that isn’t anachronistic…), have always loved those vehicles.

        Had the FWD application of the 6G74 in my Diamante. What a delight of an engine! The parts really aren’t expensive, and I never had much trouble working on it myself. I imagine the RWD application would be easier to work on yourself, due to packaging. Only thing I couldn’t do to it myself is timing, because I was so afraid of messing it up and having the pistons eat the valves, thanks to my lack of a timing light. The Diamante was my dream car (searched for 2 years for one in good condition to buy – an ’02 LS in Platinum White Pearl), and the Montero has always been right behind it on the list. Sadly, I haven’t had the funds for one since the Diamante was totalled.

        Plus: what other car can you buy with a freaking altimeter?? Useless, but damn cool!

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        If I remember correctly, my friend’s ’87 4Runner had an altimiter and a tilt meter. Again, both useless, but cool nonetheless…

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        I didn’t see this post before commenting above, but I’ll chime in good words for the Montero as well. I had a ’02 model for a couple of years and loved it. I didn’t keep it into high mileage, but it was very solid for the time that I kept it. I would have probably held onto it but since it recommended premium and drank a lot of it during a time when I had a 100 mile round trip commute and didn’t really need an SUV I traded out.

      • 0 avatar
        JayDub

        @ KalapanaBlack

        My Montero has 80K miles. I rarely if ever fuel up with the recommended 91 octane; 87 octane is fine.

        But no altimeter; perhaps older Monteros had that; I believe older 4Runners and Troopers also had that useless-yet-totally-novel feature!

        IMO, 2006 is definitely the best year for Monteros, in terms of style, horsepower, stability control, reliability, etc. Otherwise go pre-millennium; cool look but less functional and some head gasket issues I believe.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    It’s not just when to buy but where. Don’t shop for an SUV or pickup in farm and ranch country where they really do use their FWD and need the towing package. Suburbia is where to look. And then take it to a shop you know (or are at least familiar with the Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban line) and have it thoroughly checked out. Especially the transfer case, and differential.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      panzerfaust, it depends on where you live. In Texas, NM, Colorado, Utah, Idabo and most western states these vehicles are known as The Texas Cadillac and there is an overabundance of them, everywhere, not just the ‘burbs.

      Best thing to do is to buy new or lease with warranty, because they do require a lot of TLC. I would be highly suspicious of anyone who claims that their GMT has been trouble free. If nothing else, the serpentine belt idler needs to be replaced at 50K or risk losing AC, PS, WP and Alt, when you least expect it in the middle of nowhere.

      Hey, it has happened! That’s why GM came up with On-Star, because their vehicles would break down at the most inopportune times.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        If these vehicles are as trouble prone as you suggest, why did they sell so well? Can’t just say price; GM discounted the crap out of their cars and they stil sold poorly. My friend has a business and most of his trucks are of the GMT era discussed here. One had the idler pulley; the rest mostly basic maintenance. I am assuming that pickups count as well as that is what most of his trucks are.

        Let’s see how your wife’s JGC holds up and be honest with your postings of it. Referring to her old Highlander as “Japan Built” makes me think that personal bias will creep in…it is only human to do so… Same way as if the Tundra was actually a Chevy…It would sell like gangbusters…same bias only in reverse…

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        golden2husky, there is no personal bias involved on my part. I don’t pick the vehicles my wife chooses to drive. I just pay for them.

        If I were to pick a vehicle to buy, I certainly would not buy a Jeep or a Highlander. But the reliability and quality of my wife’s Highlander made me look real hard at the Tundra 5.7 and I chose to buy a 2011 Tundra 5.7 DC SR5. Best, most advanced truck I ever owned and I owned both Silverado and F150 before my current Tundra. That 5.7 really is a magnificent engine. Loads of power, smoother than silk, with a refined ride and handling. And the cab doesn’t shake, rattle and roll like the domestics.

        GM vehicles sell because of a variety of reasons, but selling a bunch of them does not make them trouble free or less prone to breakdowns. However, GM didn’t sell enough vehicles to stay solvent and that’s why WE, THE PEOPLE, own this loser now.

        I still think it would have been better if we had given GM away like we did Chrysler. Sure, it cost us $1.3B to bribe Fiat but Chrysler is no longer an American company. Someone else’s problem now.

        But it is a done deal. Now it is up to the buyers to support GM and the UAW, or not. Time will tell. My guess would be GM will need another hand-out in 2015 or 2016.

        GM is closing its truck plants for 21 weeks over the course of next year. Sounds more like a glut of unsold 2011s that will cause them to skip the 2012 model altogether and skip right to the 2013 model.

        My advice is to lease that Tahoe.

  • avatar
    thejtk

    Since I sent this in I came to the conclusion that a 2005 Ford Expedition or Exploer would be better. They have much lower values and come with more safety features after the Firestone rollover business (which is why I think they’re cheaper). What I haven’t decided is which one. The Explorer is fast with the v8 (or at least fast to me, I drive a 87 full size Blazer) but seems to have pretty certain transmission/axle/driveline issues. The Expedition is nice and roomy as well as not having any issues beyond spark plugs getting stuck but is 1000 lbs heavier than the Explorer (now that I’m looking at weights, I’m worried how it will affect it coming down an icy pass). What do you guys think?

    I might go out today and look at some to try and make up my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang

      It’s always nice to see that we came to the same conclusion.

      If at all possible, get a (2007?) Expedition with the 6-speed auto, the fuel economy improvement (i.e. about the same as an Explorer V8) and somewhat poor resale make it the best value in large SUVs. Honestly, I wouldn’t go with an Explorer/Trailblazer on the value/economy of the 6-speed Expeditions.

      Good luck.

      • 0 avatar
        thejtk

        I’d love to get a 2007 Expedition, but they’re up around $20k+ and I was hoping to keep it below $15k. I figure I should be able to get either 2005 for $12k or maybe $13k. I hate the idea of going in debt for a car and I don’t want to finance more than half of it.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Good call on the Ford products, but I would stay away from the Explorer. I had 2 of them, not a bad vehicle for around town, but completely useless off-road, not very reliable, and pretty small inside as well. The Expedition is just a much better vehicle.

        Also, have you considered 4wd quad-cab pickups, with a topper on back? Sounds like you need something tougher than the typical soccermom SUV. Most of the recent SUVs were designed more for on-road comfort, but you can still buy a pickup that is made for real work, which you are using it for. Get a camp heater for when you have to sleep in back!

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “Also, have you considered 4wd quad-cab pickups, with a topper on back? Sounds like you need something tougher than the typical soccermom SUV. Most of the recent SUVs were designed more for on-road comfort, but you can still buy a pickup that is made for real work, which you are using it for.”

        This +1. My aunt & uncle use their Avalanche for camping. They sleep in the back with a canopy on. Works out great for them and they never have to set up a tent.

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        Auction Averages
        Zeroes Indicate No Recent Auction Sales. See “Transactions”
        For Week Ending Dec 18
        Above Average Below Oct 2011 Jun 2011 Dec 2010
        Sale Price $15,639 $12,140 $8,641 $13,735 $14,261 $18,219
        Odometer 43,760 87,520 131,280 81,086 86,328 58,100
        Total Sold All 18 17 22 24
        Average Auction Odometer

      • 0 avatar
        thejtk

        I assume those numbers are for the 2007. I didn’t realize the markups were so much. One thing I also notice is that people tend to put a lot of miles on these SUV’s, 15-20k miles/year. I would think it’d be easier to get a low mile example given the size and mpgs. You’d think people would just be using it on the weekend. I guess not.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      The balsa wood suspension on a 4th gen Explorer is probably less durable off-road than a Subaru Outback. I’m not kidding either.

      The fully independent suspension gives a nice ride on the highway, but if you have any intentions of going off-road, I’d look for a more durable rig.

      I’m not as familiar with the Expedition.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverInfidel

      I’ve priced out tahoes and burbs myself the last year, and came to the conclusion that the exploer/expedition is just a better deal here in Colorado. I think the GMT’s feel more solid, but they seem to command more of a premium.

      The Explorer has definite tranny issues, but I know people who have 100′s of thousands of miles on them and swear they are bulletproof, so who knows. My mechanic has said they are a little cheaper to fix vs. GM’s and most of the issues are well known.

      Another plus – there are countless soccer mom editions driving around the Denver burbs that have never seen a dirt road and were maintained. The expeditions don’t seem all that much roomier inside considering the added weight. Good luck.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I’d say the cost of the ’07+ model is well worth it if you go for the Expedition. The interior is more durable, the 6 speed tranny helps a lot on the highway, and the overall packaging is a lot nicer.

      If you are thinking about a lease Ford has a good program on the Expedition right now. Lease rates and residuals will change on Jan 4th for the new quarter, but right now you could pick up a new ’11 Expedition EL XLT 4×4 for about $420/month (before taxes, reg, and fees, figure another $50-$100 per month with everything added in depending what the taxes, dealer fees, tag transfers, etc. are like where you are) with 12,000 miles per year on an invoice deal with $3,000 down (that’s based on FL programs on a 27 month lease, you’d have to check what’s going on in Colorado).

      If you do go the ’07+ route I’d highly suggest spending the extra for the EL model. It rides much nicer with the longer wheelbase, has more room for stuff in the back, and if you’ll be sleeping in it you’ll really appreciate the extra room to stretch out in your sleeping bag.

      EDIT: Edited due to original bad math on my part.

      • 0 avatar
        thejtk

        I wasn’t expecting to come here and be convinced to spend more money than I already am. I like the idea of the ’07 and it’s perks, but I’ll have to think about upping my budget (and whether or not the perks are worth it).

        I’m not going to lease though. Whatever I get I’ll be driving the next 10 years.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The Tahoes and Yukons are sooo bad, that’s why sooo many people own them!

    Read between the lines after all the commenting is done here and then make your decision. A friend owns a 1998 Tahoe and he loves it. Me? I wouldn’t touch one due to lack of fuel economy. These are the equivalent of any luxobarge from back in the day and the ones I have ridden in ride smooth as silk, but firm.

    My daughter owns a 2007 Trailblazer and she won’t give it up for the world and I enjoy the twice-a-year times I get to drive it. You might want to consider one of them or its siblings as well. Avoid Toyota – simply because I hate them! (just being silly)

    Of any of these or like vehicles you end up with, be prepared to pay the price, that’s all – and enjoy!

    • 0 avatar
      FJ60LandCruiser

      So many people own Tahkons because at one point GM was literally GIVING them away at either 0% financing or employee pricing. My parents picked up their ‘hoe and Denali that way, well over 10 grand below MSRP for both.

      Gas was cheap, they were comfortable and quick, and represented the American dream at that time(whatever the hell that means, but I’m sure it involves driving a heavy wasteful truck with a surprisingly cramped interior for how large it is on the outside).

      They were also built cheap and fast to meet demand and not that well-engineered. Look at the revolting interiors and you realize that GM was capitalizing on American’s SUV hunger by making their GMT800 pickup trucks into an SUV by saving as much cash as possible.

      These are mediocre vehicles, made more so by the lack of competition at that time. Get into a GMT900 SUV immediately after spending some time in an 800 and you will see a tremendous difference in the ride, interior quality, and driver feedback.

  • avatar
    jogrd

    I did the cross shop a little while back. Salt and Toyotas still don’t go together and all the Cruisers I found were either beat or ridiculously priced. The old Sequoias have the nasty rust habit of the old Tundra.

    The Tahoe is nicer in nearly every way than the Expedition. Other than the spark plugs though, the 5.4 Expedition seems to be better built than the Tahoe and definitely depreciates more. If I was to do it again I’d go Excursion, though they are getting hard to find for a reasonable price. I do remember when I worked in the oil patch the mechanic for our operation said he’d quit if the company ever bought another Suburban he spent so much time working on them. The Excursions held up way better under very severe conditions.

    All these big SUV’s are a bit useless off road though that’s relative I guess. Most of my weekend areas would not be Subaru accessible.

    My Expedition with it’s studded winter tires on is the one of the best winter vehicles I’ve ever driven. The massive weight keeps it planted even on slush which is the downfall of most cars. Chained up with the V-Bars on it’s ridiculous.

    A crew cab with a topper is a lot easier to find.

    • 0 avatar
      thejtk

      That’s kind of where I am with it; not rock crawling, but a Subaru’s not getting up there either.

      The crew cab would be a lot easier to find, but I’m pushing my size limits for a daily driver already with the Expedition.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    A GM product…the “Cam/Cord of anything?

    Bwahahahahahahahah!

    Tell that to all the GM junk I was stupid enough to purchase in earlier lives.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I think some people here just love to complain. I bought a 2002 Tahoe new and now it has 200,000 miles on it and NO PROBLEMS.

    I think I had to replace the lock on the tailgate for $200, but that was it in 10 years. It is a great vehicle and gets surprisingly good MPG for its size (17 avg).

    I would highly recommend one. Mine however, will be traded in come February when my custom-ordered 2012 Audi Q7 arrives.

  • avatar
    salomervich

    How about a Durango? They are cheap reliable, tough and have a Hemi. Take a look at these on ebay:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/08-4WD-4X4-SUV-LOW-MILES-ONLY-23K-MILES-INSPECTED-THIRD-ROW-SILVER-SLT-/270879204856?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item3f11a8a5f8

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2007-DODGE-DURANGO-SLT-4X4-7PASSENGER-20-ALLOYS-80K-MI-/400265132021?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item5d31a937f5

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    2007 2-mode Hybrid Tahoe are now low $20,000′s. Mpg of the CUV up to mid-20′s in a full size with towabilty.

    You only need awd if you have snow covered hills and even that without limited slip is a joke compared to fwd in the snow.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    I drove Expeditions for about a decade. A ’98 with air suspension (don’t buy) and an ’03 EB edition. The ’98 was the twitchies rig I’d ever driven…The ’03 was greatand ran straight and quiet. Averaged 18-19 on the highway running Michelin Latitudes. Better before ethanol. The IRS was never an issue on ground clearance and gave a very very good ride. Seated 6 or 7 depending on size (had the pass through 2nd row which is great for 6). The 5.4L engine never blinked and had more than enough power. I babied it and my only gripe is that at 156K, the tranny went south. I filled it full of people, metal shelving, canoes on roof, packing cases, golf clubs, whatever it could swallow which was a lot. Had the best headlights of any modern car I’ve driven (big reflectors perhaps?). Could turn 10′ (I swear) inside my old ’99 F250 SD so parking garages were easy. Showed interior wear at about 100k (steering wheel and armrest in particular) so it looked really used at 150K. Full sized spare was supper important. Towed 10K without blinking and my 7000 pound boat was like it wasn’t there. Never had issues with electronics (4WD, etc). Got 7K on a trade in with a trusted dealer (as we bought a new rig) and it was gone (with dead tranny) from lot in 1 day (and I wasn’t inclined to pour 4K into it and keep it another 5 years). Changed plugs at 125K and they probably didn’t need changing though if I kept it I was inclined to swap out the coil packs and clean injectors (expensive). With modern winter tires, it’d be unstoppable. Decent sound system. Good heater. Excellent visibility. Far better than a pickup here in the rainy Pacific Northwest (I used a plastic try when hauling things you shouldn’t really haul occassionally inside (fuel, chainsaws, weed whackers). If I’d kept it I’d have changed out roof rack to something that could haul serious weight.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Lots of Expeditions were used as agency vehicles (state patrol etc) before the big SUV’s got a bad name. They appear at state auctions, typically in WSP livery (white) in the Pacific NW (Wa) with say 80-100K? Mostly highway miles on the interstates and main arterial highways.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I really don’t have that strong of an opinion about what SUV to purchase, but I really think the OP should not have to apologize for his needs/wants in a vehicle.

    The OP is a big kid now, and is fully aware of his needs to do what he needs to do. Don’t apologize, it makes you seem weak- John Wayne… (thanks, Zackman!)

    Sometimes there is only one type of tool for the job. Whether someone else approves or not is irrelevant.

    • 0 avatar
      John Fritz

      I just scrolled down here to say this same exact thing you did geozinger. It makes me sad to see people throw out qualifiers like “… I’m probably one of the only people who can justify one …” while discussing potential vehicle purchases. Someone questioning you wanting to own a Tahoe? Excursion? MCI? Freightliner? Tell them to eff off. You don’t owe anyone on the face of the earth an explanation (or worse, excuse/apology) for what kind of vehicle you want to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        thejtk

        I guess I’m too used to the first reaction of anybody being that I’m driving or want to drive too big a vehicle and offering other options. I live near Boulder, CO so I’m becoming trained to placate before there’s a hissy fit. I guess it’s good people are thinking frugally and environmentally, but cars aren’t always as easy to classify as they think.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        On justifying the ownership of vehicles:

        Honestly, I would like to own a diesel fullsize 4×4 pickup some day. But I live in the suburbs, don’t haul much more than the occasional IKEA run, and don’t tow anything, and the furthest offroad I take my vehicles is a gravel parking lot at a trailhead.

        Therefore – I can’t justify owning one.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I don’t believe in all this frugality and environmentally BS. The way I see it, as long as people pay their own way they can buy whatever it is they want or need.

        Like I wrote earlier, of all the GMTs my father-in-law has owned during his 86 years of living, he chose to keep his good ol’ 70′s Suburban 2500 454 4X4 instead of all those newer ones. Why? Because it still works and works better than many of the newer ones did.

        BTW, at 9300+ Ft altitude where he lives, in the thin air, that 454 can really suck down the gas in a hurry while belching black smoke all the way. But who gives a rat’s ass? It works! And it works good. And it is a hell of a lot cheaper to fix it to keep it running than the newer ones are.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….I don’t believe in all this frugality and environmentally BS. The way I see it, as long as people pay their own way they can buy whatever it is they want or need….

        You are actually correct. Just don’t forget that the indirect costs need to be paid just as much as the direct ones. Obviously you don’t care about the environmental ones, so let’s just skip to the one near and dear to any good ‘ol red blooded, gun packing ‘merican: Military cost. How about the cost our government spends to keep the oil flowing from countries that hate us? Too bad that’s not added into the equation…maybe those costs should be factored out of our portion of income tax and added at the pump….

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        golden2husky, I spent 20 years on active duty and retired from the military. The need for a military varies from administration to administration.

        I joined in 1965 and retired in 1985 and you can figure for yourself the impact of different administrations during that time frame.

        The worst one IMO was Carter, but Obama is going to pass him and drag us down even lower. America’s even worse off today than it was during Carter. And that’s pretty damn bad.

        Things were dismal after 9/11 but at least Bush did something about it and most of us were better off during Bush and Clinton than now, with Obama.

        And we can look forward to four more years of Obama because the Republicans haven’t got a candidate that can beat Obama. Brace yourself. Hold on to your wallet.

        But when it comes to energy? Now there is a topic that is moot since America is blessed with so much energy that we could be exporting it. Coal, oil, natgas, sunshine, wind, waves, nuclear, you name it, we have an overabundance of it.

        The cheapest and easiest source of energy is oil, but the green weenies in America have placed a moratorium on further drilling.

        WE, THE PEOPLE, are responsible for putting politicians in power that do the will of these tree huggers, so WE, THE PEOPLE, have no one to blame but ourselves for the higher costs of energy across the board.

        You have to develop the wisdom and be able to know the difference between the things you can change, and the ones you cannot. With wisdom you can identify the things you cannot change, accept them and live your life around them. Like gas-guzzling SUVs, for instance.

        But regardless of politics, MOST Americans will continue to buy gasoline, diesel, kerosene, whatever, to power their go-mobiles no matter what it costs. So, in essence, polluting our environment costs more but is not abated. Not in the least.

        In fact, over the past couple of hundred years we have polluted our environment even more, due largely to the pollution of other nations who do not play by our self-imposed limitations.

        For those concerned about pollution and green house gasses, plant more trees. The rest of us, myself included, will continue to buy the go-mobiles we want and need, no matter what gas costs. We’ll buy it until our money runs out, and that’s not likely to happen for the majority of us.

        BTW, my father-in-law’s 454 Suburban gets 6mpg on a good day, going down hill with a tailwind. When towing a trailer up US82 you can actually see the gas gauge go down by the mile. I kid you not!

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Highdesertcat: Whats with getting all political? All I am saying that all actions have a reaction. No matter what we do there is a cost imposed by those actions. I agree that I (nor anybody else) has any right to tell you what vehicle to buy. I do feel that society as a whole has a right to make sure that your vehicle is safely maintained if it is being operated on public roads, but I digress…Anyway I believe that you have to take responsibility for your actions and pay for them. Let’s be honest. A price of a gallon of gas does not nearly cover the real cost from the well to your gas station. Those costs are paid elsewhere and they are not distributed in a linear fashion. So when someone states that they can do this or that because they pay for it, are they really covering the cost? If we are talking gasoline, no they aren’t.

        BTW, You can’t be serious thinking that Obama is going to have an easy re-election…there is no way the Republican party would be supportive of a hyper conservative like Gingrich if they thought it was a tough race. He is so far to the right of mainstream voters that it would be too risky. But with Obama (for valid reasons and not) struggling, they are willing to take the chance that they can get Archie Bunker, uh, Newt in there…please don’t let a Supreme Court justice die under a Newtonian presidency…

        Now, most important: Your 6mpg ‘burb…all that black smoke is just unburned fuel. If your engine is mechanically sound, have you ever considered dumping the stone-knives-and bearskins carb for a simple throttle body fuel injection conversion kit? I helped a friend do just that, only the engine was just a 350. No more black smoke, easy cold starts, and a 30% improvement in fuel economy. And state emission tests are a breeze to pass. It was not cheap but his carb was shot so he had to spend $300 anyway. Another $500 and his truck runs awesome. And it retains that quick drop of reves when you get off the gas just like the carb did. Non of that “rev hang” that is so common on new cars…

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The Republican Party is in shambles. The extremist Tea Party movement effectively took the driver’s seat and now most people can see that the teabaggers agenda is not good for most Americans. Gingrich is one of the more moderate potential candidates for the GOP, and that alone says a lot. The economy isn’t as strong as it was under Clinton to be sure, but Obama inherited a mess and has done what he could to moderate the effects. I don’t like how easily he’s caved in to right wing demands, nor do I care for his apparent willingness to act as a puppet for the RIAA and MPAA for legislation like SOPA. At the same time, the Republican party has continually moved itself so far into the extreme fringes of the right wing over the past four years that any of the candidates they are proposing won’t be able to gain any support at all with anyone who identifies as a democrat, and they will have an incredibly tough time with the independents and moderates. Personally, I’d rather cast my vote for Hillary, or someone like Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, but since they aren’t options, I think most anyone who isn’t tied to the extreme right wing cult of personality will take Obama as the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately I felt the same way in Bush vs. Kerry and we all know where that got us…

        As far as SUV fuel consumption goes, while SUVs certainly drink more gas, I remember a post a week or two ago here that even a big 6.2 liter V8 in a pickup truck puts out considerably less pollutants than a gas powered leaf blower. The smoke belching Suburbans of yesteryear are mostly gone from the roads today. IMO if you can afford to fuel it, if you want an SUV, knock yourself out.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        golden2husky, I wasn’t getting political. But I am facing the reality and assessing how another 4 years with Obama is going to affect me and mine. The Republicans don’t have a candidate that can beat Obama – zero candidate, just like McCain/Palin could not beat Obama. No chance!

        Independent voters decide who wins, and no Independent is going to vote for Ron Paul or any of the current Republican nominees. I’d vote for Perry because I live close to Texas and Texas is pretty well off because of Perry. Better than my state. Obama wins by default.

        Without the Independents there will not be enough Republican votes to elect their candidate. Obama is running unopposed. I am a political Independent and I always vote for the best candidate, no matter what political spectrum they represent. I won’t be voting for Obama though.

        A lot of people placed high hopes on Obama in 2008 and if they are better off today than they were four years ago, they should vote for Obama this time around. There aren’t too many people doing better today.

        My wife and I are not better off with Obama’s policies. Several of the MDs are dropping Medicare beneficiaries and Walgreen’s will no longer take any government healthcare reimbursement, like TriCare, Champus, ChampVA, PHS, IHS, etc. No flu-shots, no prescriptions, no nothing, unless we pay upfront and apply for reimbursement from the government ourselves. Yeah, fat chance of getting reimbursed. Screwed, yes. Reimbursed, no.

        The Burb is my father-in-law’s. He’ll be 87 next month. It’s stock except for the carb. I replaced the original with a 4-bbl 1100cfm I bought from Edelbrock and rejetted for this altitude. Neither he nor I care about the price of gas. We gotta have it.

        What we care about is getting up the mountain with a load. We get excellent mpg going down the mountain, idling all the way. There is so much unburned gas that blows into the engine oil going up the mountain that we have to change oil&filter every 3000 miles with fresh Castrol 20-50.

        Nullo, the computer-controlled vehicles of today are a lot cleaner, but the multitude of sensors have also caused them to be more trouble prone. One of my father-in-law’s Tahoes had real headscratcher. It would accelerate normally off the line and then gradually slow down to a max of around 25mph with throttle wide open.

        Reading the OBD gave no errors. The dealership was clueless. I replaced the throttle-position sensor and the oxygen-sensor along with the fuel filter and fuel pump; no fix. After six months of this he traded it for a new Sequoia which his wife still drives today. If the dealership doesn’t know what’s ailing your car, you’re in deep doodoo! And it doesn’t matter what your mpg is. You’re not going anywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        @thejtk – So you mean you don’t want a green Outback with a Coexist sticker?! :)

        As a former resident of Boulder and an SUV driver during my time there (’07 Xterra followed by a ’91 Bronco) I know the exact stares and smugness you stand to encounter. At first I tried to justify my vehicle choice and then gave up and basked in my non-conformity.

        That being said I don’t think a full size GM is a bad choice. Toyota SUVs command a stupid premium in the greater Denver area and Nissans are not as solidly built as their competition. Another option may be an H3. They are excellent off-road and are relatively affordable.

        If you are up for a road trip you might keep your eye on the Vegas and Phoenix used car markets – 4×4 SUVs sell for many thousands less than they do in Denver.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        @ golden2jhusky-

        Petroleum is a fungible product sold in a world market. Even if the US didn’t get a drop of oil from the middle east or Venezuela, supply issues from those countries/regions affect the global price of oil . . . and therefore what you and I pay.

        Canada is a net petroleum exporter . . . and Canadians don’t pay any less for gasoline than Americans (excluding added taxes).

        You’re right . . . a big chunk of the U.S. military budget and no small number of U.S. servicemen and women’s lives have been paid to maintain a modicum of stability in the Middle East. But we do so to affect the energy security not only of the U.S. but of Europe and Japan as well.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I once insulted a good friend on his choice of SUV. I really struck a nerve, as he asked me who I was to judge how he lived his life. His question made me rethink a lot of my opinions.

      @thejtk: I understand what you mean, there are folks like that everywhere you go these days. Whether you really intend to use the vehicle to it’s capacity every day of your ownership, really isn’t the point. You’re a big kid now, you know what you need. You’re never going to please everybody else anyway. I drive what I drive, because it fits my life the way I have it arranged right now. If I had a 100 mile RT commute daily, I’d be doing something different.

      Good luck on your search. I’m thinking about my next car, a nice midsize something or another with a 4 cylinder engine, because I don’t like to spend money on gasoline as much as I used to.

      You know what I mean?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Ha ha ha! Thanks, Geo, I owe you one!

  • avatar
    DarkSpork

    Perhaps somebody mentioned it earlier and I missed it, but why not a Ford Excursion (diesel)? They are damn tough trucks with the 7.3L (probably Ford’s most durable diesel) and they are surprisingly efficient for how big and powerful they are. It’s bigger than a Tahoe but that’s more space to sleep in and those things can haul. It sounds like it’s in your budget too.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    SUVs and their owners are just pompous and arrogant and look down their hoods and noses at the proles. You just keep the price of energy high with your “wants and needs”. I’ll just keep getting 28 mpg.
    And why is it the only people I see driving these useless behemoths on the roads are grandmothers, usually by themselves, or men in suits on their phones in the left lane on the interstates. Really filling their “wants and needs”, huh?
    One more thing-it seems as though these vehicles are CRAP. Nothing but trouble, but the pompous, arrogant ones MUST have one to look down on all of us and show their status. That’s all. Hope yu enjoy your time at the repair shops. Geez, SUVs make me ill. They are so useless in the way most people use them.

  • avatar
    morbo

    “SUVs and their owners are just pompous and arrogant and look down their hoods and noses at the proles. You just keep the price of energy high with your “wants and needs”. I’ll just keep getting 28 mpg”

    Thats why I purchased a Hemi Powered ’11 300C. I live in an urban commuter paradise in Arlington County with buses, subways, railways, and bike lanes. I didn’t need it. I WANTED it. It’s longer then the ’09 Jeep Cherokee it’s parked next to right now. It’s more powerful then mosrt trucks or SUV’s out there with nearly 400 lb/ft of delicious, twisty, throaty torque on tap. And it stands out from all the CorCiv-ius’s on the roads here.

    As for the price of energy, the true cost of industrial production is skewed beyond measure anyway; subsidies, taxes, regulations (in both directions). The only valid reason for consuming less energy is so that we can leave the middle east to burn without sacrifcing our troops. Since our politicians are too much ingrained in the system to such things (well, maybe not O since he did end this GD war in Iraq), not much will change anyway.

  • avatar
    morbo

    But more on topic. BOF Ford Explorer? or it’s unlived twns Mountaineer / Aviator? BOF Trailblazer or one of it’s myriad clones, specifcally the extended length version.

    There’s always the Nissan Armada. It’s unloved and has got to be cheap nowadays.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    An apparently good resource for determining the reliability of used vehicles (other than anecdotes from people who post on websites) is repairpal.com. Posters will post their particular complaint about a particular make/model/year of vehicle, and the repairpal people will chime in if this is a common problem on this particular make/model/year.

    So, that’s a little more useful than the “frequency of repair” data presented by Consumer Reports, or Mr. Karesh’s “True Delta” information. That said, I would consult all three sources before considering any used car . . . so you have an idea of what you’re getting into.


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