QOTD: What's Your Pick for a Vehicle You'll Really Need to Depend On?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd whats your pick for a vehicle youll em really em need to depend on

For a number of reasons, you’ll find more than a few weather and storm-related accounts populating my Twitter feed. The power and beauty of Mother Nature, if that’s a correct term in this day and age, amazes and frightens us all, and such accounts provide just the sort of non-political diversion one needs to stay sane in 2018. To remind us of our inconsequential status in the Grand Scheme of Things. Violent storms, blizzards, and gorgeous sunsets know no partisan hackery.

Last night, a perfectly creepy photo of an ominous, rotating wall cloud popped up in my feed, dark against the fading daylight, menacing. You could imagine the gathering winds buffeting that dirt road and surrounding fields, rippling the plants like storm-tossed waves. Through this image, just like with so many others, you could sense the photographer’s excitement and apprehension as the cloud threatens to spawn the most terrifying of weather phenomenon: a tornado.

Naturally, I complimented the photographer on his great photo of a Toyota Camry.

Sure, it was not the focal point of the image, but the thought of a storm chaser blasting across the plains or prairies in a perfectly sensible midsize sedan amused me. In reply, he explained his recent decision to trade the Camry in for a new chase vehicle: a still-sensible RAV4.

All-wheel-drive could come in handy on rain-soaked rural roads, especially with those soft shoulders. No one wants to find their parked chase vehicle bogged down to the hubs as an F5 bears down. On a more practical note, the RAV4 gets decent mileage, has a rock-solid reputation for reliability, and isn’t a slouch when it comes to depreciation.

Sure, it’s no Suburban, but good luck finding any vehicle capable of withstanding 300 mph winds and flying houses in the event a chase goes awry.

Naturally, this got me thinking about what would make a perfect chase vehicle. To track nature’s monsters, one must possess a vehicle capable of hauling a certain amount of gear, navigating around (or through) obstacles, and putting on thousands of miles in one shot without fatiguing the driver. Something rugged, practical, dependable.

In the multitude of videos littering the internet, chasers (many of them the obnoxious, bro-dude type who can’t stop yelling obvious observations, like we’re all blind or something) stick with popular favourites. A Dodge Grand Caravan. Chevy Tahoe. Ford F-150. Something solid and cavernous. Compact, front-drive cars don’t seem to do well, but anything works in a pinch.

If money’s no object, sure, there’s steel-plated A-Team-style vehicles that can be cobbled together, complete with lowered side skirts to keep winds from reaching under the vehicle and armor to protect from flying debris. I wonder what kind of fuel economy these contraptions return. But we’re not going to talk about such vehicles today. No, your job this morning is to choose a factory-fresh chase vehicle, completely unmodified, for the task of seeking out tornadoes.

What would it be? Keep in mind most tornado hunters aren’t rolling in cash, and likely, neither are you. Meaning, of course, that this chase vehicle will surely spend much of its time taking the kids to school and picking up groceries. If your job or pastime involved taking potentially exciting, potentially hazardous road trips all the time, what would your long-distance driving companion be?

Sound off in the comments.

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Feb 14, 2018

    Last time I was up close to a tornado I was in a 1988 Dodge Shadow ES. It had the turbo 1 engine and we were running 120mph on the interstate because the storm shelter we just passed had a line outside. We were close enough it sucked the passenger side window out of its tracks and was pulling corn up in its funnel on the other side of the four lane. Fun times. Glad I didn't have my 1978 318 Ramcharger at the time with all 125hp. It was that day I realized that minivans can travel at a much higher velocity than they look.

  • Thehighwayman Thehighwayman on Feb 14, 2018

    A Hertz or Avis rented new Suburban with unlimited milage and all the insurance paid for. Just pick it up and if it gets damaged call and get a replacement. Lots cheaper than buying one for tornado chasing

  • MaintenanceCosts Audi has been a full player in the German luxury club for 20 years. It started to get there with the first A4, which was a 500-foot home run, and then achieved full recognition with the spectacular D3 A8.
  • Jim Bonham 4 times a day? Most people should be able to do their daily commute on battery alone, using little (if any) fuel. They then can recharge Ina few hours, much more quickly than a BEV with a much larger battery. A PHEV essentially becomes a mild hybrid if you don't charge it. You'll have a little extra weight, but the ICE will still charge the battery as you drive and provide some EV range, just like a mild hybrid. A PHEV just .ages what's good about a mild hybrid and makes it better for the small penalty of a little extra battery weight. This is offset by greater EV range, more potential torque assist, and lower cost per mile from having the option of plugging in to "fill" the battery at lower cost vs. fuel.
  • Lou_BC "They are the worst kind of partisan - the kind that loves their team more than they want to know the truth."Ummm...yeah....Kinda like birtherism, 2020 election stolen, vast voter fraud, he can have top secret documents at Mar-lago, he's a savvy business man, and hundreds more.
  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. https://insideevs.com/news/598046/toyota-global-leader-solid-state-batery-patents/Of course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.