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dery

Need suggestions for a first car

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Just got my learner's licence and will get my first car within a year.  I want a 4wd that can easily handle coastal scrub, pine savannah and swamp.  However I don't know what to get.  

Here is the type of habitats I'm talking about:  

https://njurbanforest.com/category/longleaf-pine/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/86412886575312215/

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Sounds like an older Subaru Outback (pre-2010) might work for you. If you want something newer, a Subaru Crosstrek or Forester might work. After 2010 the Outbacks went up in size, cost and ammenities.

I suggest a Subaru, because they are a nice car for those times you want a nice road car. I own a 2012 Outback Premium and love it. And it has good ground clearance.

If you are looking used, any true SUV would work. Not AWD cars, like the Honda CRV, as they automatically engage their rear axles when wheel slip occures (Subarus are full time 4x4) and often lack ground clearance. Fine for snow and ice, not so good for sand; or when you see an obstacle coming and you are left to hope the car can cope. Tire choices are limited as well, it is difficult to find any sort of rugged tire for them.

But the like as Nissan Pathfinder, Xterra; Toyota Four Runner, early Ford Explorer, Chevrolet S10 Blazer and the like will get you where you want.

 

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something to keep in mind with ALL WHEEL DRIVE....is the tires.  There are states that will NOT replace one tire on all wheel drive vehicles...so if one tire craps the bed, you are looking at replacing all FOUR automatically....and tires are NOT cheap! 

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On 6/1/2017 at 6:38 PM, David A. Wright said:

Sounds like an older Subaru Outback (pre-2010) might work for you. If you want something newer, a Subaru Crosstrek or Forester might work. After 2010 the Outbacks went up in size, cost and ammenities.

I suggest a Subaru, because they are a nice car for those times you want a nice road car. I own a 2012 Outback Premium and love it. And it has good ground clearance.

If you are looking used, any true SUV would work. Not AWD cars, like the Honda CRV, as they automatically engage their rear axles when wheel slip occures (Subarus are full time 4x4) and often lack ground clearance. Fine for snow and ice, not so good for sand; or when you see an obstacle coming and you are left to hope the car can cope. Tire choices are limited as well, it is difficult to find any sort of rugged tire for them.

But the like as Nissan Pathfinder, Xterra; Toyota Four Runner, early Ford Explorer, Chevrolet S10 Blazer and the like will get you where you want.

 

 

Subaru's last forever too. I also know quite a few people that have owned Toyota's and a few of them had over 200k miles and had no issues.
I personally owned 2 Chevy Blazers at one point. The one, the transmission started to slip and the other was beat into the ground and gave us 11 good years. Both had 4wd and we utilized that very much during the winter...I miss those days.
Now, I want a Jeep Wrangler so bad. Jeeps seem to hold their value too...they don't seem to depreciate as much as other vehicles. I think the same holds for Subaru.

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I own a 2002 Toyota Tacoma, with the TRD Off Road package, V6 and 5-speed  that I bought new. Zero issues. Heck, still has the same headlight bulbs that it came from the factory with. This truck wasn't babied. It's even been on its side and nearly submerged. Lots of bedrock crawling and countless washboarded roads. Still cleans up nice, the interior looks good. The AC blows cold. Original clutch. Fourth set of tires, third set of shocks. Second battery. All but one tailight and one license plate light original. Timing belt and water pump replaced during factory recommended 90,000 mark. One steering boot replaced (ripped it open on the trail when it was impaled by a pine branch, field fixed with duct tape, replaced by dealer during 90k service a year later). Truck pictured here and there on this forum. Tons of photos on my old website at www.gbr.4wdtrips.net

My Outback was is my first Subaru. Traded in a 2006 Honda CR-V on it. Though the Honda was a very good car, I can tell the difference in ice, snow and mud with my Subaru; and there is a lot of ice, snow and mud where I live and regularly travel. And it's a wonderful road car and gets very good mileage (4-cylinder, CVT transmission). For instance, the car's trip computer tells me this evening that I got 31.8 mpg since filling it up Thursday morning at home in Winnemucca, and driving to and around Boise, Idaho since.

I bought a new 1996 Chevrolet S10 4x4 pickup in late 1996 (left over stock after release of the '97s). It was stock, 4.3 V6, 5-speed manual, otherwise bone stock. It was a good truck and is featured in several of my videos here on this forum. The S10 Blazer, I suspect, is just as capable. My truck wasn't well equipped for rugged off roading, but took everything I put it too. Traded it in on my current Tacoma.

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Toyota 4x4 with a manual transmission but I'm biased. My old '83 has always got me home even though I've blown a head gasket twice, brake master went out, radiator blew, alternator stopped charging, drive belts came off and the starter quit. I've taken it in mud, snow and sand, wouldn't be afraid to jump in it right now and drive across country. Extra bonus is the TRD electric lockers I put in on the front and rear axles.  In my area, Toyotas are the most popular 4x4 for actual off-road use by far. 

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I'm interested in the front diff lock. Did you do it or did someone else? Any issues with the front steering while locked? I know steering is far more difficult with the front end locked solid, from what I've heard vehicles with factory installed front lockers have a "soft locker" so that steering is less impacted. I haven't studied it to any extent. But I'm curious about your set up. Maybe this can be taken somewhere else so that the thread isn't hijacked.

EDIT: Rereading your post, your truck has the solid front axle? I know it was right in that time frame Toyota switched to IFS, but don't recall the exact year.

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Yes, solid front axle and I think the change over year was 86. I did the install myself front and rear, not sure how difficult or if it's possible on an IFS setup the way I did it, never looked into it. Steering feels like stock till you hit the switch to engage the locker, then depending on terrain it's just a little heavy or really heavy. That's why I went with a selectable locker front and rear, don't always need it. Some places I used to have to put it in 4wd can now just go through in 2wd locked. Even having a rear locker makes all the difference in the world.

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1 hour ago, MB64 said:

Yes, solid front axle and I think the change over year was 86. I did the install myself front and rear, not sure how difficult or if it's possible on an IFS setup the way I did it, never looked into it. Steering feels like stock till you hit the switch to engage the locker, then depending on terrain it's just a little heavy or really heavy. That's why I went with a selectable locker front and rear, don't always need it. Some places I used to have to put it in 4wd can now just go through in 2wd locked. Even having a rear locker makes all the difference in the world.

How often have you had to lock up both the front and back? 

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Your list of needs IMO calls for very different vehicles... mostly the 'swamp' part... how deep are we talking?   A subaru is a good option for AWD, for 4wd I'd keep an eye out for any mid/mini trucks with 4wd, older Frontiers were very well made..  Tacomas and 4-runners are popular, so much that the used prices may be more than you want to deal with.  If you can find an Isuzu Trooper or Trooper II those are very good options.

Do you have access to someone with mechanical skills (or have them yourself)?  If you do, I'd suggest looking for older/cheaper.. it's your first car..  plan on beating it up and learning some mechanical skills while you are at  it....  I would recommend being careful about off roading alone, until you get the feel for your and your vehicles capabilities. 

Find a local 4x4 club, join the forum..and ask questions.  Regional information can be very important in this choice, the terrain you have there is very different from what we have here.  Also local pricing variations, local off road club should be able to help you find a good deal.... and you might meet folks who are willing to help you learn some mechanical stuff as well.

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The water depth up to 2 feet without current.  That includes coastal floods too.  Anything that does not have current I'd be driving through.  Moving water is out of the question.  

http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-car-driving-through-a-ford-with-water-splashing-from-the-wheels-17441455.html

http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-car-driving-through-a-water-filled-ford-crossing-a-stream-on-a-country-89872133.html

So 3 feet capabilities to be safe.  

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On 6/1/2017 at 5:38 PM, David A. Wright said:

 

But the like as Nissan Pathfinder, Xterra; Toyota Four Runner, early Ford Explorer, Chevrolet S10 Blazer and the like will get you where you want.

 

Normal Xterra's are great when it comes to basics.  This comes from personal experience with my dad's.  It survived a few excursions through coastal scrub and savannah with ease.   However we never left the well defined and kept dirt/sand roads.  4wd/Awd Xterras I have no experience with.  Let alone any other 4wd/awd vehicle.  I'd like something I can dig myself out of an abandoned gopher tortiose burrow or armadillo hole in.  Once overgrown they can sometimes be covered with weeds.  

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16 hours ago, Bob said:

How often have you had to lock up both the front and back? 

Not very often for both front and rear. Like if I'm going through the snow and feel the truck slowing, I'll flip the rear one on. Once it starts slowing again, the front goes on. If the truck slows yet again, well the winch or shovel comes next lol. In the dirt or rocks, it's mostly just the rear locked in when needed. I don't like going in mud too much but it's similar to using them in the snow. 

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23 hours ago, MB64 said:

Some places I used to have to put it in 4wd can now just go through in 2wd locked. Even having a rear locker makes all the difference in the world.

Thank you for your input. My Tacoma has the TRD Off Road package, thus the rear locker. However, the locker is rendered inoperable in 2WD or 4-HI by the truck's brain and electronics. There are bypasses available online to disable the electronic nannies, but it is my choice to leave my truck alone. It is my practice to engage the front end on a regular basis, even on bladed dirt roads, just to keep all the moving parts limber and lubed. And, in my opinion, I can't see a need for the locker in 2WD when the front axle is likely engaged anyway.

Yes, the rear locker alone makes an amazing difference, and if I'm crawling along on Class III trails or worse, it is my habit to engage the locker and keep it locked. Just to keep it limber and lubed; also so as not tearing up the trail needlessly because the truck simply keeps on pulling when the trail suddenly turns worse.

Thinking about the e-locker in an IFS Tacoma, the differential housing design is boxy instead of the shape of the standard diff housing. Not knowing how the locker looks, I just assume that it wouldn't fit in the box. I'm surprised that Toyota hasn't engineered a front locker, given the popularity of the Rubicon Wrangler. And especially given the prices of new TRD Tacomas ... :jaw:

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Well for me, it's use what you need to get through a spot in the road/trail. If I've been traveling miles in 2wd and get to a small ditch crossing and slip, a flick of the switch will probably get me through. If not, then it's time to pop it in 4wd. Plus, 2wd locked you can have some good fun on snowy roads ;)  

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When the highway turns white, my truck is in 4x4. My Tacoma has the optional 4WD button on the transfer case lever handle that allows shifting into 4WD at speeds up to 45 mph. The lever is only used to shift between 4-HI and 4-LO, virtually eliminating half of Toyota's tradional J-GATE shift pattern. It wasn't my choice, as I am not a fan of electronic doo-dads, but it has proven reliabe and is very handy for when there are variable snow/ice/dry road conditons.

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I like nissan myself.  Ive owned an xterra and liked it. The 2nd generation Tacoma i had  i was not impressed with.  1st gens are awesome. Frontiers are good 1st & 2nd gens BUT On the 2nd gen watch for cross contamination  between radiator & trans cooler in the early ones from '05 to '09.  My 05 never got it but many do.  Same with the Xterras

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