Suggestions on a cheap winter beater/work commuter

Elite

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Sep 4, 2018
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Hey everyone, So I have a 2018 Ford F-150 that is paid off and has close to 120000km on it. I have always had company trucks so I never really put much miles on my personal trucks but I recently got a new job and have to commute out of town everyday I work. The commute is 70-80 km a day but they do pay a travel allowance everyday. So I am looking at getting a smaller suv due to fuel prices getting high and not wanting to mile out my truck. I will be using this for hunting and scouting a lot also. I never hunt with a quad always quarter up and haul out of the bush so a little truck doesn’t make sense. I am wondering which suvs are reliable and good on fuel that are some what off-road worthy?


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wind gypsy

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Dec 30, 2014
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I was in a similar place a year ago with a paid for F150 and needed a commuter for work that qualifies for my employers stipend (needed sub 100k miles to get them to pay stipend, fuel, maint). I bought a basic stripped down subaru outback because I figured it would depreciate much less in value than something more expensive. It works well, i've successfully taken it down some pretty questionable logging roads.

I drive rentals 2 weeks a month too and have driven a lot of toyota rav4 rentals. They drive nicer than my gutless lesbo-mobile, get better mileage, and i'm sure hold value even better. Just a little less space, a little more expensive for awd version, and i felt like the subie all-time awd might be a little better than the rav4's option.

VW atlas is another rental that is a hell of a nice vehicle. I just dont know about vw reliability and resale.

The 3 of these might not quite meet what you're looking for in "somewhat offroad worthy" but they are somewhat capable. Get much bigger and you creep into pickup cost and fuel mileage territory.
 

Blockcaver

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A manual transmission 2002 Honda CRV I owned new back then got around great in snow got 32 mpg and had zero issues over the time I owned it. It would get around on CO back roads west of Golden way better than you might think due to short overhangs from the axles….better than a Toyota Forunner I had a few years latter that always was bottomed out and got 20 mpg.

The CRV of today is a few model changes down the road so have no comment on them recently.
 

Danny Hoey

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Subaru Forester all day long. I drove my 2010 in the woods for two years. A good set of tires will get you anywhere you need to go. I would average 26mpg combined. Slept in the back multiple times.
 

loganwayne

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Sep 22, 2021
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Western NC
I guess it would depend on what your company will allow you to drive and still pay you.

if your looking for an older (cheap) suv
A cherokee or grand cherokee with the inline 6 is hard to beat cheap to repair and fairly reliable.

I’d also throw in Nissan exterra or a pathfinder. Little more expensive to repair items and Nissan seems to get a bad rap that it’s not a Toyota but they are decent and can be found cheap
 
OP
Elite

Elite

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Thanks for all the feedback so far guys, Found a used 2001 Toyota RAV4 high km but looks good shape, anybody know of these are reliable? I know Honda and Toyota seem to be both very reliable


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Scorpion

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Buddy of mine had a 5 speed RAV4 that was awesome, not aware of any major issues with them.
 

BroncoAZ

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Sep 6, 2021
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I would just mile out the truck you already have and not worry about it. By the time you pay insurance and maintenance on the commuter you could more than cover the fuel and wear/tear on the F-150. You might break even with something getting +/- 40 mpg.
 

Ralphie

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I’d get something like a Corolla or civic put all the commuting miles on it and just use your truck for scouting and hunting. Put some real winter snow tires on it, not all seasons.
 

MHWASH

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S.E.WA
I had a 97 Rav 4 for this purpose and it was great. The 9nly I would recommend is finding out when the timing chain was replaced. This seems to be the weak link. Once replaced they should be good to go. Mine broke and left me stranded, but these are a non-interference motor so no damage was done.
 

granite7

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Colorado Front Range
We have an ‘02 RAV4 as a third car and it is a decent little beater car. It has 165k miles and maintenance has been minor. I just replaced the catalytic converter last year. This year was a new battery (free warranty replacement on a 2yo battery). I just replaced the rear shocks because the passenger side was drooping. Like most Toyotas with this small engine, it puffs blue smoke when you start it.

Both of our teens have used this as their ride to school. It is pretty slow to accelerate. It doesn’t have a lot of ground clearance. It feels cramped for me (6’1”).

If I had an over the road type job that paid mileage, I would drive it in a heartbeat. Save up the mileage money and be ready to buy a little newer one in a few years.
 

BRTreedogs

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I have never in my life had cheap and reliable work out..
I always hear all these fair tails of people buying 1 owner grandma cars. But the only grandparents I've over bought anything from were liars.

I've always found you have to spend pretty decent money to get something reliable.
 

Mt Al

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Montana
I would just mile out the truck you already have and not worry about it. By the time you pay insurance and maintenance on the commuter you could more than cover the fuel and wear/tear on the F-150. You might break even with something getting +/- 40 mpg.

This ^^^ is really worth thinking about - might not cash flow at all.

My wife has a Honda CRV, last version not current, and it's great, reliable, AWD and gets about 25 mpg. We also have an older Subaru to bomb around in, also 25 mpg and AWD. Both great cars that keep on running.
 

Where's Bruce?

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I recently sold this '97 jeep Grand Cherokee and it's still a reliable workhorse that can fit into small spaces where my pickup can't.

Jeep1.jpg
 

colersu22

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Based on your criteria I would look for a completely stock Jeep Cherokee XJ with 4.0 motor from years 97-2001 with 150k (or less) miles.

I have been looking for one of these for a few months now. People are asking 5-7k on average and have seen some recently that are 9-14k. I am not sure what made the XJ cost so much now but I wanted something to drive in the winter and take hunting just like the OP.
 

Nickofthewoods

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Colorado
I have been looking for one of these for a few months now. People are asking 5-7k on average and have seen some recently that are 9-14k. I am not sure what made the XJ cost so much now but I wanted something to drive in the winter and take hunting just like the OP.
They have certainly gained in popularity the last few years for sure. Finding one that's still stock with low-ish miles and not a ton of rust, that hasn't been chopped up and heavily modified is becoming increasingly difficult and those ones are fetching decent money for 20-30 year old vehicles.
 

loganwayne

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They have certainly gained in popularity the last few years for sure. Finding one that's still stock with low-ish miles and not a ton of rust, that hasn't been chopped up and heavily modified is becoming increasingly difficult and those ones are fetching decent money for 20-30 year old vehicles.
Your dang right I bought a 5.9 grand cherokee with a blown transmission originally from sc with no rust. Found a trans and swapped it out and drove it for a year with a forsale sign. Had 750 in it and sold it to a guy from pa for 6900 and he thought it was a deal
 

grfox92

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Mar 14, 2017
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Mid 2000s Ford Escapes are incredibly reliable with excellent longevity and excellent gas milage.


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