Do you drive an SUV and do you like it?

If you do…what kind is it and what do you like about it? How’s the gas mileage? Manual or Automatic? Any problems or service issues?

Thanks! For those of you who hate SUV’s… I’m sorry but please don’t trash me. I like them!

Yes, I am a hated SUV driver.
1991 Chevy s-10 Blazer
Likes: It’s a four door (if you’ve got two kids in car seats, you’ll understand). If we didn’t have it, we’d have to park at the bottom of the driveway and walk a couple hundred yards uphill to the house as soon as the snow flew. I can go fishing and if I get stuck in a muddy bottom, I can (probably) get out. Plenty of inside storage for kids, dogs, etc., especially when making a road trip. It’s no taller than a mini-van. It’s relatively comfortable on those road trips, and we get 20 mpg.
It’s a v-6, 4 speed automatic.
Problems: We had to replace the engine @100,000 miles. The digital speedometer went out and cost $300 to replace the instrument pod. Electric windows need to be fixed every now and then. The outside spare tire holder stresses the tailgate enough to have actually caused a crack in the metal, which causes squeaks. It handles like a Ferarri (no, scratch that and replace with “pile of shit”), ESPECIALLY at Interstate speeds. No high speed corners here! But if you want to drive the twisties at speed, you should have gotten something else to begin with.

Thanks! I haven’t looked at the Blazer yet but it’s on my list. So far, I’ve checked out the Honda CRV and the Kia Sportage. I’ve ruled out the KIA because my mechanic said he won’t work on it if I buy it. :frowning: Oh well, moving on…

1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer (SJ)
Ultra-luxo: leather, all power acessories (windows, locks, etc) standard!
AMC 360 cubic inch V8 (parts cost a little more than for Chevys, but they’re available)
AMC-cased Chrysler 727 3-speed automatic transmission, fulltime/part time 4wd (4wd can be used on dry pavement, but there is a 2wd mode)
4 doors. The 2-door (or less plush 4-door) version is the '74-'83 Cherokee. Production of fullsize Wagoneers ended in '91.

Gas mileage: 12-14 mpg depending on how well it’s running. Mine with 165,000 miles was pretty consistant at 13.5 mpg.

Problems: Standard stuff for a 10-year-old car; here’s what to look for when buying one.

Price range: $600 (a fixer-upper ;)) to $5000 (a '91 in very good shape and with low miles), with the average for a good looking and great running one at about $3500 (guess what I paid? :D)

Here’s some more info on them, and here’s a guy that sells them fully restored to showroom condition (and showroom price! :eek: )

Wow! Great info Gunslinger! I love Jeeps but I’m a little intimidated by the full size models. Is there any advantage (other than price!) to buying an older model?

Does a mini sport-ute count? We’ve got a Honda CR-V.

It’s got some important SUV features (separate area behind rear seat for gear or slobbery dog; 4-wheel drive; high clearance) but is significantly smaller, more gas-efficient, etc.

I thought it was cute and vaguely useful until this winter, when we had something like a solid month of crappy snowy weather and poorly-cleared slippery roads. Then I suggested to my husband we trade our other car in so we had TWO of these things.

Do I hear Expedition drivers snickering at my participation in this thread? lower lip quivering

If I have one thing to say, DO NOT get a Ford Expedition, or the GM equivilant monster. They are the are about as bad on gas as a ten to twenty year old regular SUV. Plus, parking would be very easy. (and when I say easy, I mean incredibly f*cking hard.)
I would personally go for a Jeep Wrangler. It’s the small size you seem to like, and I thing the look the coolest.

Easy to work on if you’re so inclined (this is and old designed-in-the-'60s engine, remember), Cheap to fix (engine parts cost more compared to Chevy smallblock V8s, but body panels are cheap, even new), abundance of used parts, and safe in a crash. I’ve seen pictures of several that have been in horrendous wrecks–rollover at 45 mph (he drove it home afterwards), hit on front corner by a Ranger pickup doing 70mph (that’s mine), T-boned by a lifted fullsize Dodge pickup (doors smashed in to edge of seats, still driveable). None of the people involved in those accidents were seriously injured–I wasn’t hurt at all.

It’s not really as big as it looks–nice and roomy, and lots of cargo space, but only 110" wheelbase–shorter than an Explorer. Very easy to park.

I have a '99 Jeep Cherokee Sport. Four doors, 4.0 litre engine. Automatic transmission. Yakima rails on top with a Yakima “Load Warrior” basket (with extension). “Deep amythist” with “agate” interior (to us guys, that’s dark metallic purple with a grey interior).

I like the Cherokee because it’s a “compact” SUV. Not too big. I wouldn’t mind being able to put the back seat down and stretch out (I can, barely, but I have to lay diagonally), but hey; that’s why I have a tent. It’s comfortable to drive and I’ve driven it from Los Hideous to British Columbia, and to Las Vegas. I’m a very aggressive driver, and if there is traffic I get about 17mpg. Without traffic and maintaining 65mph (slow for me) I can get 21 or 22mph. Mileage went down when I installed the roof rack (which is a bit draggy). On the trip to Canada I was getting 25mph on some legs. I’ve taken it offroad and it acquitted itself well in the mud… even on the stock Goodyear Wrangler tires. (It did slip a little; but I blame the tires, not the Jeep.) I’ve hauled a 5,000 pound trailer (the max for the towing package) with no problem.

The Cherokee is said to handle more like a truck (which it is) than the other SUVs. That was one of the reasons I bought the Jeep. If I’m going to drive a truck I want it to behave like a truck. The Cherokee looks more like something you’d take off-road, too. (That’s what turned me off of the Grand Cherokee, which had “soccer mom” written all over it.)

I made two mistakes: First, I bought the automatic transmission. I’ve always driven standard transmissions, and after two years I’m still not used to an automatic. Second, I didn’t get the CD player.

I’ve been told by more than one mechanic that works on Jeeps that the Cherokee’s engine and drivetrain are “bulletproof”. They are well-designed and reliable. I see a large number of older Cherokees on my 90-mile round-trip commute every day. These mechanics also told me that “cosmetic” stuff will drive ya nuts. I’ve had my Jeep into the shop twice for a faulty vent door. My old Willys CJ2A Jeep didn’t have any problems like that! But then, it didn’t have any vents either. And it only went 50, max.

Overall, I’d say the Jeep Cherokee is an excellent buy. I think it’s less expensive than other SUVs, and it has more power than some other SUVs I’ve been in. It’s a solid vehicle that’s been around long enough to get rid of the “bugs”. Style points for looking like an SUV should, but take off a couple of style points for not having “wind wings” (aka “wing windows”). A Cherokee gives you a heritage that stretches back to 1940.

“There’s only one… Jeep.”

“The Earth is 70% Covered by water. Jeeps cover the rest.”

Some pics of my Jeep before it was broken.

I used to drive a 1996 Land Rover Discovery. Manual transmission, 4WD.

Pros: It was almost impossible to get that thing stuck in the snow. Great snow car, really. People thought it was cute and said “Nice car!” to me. Also, none of the important stuff (engine, transmission) ever went wrong with it. The gas mileage wasn’t too outrageous, either.

Cons: Everything not important broke. Power windows would go down and then refuse to go up. The dashbord shrank and had to be replaced. The windshield wipers stopped working. The chintzy plastic pins holding the plastic bumper to the car broke and the bumper fell off. And so on, and so on. There’s tons of non-essentiall electronic doo-dads in a Land Rover, and they all break, annoyingly and expensively.

For me, the cons of the Land Rover outweighed the pros, and I really, really wanted to get rid of it. Happiest day of my life when it was totalled. (Well, no, not really. It was kind of scary, actually, and my dog, who was in the car at the time, almost had a nervous breakdown. But still, I was not sorry to see it go.)

I will never buy one again, but if you’re desperate for a good snow car and you like the look, you could probably do worse.

This is not directed to anyone in particular. I just thought it should be brought up. It is directed to SUV owners and future SUV owners. Non-SUV owners might find something useful too.

Learn how to drive an SUV.

SUVs have good ground clearance. That’s their job. But this raises the center of gravity, making them prone to rollover. I let my ex-g/f drive my Willys once, and she nearly flipped us. It scared her enough that she never wanted to drive it again. I saw a guy try to turn an M38 around on a hill. He rolled it. Now, most people know that if the hill is too steep to climb, then it’s too steep to turn around on. But some people don’t.

SUVs are heavier than a Geo Metro or a Honda Civic. That means that they take longer to stop and tend to want to go straight if you want to turn too quickly. Plan ahead.

Some people (yes, even on this board) are appalled that SUV drivers rumble by at 70mph while they (the people not in the SUV) are stuck in the snow. Four-wheel drive is not a magic flying carpet. It’s a tool. Tools can be misused. THe reason you have 4WD is so that you don’t get stuck. It’s not there so you can go faster in adverse conditions. Never exceed the performance envelope of your vehicle. Weather closes the envelope. Just because you have 4WD doesn’t mean you can suspend the laws of physics. Know your limitations. Know your vehicle’s limitations. Don’t be a jerk.

Remember: If you drive an SUV, then you’re automatically an arsehole in the minds of many people on the road (and on these boards, for that matter). Don’t give them any ammunition.

I am a small-town newspaper editor in Colorado. I drive a small SUV (a Tracker) because it the perfect tool for what I do. Very good gas milage (low to mid 30s). Will get me to stories in locations and weather (remember this is Colorado)that other vehicles can’t get to. Relatively easy to maintain and is unique enough looking that when I am going to a crime scene, most local officers just wave me through. I should mention that I prefer it to the larger SUVs because of its smallness and ability to squeeze on to cow paths and bicycle trails relatively easily. (This comes in handy following up stories for my reporters or filling in for my paperboys.)

I am on my second one and I have never experienced the danger of rollover that they are supposed to be so prone to. Speedwise, I generally stay with the local police and fire departments when heading to stories.

I have room for my camera and computer gear, couple of changes of clothes and an ice chest.

Probably the worst thing about them is that when you have to sleep out in them waiting for someone to get home or waiting for someone to get out of the hospital, they are not that comfortable.

But they sure beat the VW bugs I started in the business with.

I’ve had a Geo Tracker for nearly ten years. It’s GREAT. It’s got good legroom and headroom (even in the back, on those occasions I unfold the backseat). It gets 32mpg on the freeway and 27mpg in stop-and-go city driving.

Mine’s a soft top model, which is a problem for several reasons:

  1. It makes the vehicle light for its high profile, and high crosswinds in central Washington can get damned scary.
  2. The thing is so friggin’ easy to break into. What’s worse is that, despite being able to “break in” by unzipping the back window, a few thieves still slash the windows to get in. (Replacement tops cost about $200.)
  3. It’s noisy as hell on the freeway.

But it’s a blast to drive with the top removed in warm weather.

Unlike the Suzuki Samurollers, the Tracker’s got a relatively wide wheelbase. This saved my ass a few weeks ago when some dickhead intentionally ran me off the road in a blizzard. I left the pavement and down a shallow embankment sideways (doing a slow three-sixty) at 50mph. In a higher-center-of-gravity SUV, I might’ve rolled the vehicle. (I’m sure the snow played a role, too.)

Having a true compact 4x4 has come in plenty handy when snow used to shut down Seattle. It’s a dream to park. In good or bad, it’s a great commuter car.

Power? Forget about hauling a trailer bigger than a Radio Flyer wagon.

1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Platinum exterior, Agate interior.

I absolutely love it! I’ve only had a few problems (see below), nothing serious enough to leave me stranded by the side of the road. Excellent off-road vehicle, and absolute fun in the snow. It has a V8 engine, automatic transmission, and all-time 4 wheel drive.

I’ve only been in one wreck in this Jeep–some guy drove into the rear end while I was sitting at a stop sign. The design of the bumper absorbed a surprising amount of the impact–it’s basically designed with two big ‘springs’ inside for this purpose. Also, the fact that the rear bumper on the Jeep is a separate component from the body unit contained the damage to the bumper itself.


Fuel injection pump failure: a factory defect. Discovered after about 2 months, so it was still under warranty. Easily replaced.

Rear axle carrier bearing: another factory defect. I didn’t recognize it as a real problem until about 3 years after the purchase of the Jeep, when I noticed an increasingly louder growling noise coming from the back tire wells. Even though the warranty had long since expired, Chrysler covered most of the replacement costs.

Factory-installed tape player: it broke. I waited until the local car-audio store had a major clearance sale, and bought a fairly nice Alpine CD player with a cute little remote.

Until 3 weeks ago, I drove a 1995 Honda Passport and loved it. I got it used with 28,000 miles on it, put another 70,000 on it in less than 3 years. A few weeks ago, I gave it to my stepson for his birthday, and I got a station wagon. I drove a Mazda Miata before I had the Passport, so it was a real change for me, but I certainly felt safer in the Passport. Gas mileage was not great, but if you are going to get an SUV, that’s the price you pay.
As for repairs, the only thing we’ve had to do to it so far is change the timing belt at 60,000 (which you need to do anyway) and get new tires. Warning- tires for an SUV are EXPENSIVE. The last set I got for the Passport cost over $700. But I’ve never had one problem with it,even though I was really bad about changing the oil every 3,000 miles.

We have a '98 Expedition. I didn’t find it hard at all to park, and I learned how to drive in it. It does get bad gas mileage, but it has been a reliable car so far (Except some moron broke the cd player by jamming it down too hard…)

However, I think the Explorer is the worst SUV ever. I hate it, especially since I’m a big guy.

I have a '91 Cherokee. The only problem I have ever had is a busted water pump. I’ve ran it all over the country and it’s just over 250,000 miles now. The 4 litre engine has very good torque and horsepower for such a light vehicle allowing an aggresive driving style. It has a full front axle so it rides a little rough but the seats are super comfortable. I’m taking the seats with me when I finally junk it. Gas milage is about 17/21. There is plenty of room for me and my stuff. The passenger seats are a little crapmed though.

Another Cherokee Sport person here. We have a 94’ with the 4.0 liter fuel injected straight six and automatic tranny. Everything Johnny L.A. said about his is true for ours, except we don’t get quite as good mileage; 17-20mpg usually. Does any one know if they modified the motor between those years?

We love the car. We’re both big and tall people and have plenty of room in the front. The back seat is hard to get in and out of however. The visibility is great and the vehicle is very easy and comfortable to drive. It has a smaller turning radius than my Mazda pickup. And, it takes off like a scalded dog when you put your foot in it. (I suppose that could account for the difference in gas mileage.) IIRC, we paid $17k for it in '94.

It isn’t perfect of course, that dorky cup holder is just wrong, but all in all, it’s a good buy.

Following up Bumbazine’s post.

Although I’m an agressive drivers (I’ve had four motorcycles, three MGBs and two Porsches – old habits die hard), once I’m on the freeway I try to smooth it out. Looking ahead, I can see that “punching it” to gain another car length is futile. I think this helps with the mileage. I don’t know if the engine had been modified between 1994 and 1999. Your mileage is probably more a function of driving style.

I don’t have any trouble with the cup holders. The wide-bottom car cups (the ones that resemble an Apollo spacecraft) don’t fit and there’s nowhere to set them down, but I judt use the disposable cups instead. The 911 had no cup holders, but was small enough that I could put the “Apollo” cup on the passenger floor and reach it without being unsafe.

I’ve noticed the back seats are a little hard getting into and out of. I think that’s because of the “scallop” in the rear doors necessitated by the rear wheel wells. But I don’t have to ride in the back, so I don’t really care. My passengers deal with it okay. They like my Jeep.

As for price, I paid about $22k in Feb. 1999. Factory-installed options were deep tinted windows, air conditioning, cassette stereo, overhead console, cruise control and four-wheel drive. All I really wanted was the a/c, stereo (I should have gotten the one with the CD player) and the 4WD; but there were only two in the colour I wanted in California at the time, and the one I had came with the least options. The overhead console is cool. There’s a computer that shows your mileage (instant and average) among other things. There’s a place to put a garage door opener (too bad I don’t have a garage) and another place for sunglasses. There are also lights in it, which I’ve found very handy. The only problem with the console is that I wear wire-frame shades, and they sometimes get stuck in the carrier door. The deep-tinted windows are good too. I feel they keep prying eyes out of my cargo area. And I actually use the cruise control sometimes.

To Posatyvo: Yup, those full axles are what make it drive like the truck it is. How long do you think it will be before you junk it? Can I have your door panels (I want the wind wings!)? Seriously, when it comes time to replace it, you should rebuild it for Jeep Jamborees!

Hey, three of us have mentioned the Cherokee’s excellent power-to-weight ratio! It’s no sports car, but for a truck it moves right along!

A note on the engines. Get the 4.0 litre. You may think that getting a 2.8 will save you gas, but it won’t. You’ll be running the engine harder to make freeway speeds, which will result in greater fuel consumption and shorter engine life. The 4.0 will get you better mileage, give you more power, and last longer. I worked with a guy who bought a Wrangler with a 2.8l engine, and this is exactly what he found out. His lighter Wrangler with a smaller engine got worse mileage than my larger Cherokee with a bigger engine.

MissBHaven, there are a lot of good ideas in this thread. Although I am a Jeeper, some people like other marques. That’s why they make them (even if they aren’t as good as Jeeps® :wink: ). If you’re considering an SUV, go out and test drive several. Keep in mind the mission. I chose the Cherokee because it rides and drives like a truck. Some people like to pretend their SUV is just a big car. Consider price. A Jeep, being domestic, will probably be cheaper than other SUVs in its class. But a die-hard Toyota fan will probably select a 4Runner over anything else. (Hey, the old Toyota FJ-40 was an excellent vehicle!) Why do you want an SUV? If you reallly want to go offroad, I’d suggest a Jeep. If you break something it will probably be cheaper to repair than an import. Also, some of the current SUVs only give lip-service to getting off the pavement. Can you really see a Lincoln Navigator out in the boonies? On its street tires? If you plan to only drive on the street, why get an SUV? There are other cars that are more efficient for that mission. Depending on where you live, you may never need 4WD. I was up in Park City, UT, and it seemed that everyone had a Suburu wagon. These are excellent cars that are useful for driving in the snow (it was the official car of the U.S. Ski Team). The Suburus I saw there were almost all “vintage”. They seem to hold up extremely well. (A co-worker who lives in the local mountains had a Suburu 4WD – they’re all 4WD – sedan, and he said it was great. What about safety? It can be comforting to have all of that metal around you, but more metal means more mass that might need to be stopped or turned in a hurry if you’re in city traffic. An SUV requires different driving skills because of its weight and C.G. Another Jeep Cherokee advangage: It doesn’t lull you into a false sense of security. It’s a true truck.

So. Get out there and see what you like and what you need. You’ll have to live with your decision for years. I think that when I chose a Jeep Cherokee that I made the right choice. YMMV.