Would you give up your SUV for something more fuel-efficient?

My 1999 Jeep Cherokee gets 18 mpg at normal freeway speeds. Since fuel is so expensive, I’ve been driving 60 mph instead of the posted 70 mph. (I’ve noticed that many people up here drive five under, which bugged the hell out of me until petrol prices went up so high.) Now I’m getting about 21 mpg.

My Cherokee is not large. It’s about the same length of a Honda Accord. It’s not one of those behemoths that people seem to think of when you say “SUV”. Still, it’s the largest vehicle I’ve owned. I’ve never liked autonatic transmissions, and I’ve always been dissatisfied by the fuel economy. If someone offered a straight trade for an economy car of the same year, would I do it? If so, what economy car?

I like the looks of the VW Golf. It would be neat to have a Diesel one. Honda Civics are economical and reliable. A girlfriend and I took an 800 mile trip in her '92 hatchback, and it did quite well at 100 mph. (She drove faster than I did.) My old Chevy Sprints were “zippy” around town and got great mileage. In short, there are many cars that I would be happy driving instead of the Jeep.

On the other hand, there’s the “U” un “SUV”. The Cherokee has been very, very useful. It would have been difficult and more expensive to relocate myself if I didn’t have it. There are occasions when I have to tow a trailer or another vehicle. Its four wheel drive capability came in handy in the snow, and I have taken it offroad.

But I’m already moved. My boat is a 14-foot inflatable, and it and its trailer probably weigh in the neighbourhood of 800 pounds. Certainly it can be towed by a smaller car. And it would not take a very big trailer to tow my bikes. Certainly that load would be under 1,000 pounds. Heck, I’ve seen MGBs toging small caravans! So I could get by with a smaller vehicle. My 13-foot kayak might look funny on a small car, and the rack s would be closer together on the roof; but there’s not a thing wrong with that.

Would I trade? I might. Might not. I guess it would depend on the specific replacement vehicle.

If you drive an SUV, would you trade for a more fuel-efficient car? If so, which one?

I’m in almost the exact same boat. We bought a '97 Cherokee when we were working at home, not commuting. Now I find myself driving out to clients more often. Drooling over the VW Golf TDI, more realistically looking at a Toyota Echo hatchback. But don’t think I can live without the U. Coupla times a month I need that U. And there’s now way we’ll ever get two or three canoes on top of a Golf.

So, I’m left with waiting until we can afford a second car, cursing violently every time we have to fill up.

      • I don’t know how big a Cherokee is inside, but I bought an SUV because the only vehicles I can fit in with the seat fully upright and still have a decent amount of head room (~four inches) are SUV’s and big luxury cars. I find the SUV to be the more useful of the two, and environmentalists don’t like either anyway.
  • If there had been something available that got better mileage, had about the same amount of interior space and was in the same price range I would have considered it, but there was not. -And mine is ~7 yrs old now, there still is not.

I understand why people drive large vehicles because they are roomy and sit high up. I’ve never understood, and am against, the “S” in sport utility. It is dangerous to drive a vehicle with a high center of gravity as if it is a sports car. I personally don’t think very many SUV’s actually drive this way although anyone with a crotch enjoys pulling onto the freeway with ease.

Although $2/gallon is really a bargain price for gas it is pointless to argue about it because people have grown accustom to $1.50/gallon. If this is really a problem then you need to ask yourself what kind of utility will be missed if you switch to an economy car. If hauling stuff is your only reason then I recommend getting one of those 4x8 foot folding trailers ($300). You aren’t going to haul 5000 lbs in one but you can haul a stove and a refrigerator.

As for an economy car, I was surprised by my econobox Saturn. I get 33/36 with it and it’s an automatic. It’s also very small. Not useful for hauling adults around. I use it as my around-town car for the mileage and also the rear seats fold down. I’ve hauled 10 ft down spouts in it. I also pull a trailer around when I need more utility space.

After seeing a report on the news about hybrids not living up to their mileage claims I would do more research before buying one. Even if they get the mileage they claim they are more expensive than a comparative economy car which defeats some of the purpose of saving money at the pump.


I will not, however, buy another one. We’re shopping for a second car and there’s no sense in having two SUVs. We need something that will seat seven and as we do not want a minivan, it looks as though we’ll be getting a luxury stationwagon.

The “sport” in SUV does not mean the same thing as the “sport” in sports car. In the case of the SUV, “sport” means engaging in activities for which other cars are unsuited. For example, I used to take the Cherokee on the Wilderness Discovery Trails. These cannot be traversed with a 2WD car. They are also intended to convey people to places to where they engage in other sports, such as camping, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, hiking, etc. Some roads to these destinations are quite rugged, and the SUV is the logical choice. A “sports car” is not meant for those kinds of sports. The “sport” in them is good accelleration, high speeds, and excellent handling.

It’s difficult to tow a boat or another vehicle with a trailer. You kind of need to have an engine.

The mileage figures for hybrids are discovered using specific testing regimes. Toyota, for example, knows that in the real world their hybrids will get lower mileage; but they are prohibited by law from advertising the actual estimated mileage. This came about in the 1970s, when lawmakers didn’t dream of hybrids. The law prohibiting carmakers from advertising any mileage estimate but the offical ones was intended to prevent carmakers from claiming their cars get higher mileage. According to the news story I heard a week or so ago, Toyota would like to let people know the actual estimated mileage in situations closer to real-world driving so that people won’t be unpleasantly surprised and think they’re being “ripped off”, but they can’t legally do it. Perhaps it’s time for the law to be re-worded.

Back to the OP, I thought about it some more. My answer is yes; I would definitely trade the SUV for a more efficient car, as long as it will tow at least 1,000 pounds (which is a pretty low capability). The problem is that there are a lot of Cherokees around, and I’d never be able to sell mine for a reasonable price. The best I could to is to go to a dealer and hope he gives me the bluebook value. But I can’t afford a new car; which is why I phrased the OP as imagining a strait-across trade for a used car of the same year as posters’ existing SUVs.

The choice is easy for me. There simply isn’t one.

I use 4-wheel drive about 180 days a year. I also need the ground clearance that my Pathfinder has. Among other things.

If it was economically sound for me to get a second, more fuel-efficient car to use in the summer, I might consider it. But lots of things come into play. Like where to store it in the winter where it would not be in the way.

How are the diesel prices vs. the gas prices up in Washington State? Over here, there’s a considerable advantage in getting a diesel, especially when your mileage is high enough (they do have a rather high road tax because of the apparently less clean exhaust produce).

Here’s what I drive. It’s a 2000 Citroën Xsara Break, and it’s a diesel. Gets about… whips out calculator… 38 MPG, and a liter of diesel costs €.85 as opposed to €1.30 per liter of regular gas - again, that’s Dutch prices, and yes, they’re nuts, but that’s besides the point. :smiley:

It’s a great car. It’s 4 meters 20 in length, which means it’s no behemoth - you can easily park it in tight spots. But it IS a small stationwagon, which means it’ll easily seat 4 and luggage for a week’s vacation. Or, with the rear seats down, it can haul quite an impressive load of kit.

Now, unfortunately, you can’t buy it in the US, as Citroëns haven’t really been sold there since the days of the CX, I think. But even though the Citroën/Peugeot HDI engine is smoother and quieter, the Volkswagen/Audi TDI variant is an excellent engine as well. Does VW offer the Golf Variant (Stationwagon) in the US? If so, one of those with a TDI engine might just do the trick. Diesel engines are notoriously good at hauling trailers - 1,000 pounds or even a lot more than that is no problem whatsoever for a 2 liter common rail diesel - just don’t expect it to be quick at the same time.

I guess the remaining questions are - how pricy is a second hand Golf, and how easy is it to fill up with diesel where you are?

Of course, this logic could be applied to smaller diesel cars from other brands too, but I’m not familiar with any American brands that offer small diesels. Does Ford offer the Focus with the TDCI engine over there? If so, I’d prefer that one over the Golf.

Coldie: When I’ve noticed, the price of Diesel is about the same as gasoline. Sometimes it’s higher, and sometimes it’s lower. It seems to depend on the season, with prices being higher than gasoline in the winter months. It’s easy to find Diesel here, as there are very few stations that don’t carry it.

I haven’t checked prices on new Golfs, since I can’t affor one anyway. I saw an '86 Jetta in the paper with 220,000 miles on it (the seller claimed it ran well and got 40 mpg) for $900. I saw an older ('80s?) Golf Diesel in a car lot for $1,700. An acuaintance bought a '67 Mercedes Diesel for $1,000. I’m told that Diesel engines last a lot longer than gas engines; but 220,000 miles seems a bit much even for a Diesel.

One of the things that intrigues me about Diesels is that more people are experimenting with bio-Diesel. It’s a renewable resource. I heard last year that people in Wales were filling up on cooking oil (and evading fuel taxes, which is illegal). Bio-Diesel seems like a good way to reduce our dependence on oil imports.

I’ve driven a Focus, and it was “just okay”. I’m not overly impressed with it. On the other hand, it wasn’t a bad car.

There’s another thing to consider when towing a trailer: Wheelbase. A Jeep YJ/TJ/Wrangler has the same 4.0 litre engine as my Cherokee, and a body-on-frame design to boot; but its shorter wheelbase means that it cannot haul as heavy a trailer as the Cherokee. Fortunately, I won’t need to haul a bunch of heavy stuff unless I move again; so a small car that can tow the inflatable is fine.

This might be a silly question, but is it physically impossible to produce a hybrid vehicle that has the interior room of an SUV? I would have though that car makers would jump on this idea to negate the biggest reason why people avoid SUVs by improving the gas mileage.

We have a Camry and and CR-V. Happy with both. Don’t know about the next car, but we live in Arkansas, so by law it will have to either be a pickup of some sort or a Mustang. :slight_smile:

We would get rid of our Forester in a heartbeat (which I argue is not actually an SUV, but that’s another post) IF there were a car out there that could comfortably fit two adults, 2 50-pound dogs AND the 1-2 potential offspring we plan to accumulate in the next few years. However, there isn’t (we live in Chicago, a minivan would be impossible to park anywhere), so we will stick with the Forester. As for gas, well, we own only the one car and we both ride public transport to work, so we fill up maybe once every two weeks; at this point we don’t consider it a huge inconvenience.

Johnny, if I’m not mistaken, though, diesel engines get better overall mileage. So, yes, the cost of fuel may be the same, more or less, but you’re coming out ahead because you can get more miles out of the same amount of fuel.

Of course, I could be wrong but this is how it was explained to me when I had my diesel Benz. And it certainly got better mileage, despite being heavier, than my Jaguar.

This is generally true. I was just answering about the actual price per gallon.

Right! Time to get ready for work. I’ll be getting 40 mpg today, as I’m riding the R-1 in. (I found a place that will plug the nail hole for $20, instead of having to buy a new tyre and installation for $300.)

In the US, Ford is manufacturing the 2005 Escape SUV Hybrid.
Ford states that it can tow 1000lbs, and has optional 4WD.

I have a gas powered 2003 Ford Escape and it is a nice car. It gets about 23 mpg with mixed city and highway driving. It is roomy and I can haul various things with it. I’m not sure if the hybrid will have similar power, though I would assume that the chassis and cabin area would be similar to the one I have.

I’ve got three vehicles. A 1992 Suburban with a 454, about 10 - 12 mpg. A Plymouth Neon that gets around 25, and a Mitsu Eclipse that gets around 34. I drive each depending on my need. To work is usually the Eclipse, unless we’ve got a kid with us, then it’s the Neon, unless we have more than 2 of the kids with us, then it’s the 'Burb. If I didn’t have a large family I’d probably get rid of the Burb or at least drive it a whole lot less, but to me it’s a necessity.

Yeah, they’re experimenting with bio-diesel here too. From what I understand, any modern diesel can run on it, with minimal modifications! The only downside would be that a traffic jam would smell like an Amsterdam snackbar at 3 AM on a busy Saturday, but hey, the output’s a lot cleaner than normal diesel! And hell, I have climate control, I’ll live. It’s those paupers in the older cars that don’t that need to worry. :slight_smile:

220,000 miles on an engine? No problem for a Mercedes diesel. Very iffy for a Jetta. You get what you pay for - Mercedes diesels are virtually indestructable. I rode along in a taxi last year, and the odometer said 200,000 kilometers. I commented on the low reading, seeing as the car (a Mercedes 200 Diesel from the late 1980’s) was at least 13 years old or so.

“That’s 1 million and 200,000 kilometers, sir”, said the driver. :eek:

Regular maintenance. Same gear box, unrevised block. Sure, they’re slow as snails, but DAMN are they durable!
Therein lies the problem with more modern diesels: they’re actually fast, and in the race for horsepower and torque, reliability lost out. Oh, my 90 BHP Citroën can still do 500,000 kilometers, probably. But the 1.9 liter diesel in the Golf, in its most powerful version, cranking out 150 BHP? You’d be lucky if it lived to see 200,000 clicks.

So, I guess if you’re shopping for a smaller diesel car that’s about the same age as your Jeep, look for something in the 50,000-90,000 miles range, and you’d still be able to get a lot of mileage out of it without too much maintenance.

i dont have an SUV but i have a ranger that gets 18/26 city/highway mpg. I would trade this in for a toyota corolla in a heartbeat, i would save $50 a month in gas doing that.

DId anyone see that special on 60 minutes a few months ago about how automakers are capable of making SUVs that get 30mpg but they don’t make them? All they have to do is replace a few steel parts with aluminum and things like that, but they dont do it.

I love my Avalanche. I would not trade it for anything. I have contemplated it. However, we drive my wifes car on the weekends, or my little beater CJ-7 when I don’t want to drive the Avalanche. Personally, I need some semblance of Utility in a vehicle, because I have a large boat that needs to be towed to the water on occasion. So I actually use the utility in my vehicle. I’m not a Soccer Parent who just likes the looks…however, when I have kids and they go to soccer practice, we may use my SUV…then again. Maybe not :slight_smile:

My parents have two Cheverolet Suburbans - a 1990 and a 1999. The '90 is my dad’s work truck; the '99 is what my mom drives when she needs something larger than her Wrangler ('03 TJ). The '99 is also used for long trips; Dad doesn’t like driving the '90 out of the towing range of the local repair shop. The only thing my parents have mentioned about gas prices is that neither truck gets a full tank on fill-up anymore; they have no plans to trade either one.

The Grand Cherokee ('97 ZJ) I drive now used to be my mom’s. While it is my daily driver, it also sees some offroad use. I frequently make use of all the available cargo space - roof rack included - and I have driven with a trailer. I definitely got a lot of use out of it this past winter (going to class and going offroad in the snow). I definitely won’t give it up; besides suiting my needs perfectly, it drives great.

Give up the Jeep? Nope!

The gas economy is regrettable, especially for in-town driving, but when we opened it up on I5 last week, at speeds reaching 85, we averaged 20 mpg.

It’s a 95 Grand Cherokee Laredo (whatever that means?) and the utility factor is undeniable. It’ll swallow big things like refrigerators with ease, and has enough space for the dog not to be too tightly cooped up on a trip. About a month ago, we schlepped food for a 2-day weekend event attended by 50 people. We were a rolling grocery store and we were stuffed to the gills, but it all fit, somehow.

4WD-wise, and ground-clearance-wise, that capacity comes in handy at Faire as there’s no pavement on site. Last year, someone high-centered themselves on a mound with a trailer (too much weight on the tongue, dummy!) and we tugged them clear.

Yes, we could use a box trailer behind a car for all the lugging we do, but we only have one parking spot at home, so storing a trailer’s out of the question. We could rent as needed, but “as needed” is often, and would get expensive in a hurry, not to mention the annoyance of having to reserve one, drive off to get it and return it, and do all this during U-Haul’s business hours.