Daddy-Dilemma


  1. TheAtheistReverend

    TheAtheistReverend Anybody want a peanut? VIP Member

    I have a new baby (first one), and am in a dilemma as for what vehicle to buy next.

    I have always driven a pickup and/or a tiny fuel efficient car. All my pickups have been the smaller s10/ranger style including the ranger I drive now. Both the cars and trucks have also always been 15 or so years old, because that is all I can afford (Key point there), and I can fix them myself. The trucks are small for the same reasons the cars were: easier on gas, easy to park, nothing to prove.

    Now that I am married, I bought my wife a 96 Civic Hatchback with 60k on a perfect body and frame (rare in Minnesota) from an old lady, and I drive an extended cab 94 ranger 4x4. My Pup is going to die within a couple years if not sooner, and I would like to get something more reliable and kid-friendly.

    Seeing as how nothing is reliable, not really even a new vehicle, and I couldn't afford one anyway, I need to shop for a replacement sometime in the near future.

    I have considered a van (I am not too proud to drive a minivan), but they are hard to find 4wheel drive, or an suv (not utilitarian enough). So I am stuck looking for a truck I guess.

    What should I look for? Make Model Year?

    It has to have 4wheel drive, and be able to haul 4x8 sheets of plywood, large amounts of firewood, and a kid (read: carseat). It would be nice if I could fit at least one other passenger in there too.

    I feel like my only option is a full sized Pup with a quad cab, but I am not made of money y'know...;)

    Halp? Suggestions?

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  2. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    If you're used to a pickup truck, but need more car conveniences, you might look at a used Ford Explorer Sport Trac (later just "Sport Trac"). It's based on the midsize Ford Explorer, with a small pickup bed. Bigger than your Ranger, but not as big as a full-sized pickup. The 4WD system in these is very good, using BorgWarner Traction-On-Demand along with ABS, electronic anti-slip and other stability controls. The '07-'10 models feature IRS and stability control for a more car-like ride. Engine choices are V-6 or V-8. Used prices range from $20k and down.

    You're not going to get a whole sheet of plywood to lie flat on the bed floor, and the plastic bed isn't made to take lots of abuse. If you really need to do that kind of hauling every day, you need a full-size pickup. If your bed needs are more occasional, then this one is worth checking out. It's essentially a 4-door sedan forward of the bed, with plenty of room for kids and dogs, and hard points for mounting baby and child seats properly.

    Although nothing is perfectly durable, IMO the RWD-based 4WD drivetrain in the Sport Trac (with the Ford 8.8" rear end) is going to last longer, work better, and be easier to service compared to the FWD-based Haldex-style AWD systems. The Sport Trac 4WD will not let you do smoky burnouts, but it will allow you to make extreme evasive maneuvers without rolling over or spinning out. That's what I'd want to protect the fragile lives in my care. That's why I own one.
    TheAtheistReverend likes this.
  3. TheAtheistReverend

    TheAtheistReverend Anybody want a peanut? VIP Member

    Informative, and helpful, Thanks!
  4. badblue1

    badblue1 * TRUCKS ARE BEAUTIFUL * VIP Member

    Sorry guys, i'm a chevy man and i think you should check out the chevy avalanche. The guy i work with has one and loves it. It's sorta like the Ford sportrac but bigger, you can haul stuff just like a pickup, pretty sure if you open the rear of the cab and lay the backseat down you would be able to haul 4x8 sheets of plywood.

    When we go back to work Monday i'll get more info.

    BTW congratulations on being a new daddy!
    TheAtheistReverend likes this.
  5. TheAtheistReverend

    TheAtheistReverend Anybody want a peanut? VIP Member

    I have nothing against Chevy, and look forward to hearing more. Thanks, BTW, being a Dad is the best and hardest thing I've done yet. And I just got started ;)
  6. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    I don't know about that. The Avalanche has a unibody bed-body design that allows pass-through between the bed and passenger compartment. To some it's a feature; to others it's a liability. Although it's based on the full-size Chevy truck platform, the relatively fragile pass-through doors and short bed don't make it a substitute for a real pickup bed.

    I looked at the Avalanche, but was turned off by the excessive (IMO) plastic cladding and poor visibility due to the fake plastic "roll bar look" cladding. Considering that I was replacing a car that was totaled by the insurance company because of the cost to repair its plastic cladding, I wasn't too keen on risking the same fate again. (The Avalance is also out of production, BTW.) I also considered the bed pass-through a safety hazard and a security liability. It's too easy for someone to break in under cover of the bed.

    The Avalance only comes with relatively large displacement V-8 motors. 2002-2006 models had a big block Chevy motor as an option. Great if you want to hot rod them, but not so great if you want better fuel economy.

    On the lighter, smaller side of the SUT lineup there's the Honda Ridgeline is a unibody, FWD-based design with a V-6 motor as the only option. The Ridgeline also has a non-detachable bed. If you're used to a more traditional pickup truck, the crossover design of the Ridgeline may be too weak for your needs, TheAtheistReverend. But it never hurts to look.
    TheAtheistReverend likes this.
  7. TheAtheistReverend

    TheAtheistReverend Anybody want a peanut? VIP Member

    Not a fan of fake roll bars (light bars), or the limited visibility in the newer vehicles we test drove when looking for a car for my wife. Seems to be almost unavoidable these days with all the side air bags, etc.
    Thanks for the heads up on the unibody, that is something I would like to avoid if possible. I'm a fan of a real frame. Plus, weakness between the bed and passenger compartment, in durability or seal is a major down side it sounds like.
  8. junebug1701

    junebug1701 Member

    May I suggest the Toyota RAV4. The third generation (2006-2012) can be had with 4wd, V6, and a third row seat. The V6 is a blast to drive and can tow 3500 LBS. Also you get 27-28 MPG on the highway. Lots of space for kids/cargo without being a minivan..Unfortunately, the just announced 2013 is a step backward in features/performance.
  9. AntimonyER

    AntimonyER AF Addict VIP Member

    What about that subaru with the bed in it? An outback version I think...

    Baja. Looks like they stopped making it in 2006 tho.
  10. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    The main reason why I went with the ST was because visibility was much better than with a SUV with big C, D and E pillars making large blind spots.

    Because I was shopping to replace a unibody car that had been rammed by a big, full-frame SUV (that was undamaged after the attack), I only looked for full frame vehicles that are at least a match for the legion of road-raging Lexus SUV drivers. The full frame gives me the protection, and the IRS and RWD-biased 4WD system gave a ride that my often elderly passengers need.

    I had a '89 Mustang LX with the H.O. motor in it, and within a year the chassis was noticeably twisted by the torque of the motor. I also think that unibody crossover vehicles are the worst of both worlds. If you need light weight and/or fuel economy, buy a car; if you need a truck, buy one with body-on-frame.
  11. TheAtheistReverend

    TheAtheistReverend Anybody want a peanut? VIP Member

    That would be a good one maybe. 2006 is about as new as I could go, especially with a Subaru. They run expensive.

    Only problem is ground clearance...
  12. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    I live in a place in Wisconsin that often gets only the remnants of snow storms, after they have passed over where you live. I wouldn't make it out of my driveway in a "slammed" vehicle on those days.

    Subaru cars are great in the rain, and in urban areas like Chicago, where the plows are out in full force before the first flake has fallen. Here in Madison the plows typically don't show up until after the last flake has fallen. People who want to get somewhere in the interim between a major snowfall and when the snow gets cleared have the choice of cross-country skis, snow shoes (popular here) and a traditional 4x4 with plenty of ground clearance.
  13. Davdi

    Davdi Well-Known Member

    A bit left field for you, how about a Volvo XC90 4x4 and built like a small tank. all the power options and not too thirsty on gas.
  14. TheAtheistReverend

    TheAtheistReverend Anybody want a peanut? VIP Member

    To be honest, I never liked Volvo, and I got side-tracked with the Subaru. I wanted to get my wife a Subaru, not myself. Really, I want something with a bed. I would almost settle for a full sized van, but only if it was lifted and had 4 wheel drive. That is as close as I could get to the closed cargo area of an SUV.
  15. Speed Daemon

    Speed Daemon Disabled

    I was a teenager in the '70s, when a panel van was considered the pinnacle of personal freedom for non-emancipated minors. It was the place where we could do all those things that we wanted to do, but our parents wouldn't permit at home. The 4x4 version was even better, since it could be driven to places where no parents, police cars or nosy neighbors could get to. :D

    From what I've seen, every US 4x4 van was a conversion job; no factory 4x4 vans were produced that I'm aware of. That makes them rare, costly and lacking some dealer support. I'd still love to have one!
  16. Davdi

    Davdi Well-Known Member

    VW do a 4X4 transporter van, but it's unitary construction, not on a separate frame.
    Still, they're very high quality products and tough as the proverbial brick outhouse.

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