1. Welcome to NikonCafe.com—a friendly Nikon camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

Car Shopping

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Uncle Frank, May 27, 2007.

  1. Picking out a camera is a walk in the park compared to picking out a new ride for Nancy. She bought her first SUV in 1988... an Isuzu Trooper... and has been addicted to them ever since. She currently drives a Mercury Mountaineer. In light of gas prices, we've decided to downsize, and after doing due diligence (Consumer Reports, and Costco research), narrowed it down on paper to a 4 cylinder Subaru Forester, Honda CRV, or Toyota Rav 4. Now it was time to test ride them... a fun way to spend a holiday.

    First up was the Forester.


    It's a great ride... more like a car than a truck... with powerful acceleration and great handling . The drawback was the distribution of space. They devoted so much of it to the cargo area that it didn't leave much leg room for the back seat.

    Next we tried the Rav 4.

    View attachment 97921

    I thought it was sweet... very stylish, and a powerful 4 cylinder engine. The suspension was a little stiff, but the steering was very responsive. That turned out to be a problem, as I oversteered it during my portion of the test ride, which made Nancy nervous.

    Our final test was the CRV.

    View attachment 97922

    It was middle of the road... not as much power as the Rav 4, not as good a ride as the Forester, but roomy and nice handling. Nancy liked it, but I thought it was kind of boring.

    After the test rides, we had lunch and talked over our perceptions. I made up a grid, and we rated the cars 1, 2, or 3 for each of 8 criteria. But when we added up the scores, each car had received 16 points... a dead tie. Then we examined the negatives of each, decided that the Forester's lack of space was a fatal flaw, and eliminated it. Then we rated the two remaining choices 1 or 2... and it came out to another dead tie at 12 points each.

    There was only one thing left to do... go back and take the Rav 4 for another test ride and see if I could drive it without terrifying Nancy. I was on my best behavior this time, and we decided to award the Rav 4 the blue ribbon for best in class. We'll be picking one up in the near future.

    View attachment 97923

    Note: photos with the d200 and 20/2.8.
  2. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Frank :

    I've driven a RAV4 for a longish time, and it's a great vehicle. My RAV's been all over mine roads and forest roads around Big Bend NP, Arches NP, the run from Dead Horse Point State Park down to Canyonlands NP, a scad of other NPs and NFs and NRAs, and it's always performed.

    The only times it couldn't get through were, quite honestly, spots I shouldn't have driven through.

    If you're not tryng to emulate some daft TV commercial with the SUV bouncing off of boulders, the RAV4 is capable of reasonable offroad performance, and quite fine performance on bad roads. While it doesn't offer low-low 1st gear like more "serious" offroad vehicles, I've found it to make its way along with elan and eclat.

    And, FWIW, my '96 RAV4 did about 28 mpg over the 1,650 mile road trip Alice and I made last week. I've had to give it the usual maintenance over the years, but on the whole, it's been almost trouble free to date.

    I've rented CR-Vs and Foresters (remember how much I travel for work ?), which are fine little vehicles in their own right, but the RAV4 is, IMNSHO, a more capable vehicle, and the reliability levels are just that bit higher than the other two.

    The only reason I haven't bought a newer RAV4 is that they've stopped making it with a manual transmission, something I've found quite handy for say, a mine road set back from Ouray, CO or the backcountry up near Abiqiu or a few spots near the Guadalupe Mountains or... :rolleyes: :wink:

    Y'know what I mean !

    John P.
  3. We did the same thing and Jude (my wife) ended up getting the Ford Escape which is just a Mazda Tribute re-badged with different grille and tailgate... We got the 2.3l version and it has been great. Back seat space is great and with them folded down a huge amount of carry space especially for our 2 Golden Retrievers... And it gets approx 28-30 mpg around town, so we don't have anything to complain about...

    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2007
  4. My in-laws have a Forrester and it's HORRID on leg room for the back seat. I'm only 5'6" and the ONE time I rode in it, my knees were in my chin. :mad: 

    I like the styling best on the RAV4, congrats on your choice! :smile:
  5. When my wife recently got a new car it was the CRV or the Rav. The Rav was too tight of a fit for me, plus she preferred the CRV anyway.

    Boring? They are all boring. :cool:  But at least your final two are painfully reliable.

    We went through Capitol Honda. I was surprised at how much the sales pitch has changed these days. No extra "Silicon Valley" sticker silliness, easy to get a reasonable price. Didn't even have to mention the invoice price, etc. And for a new model too.

    I guess the internet age has killed off the car salesman. Good riddance!

    Me, I drive a real truck. A 4Runner.

    PS, my favorite Toyota dealer for service is Stevens Creek. A lot further away, but I think the better service department.
  6. Hey Frank -

    Well . . .

    Ignoring all the objective discussion, and your precise matrices, and based solely upon your four-photo "brochure" above, I'd say that the Forester presents the best image of the bunch!

    Still, I'm certain that Nancy and you have acquired a wonderful new vehicle - as long as you keep that (NASCAR - inspired?) lead foot of yours in check - LOL.

    Congrats, and I wish you both many safe and trouble-free miles with the new family member.

  7. Thanks, Eric! Nancy loved everything about the Forester, including its good looks, too, but based on our requirements, the lack of leg room in the back seat if a fatal flaw.

    I'll note that we looked at many other compact SUVs, but we had a special metric that few could meet. Nancy and I want to buy a 10 year vehicle, and we have tried to identify manufacturers that attempt to build a high level of durability into their product, and who stand a good chance of being around to support their 2007 models in 2017. After looking over the field, Toyota is one of the few makers that looks right, and the Rav 4 seems to fit our needs.

    I'll let you know if we guessed right... about 8 years from now
  8. Ciao Frank
    Did you say that diesel are disadvantaged there? Have you tried the diesel versions of Toyota and Honda? How much more would you spend with them? I don't know if (and which of) 126/150/177 HP versions are sold there, but here they are really appreciated. Give'em a try, Toyota is investing a lot on diesel engines, you will get for "free" a 30% more mileage compared to gasoline (that here becomes even more interesting since diesel is less expensive than gasoline). Congratulations, though :) 
  9. You've probably already considered this, but may I suggest you consider the Toyota Highlander Hybrid? Much roomier than the RAV, rated most reliable SUV by Consumer Reports, and 28 mpg on the highway. Also quite a bit safer than the RAV: 75% of average on personal injury claims vs. 123% for the RAV (data for 2003-2005 models but indicative).

    We bought one last November, and after 10,000 miles we're still happy with it.

    Just my $0.02 worth. :wink:
  10. Toyota or Honda, you can't go wrong. I personally prefer Honda, but that's just because I've owned Hondas for the past 8 years. As for boring, no one buys an SUV for the thrill, do they??? :biggrin:. I'm looking into the Highlander/Pilot choice myself, as for a family with soon to be three children, we need a bit more room, but still with decent gas mileage.
  11. Jim & Shaun, the Highlander is on our radar screen, but we've been focused on the compact SUV segment. We've seen some good deals on the Highlander, though and might have to check them out before we write a check.
  12. Our 1999 CR-V is still running great.
  13. Absolutely. That's why Honda and Subaru were on our list, along with Toyota.
  14. I'm facing an identical situation. I drive a 2001 Forester and have looked at the CRV- Rav4 and Forester. All our kids are grown so back seat issues are not appropo to our situation. The CRV lost points for dumbing down the back roof line to match all the other rounded back SUVs. Driving it, the sheet metal from the roof blocks too much visibilty.

    Now the Forester is all wheel drive. A sales manager friend for Hyundai who also sold Audis said as far as AWD goes Audi and Subaru wrote the book on it; as a matter of fact all Subaru makes are AWD. Since we live in the Washington DC area ice storms are common in the winter so we need AWD. Frankly, we've never had a skid or control problem with many years of commuting in the DC area. Further, Subaru has bucked the trend to make tiny and tinier windows at the expense of visibility. The roofline is so high and the fenderline so low you have superior visibility in the forester.

    I was very disappointed to see that with Toyota's RAV you have to take the 6 cylinder to get AWD...too bad. My Forester gets 23mpg in the city and 31 oh the highway. I like the revised sheet metal very much on it.

    I'm leaning towards the Subaru again, but am curious about the Ford/Mazda. I understand it has had some serious mechanical problems...though I can't remember specifically which. I'd appreciate feedback. Every time I go to look at Fords (and I do because I really do want to give a US car an honest shot) I am very diasppopinted with the interior trim; it looks so cheap.

  15. I find visibility in the new CRV to be pretty good myself.

    I am "body tall," being 6'3" but with a 30" inseam. It takes a tall roof to make me happy.

    Note we got the model without the sun roof.

    Subaru has only made one recent car I can fit in. The fancier, bigger one. Forget the name. Similar to the Nissan Murano. I didn't fit in the 4Runner until the latest version.
  16. Ours are grown, too, but we often go out with friends, and it's nice to offer them a comfortable back seat. My daughter has a Forester, and it has been a great car for Seattle weather. But when we visited a couple of years ago and took a drive to catch the ferry to Victoria, Nancy and I were claustrophobic in the back seat. It was so tight that my shoes had to go under the front seat, and I couldn't cross my legs.

    Unless you're making a distinction between 4WD and AWD, that's not the case. The Rav 4 four cylinder is offered with 4WD.

    It's beautiful, and a great ride.
  17. Dino,

    I thought I mentioned that before... but the diesel versions that you find in Europe are simply not offered in the US. There is no fiscal advantage to diesel fuel, unlike in Europe where diesel is taxed a lot less than gas, on purpose. Here in the US, you'd have to pay more for the vehicle itself (if you could find it), not get a break on fuel, and sometimes having to look harder for a pump carrying diesel... Not exactly a great incentive, is it?


    I think you can't go wrong with either Toyota or Honda in terms of reliability: they've redefined what that means, compared to the "Big 3". Also, they tend to promote better fuel efficiency and commercialized the hybrid concept ahead of everyone else.

    Personally, I have been driving an Acura model (i.e. Honda) for the last 15 years, and between these 2 cars, never had any major repair done... My next vehicle, would likely be from one of these 2 vendors as well. In contrast, my wife's 98 Jeep has had many, many problems and the only reason she still drives it is that she can't see paying all that much at once for a better vehicle... so we are paying slowly to keep the same POS! :frown:
  18. My wife has driven Acuras since 1992 (the 1st was totalled by a teenager after 9 years). The current Acura is a 200hp TSX which got 35mpg twice to and from Huntsville Ala. I don't know how they do it.

  19. Last year I reluctantly said goodbye to my eleven-year-old Acura Integra and replaced her with a brand-new Acura RSX, which I am expecting to keep for at least ten or eleven years.... I've never driven the Acura SUV -- no need for a single person to have a large car like that -- but I have heard good things about it. Might be worth a look....
  20. One more point on the Highlander and I'll shut up. The back seat legroom is actually greater than on our 2002 Tahoe, and I think the back seats are more comfortable than those on the Tahoe. Not so the front seats. We find the front seats too hard for extended trips, so we'll bite the bullet and buy the fuel to drive the Tahoe to New Mexico in a couple of weeks.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.