Advice re: 4WD

I, a man, am not ashamed to admit that I really like my 2002 Solara with a 4 cyl. It gets great mileage, handles and performs reasonably well for what I bought it for (6 mile daily commute), and has been very reliable. But, my commute has now changed to 45 miles each day, portions of which are on twisty hills. And snow removal in our area is not great. And so while I do not need a 4WD, I would enjoy one greatly for the several days a year I get stuck managing the hill even up to my house. And I would also induldge a long-held dream to own a truck, or Jeep.

An 06 Liberty is my target at this point, though I am tempted by the longer Cherokee (safer for rear-end collision?). After four rounds of Toyota, I am ready for a Chevy or Jeep.

Thoughts, anyone?

I suggest that you take a look at the Frequency of Repair charts for Jeeps in Consumer Reports, and compare those stats to those for Toyotas or even for most models of Chevrolet. Most likely, you will be appalled at the problems listed for most Jeep models.

You may want AWD (trust me–you DON’T want 4WD if you drive on highways), but there are many makes of cars that offer AWD and are far more reliable than Jeeps are. Overall, no manufacturer is rated lower for the reliability of its late-model vehicles than Chrysler, and Jeep is made by…guess who…Chrysler.

Keep your car and spend your money on four real winter tires. I’ve lived in Colorado for 34 years and have realized that tires are 95% of winter driving. The other 5% is common sense.

You’ll want an AWD SUV/crossover, not 4wd. Subaru makes excelent AWD vehicles, but they are VERY finicky about tires(must always have 4 matching tires).
If you’re insisting on Chevy, look at the Equinox. Ford has the Fusion in AWD, Mazda has the CX-7 in AWD, but it’ll come with a turbo charged engine.

I agree with twotone. All you need to do is buy yourself a second set of steel wheels with 4 new good winter tires on them, and you’ll be all set. Less than $1000 investment, vs big $$ for a newer AWD vehicle.

Plus, you want to commute 45 miles per day in a gas guzzler? Even more wasted $$.

This is America buy what you want,and enjoy it.You only Live once.

Sure, but just be advised that the long-held “dream to own a Jeep” may turn into a reliability nightmare.

“After four rounds of Toyota, I am ready for a Chevy or Jeep.”

In really doesn’t matter what you buy for a make. But remember that you have been stuck with four rounds of a Toyota. In my very humble opinion, you should not take your being accustomed to the reliability of Toyotas with that of a Jeep.

IMO, you don’t need 4wd in a Jeep esp. but may appreciate awd with snow tires. I would try a car like yours with snow tires in snow of course if you haven’t already. Then, try out a Subaru Legacy awd with snow tires IN SNOW as a representative vehicle for awd cars. Take your time. Then you make decision whether awd is worth it in the security it provides. The Subaru Legacy is very economical, as much so as your Solara. The comparison will not be valid unless the tires of each are the same.

If you decide awd is for you, then try out other makes incl. Chevy cars with awd using CR as added info on reliability.

Remember too that any new car you drive may have traction control which may be all you’ll need. On FWD cars it can be a real game changer when awd “may” be over kill. You’ll have to make that decision too !

If your dream has been to own a truck or a Jeep, go for it.

Just don’t expect the ownership experience to be the same as your last four Toyotas.

I fail to understand why you want a vehicle that gets lower fuel mileage now that you have a longer commute.

Please check the reliability ratings for the Liberty before you commit.

Re: 4WD. I own a Subaru station wagon with AWD, and a Ranger pickup with 4WD. The Subaru is the vehicle I prefer to drive in snow. AWD is much easier to live with than 4WD for on-road driving.

Get your Jeep if you must, but keep the Solara. You’ll appreciate the Solara fuel economy on the longer commute. You’ll appreciate the Solara reliability when the Jeep experiences downtime for repairs.

An '06 Jeep Liberty is going to have some miles on it too, like 50K to 100K. This puts it into prime breakdown and repair territory for a Jeep. The Liberty is subject to electrical gremlins, motor failures, transmission failures, and transfer case issues so possible repairs can be expensive. Just replacing the tires is pricey and they don’t last nearly as long as tires last on the Solara.

If you keep the Solara you have the Jeep for those few days when you need 4WD. The most miles will still go on the Solara. This means the Jeep will be driven less miles. This saves money on fuel, reduces the number of Jeep repairs, and you still have your Jeep to look at and ride in.

If you sell or trade in the '02 Solara you won’t get that much money for it and you’ll regret letting it go. When the Jeep is down for repair that’s when you’ll really appreciate having the Solara in the driveway.

Think twice before buying the jeep. I own a 2003 liberty. I got a good price on it, my trusted mechanic said it was in good shape, and I usually ride the bus to work anyway, so I don’t put a lot of miles on it, or burn up a lot of gas.

But, I do get tons of snow where I live. Having never driven it in snow before, I took it out in the first snowstorm of the year, with all-weather tires (which were in good shape). The liberty, as you probably know, is normally rear wheel drive. I was driving VERY slowly on some backroads (15 mph or so), and it went into a skid on both occasions.

I’ve read in my manual (and been told) that I really want to avoid using 4WD on anything but snowy or muddy surfaces - driving on regular pavement in 4 WD will do damage in the long term. The “4WD HIGH” mode does help on a snowy surface.

BUT, and here’s the key point - in winter, an average road can have highly variable conditions. Clear pavement for a stretch, then black ice, then snow, slush, etc. All wheel drive accounts for those variable conditions. The four wheel drive configuration on my liberty just can’t match that level of safety or performance.

I have since invested in a set of 4 studded winter tires, and the vehicle has handled much better since I bought them. But, quality winter tires for an SUV aren’t cheap.

So, as a liberty owner, my advice is to (A) put winter tires on your solara and see how she handles, or (B) buy a subaru legacy or forester. I learned winter driving in those cars, and the AWD is excellent - As a teenager driving in winter, I never once was stuck, and I always safe driving them. My parents live in Maine, and they swear by subarus.

In a few years, when I have more money saved up, I’ll probably go back to subarus. Until then I’m going to baby the liberty along, do all of the maintenance as specified in the manual, and hope for the best.

Four snow tires would be a lot cheaper than a Jeep or Blazer. My 2000 Blazer has AutoTrac which will engage the front axle when slippage is detected at the rear. These allows 4wd to be used on dry or wet surfaces. It works well in the snow in variable conditions.

The downsides are mpg and maintenance. The Blazer has been much more expensive to own than it’s predecessor, a 95 Dodge Dakota 2wd pickup. Parts wear out sooner and are more difficult/expensive to replace. I bought a 2010 Cobalt last year and even with it’s OEM all season tires it does well in snow. I kept the Blazer because the trade value was so low. The Blazer is better in deep snow, but I usually drive the Cobalt and leave the Blazer for the wife.

A $3 a gallon it costs me about $10 to go 50 miles in the Blazer (~15-16 mpg winter mileage). Do you want to spend $400 a month on gas for your daily commute?

After 8 years, I feel I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of the Blazer. Would I get another one, probably not though.

Ed B.


If you bought a midsize sedan from just about any other maker, you’d find out very quickly that your Solara handles like a pig by comparison. It may not be a bad car, but Toyotas in general do not “handle” well, and the Camry is, IMO, about the worst-handling midsize sedan on the market today. Comfortable? Yes. Reliable? Yes. Economical? Yes. Good handling? Oh, heck no…

“If you bought a midsize sedan from just about any other maker, you’d find out very quickly that your Solara handles like a pig by comparison”

Especially if it were a rwd car of the same size,like a BMW.

I can just about guarantee after 1 round with jeep you will be ready for a toyota. If you are going with a truck get a chevy.

Thanks, all, for your advice. My heart still says Jeep, but my brain says stick with the Solara. The snow tires option sounds most reasonable. As for the Solara handling like a pig, well, my previous cars were a Camry, Sable, and Taurus. So, by comparison . . .

That Jee[ is going to be a stubborn mistress.

You want a jeep, try out an Fj Cruiser. It’s everything a jeep is and Toyota made.