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Car Recommendation for Madagascar Please!

I’m moving to the country of Madagascar and so far I’ve only heard bad things about the road conditions. They sound like a series of potholes laced with road material. I’ll need something high off the ground with good shock aborption. I’m female, single and don’t even have a date for Friday night ('nother topic) so I don’t want anything big, but I do need something reliable and safe. Any suggestions for a good used car that will hold up well?

You may find this site informational. It may provide you with alternative methods of transportation until you can familiarize yourself with what kind of vehicles are most successful there.

So much depends on what is used and repaired there. You’ll want to contact the folks in-country for their recommendations. Do you have to buy something, or is using local transportation (taxis/busses/etc.) an option?

You might look into the preferences of drivers there. The automobiles from India might be popular there due to proximity, low price and simplicity. If you have a job waiting there contact future co-workers for their advice.

What do the locals drive?

What is the parts situation like?

Are there qualified mechanics to fix the vehicles?

It would seem to me something rugged like a small body on frame 4x4 might be in order

What about the import fees?

Might make shipping a vehicle there problematic

Maybe buy a vehicle that’s already there . . .

Are you sure you need a car? I googled madagascar roads, and this came up! You may be able to filnd local transportation as an alternative, how much driving are you going to do?

South African Marauder if you can stand the half million dollar price tag. I thought the government there was still having some issues with rebels and terror bombings in Madagascar…

Not the most stable place, lots of info here:

It depends whether you will be in the city or in rural areas. Just about anything will work in the cities. A Toyota or Nissan 4WD would be fine in rural areas. Here’s a site that discusses the roads an vehicles.

Apparently a grenade or bomb was set off this past weekend; killing one child and injuring 33 other people.
Road conditions would not be high on the list of concerns; especially considering statements from officials about the increasing number and severity of crimes even in tourist areas and beaches.

Oh wow. Carry spare parts, only 15% of the roads are paved, road checks by police . . . I think a personal car will probably be out of the question unless a permanent assignment. Maybe a bicyle or a moped might work out. Sounds like water is a problem too and of course disease.

Having worked in such countries, I would buy a small SUV or small pickup truck with a crew cab. Select one in widespread use to make sure you can get service and parts.

A Mitsubishi crew cab small truck would be ideal. Get one with a stickshift; automatics are rare in those countries.

With the often poor roads, ground clearance would be a major consideration.

I’d use whatever car/truck is used the most by the folks there. Parts availability is the most critical factor I think. If you have the same vehicle as everybody else, this will be much less of a problem. Also the mechanics will know how to fix it. Don’t make assumptions about the road conditions unless you’ve experienced them yourself. When talking about road problems people tend to exaggerate.

As a teenager in the 1960’s I worked several summers on a Colorado cattle ranch high up in the Rocky Mountains, 7000-8500 feet, and all the roads were dirt, not even graveled, and many were quite steep. If a car was coming theother direction, one of us had to back up to find a spot in the road wide enough to allow both cars to pass. I had to stop and exit the vehicle every 1/4 mile to open and close the cattle gates. Drive through streams. The vehicle the ranch supplied me to drive around hundreds of square miles of the ranch to find where the cows were grazing? A 67 stock air-cooled VW Beetle. Worked great.

“Don’t make assumptions about the road conditions unless you’ve experienced them yourself. When talking about road problems people tend to exaggerate.”

Only about 15% of the roads are reportably paved and it said those that are paved have been poorly maintained or not maintained at all. Those of us used to interstates and complaining about a few potholes may have no idea what “poorly maintained” really means.

You guys are great! More to the story… I will definitely need to bring my own transportation and it will be paid for by my company so I’m not worried about the importation fees. My colleagues there recommend bringing something as what is available on the local market is not necessarily of good quality and be more expensive . Because the country is “dangerous”, (I’ve had two tours in Afghanistan so I don’t get flustered) I will need something reliable. For the same reasons I don’t want to bring anything shiny and new. My research has found that Hondas, Fords, Peugeots, Toyotas, Nissans, are common and can be maintained. I was thinking of the Honda CRV. The Pilot is too big and looks like a hearse. Oh, and I’m not allowed to take public transportation as it is very unsafe. And getting out of the city of Antenanarivo on the weekends will be a must!

Thanks for the info. I’d rather go with the compact Toyota crew cab pickup. Much sturdier than a CRV.

@texases I’d agree with a compact pickup with a stick shift being a sturdy solution to your transportation needs. Service will be easy and Toyota parts are readily available.

One other thing to check is that the model you are importing is sold in Madagascar, with the same engine. Ford has some models that are sold exclusively in developing nations. Even going to Mexico you’ll find that many of the cars are totally unfamiliar. Also, in most of the world smaller engines are the norm. A car sold here with a 2 liter four might have only a 1.5 in most of the world.

Luckily, the Web can give you much of this info. A Honda CR-V is a nice vehicle, and chances are pretty good it’s sold there because Honda is a small company and less likely to have many special models for those markets. The Hondas I’ve seen in Mexico are familiar models, though there is a good chance they have smaller engines. The European Hondas almost all have smaller engines than those sold here. So do the Japanese models. Unfortunately there is no much you can do about it as Honda tends to sell its products in the US with a single engine size. Sometimes that larger engine is an option in other markets, but sometimes it isn’t. Hondas are availabile in most of the world, but are outsold handily by Toyota and Nissan in most markets. As long as you have a dealer nearby you should be OK.

I’m not sure a CR-V is rugged enough for those crappy Madagascar roads

A 4x4 Toyota or Nissan stick shift pickup might be more appropriate . . .

I agree with many of the comments above. A CR-V is just a tall car, so it’s really not that rugged.

By the way, I suspect you’ll want something that can carry a full-sized spare tire, not a compact spare.