CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Large or midsize SUV

I totaled my 2001 SUV in a rollover accident. Need to purchase a new vehicle. We will put a lot of mileage on this vehicle. Due to a boat that we have, we have to be able to tow close to 7000 lbs…but this will only be an issue for a few months out of the year. The boat is really our only need for a large SUV. Do we still buy a large SUV, or consider a smaller SUV and go through the inconvenience of renting a truck when we want to go boating? I am concerned about resale value, gas mileage, cost, etc.

Midsize v8 4 runner will do it all…personally, I’d buy a fwd sedan for non boat travel, and a PU truck used that could tow your weight for less money than an SUV. We do a lot of boating (at least three days a week) and there is nothing like the convenience of the bed of a PU with of w/o cab to throw wet “smelly” gear (fishing or otherwise) at days end.

I’m with Dagosa on the truck/car idea. At 7k pounds, you’re looking at atleas an F-250 size vehicle. I’d suggest a diesel if possible, though some might say get the V-10.

I’d only get an SUV for its intended purpose (towing, offroad) and not for everyday driving. The circumstances of your accident (rollover) illustrate the inherent safety flaws of an SUV: they are prone to rollovers. A few weeks after I spun out with my 4Runner with my wife and bay in the back (avoiding a rollover) I got a wagon because I simply did not feel safe in such a top heavy vehicle anymore. And I got the appreciate the cushiness, refinement and ride quality of an actual car compared to the SUV. In my eyes it’s not worth to put up with the horrendous handling and security flaws of a truck for the rest of the year just because you tow a boat a couple of times.

At the very least you should make sure that you get one with stability control that helps mitigate some of the rollover proneness.

So much for the safety & comfort part.

When it comes to cost it depends on how much you drive and if you want to buy new or used. They’re selling SUVs new and used for dirt cheap right now (30% off sometimes). Even with gas prices going back up again you could not possibly drive enough over the lifetime of the car to offset these savings. Especially used large SUVs are a steal right now. I just saw a low-mileage 2002 Expedition for under 7000$ on a dealer’s lot. According to Consumer Reports best used car deals website you can currently get a 2003 Toyota Sequoia V8 for $11K - that’s 75% under the original MSRP.

Wow, your investment portfolio must be doing GREAT. How lucky you are.

Except for the flipped SUV thing. Tough luck, eh? Unlikely to happen again (what are the odds), and you didn’t say anyone was hurt, so don’t worry too much about it.

I suggest you shop around. There are fantastic deals to be had right now on vehicles like the Ford Escapade and the Cadillac Escalade (why do they sound so similar?). These are big SUVs, yes, but that’s what you need. Surely one of these, or something similar, can handle your 7,000 pound boat/trailer combination.

Don’t let them talk you into a smaller SUV, or, heaven forbid, a “cross-over” (is that a stupid name, or what?). You definitely need a full-size (or larger, if there is such a thing), SUV or pickup truck.

But, a pickup truck? Can you actually see yourself driving a pickup? I doubt it.

Hey, gasoline is under $2.00 per gallon. What do you have to worry about? Buy the SUV of your dreams. Now is the time.

Go for it!

I have to assume this is a power boat you’re towing. How many engines does it have, and, just out of curiosity, what’s it’s average fuel usage per hour?

Just wondering.

Wow, your investment portfolio must be doing GREAT!