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Long winter-road-trip vehicle?

My better half and I, both retired, are in the talking stage of a winter road trip, starting here in west central Wisconsin to see some family in Oregon, Northern CA, Colorado, and some friends in TX. I’m thinking of purchasing a used (2013-2015) large 4X4 SUV (Tahoe, Expy, etc.) to give us plenty of interior space for luggage and possibly preparing meals out of the back when weather permits. I have not previously owned a big SUV, but my gut feel is that it would be fairly comfortable for long days of driving provided it has an upgraded interior package that allows for seat adjustments, for example. Yes, I know the fuel mileage stinks, but gas is currently pretty cheap, so that’s not a huge issue to me. I expect that with the model years I am considering, there will be at least 60K on the clock to start, maybe up to 100K, but I also know these trucks typically will last a good 200K if cared for, so that’s not a worry either.

When we are done with this trip, I’m pretty sure if we want to unload it, there won’t be much trouble selling if we don’t want to keep it for future outings - they are pretty popular in this part of the country.

I’d like to hear:
-Any advice based on personal experience with these SUVs, such as avoid this one or that one? (Consumer Reports can give me some guidance, but they are not fail-proof.)
-What about interior modifications that turn out to be very handy for storage or occasional meal prep? We’re not much into camping, especially in January!!, but if we can avoid restaurants at least once a day, so much the better.
-We also have never taken an extended road trip in our 43 years together, normally just fly into a city and rent a car for a couple of weeks’ exploring, or drive from point A to point B over a 2- or 3-day span, so any suggestions for this longer-term travel will be appreciated. Thanks.

I would not worry about another vehicle, travel in any car when the roads are safe and don’t overthink it. You are retired, got all the time in the world, and I am practicing Iam on a fixed income in expectation of my retirement soon. You could rent something and avoid the unknowns and breakdowns.

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I had a Suburban as a rental two weeks ago for the full week. It’s huge. If you don’t mind that, it might work for you. Expect about 18 mpg; that’s what I got on mostly highway driving. I had an LT, and it wasn’t as quiet as I expected. If you want a quiet SUV, consider a Buick Enclave. It’s large enough for the trip, and will get a bit better mileage than a Suburban. Of all the GM SUVs, I like the Enclave best.

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Thank you for the input. As it happens, I rode in a friend’s Enclave about a week ago, and it is very nice, certainly. I was thinking more in terms of a body-on-frame truck as opposed to a unit-body Crossover, but it is worth considering.

Unless you plan to tow something heavy, body-on-frame means that it will handle like a hippopotamus on a wet river bank compared to a unibody SUV. A Suburban or Tahoe (or Excursion) will handle better than a dump truck, but not nearly as well as an Enclave, Acadia or Traverse (triplets from GM). While similar, I like the Enclave better than the other two GM siblings.

What are you currently driving and why so you think it is not adequate?

2016 Outback, and it is certainly adequate & comfortable for the intended trip. I would simply prefer to have something with more interior space for several weeks on the road. Further, I suspect there are some interior modifications I could make to a large SUV that would be very useful for such a purpose, and I’m not about to make modifications to the interior of our “good” (pampered) family car.

A big SUV would be a (possibly) temporary addition to the fleet, not a replacement.

Just exploring the possibilities - it could turn out that the OB makes the most sense in the end.

Drive the Outback and use the ridiculous amount of money it would take to buy a gargantuan SUV plus the extra fuel for nice motel and hotel rooms. You are retired , so take your time and use a portable GPS to locate motels and restaurants .

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Well, different strokes, etc. As I said, just looking at all the options. Thanks for voicing your opinion.

(A portable GPS is required in any case - the OB’s nav system is pretty bad!)

I agree with @VOLVO_V70 almost 100%. If you have a smartphone, download a GPS or maps app to it instead of a separate GPS. Truckers tell me the apps are better than the independent units. Plus the smartphone will help you find good locally owned coffee shops.

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We’re on the same page there!!

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If you stop in Gallup NM, a good place to stop BTW, Comfort Inn if your a veteran. Gallup coffee at Coal and 2nd, really good.

Try to go to as many National Parks as you can. Invest in a senior pass, you won’t regret it. You can get one at any visitor center at any park. See the Grand Canyon in winter, it is better than in summer, especially if it has snowed, but drive carefully, they don’t plow the roads in the park.

Plan more road trips in the future to the various National Parks, you will not regret it. The Outback will be more than adequate, I go every year in a Legacy, but do not go off road in the parks, Subarus are not made for that, just ask any ranger at any park.

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Thanks, been thru Gallup a couple of times, but I think coffee shops were not as big a deal in those days. (Vet = yes)

I do have a NP senior pass, managed to snag one before they increased the price, and we’ve visited many of them, east to west. Many more to see!!

Have seen pics of GC in the winter - beautiful, but only been in summer when I lived in Tempe.

Thank you for the input.

Two Comfort Inns, the one on the east side of town if IRC. Lots of WWII memorabilia in the lobby.

One of our vehicles is a Toyota 4Runner SUV. We really like it on road trips. The seats are firm, but I can drive the 4Runner all day and not be worn out at the end of a 400 mile drive. My own preference is for a vehicle that does have a firm suspension. I don’t like a soft ride.
Several years ago, we took a trip out to California–flew to Bakersfield and rented a Chevrolet Traverse. We put about 1000 miles on the Traverse and found it quite satisfactory.
On another trip, we flew to Salt Lake City and rented a Hyundai SUV. It was a little smaller than what we were used to, but it did the job and was comfortable for us.

400 miles is just the first stop for gas the way my family takes road trips. I’m taking the kids to see the grandparents at Christmas. Almost 900 miles. We’ll leave early in the morning on the 26th and be there in time for a late dinner that evening.

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I’d rather have something like a Highlander or Pilot. Our '95 Suburban did fine, lots of room, but not all that comfortable for long trips.

I use “Copilot” app, available for both Android and Apple.
I needed “some navigation” to go where cellular signal is missing, and that was the best $10 I ever spent :slight_smile:
Around Christmas they regularly run 30% off offer, which is not much for USA/Canada maps, but makes a difference if you need Europe maps purchased too.

@asemaster We are the grand parents. When I was younger, I did make really long trips of 1000 miles only stopping for gas. It is about a 370 mile trip to visit our son and his family. The last vacation trip we took by car was about 2500 miles round trip. We did sight seeing, so we drove about 300-400 miles a day. Since I am retired, I really don’t have to be in a hurry to get anywhere.

The Tahoe has a very nice ride, but it’s not as reliable as a Honda or Toyota

The suspension and steering will need a LOT more work once you start accumulating a few miles . . . if you want to keep it in great shape

The interior will also wear terribly, compared to a Toyota or Honda

this is based on professional experience, by the way