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Small suv

I need a very small SUV to get up to my road close to Mission Ridge and need a recommendation for used model and years you think is good. Must be reliable and decent on fuel. I have heard good things about the Chevy tracker ( my brother has an older one he just loves). My neighbor on my road just bought one and says it is just what is needed for there. Our road is very rough right now.

I listen to your show every Saturday, you are so funny and also informative.

Click and Clack do not post here on the discussion board. Check out Subaru Outback/Forester, Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tuscon/Santa Fe. Chevy (Geo) Tracker would be the last on my list, but it’s your money and car.


Everything you want points to a used CRV. They are one of if not the most reliable used small SUVs. I had a Sidekick (same) and in that model it’s outstanding off road but not that reliable and no fun on road in wind as it’s basically a third world vehicle. “Rough” road is subjective. If it’s just clearance you need and some muddy/snow travel, CRV is fine. Look at second generation which has bigger motor and very roomy.
If you need real off road…Toyota PU in 4wd, or X-Terra would be my first but not economical first choices.

How about a Jeep Wrangler, Toyota 4Runner, or Nissan Xterra?

1996-2000 rav4 they are called 4.1 2001-2005 are 4.2
4.1s are the best little suv ever!! stay away from 2001 rav4s
250,000-300,000 mi is not uncommon for these. 28 mpg highway, all wh drive, good ground clearence and parts are a lot cheaper than hondas.

I do like the Rav4 very much but had heard there might be a problem with the unibody having difficulty on a bad road - something about the road could break the unibody. I prefer Toyota as have had many of their trucks ( currently a 2wd 1988 with 200,000 miles on it and it is very dependable but unable to deal with off road issues being only 2wd). Thank you for your reply and will still keep it on my list. I like the smaller size than the others that are larger.

Seconded. the CRVs are excellent vehicles. I doubt you’ll need “real” offroad capabilities. I used to live on top of the southern Rockies on a dirt road, and we did just fine in a rear wheel drive van and an old Corolla. I don’t see you having any significant problems unless you have a private, non-maintained road that you have to travel to get home.

There may be other reasons for not preferring a unibody car but body strength need not be one of them. Jeep Cherokee, an excellent off roader is unibody as were some MB models. They are more difficult to repair for damage but strength to that point in small SUVs is more use off road dependent than rough road. I attempted to nearly beat my older Subaru to death on our mountain road with few ill effects and our RAV 4 now is quite sturdy with the same travel. They work fine. Suspension and drive components are usually the first to suffer and that could happen even in SUVs with the strongest of frames.

Thank you for your advice and will use it. Until I can get the road repaired will be needed. Sorry I didnt reply sooner but do not have the Internet avail where I am staying for the time being. I was thinking about a used Subaru Forester also as it is higher ground clearance from what I could see than the Outback which I like too.

I do like the Rav4 very much also and will keep it on my list.Thank you!

I like the Runner but it is a little too large and expensive for me. I also have to take my pets and my late mom’s with me when I go there. Thank you for your advice.

Yeah my road is not being maintained and trying to get a maintenance agreement in the works. It is a dirt road and very rough (also high up) we did make it up with a 2 wd tundra but was not easy and that was in very good dry conditions. Thank you for your imput.

I like the Suburarus too and the Rav4. Why is the Tracker last on your list. Thank you.

Thank you for your advice and will use it. Until I can get the road repaired will be needed.
I was in the same boat and finally stopped waiting years ago. Got my own tractors with grader and rake instead of of compromising on cars. I keep the road in good repair myself and can now drive any car over it in the summer. A tractor is a one time, life time purchase and very cheap to run and maintain. My road though is only two miles and it may be prohibitive for you for a variety of reasons.

A comment about Subarus. They are excellent road cars in slippery weather but their ground clearance is over rated. I had one and with the Outback’s very poor approach angle it doesn’t hold a candle to a RAV with it’s very short overhangs for rough road travel. Plan on a lot of front end drag and loss of clearance when loaded as with any vehicle w/o solid axles.

Subarus ground clearance is not very good, make sure you look at this.

If his list is anything like mine, safety primarily. The Trackers were notorious for being unsafe.