Vehicle suggestion for a hiker who misses driving a car?

If you’re all about that all-wheel drive action, but still want some car-like fun, consider checking out the Subaru WRX or Subaru Forester. Both offer AWD goodness and a bit more pep in their step.

What about a Tesla Model Y? They come with dual motors (AWD) and have a base range of 303 miles. The cost for the base model after a $7500 federal tax credit is $40,240 MSRP. You must owe more than $7500 in federal taxes, but I’m guessing you do. EVs aren’t for everyone and you might prefer a hybrid to get greater range before refill. I imagine that Cali has other incentives that might make buying an EV more attractive. If you choose to charge outside your home, there are plenty of commercial charging places. If you use a Tesla supercharger it should take about 20 to 30 minutes to charge up.

It was the winter of 2000/2001 and I lived in Tucson, Arizona then. But did you know that Tucson is also the home of the southernmost Ski Resort in the country on Mount Lemon, just on the North side of town. I grew up in Upstate New York and the winters just are not the same in Tucson. When a cold snap came in, it snowed on Mount Lemon. But until the roads are cleared, only 4-wheel drive vehicles and vehicles with snow chains are allowed on the roads up the mountain to the ski resort. My new 2001 Dodge Ram, 4x4, Diesel, was just waiting for a snow trip.

We headed up the mountain and sure enough, we were stopped by the park rangers and the police who were checking and turning around anyone who was not 4-wheel drive or with chains. The park ranger advised up to be real careful as the Ram did not have dirt/mud tires on it like his jeep did. We gabbed a bit and I told him I had grown up in snow country and would be careful.

The wife and I had a wonderful drive up the mountain in the snow (big, heavy flakes…) and we stopped in town at the top, had breakfast, walked around for a while, and headed back home, down the mountain…

About half way down, the park ranger’s jeep was off on the side of the road, slipping and sliding in the semi-frozen muddy ditch. There was a bit of steam or smoke rising from his tires, he must have been red-lining it try to climb his way out.

We stopped and offered to help and he said he must have hit some “black ice.” I told him I have a tow strap and I would pull him out, he laughed and said the road was too slippery, I told him, with my diesel, my 4-wheel drive, limited slip in low, with my 7,000 plus pounds of weight and my secret “dust” I could move the mountain top…

As I wrote earlier, I grew up in snow country and my grandfather taught me to always carry a bucket of sand in his trunk. Well, I carry a bag of Cat Litter…

I pulled up behind him so our bumper hitches faced each other, I hooked up the tow strap from my hitch to his hitch, leaving a foot, or so of slack, I then sprinkled cat litter in front of each tire for a several feet.

I then told him to start it, but leave it in neutral, do not try to drive out while I am pulling him out. I did not want him finally getting traction and slamming into me before he could stop…

With that cat litter, the truck did not slip one bit and I pulled him out smooth as butter… He said he was going to always carry a bag of cat litter after that, but I told him it would not have helped the way he was stuck… And I added this before I left, I told him I guess it was a good thing I didn’t have dirt/mud tires on my truck like he did on his jeep… L :smile: L…

tenor (2)

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I think squirrels are now taking interest in car wires when it was mostly mice before.

Driving an EV that doesn’t use any fuel is not a good choice for a single vehicle to own, especially for winter driving.

So you need:
At least 225 horsepower with a 5+ speed transmission to get a 3500 pound car up to 60 in under 8 seconds. It will have to be a turbo or a 6 cylider.
Sufficient room
Somewhat higher ground clearance

How about a Volvo XC70 or V60 CC? 3.2 I6 or T5 has enough power. It has ground clearance and AWD being the XC. It is larger. But expect 17 MPG city / 25 Interstate driving. 19 MPG average is typical.

You should watch RoadKill Garage, Rabbits are always eating the wires on the old vehicles… Squirrels are more known, at least around here, for making nest in intake airduct work and filter areas…

The Toyota Rav4 hybrid can do 0 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and 38 mpg.


I definitely can’t advise you on what car is best in theory. And you can’t expect consensus on what vehicle is best. Everyone will disagree.

Getting a sports car-like ride while meeting all the expectations of the outdoor sports crowd is going to be pretty much impossible, unless I’ve missed something.

I agree 100% from personal experience that a vehicle with a same type spare and wheel is the way to go, if you sometimes drive hundreds of miles from the nearest open shop. Especially if you have AWD - you might destroy something mechanical driving on a donut spare. Not having any spare is playing Russian roulette.

This time around I bought a car that had a donut spare. I splurged and bought a full size same type wheel and tire. To fit in the donut spot I have to keep it deflated. (I carry 2 pumps for redundancy.) I keep all 5 tires in the rotation pattern, so they wear out the treads to about the same depth. I’ve needed it once in a little over 5 years - and was lucky enough that the tire shop I bought it from was willing to repair it. (In my case, the deflated tire in the spare well causes a warning indicator to always be on, on my dash - because it wirelessly broadcasts it’s pressure to the car. I ignore that, and look at my tires instead before I drive.)

Again from personal experience, the single most important factor to me in a vehicle driven far from town is repairability. I.E. you want something that has a lot of dealers (for spare parts) in the outback, and lots of parts in the junkyard because it’s so common, and a lot of people who know how to repair it. From that perspective, in the U.S., the best choice would be one of the most common Ford or Chevy trucks. They have the most dealers, and the most rural mechanics who know how to repair them.

But I didn’t do that. I got a used Toyota Venza, which like the Subaru Outback, is a high ground clearance station wagon - but without much interior space or weight capacity (let alone the ability to tow something), and visibility is much, much worse than the Subarus. And Toyota parts are expensive.

My bad. I could have bought a used Ford Explorer for less than half the price. Explorers aren’t as common as the F150s, but still pretty common in rural areas, and you can carry more people legally. OTOH, a pickup could carry a camper shell, maybe even with a shower and toilet if you have a heavy duty suspension - but some neighborhoods don’t let you park that.

On the plus side, the Venza does drive somewhat like a car, though not a sports car - but it’s very uncommon. And because the roof is fairly low I can park it in parking garages with a sea kayak on top. Unfortunately, it has a very curved roof line, which limits the length between bars of a practical roof rack system - not good for fragile sea kayaks like skin-on-frames.

My personal observation is that Subarus are fairly common in rural areas with lots of snow. They aren’t that bad a choice, even if you don’t like yours. Plus, some of the models have good visibility all around. It’s surprising how many modern vehicles don’t. Having the visibility to stay out of accidents may be the most important safety feature a vehicle can have.

BTW, really good all weather or all terrain tires make a huge difference - maybe as much or more so as AWD. And, BTW, some (most?) states don’t allow chains, except as a temporary emergency measure to get you unstuck.

And for some reason, I think good quality tires - I use Michelin Defender LTX M+S - go flat less often. I admit I don’t drive enough to take advantage of the nominal tread lifetime - they will age out (i.e., the rubber will go bad) long before the treads wear down much, so the warranty doesn’t matter. So while buying expensive high mileage tires like that seems wasteful, it isn’t to me. It’s also a good idea to get common tires (mine are an example) that many tire stores can replace - though relatively few tire stores are willing to replace one tire, and many will claim your flat tire can’t be repaired. Which is part of where having a same type spare and wheel comes in, because you can drive it to one of the shops that repair it or shave down the new tire to match.

Of course, the extra weight of 5 good tires means your gas mileage won’t be as good. There are always trade-offs.

I would stay away from EVs if you drive in rural areas a lot. That will change, but for now you could be unable to charge it. (Maybe hybrids that can run on gas would be OK - but I’m not sure all rural mechanics know how to deal with EVs or hybrids, or carry parts for them.)

Just make sure whatever you buy doesn’t have too much rust, if you buy used. Places where you need AWD for snow, tend to create lots of rust. Having a skid plate seemed to help on the Ford truck I used to own, because it took a while to rust away before the underbody started to. One thing Toyota maybe did right - it seems to have a plastic skid-plate like thing, and plastic in the wheel wells, which might slow down rust.

BTW, I considered the Rav4 and many other vehicles this time around. But the back cargo area wasn’t long enough for car camping. Car camping may seem like cheating to a backpacker, but in the winter, it’s sometimes a nice luxury. For that you also need fold-flat seats (or a pickup bed), which some vehicles don’t have.

No squirrels in SoCal or Central California for that matter. Anything filmed at Dulcich’s ranch would be a long way from squirrels. At Finnegan’s place in Georgia, there’d be lots of them.

I said Rabbits not Squirrels… lol

You mentioned squirrels in the same paragraph with the rabbits. I was just commenting on why there are rabbits and not squirrels. We have both in my yard and I’m sure you do too.

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You won’t see squirrels in California if you are looking in the trees.


I do not know about you but my first thought when I saw this photo was “Dad” could not say No to the Girl Scouts selling cookies and bought out their entire supply of the Chocolate Thin Mints…

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I see squirrels enjoying themselves in the trees all the time. Often eating my figs … lol … The ground version is here too, less common. Squirrels of either variety not nearly as common in Colorado for some reason.

That is actually the wrong picture, that is dog food under the filter (oops), but have seen acorns like that from Squirrels in plenty of them though… lol

Catching up on the comments. First, not quite a single car family. Spouse has a beloved 2013 Prius V with 181,000 miles that won’t be replaced until it’s truly dead. I could possibly get a sedan and try to convince spouse to get a hybrid SUV when the time comes but at best that would leave us without high ground clearance and AWD for an uncertain length of time.

I gave very serious consideration to an EV before deciding it just didn’t fit my lifestyle. Some places I go regularly charging would be both necessary and difficult. And one memorable time where we had to go a hundred miles out of our way to get out of Yosemite with a big fire blocking our intended route gives me pause.

Yes, visibility is one of the Subaru’s strong points, and is something new offerings often lack.


Spouse has a beloved 2013 Prius V with 181,000 miles that won’t be
replaced until it’s truly dead.

Hmm. I’ve been told a light truck should last about 500,000 miles, if it is reasonably well taken care of - which probably includes replacing the engine once. (However, most people discard them as soon as annual repair costs approach blue book values - which makes no sense if you include all the costs.)

It’s one of the reasons that extremely high MPG cars that don’t last as long are a mixed bag environmentally - maybe half of the energy involved in cars comes from making and transporting it in the first place - and an even larger portion of the mining needed to obtain the materials. (But - did someone say “Recycling!”. Yes, recycling is great. But most recyclable materials cost a lot of energy and resources to recycle, though hopefully less energy than to create them in the first place. If you economize on that, the materials aren’t as strong or pretty, so may not be used in new vehicles - just in less critical applications like filling up space in park benches.)

While I’m not sure that cars can last that long without fairly extreme maintenance, the Prius cars have a great reputation for being low maintenance, though I assume she may have to replace the batteries once or twice. But taken care of right, your wife’s car might just take a long time to die.

A hybrid doesn’t always need to be charged on long trips - it can take gas too. And many of them take advantage of regenerative breaking in the mountains. But none of the Priuses I’ve seen had high ground clearance, but maybe that’s out of date. And, like I said, at least for now, there aren’t a lot of Toyota qualified mechanics and parts places in backwoods America.

My wife has a beloved '85 Toyota Corolla (230,000 miles…) that she bought new, so I know and understand that your wife does not want to get rid of her 2013 Prius V. There are several options, replace the battery with new, approximate cost $4,200 (parts and labor), or replace it with a reconditioned battery, approximate cost is a whole lot more variable, depending on your location and amount of work, cost $1,000 up to $3,500, and the final option, although it does not seem to be very popular is individual cell replacement on only the weakest cells…

Don’t forget there is also a 12-volt battery too…

2019-2023 Ford Transit Connect

First day of car shopping. Both the Sonata hybrid and Tucson hybrid were nice cars and strong contenders. Corolla Cross flunked the back seat legroom test. Rav 4 was nice–a little more refined than the Tucson but less room and not as good acceleration. But the dealer wanted 48k for it (10 above MSRP). Same dealership didn’t have a new Camry hybrid or Prius to test drive. Next are likely Honda CRV and maybe Mazda

Before you buy a Hyundai or Kia, Make sure it’s not one of the ones you Can’t get insurance on.

Stay away from most of them from 2015-2019