What used vehicle for mountain roads and long commutes?

We need to buy a vehicle for our family (2 kids and 2 dogs)with four doors. We live up a steep 1 mile mountain road that gets snow half the year. We’re thinking about a toyota 4 runner. Any suggestions for a vehicle with better gas mileage? We think Subaru wagons have too low clearance and will get stuck in the snow…

A Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide from the local bookstore will compare all the different options available that fit your needs, including mileage. I recommend that you start there.

If you plan to take the 2 kids and 2 dogs with you on trips often I’d say you need a mid size to full size SUV. The SUV will have the ground clearance to hande the steep slope and unplowed snow.

I have been very happy with an '01 Toyota Sequoia I purchased used 2 years ago with 90K miles. I’ve put 25K miles on it with no problems. If you go this route remember a new timing belt is needed every 90K miles. I’d give a used Toyota Sequoia a look.

I’ve lived in Colorado 34 years and have been driving Subaru Outbacks for many of those years. A buddy manages mountain top communications centers and drives the same in deep snow without a problem.

Other suggestions include CRV, RAV4, Hyundai Tuscon and Santa Fe.


You’re thinking right if you say 4Runner; except for the better mileage. There’s little out there that are as comfortable on the road and still handle poor conditions as well. But, it may be a little overkill and a car based SUV like a CRV or post 05 RAV 4 may serve you better.

You’re right about Subarus. Even though they have “high” initial clearance, they have poor approach angles and the suspension gives up clearance when people and gear climb aboard. But, as a road car, IMO, you can’t do better and will surprise in deep dry (not wet) snow.

A used Pilot or Highlander for best room and CRV/ RAV4 for mileage. You really can’t have too much of each in the same vehicle. It’s always a compromise.