Best trail car/truck

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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Chip Down
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Chip Down » April 20th, 2021, 6:33 pm

Webfoot wrote:
April 20th, 2021, 4:13 pm
Check that the traction control works in a rocker situation where you have diagonal wheels off the ground; with limited suspension travel that is a situation you will face, and using momentum to blast through obstacles should be a last resort, not Plan A.
One of many lessons I learned with my Outback. :D

Tip: Don't obsess over ground clearance. A long wheelbase with long overhangs will kill you, even with decent GC.

As others have mentioned, tires are important. Don't cut corners. If you can justify the space, carry a full size spare. If you're on a road that's pushing the limits of driver+vehicle, and you lose a tire, that compact spare won't get you home.

I used to drive a jeep, but I can get almost everyplace I want to go in a compact/crossover SUV, so that's what I do now.

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Charley
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Charley » April 20th, 2021, 8:26 pm

sgyoung wrote:
April 20th, 2021, 3:51 pm
To address a few points, I don't anticipate doing any serious off-roading but do want to have the capacity to navigate even the worst of FS roads.
If I'm reading you correctly, and you've seen the same "worst of FS roads" as I have, you'd do well to have a high clearance SUV or pickup. I suggest an older one that you won't mind beating up or scratching.

Like Jerry, I have a 2wd Tacoma. Mine is a 2001 and it's going to live forever. It's definitely not an off road vehicle (I wanted a truck for carpentry and garden tasks), but it's a suitable camper truck and gets me over almost every road I would be interested in driving. It stays in the garage when there's ice or snow on the roads.

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Bosterson
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Bosterson » April 20th, 2021, 9:56 pm

Welcome back to the better coast! :D

One thing to keep in mind is that 99% of all driving, including driving to hikes, is on nice paved roads. So you have to weigh the "do I want a monster truck that can drive over a 5ft ravine" with the fact that it gets 8mpg, kills polar bears, and won't fit in a parking space, which you will be putting up with for the vast vast majority of your driving vs the few times you'll be glad to be able to go off road.

I'm going to disagree with Chip and say ground clearance is the thing - it's nice to not have to worry about scraping rocks in the road or bottoming out in a pothole. But [edit: as Chip notes] pay attention to the front bumper angle, because some poorly designed crossovers would scrape the nose coming out of a ditch, even if the main part of the car wouldn't bottom out. A slightly higher car is also nice for having a convenient tailgate to sit on to change your shoes.

AWD is nice, but between it and clearance, I would take the latter. AWD reduces gas mileage, and while better than 2WD in snow, it's not better than 2WD with snow tires if the AWD has regular all seasons. Everything is a balance.

I have a Crosstrek and have been happy with it. I haven't managed to bottom it out yet, and if you want to rip down well graded gravel roads, the AWD is good for that. The back is slightly too small to comfortably sleep in, though. The Outback seems like it would have the space, but feels like a boat for regular town driving. Depends on your family size and storage and car bivying needs.
sgyoung wrote:
April 20th, 2021, 3:51 pm
I'd also like to note my disappointment that I wasn't issued a Subaru along with my WA license. I was pretty sure that was how it worked :)
I think that's an option, but you have to check the box and pay the $20,000 - $35,000 surcharge. ;)
#pnw #bestlife #bitingflies #favoriteyellowcap #neverdispleased

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Chip Down
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Chip Down » April 20th, 2021, 10:18 pm

Bosterson wrote:
April 20th, 2021, 9:56 pm
I'm going to disagree with Chip
Weird, that's never happened before.

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acorn woodpecker
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by acorn woodpecker » April 20th, 2021, 10:56 pm

Don't underestimate the overall value of a utilitarian vehicle like a 4 door sedan with great gas mileage and reliability that gets you to most destinations on most roads most of the time. I had a Mazda Protege (5 speed) that was used for such purposes year around for 15+ years. The only issue was clearance, at times, but that wasn't a deal breaker. Being okay with having a vehicle you can beat up and become a "klunker" is a mindset I was personally comfortable with.

My Mazda made it to area trailheads of some bad roads with minimal to no scraping (FR 46 to PCT, Ed's Trail on Silver Star, Bird Creek Meadows & Hellroaring Canyon, several forest roads in the Monte Cristo area, Clackamas, Roaring River, & Bull of the Woods Wilderness areas). Sometimes I was the only sedan among trucks and SUVs.

I always had tools in my trunk (which had no trunk popper and only opened with a key, which was a major theft deterrent!) to help me with tree removal and poor road conditions as well as emergency supplies.

I realize my perspective isn't the popular choice, but it worked for me and I felt compelled by this thread to share my experience

johnspeth
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by johnspeth » April 21st, 2021, 4:29 am

Whatever you buy, make sure you get one with an engine snorkel. Everybody needs one. :D
Last edited by johnspeth on April 21st, 2021, 7:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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drm
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by drm » April 21st, 2021, 6:23 am

Bosterson's point on the tradeoffs if important: getting a vehicle that can handle anything you will run up against, means it is too heavy and gobbles too much fuel the 99% of the time you don't need that. And when you run up against that 1%, will you be willing to take a chance damaging your vehicle and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere? Because nobody really knows exactly what their vehicle can and can't do, where the threshold is. On the tough stuff, it comes down to the odds.

That said, there is a reason that Subaru dominates the AWD market, and this paragraph covers it pretty well, from an independent websites. This allows Subaru to more efficiently deliver torque to the wheels that need it. This is the 1WD scenario I mentioned before. Having your AWD being an added bolted-on addition to FWD creates a lot of mechanical inefficiencies.
Subaru also doesn’t adapt all-wheel-drive components to a front or rear-wheel drive vehicle, they develop all their multi-use vehicles around Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Many automakers do adapt their AWD system to fit a front-drive configuration and thus they function passively, transferring torque away from the main drive wheels only when they slip. The competition equipped with such systems essentially operate in two-wheel drive when there is no slippage. They can be better than front-drive car, but don’t provide the “full-time” benefits and road handling ability that a true full-time All-Wheel Drive system like Subaru’s does.

Webfoot
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by Webfoot » April 21st, 2021, 8:21 am

Charley wrote:
April 20th, 2021, 8:26 pm
If I'm reading you correctly, and you've seen the same "worst of FS roads" as I have, you'd do well to have a high clearance SUV or pickup. I suggest an older one that you won't mind beating up or scratching.
Scratching is an excellent point. It's part of the reason I think a lightly modified (A/T tires, armor, mild/moderate lift) Subaru may be the optimal compromise for our roads. I have seen such vehicles do roads similar to the local test pieces I can think of: 4109 to Silver Star, 3530 (Old Barlow Road), 3550 (Bennett Pass), 4220 near Breitenbush Lake, the ditch on the old north leg of Lolo Pass Road, the road to the top of Mt Defiance, Freebridge Road, etc. (The washout on 4610 cannot be described as a road.) No doubt these are easier in a 4WD 4Runner but then I get stopped by narrow, brushy roads even though I'll endure some pin-striping. (I cannot imagine getting something like a Ford Raptor all the places I like to go.)
Charley wrote:
April 20th, 2021, 8:26 pm
Like Jerry, I have a 2wd Tacoma.
I don't think I could get through most of the roads listed above in 2WD. Are you taking roads like these? I consider AWD/4WD a basic requirement given the number of times I would have become stuck with 2WD only.

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retired jerry
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by retired jerry » April 21st, 2021, 8:35 am

I can't think of any trailheads that I want to go to that require 4WD

Cloud Cap or Top Spur on Mt Hood. The trailheads for Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams. I can go to Grouse Vista on Silver Star but not the north trailhead.

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dmthomas49
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Re: Best trail car/truck

Post by dmthomas49 » April 21st, 2021, 10:02 am

We drive a 2010 Honda CRV with AWD. It has decent clearance. We have been to Top Spur, Cloud Cap and various other rough roads to trailheads with no problems. I just go slowly if the road looks rough and needs some manuvering.
Don Nelsen should give rough road driving instuctions using his Mercedes with all the places he has taken it! :lol:
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."
— John Muir

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