Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => The Backroads => Topic started by: Imre on March 04, 2018, 12:23:09 PM

Title: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Imre on March 04, 2018, 12:23:09 PM
Dear Benders,
I am considered purchasing one of these vehicles. Since I have no experience with an SUV I welcome your insight. The 4Runner is one of the last old-fashioned SUV with high ground clearance and a truck chassis but the highway fuel economy is terrible. (Especially compared to my Civic but I won't leave the pavement with it.) All I want to do in the park is drive to Pine Canyon, drive the old ore road and drive the river road. How much further can  I go on the 4Runner as opposed to the RAV4? How much easier to complete the trip with the 4Runner?  Is the RAV4 suitable or would you caution against any or all of these drives in the RAV4? I thank you in advance for your comments.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 04, 2018, 12:46:47 PM
Dear Benders,
I am considered purchasing one of these vehicles. Since I have no experience with an SUV I welcome your insight. The 4Runner is one of the last old-fashioned SUV with high ground clearance and a truck chassis but the highway fuel economy is terrible. (Especially compared to my Civic but I won't leave the pavement with it.) All I want to do in the park is drive to Pine Canyon, drive the old ore road and drive the river road. How much further can  I go on the 4Runner as opposed to the RAV4? How much easier to complete the trip with the 4Runner?  Is the RAV4 suitable or would you caution against any or all of these drives in the RAV4? I thank you in advance for your comments.

I have a RAV4 and have made it through most of those drives and many more across the west. Haven't done the worst of the Old Ore Road, but I bet it would make it. It has the virtue of being small and nimble and can fit through many tight spots. It has a stiff frame and you can customize your suspension. Just make sure you get the 4WD version. It's ground clearance isn't huge, and I've had a few tricky moments in mud and sand. You'll want 4WD for peace of mind. Don't expect great gas mileage. My 2010 gets 26mpg uphill on the highway and 32mpg downhill (seriously, I confirm this every time I drive to and from Dallas to Big Bend). City driving yields about 22-24mpg. Newer models probably do much better.

That said, I suspect a 4Runner would be vastly more adept in any off-road situation.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Jalco on March 04, 2018, 01:13:33 PM
I agree that the 4Runner would probably be better in a true off-road situation.  However, the roads you indicated are still roads.  Personally, I would opt for the smaller Rav4 because of the gas mileage - getting to and from the Bend will be the biggest part of your drive.  Smaller, as HMOD has already noted, equates with more nimble.  You may have already seen the new Rav4 Adventure, https://jalopnik.com/if-you-get-the-2018-toyota-rav4-with-its-optional-lift-1792494542.

If you're not completely devoted to the Toyota brand, you might also look at the  Subaru Forester.  We recently purchased one and I'm impressed with the gas mileage.  Ground clearance is decent, comparable to that on our old Trooper, and a true full-time all-wheel drive.  Somewhere, either on YouTube or on this forum, I've seen a video of an Outlander running Black Gap with a kayak on the roof.

My dos centavos.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: GaryF on March 04, 2018, 01:52:03 PM
If you just want to make it to a Trailhead along any of those roads, the RAV4 should be adequate. If you want to make exploring all of those roads and more a feature of future vacations, the 4 Runner is obviously going to be much more capable.  If you arenít sure, but you want to try, maybe look into renting from a company that will allow you to take the vehicle on backroads. It will be an expensive rental, but still cheaper than buying the wrong vehicle.

Ground clearance isnít the whole story, but is important:
RAV4           - 6-7Ē  depending on trim
4 Runner    -  9.5 - 11Ē  depending on trim

Personally Iíve been considering a Subaru Crosstrek (8.7Ē of clearance) as a vehicle to get to trailheads, but still be a good city commuter. Itís not a vehicle I would want to subject to a LOT of off roading though.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: elhombre on March 04, 2018, 02:56:29 PM
You first MUST decide what you want the car for, and that will dictate the first priority for performance characteristics.  If you want gas mileage, then buy a prius.  If you are buying new, then money really isn't the issue, so neither should be gas mileage.  Meaning, buying new means you loose so much money in the first three years in value due to depreciation, the "extra" cost of lower gas mileage is nowhere close to the economical comparison.  Buying used means you actually care about the cost of ownership.  If you are buying a car to drive down 3 roads only in Big Bend, then money certainly is no consideration.

If you prioritize off road capabilities, then the Toyota wins hands down.  There is nothing "old fashion"  about the newest (2015-present) Toyota 4x4 computer assisted traction control system.   A friend at work came out to my house and we pushed it through some places so that he could get a feel for what it could do.  We both came away very impressed.

You cannot compare a Civic and a 4 runner in hyway behavior.  That's like comparing a mountain bike to a road bike.

Buying a 4x4 is like buying a house.  You always should buy the bigger house because you know you will grow into it.  You want to start going to Utah and seeing Indian ruins, or driving the dirt mountain roads in Colorado and hiking to beautiful basin lakes?  Then get the 4 runner.

If you are considering a subaru, then go look at the 14ers.com web site.  Look at all the subaru owners who step all over themselves convincing each other that the subaru does just fine on the mountain dirt roads.   Suabarus are why there are lower trail heads, upper trail heads, then just above the lower trail head parking areas.   :engel016:
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: presidio on March 04, 2018, 04:41:53 PM
How much further can  I go on the 4Runner as opposed to the RAV4? How much easier to complete the trip with the 4Runner?  Is the RAV4 suitable or would you caution against any or all of these drives in the RAV4? I thank you in advance for your comments.

Either vehicle will get you to most any place in Big Bend (heck, most cars can get there as well). One will get you there a little more easily than the other. Your purchase should be ruled by normal use, rather than wanting to get to a single place.

The Rav4 is a unibody sedan (or other car-type construction). It is less robust and your 4WD option in it is essentially a high-range engagement.  Put simply, it's a car with the ability to engage all four wheels but is more suited for town use with a little off pavement that isn't too demanding. Driving in snow or other slippery situations is really what it is designed for (advertising notwithstanding). Its ground clearance is not much better than 2WD vehicles.

The 4Runner is a truck and a real 4WD, with high and low range gearing, and running clearance that avoids  a lot of things. What you gain in performance and usability, you give up in purchase cost and economy. But you will gain durability and usefulness. The 4Runner has a ladder frame, in fact it is the only SUV that has such a frame and has been the sole example of that construction in an SUV for a VERY long time. However, it does not have leaf springs, but rear coils and torsion bars. That is not a detriment in any manner as it's a real truck and it will go pretty much any place.

As to how far can you go? That  depends entirely upon your skill and determination, and quite a bit less on the vehicle.

It sounds like you are new to vehicles having some form of 4WD.

Key points to remember:

a) Absent wise and skilled use, you can get into places you cannot get out of without great expense. The cost of a vehicle retrieval off pavement is stunning.
b) Ground clearance is a lot more important than drivetrain, especially if you know/learn how to operate off pavement.
c) 4WD means driving for the conditions; it does not make you invincible. Speed will destroy any vehicle off pavement. 4WD lets you go places, just not always very fast if you want to preserve your not inconsiderable investment.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Slimkitty on March 04, 2018, 05:09:28 PM
How much further can  I go on the 4Runner as opposed to the RAV4? How much easier to complete the trip with the 4Runner?  Is the RAV4 suitable or would you caution against any or all of these drives in the RAV4? I thank you in advance for your comments.

Either vehicle will get you to most any place in Big Bend (heck, most cars can get there as well). One will get you there a little more easily than the other. Your purchase should be ruled by normal use, rather than wanting to get to a single place.

The Rav4 is a unibody sedan (or other car-type construction). It is less robust and your 4WD option in it is essentially a high-range engagement.  Put simply, it's a car with the ability to engage all four wheels but is more suited for town use with a little off pavement that isn't too demanding. Driving in snow or other slippery situations is really what it is designed for (advertising notwithstanding). Its ground clearance is not much better than 2WD vehicles.

The 4Runner is a truck and a real 4WD, with high and low range gearing, and running clearance that avoids  a lot of things. What you gain in performance and usability, you give up in purchase cost and economy. But you will gain durability and usefulness. The 4Runner has a ladder frame, in fact it is the only SUV that has such a frame and has been the sole example of that construction in an SUV for a VERY long time. However, it does not have leaf springs, but rear coils and torsion bars. That is not a detriment in any manner as it's a real truck and it will go pretty much any place.

As to how far can you go? That  depends entirely upon your skill and determination, and quite a bit less on the vehicle.

It sounds like you are new to vehicles having some form of 4WD.

Key points to remember:

a) Absent wise and skilled use, you can get into places you cannot get out of without great expense. The cost of a vehicle retrieval off pavement is stunning.
b) Ground clearance is a lot more important than drivetrain, especially if you know/learn how to operate off pavement.
c) 4WD means driving for the conditions; it does not make you invincible. Speed will destroy any vehicle off pavement. 4WD lets you go places, just not always very fast if you want to preserve your not inconsiderable investment.
+1 on all of this advice.  Understand the terrain you are driving on, and for the love of god TAKE IT EASY OUT THERE.  Yes, you can really mess up your vehicle and find yourself stranded out there.  Or your trip might go smoothly only for you to realize on your way home that your vehicle is pulling to one side or you have a shaky steering wheel.  Itís those kinds of things that drive me crazy and can take multiple trips to the shop before being resolved.


Sent from the future.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Txlj on March 04, 2018, 09:49:53 PM
Plan for the worst hope for the best. Think of the roughest place you might go to and pick for that. Then the other less rough places will be a breeze to get in and out of. I would think the 4Runner would be the way to go. Still decent mileage and tough enough to go where you need. And as a bonus, big enough to sleep in if needed. 

Sent from flat land

Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Homer Wilson on March 05, 2018, 10:10:38 AM
Are you buying new or used?  Used (gen 3 and 4) 4Runners can be found fairly cheap, at least compared to related options like Tacomas and Land Cruisers.

As others have mentioned, a 4Runner is the real deal, if you get the 4WD version.  And a lot of fun to drive in my opinion.  But yeah, terrible mileage if you drive it around the city.

If you want something that you can drive around town as an everyday vehicle and then get off the paved roads at a place like Big Bend, get a 4runner or Suburu. If you want to have something that can conquer virtually anything (but will you really need it?) then  go 4Runner (or Land Cruiser if you really want to go all out)

If you are looking to buy new, would you consider buying used?  That's what I did.  I shopped around and found a good price on a used 2003 v8 4WD 4 Runner, and then a good deal on a very low mpg car to drive around the city.  Best of both worlds in my opinion.  But it's whatever fits your needs and budget.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: presidio on March 05, 2018, 10:44:15 AM
Are you buying new or used?  Used (gen 3 and 4) 4Runners can be found fairly cheap,

Toyotas generally are a good bet in the used world. As long as the oil is changed when needed, the engines will run forever.

While chancy if buying privately, if you know what to look for you can get some great deals. More expensive, but a bit safer is one through a dealer that comes with a warranty. Some of the used warranties challenge the new versions in terms of mileage/months.

The vehicles are very reliable and abused ones are easy to spot. The biggest cosmetic/structural concern is frame & body rust if the thing lived in snow country and sloshed through salt for years.

I have a 22 year old 4Runner I bought new. The only repair it ever has needed (failed parts...not consumables) was a starter motor.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Imre on March 07, 2018, 09:49:48 AM
I thank everyone for their help.  :) Time to reflect on this a bit. And rest assured I am aware of the "slow and careful" part off-pavement.  It's 600 miles from my place to panther junction, and that's the reason my civic doesn't leave the pavement. Perhaps I am too cautious, but 600 miles is just far enough to ruin a perfectly good set of tires if the suspension got knocked out of alignment on a rough road. :icon_cry:
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: mbender on March 08, 2018, 04:44:03 PM
Also consider what you need to do with it normal day-to-day... if you can't carry a 4x8 sheet of plywood or five it in, then it's useless.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 08, 2018, 06:20:09 PM
Also consider what you need to do with it normal day-to-day... if you can't carry a 4x8 sheet of plywood or five it in, then it's useless.

Haha....well not necessarily useless for everybody.

But I will admit, one of the most maddening limitations of my 2010 RAV4 (the older model with the side-opening rear door) is the 46" internal width of its rear cargo area. I can't even carry 4x4 sheets in it. I didn't realize this until after I'd bought it to replace my old Honda Odyssey family van. Even the Odyssey could carry 24 sheets of 4x8 plywood as long as I took out the rear seats. D'oh!!!!!!

Now I just use a small trailer when I need to haul sheet goods. But you'd be amazed at the other stuff I've stuffed into, and lashed onto, my RAV.  A few years before the Odyssey, and before kids, I was driving a Jeep CJ-7 that I bought new in 1986...and that thing couldn't carry diddly.  But it was a heckuva off-road vehicle.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Jalco on March 08, 2018, 06:48:35 PM
A few years before the Odyssey, and before kids, I was driving a Jeep CJ-7 that I bought new in 1986...and that thing couldn't carry diddly.  But it was a heckuva off-road vehicle.

As much as I've drooled over Jeeps, I've always felt they are just one notch above a motorcycle on what I call the "practicality" scale.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 08, 2018, 10:26:21 PM
A few years before the Odyssey, and before kids, I was driving a Jeep CJ-7 that I bought new in 1986...and that thing couldn't carry diddly.  But it was a heckuva off-road vehicle.

As much as I've drooled over Jeeps, I've always felt they are just one notch above a motorcycle on what I call the "practicality" scale.

And thatís why I donít have one anymore. ;-). Or perhaps I should say, thatís why my wife made sure I donít have one anymore. ;-)


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat (http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=88143)
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Txlj on March 09, 2018, 03:40:02 AM
Ill stay with the jeep.

Sent from flat land

Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Jalco on March 09, 2018, 07:29:21 AM
Ill stay with the jeep.

Don't get me wrong - I still drool over them...... :icon_cry:
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: House Made of Dawn on March 09, 2018, 10:00:57 AM
Ill stay with the jeep.

Don't get me wrong -

Or me. In my dreams, I'm always driving my old CJ.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Imre on May 13, 2018, 03:29:52 PM
A belated thank you to everyone who shared their advice. I decided on the RAV4. After my next trip to the park, I'll add one more photo to the 'picture of you vehicle in the Big Bend' thread.
Cheers
Imre
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: House Made of Dawn on May 13, 2018, 04:36:01 PM
A belated thank you to everyone who shared their advice. I decided on the RAV4. After my next trip to the park, I'll add one more photo to the 'picture of you vehicle in the Big Bend' thread.
Cheers
Imre

 :great:  Wishing you good fortune with the RAV, Imre, and here's to many productive trips. Looking forward to a pic and your feedback from the field.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: Buck on May 14, 2018, 08:30:39 AM
Quote
Plan for the worst hope for the best.

This in spades.

I've had the brakes go out in an '83 Suburban while in the park (1991) - I carry bailin' wire and used it to wire up the locking mechanism on the emergency brake so I could use it like a foot brake on the drive to the dealership in Alpine. 

Once we were in my buddy's '93 Trooper (2006) when it decided to blow a sensor north of Marathon where cell phone coverage was nonexistant.  We had plenty of climbing rope and after waiting about 30 minutes a helpful oilfield worker who didn't speak a lick of 'merican stopped then happily pulled us into Ft. Stockton.

Fate spared me an incident in 1994 when I decided to drive an '88 Tercel down the OOR from top to bottom - I only had to get out and stack rocks for ramps in a couple of spots and made it without incident.  Not smart.

In general I prefer vehicles that don't have lots of electronic nannies that shut everything down in inconvenient places - it's best to go to the forums or off-road forums for your particular flavor of vehicle and get the skinny on how to bypass (paperclips and jumper wires) or disable them.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: House Made of Dawn on May 14, 2018, 01:03:25 PM
Quote
Plan for the worst hope for the best.

This in spades.

I've had the brakes go out in an '83 Suburban while in the park (1991) - I carry bailin' wire and used it to wire up the locking mechanism on the emergency brake so I could use it like a foot brake on the drive to the dealership in Alpine. 

Hahaha! That's classic. Never underestimate the value of bailing wire. Back in 1988, I helped our chicken-bus driver use bailing wire to reconnect linkages (twice!) so we could get out of the Peten and make it south to Guatemala City. Once there, a handful of us gringos and a few camioneros still wound up pushing the bus through the city streets to the main station. A decade later, my wife and I were exploring the largely unexcavated ruins of Caracol in Belize when our 4x4 suffered all kinds of failures and I coke-canned, taped, and bailing-wired my way back to civilization.


Fate spared me an incident in 1994 when I decided to drive an '88 Tercel down the OOR from top to bottom - I only had to get out and stack rocks for ramps in a couple of spots and made it without incident.  Not smart.


Maybe not smart, but impressive. Anyone that can complete the OOR in a Tercel is no ordinary person.


In general I prefer vehicles that don't have lots of electronic nannies that shut everything down in inconvenient places - it's best to go to the forums or off-road forums for your particular flavor of vehicle and get the skinny on how to bypass (paperclips and jumper wires) or disable them.


:great: Wise advice when planning to travel far afield. I'm not sure I can do that anymore. The vehicles are smarter than me now.
Title: Re: RAV4 or 4Runner?
Post by: mule ears on May 14, 2018, 02:06:51 PM
Made it all the way back to Houston in 1973 with a coke can repair on the exhaust pipe after it dropped off in front of the muffler on the Grapevine Hills road.   :icon_eek: :dance: