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Old 11-03-2015, 06:14 PM   #1
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Angry Crossover frustration

I need a new car and want to get one with some ground clearance. I go out hiking, camping and end up driving on forest roads. I don't need supreme off-road performance, and do want a car that does well on-road. I am hoping to stay under $30,000 and am frustrated as I'm not finding cars that meet my basic driving criteria. My list:

1. No sunroofs (my personal bent)
2. Car must have 7" of ground clearance or more
3. Car must have good suspension performance - stable at 75 mph, good road feel, not overly stiff or overly mushy
4. Car must have adequate power.
maintain 75 mph up a 6% grade with 4 people and stuff in it.
Accelerate fast enough for freeway entrance on short ramp (0-60 in 8 sec)
5. Car must be big enough
more than 25 cubic feet of cargo
back seat big enough for adults (36 inch min leg room)
6. It needs to have decent reliability - average according to CR. Bye-bye Jeep
7. Seats must be comfortable, supportive - shaped like a human being, balance between firm and soft, no legs asleep on a 12 hour drive.
8. It should get decent fuel economy - mid 20's overall or better.

These criteria are pretty basic and address essential car functionality. Not looking for a racing/performance car. I am not a gadget person and really don't want to spend $10,000 on gadgets.

I'm frustrated because there is not a single crossover in the under $30k range that passes. Not one. A number get killed by reliability (Jeep, etc). Most have garbage for suspension. The Mazda CX-5 was stiff at 20 mph, mushy at 65 showing noticable sway for a lane change and feeling on the verge of being unstable. Honda CR-V doesn't meet the 7" clearance (why buy a crossover or SUV with no added clearance?) and the suspension was stiffish and even somewhat bouncy like a pogo stick.

If I relinquish the sunroof, then there is one trim on the Subaru Forester that almost works (if I ignore the suspension sway at freeway speed). The option with the 2.0 liter turbo gives the Forester enough power. It is only available for one option - with a sunroof. The Outback is actually better suspension/stability-wise, but Subaru doesn't offer it with the 2.0 turbo. On the Limited trim they make the 3.6 liter engine available, but also give it soft suspension and boost the MSRP to $33,000.

So I have found 0 crossovers under $30k that provide what I consider acceptable car performance. And they come with navigation systems and sunroofs and cupholders for everybody. No thanks. If the car isn't good enough, its not worth attaching all the bells and whistles to it.

So I looked at the luxury market. Right now, the Volvo XC60 and BMW X3 are on the list as passing my basic criteria. Entry level on these cars is under $40k. A minor problem is that its difficult to find one that doesn't have at least $5,000 worth of additional gadgets on it and it usually more like $10,000. I can order one.

Not liking this solution, a friend suggest looking at trucks. Ford F150's. So I looked. In order to seat 4 adult people, you need a Crew cab. Ground clearance, check. 0 to 60 check. Reliable, check. Suspension quality, check. mpg 22 overall - a bit low but not the worst out there (that's right). Price $31k. It has the added features of additional utility and people move out of your way on the road. Not exactly ideal for parking.

Pretty sad when a Ford F150 truck is a better car than the one you make and sell.

So I have three vehicles on my consideration list. NOT what I wanted and NOT what the industry is capable of. Trade the $1500 sunroof in for some improved suspension and many of the crossovers in the sub $30k range would be perfectly fine.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Any vehicles you recommend?
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Old 11-03-2015, 07:29 PM   #2
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Re: Crossover frustration

Nissan Rogue should fit your criteria.

I personally wouldn't own a F150 even if it were given to me. The interiors are hideous and the seats are not comfortable.
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Old 11-03-2015, 11:31 PM   #3
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Re: Crossover frustration

Appreciate the suggestion. I'd written Nissan off because they had been having issues with their CVTs. Will go take a look again.

Edit: Took a look. Rogue has small engine. Murano had multiple complaints of "needs a new tranny" at 12 or 15k on the 2015 model. Yes, its under warranty, but that is not a hassle I want and the warranty will run out.
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