Hill People Gear Forums
HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsVehicle Mobilit...Vehicle Mobilit...Truck or Truck-based SUV for back-country adventuresTruck or Truck-based SUV for back-country adventures
Previous
 
Next
New Post
11/5/2013 8:23 AM
 

I'm at the point of needed a new vehicle (in Colorado). I very much enjoy the photos of HPG folks out in the back country with the Jeep and Land Cruiser.  I'm trying to decide whether to go with a truck (looking at a Tundra) or an enclosed SUV (looking at an FJ) for use in the back country.  I've had a 2wd truck before and enjoyed the utility.  Right now I've got an outback, which gets me alot of places, but clearly has limitiations that I'm not willing to push.

So, my question is--those using SUVs--did you consider a truck and discount it for some reason?  Or, vice versa.

I'm not a contractor--the truck would never be used for working.  However, trips to the range with steel targets, cases, etc. can easily fill up SUVs and the subaru.  Plus, I like to burn alot of wood, but I'm certainly not dependant on it for my heat (in metro Denver).  I've carried loads of firewood in the outback--just made more trips. 

Let me know why you picked what you picked, and if you have experience with full sized Tundras or FJs, too.

Thanks,

David

 
New Post
11/5/2013 10:59 AM
 

Just something to think about..... you can always get a small, easy to tow utility trailer to increase the hauling capacity of an SUV. That said, I own 2 trucks but do have a small utility trailer as well. I believe that you should prioritize your uses for the vehicle then pick the one that does that the best. If hauling is near the top of the list then a truck is the way to go but if not then maybe the SUV is the best choice. Also think about passengers, a SUV is more comfortable for more than 2.

 
New Post
11/5/2013 10:42 PM
 

 The Tundra is a giant truck, I owned one for a few years. It's a great truck, don't get me wrong, but I think it's size will keep it out of some areas, espeically with smaller trails or tight switchbacks.

 

 
New Post
11/6/2013 10:02 AM
 

Until last April I hadn't driven anything but trucks for about 15 years and with the exception of less than 2 years it was all Toyotas with the last two being a Gen1 and then a Gen 2 Tundra. I considered myself a truck guy and a Toyoat guy. I like the ability to segregate dirty/wet/smelly stuff to the back, and also like the load carrying capacity. When it was time to either put some money into the Gen1 or replace it I started doing a bunch of research. I ended up memorizing all the specs and measurements for the Tacoma and both Gen1 and Gen 2 Tundras. I test drove the competitors trucks. I read reviews for days.  On paper the Tacoma was the truck I wanted, but every time I went and test drove one I just didn't like it. It took me a long time to figure out what the issue was. The Tacoma has a car style cab, and not a truck one, and I prefer the truck style. By that I mean the sitting position is more horizontal and less vertical and the roof is lower.  I always felt like I was going to bang my head and ended up looking out of the top of the windshield. On the flip side the Tundra  sat like a truck, and even though it was bigger than my Gen1 based on measurements it had better handling (turn radius, etc...).  I decided that I would get used to the handling after a bit as most trucks have a bit of a learning curve. I chose the Crewmax, because I wanted the shortest truck with the most passenger capacity available.  I was disappointed that Toyota had decided to make the TRD package for the Tundra asthetic only, but I figured that the reliability won out over the Power Wagon and Raptor and was cheaper to boot.

I got the Tundra and whenever it was full of people or gear or I was on the highway I loved it. The rest of the time well I grew to dislike it because despite the numbers it drives ponderously. It does indeed turn tighter, but due to the vague way it drives, in my opinion, I was never able to learn where the corners where.  It is also a wide truck, more due to body styling than actual wheel width, and it is heavy as hell. I never got it stuck, but there were more than a few times I was greatful for all the power to keep it moving. After moving back to CO, I found it was largely too wide for a lot of the mountain roads, and trying to turn around when the road ran out or it go to narrow was interesting to say the least. AFter less than I year I was back research vehicles.  I retest drove the Tacoma and confirmed my opinion, and came to realize that what I wanted, a capable mid-size truck with a good offroad package just wasn't available in America.

Driving around Junction, I kept seeing all of the nice setup JKs, and the idea started to grow on me. I started to research them, and then decided I need to test drive one before wasting a bunch of time. Ironically, the local dealership had a Sahara Tan Rubicon with low miles. I bought it kind of on impluse, and by that I mean I didn't know everything there was to know about it back and forward. I may still be in the honeymoon stage, but I am happier with it than any of the trucks I have owned.  It is not a highway rig, but I am not doing that a lot these days, and it works fine. The dogs and other wet/smelly/muddy things are in front with me, and not in a bed. I also have to pack more carefully. The upside is that I have setup a system of rubbermades that are kept ready so packing is actually quicker than with the trucks were I just threw stuff in. Life is simpler and easier.

Years ago, when I was thinking about getting something besides the Gen1, which happened every two or so years, I test drove an Xterra, and was pretty impressed. I was excited by the FJ till I drove one, and I think whoever designed it was an idiot. There are huge blind spots with it, that make it a hazard to drive in my opinon. Plus it has that big bulbous body.

At this point I am no longer a truck guy or a Toyota guy, but I am very happy with my Jk. I have been slowly moding to to my taste, but both Tundras got the same treatment and with the JK it is cheaper and easier to do. 

This thread might be of interest: http://www.hillpeoplegear.com/Forum/tabid/679/forumid/23/threadid/3670/scope/posts/Default.aspx


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
11/6/2013 10:15 AM
 

Thanks--that is exactly what I was looking for!

 

 
New Post
11/6/2013 3:58 PM
 

If the issues that bother me with the Tacoma don't bother you they are good trucks.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
11/6/2013 11:29 PM
 
I was in the same boat a few months back. I ended up with a 4runner over the tundra. I like the size and handling much better and I can seat seven folks. I have had to work on how and what I pack, but what I get on average for mileage is better than the mileage on the tundra. I have had it for about four months now and I am extremely pleased with it. I could probably do without most of the buttons, but that is minuscule.
 
New Post
11/8/2013 7:33 AM
 

I have a 2011 Ram Power Wagon and couldn't be happier with it.  It is like a 3/4 ton Jeep Rubicon with more space.  For my uses, it is perfect.  I can carry just about anything I want to take into the backcountry through just about any terrain or weather, all in comfort and safety.  I love having a full-size rig with full lockers, electronic swaybar disconnect, 1 ton axles, heavy duty driveshafts, tranny, and transfer case, skid plated nose to tail, and a 12k winch, all pulled along by a stout Hemi motor.  A full winter set up with skis, sled, and winter packs?  No problem.  River based trip with touring kayaks or canoes and all of the extra related gear?  Still no problem.  Mountain bikes, trailers, ATVs, or the animal that was harvested during a successful hunt can all be easily carried in and out of the most rugged terrain because the Power Wagon can wheel through some serious off road conditions without so much as a whimper.  Thoroughly impressed with this rig.  I've had lots of Jeeps and other trucks over the years, to include a heavily modified '79  CJ-7, but now that I've got my dream truck, I'll drive the Power Wagon forever.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
11/8/2013 10:55 AM
 
I drive a Chevy 3/4 ton 4WD diesel pickup, primarily so I can tow a horse trailer long distances, part of the time on USFS and ranch roads. Based on my experience with this PU I agree with the notion that a full size Tundra would be a bit of a hindrance on back country roads. Also my PU is not very good on snow and ice even with 500 pounds of sand tubes in the bed. I previously drove a Toyota 4Runner and found it to be very capable on dirt roads, snow and ice, etc while being good for hauling extra people and every day driving. It had enough, but not an abundance, of space for various outdoor adventures. If I stopped hauling horses it would probably be my vehicle of choice. My sons (both tall outdoorsmen and mountain athletes) have driven Toyota Tacoma PUs for years and have been very pleased with them.
 
New Post
11/8/2013 11:20 AM
 
1996 Toyota FJ80 Land Cruiser. Why? On a deployment overseas back in '09, we had a fleet of Toyotas 4Runners, LCs, Troopys and HiLuxes. We also had access to Range Rovers and the usual mil gear (Humvees and MRAPs). I witnessed the brutal life those vehicles lived. I spoke several times to the contractors responsible for keeping up with the vehicles. When asked, to a man they all said that the Toyotas were the most rugged, dependable and servicable vehicles in country. Good enough for me. I explored the possibility of acquiring a HiLux here in the states and found it virtually impossible for the common man. Same for the Troopys. So LC it was and the search was on and I successfully found a 96 in excellent condition. So far it has been bomb proof. While hunting for waipiti this past season in GMA 62, we were rained on and snowed on virtually continuously. The roads soon turned to melted chocolate......slick as snot mixed with oil. My TLC was the only vehicle without chains. And it never bogged down once. Many of the pickups and Suburbans were stuck, even with chains. While it is not a tank, it comes damn close. If only American vehicles were made like that. Of course, if they were, Detroit wouldn't have to crank out so many.
 
New Post
11/8/2013 12:19 PM
 

I am glad you guys are starting to chime in. El Mac really touches on what I was talking about. For awhile I was reading an Australian 4Wheel Drive magazine since it was basically an Overland Journal for the common man. I had to stop though as my frustration mounted at all the sweet vehicles they had available that I couldn't get here.  The HiLux being a great example, and but one of many. If I could pick out any vehicle in the world they would be very high on my list to check out, but getting one in the US is virtually impossible. That applies to a whole list of Toyota models, as well as models from other makers.

I am exceedingly disgusted that Toyota seems to be leaving the roots exemplified by the FJ80 and current vehicles available elsewhere in the world out as they service the US market. I was told that they are going to be going even more car/road oriented in the future even with their "offroad vehicles" (think TRD becoming aesthetics like the Tundra).  I looked at the FJ80 and Evan has one. A few things I don't like about them. First is that I find the seating position for the driver a bit small. I have a lot more room in my Jk.  The second is gas mileage, because I get 5-8 miles to a gallon better than Evan. Finally, I have to admit I like the modern creature comforts of the satellite radio, cruise, reliable AC, etc...  I also like the lighter weight of the JK. The FJ80 is indeed pretty close to a tank and if you find one you like a great choice.

I was hoping Alpendrms would chime in on his PW. I have seen it in person and I would have no problem driving it, and actually wonder if I had gone the PW route if I would still be driving it. Based on my test drives the Dodge and Ford both drove smaller than the Tundra, but the Tundra won out on reputation and my personal experience. I also thought I would get used to the handling.  I am not sure I would buy any Dodge besides the PW and 1-ton based on all the issues my research turned up on the lighter weight models.  I do know there are places I have gone in my JK that he probably couldn't in his PW due to width and trees.  Do you need to be able to go there? Only you can answer. Oh and the PW have a poor rep for gas mileage.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
11/8/2013 12:34 PM
 
Scot, In my search for HilLux, I went so far as to contact Toyota Corporate to inquire....to make the long conversation short, the reason why Toyota doesn't bring in the HiLux to the US Market (or for that matter the Troopy and the diesel Land Cruiser/Prada) is because of our very own USG. Seems they don't want the competition..........and with that statement I could drift into politics but I won't. Suffice it to say, we are denied excellent vehicles because of our masters in DC. There are a few companies out there that specialize in dropping in diesel powerplants for FJ80s or even a Toyota V8. Maybe...one day. For now, the agrarian/tractor inline 6 is still crushing it. And you are right, you don't buy an FJ for gas mileage. Australia definitely gets the better end of the stick when it comes to true utility/off road vehicles from Toyota. The new LCs are priced way out of my league...and truthfully, I don't know if I really like the "Escalading" of the LC brand. I guess I'll run the FJ into the ground and rebuild it when the time comes. I don't think the new ones hold a candle to the FJ80s.
 
New Post
11/8/2013 12:36 PM
 

I think, as usual, we are in agreement, and I agree some topics are better left alone.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
New Post
11/8/2013 1:06 PM
 

i just came across a 94 FJ80 with 219K miles, but it looks great otherwise.  I'm not super old, but still have a odd feeling about buying a vehicle, even for cheap, with 219K miles on it.  

 
New Post
11/8/2013 3:28 PM
 

scothill wrote

I was hoping Alpendrms would chime in on his PW. I have seen it in person and I would have no problem driving it, and actually wonder if I had gone the PW route if I would still be driving it. Based on my test drives the Dodge and Ford both drove smaller than the Tundra, but the Tundra won out on reputation and my personal experience. I also thought I would get used to the handling.  I am not sure I would buy any Dodge besides the PW and 1-ton based on all the issues my research turned up on the lighter weight models.  I do know there are places I have gone in my JK that he probably couldn't in his PW due to width and trees.  Do you need to be able to go there? Only you can answer. Oh and the PW have a poor rep for gas mileage.

I went into it knowing that I wouldn't get wonderful gas mileage with the PW.  What can I say?  I do love the feel and sound of a strong Hemi motor!  That said, if I'm on a long highway trip and not acting like a high school kid with the long skinny pedal, I can coax ~16 mpg out of it, and that's even with the 35" mud terrains I put on it.  If I'm in a lot of heavy stop-start traffic or if I let my inner gear-head loose and stomp the throttle....yes, down into the single digits easily.  During my local driving, I'm usually around 12-14 mpg.  I'm OK with that and the truck's ability to do a wee bit better than that on long trips.  Plus, it has a huge gas tank.  I bought this rig because I wanted a full-size with real off road prowess straight out of the box, without me needing to do much to it.  I added an AFE full metal cold air intake, which bought me ~2 mpg and ~15 hp.  The only other mods have been going from 33" to 35" tires, a billet leveling kit, a stout brush guard and rear bumper, Yakima cargo bed rack and roof rack, front and rear diff skids (the only things not skid plated by Mopar), custom rock rails (welded to the frame, so that I can Hi-lift it right from the side), and a pair of Rigid Industries Dually D2 lights.  Not much else I need to do to it....maybe a snorkel if Airflow comes out with a model for the 4th gen Power Wagons.  I want to keep this rig aimed toward being an overland expedition-type rig versus a hard-core off-roader.

I had it on trails at Rausch Creek Off Road Park in PA that were meant to be Jeep-sized.  Me and 13 other guys from a Power Wagon club put our PWs on the ragged edge of what a full-size rig ought to be on....narrow, off-camber, tight turns, deep ruts, rocks, mud.  We made it through fine, but several of us (me included) ended up with some "Rausch Creek racing stripes" from the trees and brush....but hey, chicks dig scars and I knew my truck would never be a pavement queen.  We did have to do a few Austin Powers style 20 point turns to get through some really tight spots, 'though!

If I knew I could do without the extra room I now enjoy by having a full-size pick-up, I would most likely be driving a 4 door Rubi similar to Scot's or an older  FJ-60 (the original Iron Pig) or FJ-80.  Maybe a Defender 110, too.  If I could find one...I'd drive a classic military Power Wagon or M-715.  Those trucks are incredible, but don't have much by way of creature comforts.  If I could change anything with my PW, I wish it were in a color closer to what Scot's got with his Rubi, but I'm fine with the silver/black combo of my PW, because at the end of the day it's about the rig's ability and not looks.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
11/8/2013 3:48 PM
 

Here's the thing you've got to understand about a "non disposable" vehicle. You are going to be dealing with rebuilds. Parts that are old and worn out and need replacement or repair. If you wanted a built rig to start with, it's way cheaper and more environmentally responsible to do your upgrades on worn out parts than to throw out perfectly good new parts (that you bought as part of the price of a newer vehicle) to upgrade something. Example - the suspension on the FJ80 was completely shot. No problem, because what I really wanted was a full Old Man Emu 2" lift. Big problem if that was an upgrade you weren't ever planning on.

Also, you either need to be the mechanic yourself or you need to have a common sense shop that you can trust and form a long term relationship with. That shop is not going to be a brand dealership. Common sense is a shop that can give you realistic advice on whether or not to repair a given leak or just keep the fluids topped off. In the case of my Toyota shop, they maintain their own junkyard and often put "good used parts" on. They know it is a using vehicle and never even ask if I want stupid little cosmetic stuff fixed. On the other hand, they give good advice on stuff that should be rebuilt for longevity. You want to already know what that shop is going to be and take a potential purchase to them to take a look at before you buy it.

I would only contemplate this approach on a vehicle that is nearly legendary for reliability. The FJ80 was bought with 190k on it and now has 250k on it. Probably put 5 grand into it so far including the OME suspension, but not counting tires and brakes. That's pretty good economics when you consider the cost of owning a new vehicle over that same period of time. Plus it came with full locking differentials from the factory. Meanwhile I'm building towards a vehicle with really good mechanicals that I'm pretty knowledgeable about the condition of.

We've also got a 1999 Cherokee that we bought brand new. They had to do a regional search to find one without all of the power gee gaws and with the 5 speed manual transmission. It has 205k miles on it. Again, a vehicle with a reputation for long term reliability made even more so because I deliberately got it bare bones so there wasn't a bunch of stuff to break over time.

If you're a buy it and forget it (aka Glock) guy, this approach isn't going to be for you. You've got to have a little bit of an appreciation for having a deeper mechanical relationship with your machines to take this line.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
New Post
11/8/2013 3:53 PM
 

By the way, when it comes to vehicles built for more backcountry use, there are only 4 vehicles that I know of you can buy from the factory like that right now - Dodge Powerwagon, Jeep Rubicon, Toyota Tacoma TRD, Toyota 4Runner TRD. Ford Raptor rates a maybe. The suspension is more desert racing and I don't know if it comes with lockers.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
New Post
11/8/2013 3:53 PM
 

Beautifully put Evan.

 
New Post
11/8/2013 6:23 PM
 

 I spent a bit of time in AUS, I didn't think the hiluxs were much differant from our own tacomas size wise, older ones were certainly comparable. The landcruiser pickups are a little more tempting, but older ones were quite small by our standards, they just don't believe in large cabs down under.

I faced similar problems as Scott in looking for my perfect vehicle, I wanted a smaller vehicle with a more up-right seating position but kept being dissapointed. for the longest time I thought a 2nd or 3rd gen toyota with a diesel swap would be my perfect rig, but after two of them (an 84 pickup with a mitsubishi 4d55t, and a 92 4runner with a mercedes turbo 5) I've all but given up on them. The fact of the matter is there is no free lunch, the mitsubishi gave me 25-30 mpg but was horribly underpowered, the mercedes only gave me 18-24 mpg and was only slightly better. My wifes 97 4runner gets 16-21 mpg and has easily twice the horsepower as well as being quieter and more comfortable. The seat is still too low (car-like) for longer trips but it's great around town. I then lusted after toyota t-100s for the longest time, hoping the slightly larger cabs would be more comfortable (at a very small weight penalty) but when I drove them you still sat very low to the floor. 

I looked into importing stock toyota diesels for quite a while and it is possible (the easiest way seems to be to have a rural mail carrier import them and then sell it to you, they have almost no restrictions on importing right-hand drive vehicles) but just didn't seem worth it in the end, the ones that get good milage are gutless and the ones with any pep get only slightly better milage then our gasoline equivalents. I would rather have the AUS/canadian toyota diesels (they are just more cool, any way you slice it) but once you take off the rose tinted glasses they are only slightly better. And from what I've read emissions laws and diferances in crash-testing are the actual barriers to importation, at least of used vehicles.

my brother spent a bit of time in a diesel hilux this past year, and couldn't get better then low 20's mpg (his farm rig below, I love AUS tray-beds)

 

 
New Post
11/9/2013 4:38 PM
 

That is very helpful information about the diesels, I have long thought that was a better way to go, but sounds like it might not be. My understanding is that Hilux is the same as our Tacoma only it has a truck style cab and not the car style cab, and is generally a bit more stripped down and tougher component wise. In other words designed to be used as a mid-sized ranch or farm truck and not a SUV alternative.


Co-Owner Hill People Gear "If anything goes wrong it will be a fight to the end, if your training is good enough, survival is there; if not nature claims its foreit." - Dougal Haston
 
Previous
 
Next
HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsVehicle Mobilit...Vehicle Mobilit...Truck or Truck-based SUV for back-country adventuresTruck or Truck-based SUV for back-country adventures