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Old    Jake (jmcentire)      Join Date: Apr 2008       04-11-2011, 9:49 AM Reply   
Just sold our Tahoe(my wife didn't like driving it), so I'm looking for a mid-size suv around $15k that my wife won't mind driving but will still tow our boat(95 MC Maristar 200vrs). So far my options are:

VW Touareg V8
Saab 9-7x 5.3i (or any of the other short wheelbase trailblazer family with the v8)
BMW x5 4.4
Volvo XC90 v8

So far I like driving the Touareg the best, but heard some horror stories about reliability(and maintenance/repair costs which I do myself so doesn't matter as much). The Saab was nice(still felt like a gm suv) but I like the fact that parts should be readily available since there are a million trailblazers around. The BMW i drove was a mess...most of the electronics didn't work(which I heard is common on the x5) and it was definitely more sporty than the rest which isn't really a priority in this case. Haven't driven the Volvo yet, but heard it didn't tow that well, can anyone confirm?

Anyway if you've had experience with any of these I would like to hear opinions!
Thanks
Old    Matt (MattieK27)      Join Date: Mar 2010       04-11-2011, 11:28 AM Reply   
How about the new Grand Cherokee?
Old    Nate P (199q)      Join Date: Feb 2011       04-11-2011, 12:02 PM Reply   
I have a friend who had your vw option. They were going through tires at about 8k mi. Not cheap tires either, super wide. Had something to do with the awd not working correctly. I'd look into the new (er) jeep grand Cherokee. Looking at a tahoe for my self and boat towing needs.
Old    Nate P (199q)      Join Date: Feb 2011       04-11-2011, 12:05 PM Reply   
I know the m class Benz are pretty cheap these days too. Would tow your boat. Stay very very very far away from these. My parents had one. It was one shop visit away from the lemon law. Navi hardly ever worked fuel gauge never worked, and parts Alone were astronomical. Just a word of advice, as it may look like an attractive option. What about a range/ land rover?
Old    Jonathan Bay (john211)      Join Date: Aug 2008       04-11-2011, 1:18 PM Reply   
I know you didn't specifically ask about this car, but anyway.

Over the last 5 years, I've towed about 70 trips at 100 miles apiece on my 6-cyl Honda Pilot (05 Pilot, 06 CC 211), over some fairly hilly terrain.

I dislike it. Highway driving is the unpleasant part (the narrow country roads at 40 mph aren't as bad). Certain road bridges which are short in span over small streams are really unpleasant.

The bridge deck is typically concrete and fairly level. The highway lanes on either side of the bridge are asphalt, and are crowned from the lane divider to the outside of the lanes.

When I hit the bridge, my right tires hit a ledge. As I cross the bridge, I am still shimmying from the original hit. As I drive off the bridge, my right tires drop off a ledge ... and I have to steer to the left to correct.

Something like that. Something that makes me envious of the bigger tow rigs blasting past me.
Old    Dave Kiehl (dave27)      Join Date: May 2005       04-11-2011, 1:18 PM Reply   
Look at those Mercedes mini van looking things with the diesel.
Old    sp0tts (sp0tts)      Join Date: Jun 2004       04-11-2011, 2:14 PM Reply   
With that budget, I'd definitely go with a V8 Touareg with an air suspension (may be hard to find, but worht the effort). The air suspension really makes the ride quality while towing a dream and gives the vehicle a lot of flexibility when you aren't towing. There are a lot of mid sized SUVs that will do the job, but the Touareg will handle the best doing it. If you can find an older Benz with an air suspension that might be worth considering.

And to the comment about the tires: Cayennes and Touaregs are known to go through tires but 8,000 is really on the low end. I've been getting 15-20k on tires on my CTT (depending on the tire) and I drive pretty hard. There a plenty of reasonably priced, the Conti 20's that came with my car are $193 and the Hancooks I replaced them with b/c the Conti's were sold out are $159 a tire at Tire Rack. Just don't buy your tires from the dealer and research what you go with as there are a lot of options for these vehicles. I'll be going back to Conti's next time as long as I can get a set. Most V8 Touaregs should be on 18's and there are definitely some even cheaper options.
Old    Art (rallyart)      Join Date: Nov 2006       04-11-2011, 2:31 PM Reply   
Jonh, I've got the 9-7x and tow my Sanger D215 with it. The cost was low, I bought it new, for the features it had. My wife prefers driving it to the car or the van.
My reasons to buy were: 1- had to tow the boat; 2- had to have AWD; 3- had to be good around the city and parking lots because that's 95% of its use. Mine has the 4.2. It has no issue towing over mountain passes on cruise control but the 5.3 has more low end grunt. The turning radius is excellent so it is easy in a parking lot or as a daily driver. It's fully equipped from the factory for towing. The ride and handling are better than the Envoy or Trailblazer, in my opinion. It tows straight and easily and the air suspension keeps it comfortable with a load or not. I did have the compressor die for the airbags which was a warrantee fix. The lack of good cupholders is an issue. You should be able to get it for less money, or newer with fewer miles than the others on your list.
I am very happy with mine, overall, and would buy the same vehicle again.
Old    SamIngram            04-11-2011, 2:46 PM Reply   
I am test driving a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee with a 3.0 CRD in it tonight after work. It's only 2wd, but has a tow rating of 10,000lbs. I'm testing it with the boat tonight.
Old    Jake (jmcentire)      Join Date: Apr 2008       04-11-2011, 3:02 PM Reply   
Thanks for the responses, I need to take a look at grand cherokees again(I wish the crd was in my price range!). I just finished test driving another Saab and liked it much better than the first one I drove, I still like the Touareg the best but I compared the maint. schedule between the Touareg and the Saab and the Touareg needs service about twice as often as the Saab and the VW will need major service(timing belt) at 80k, the most major service on the Saab is tranny fluid at 100k.
Old    Nate P (199q)      Join Date: Feb 2011       04-11-2011, 3:50 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by sp0tts View Post
With that budget, I'd definitely go with a V8 Touareg with an air suspension (may be hard to find, but worht the effort). The air suspension really makes the ride quality while towing a dream and gives the vehicle a lot of flexibility when you aren't towing. There are a lot of mid sized SUVs that will do the job, but the Touareg will handle the best doing it. If you can find an older Benz with an air suspension that might be worth considering.

And to the comment about the tires: Cayennes and Touaregs are known to go through tires but 8,000 is really on the low end. I've been getting 15-20k on tires on my CTT (depending on the tire) and I drive pretty hard. There a plenty of reasonably priced, the Conti 20's that came with my car are $193 and the Hancooks I replaced them with b/c the Conti's were sold out are $159 a tire at Tire Rack. Just don't buy your tires from the dealer and research what you go with as there are a lot of options for these vehicles. I'll be going back to Conti's next time as long as I can get a set. Most V8 Touaregs should be on 18's and there are definitely some even cheaper options.
As to reply, from memory I think it was the first year touareg. Later years were improved i am sure.
Old    Jake (jmcentire)      Join Date: Apr 2008       04-11-2011, 3:50 PM Reply   
How about a '03 4runner 4.7l v8? Tow rating looks like 7000lbs. Anyone have experience with a v8 4Runner?
Old    Nate P (199q)      Join Date: Feb 2011       04-11-2011, 3:52 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcentire View Post
Thanks for the responses, I need to take a look at grand cherokees again(I wish the crd was in my price range!). I just finished test driving another Saab and liked it much better than the first one I drove, I still like the Touareg the best but I compared the maint. schedule between the Touareg and the Saab and the Touareg needs service about twice as often as the Saab and the VW will need major service(timing belt) at 80k, the most major service on the Saab is tranny fluid at 100k.
Dont forget the cost of parts. The luxury parts are almost double in some if not all cases. I know you said you were doing the maint, but you will still need to buy the parts. Just a thought.

Looks like you are on the right track here though.
Old    Andrew Carnacchi (07launch22ssv)      Join Date: Feb 2007       04-11-2011, 8:01 PM Reply   
I was in the EXACT same boat you were last year with pretty much the same options. The horror stories of Touaregs really scared me even though that was my first choice. Couldn't find any decent XC90's, and every X5 I found in that range was either a 3.0 or very high mile 4.4. Looked at some Grand Cherokees as well but in the end went with the 9-7x.

Couldn't be happier with the ride and quality. The rear air suspension levels perfectly whether it is towing my 2 Sea Doo's or my Supra 22ssv.

I got a 5.3i which gets you HID headlights, headlight sprayers, and adjustable pedals (which will be nice if the wife drives it primarily as mine does). The gas mileage of the 4.2 and 5.3 are so close that its not even worth getting the 4.2 in that aspect, plus the 4.2 is noisy and has much less low end power. The 5.3 on '06 and newer also has the displacement on demand which shuts down 4 cylinders under light loads.

The best part about the Saab is that all mechanical parts are in the GM family and there are a million trailblazers and envoys out there. I've only had one major problem and that was the electric motor on the auto transfer case locked the truck in 4x4. The part was $100 online and it took 10 minutes to install.

Another cool thing with the Saab is that they give you an output from the air compressor, so if you have a flat you can fill it right back up from the truck itself.

Hope my input was helpful.
Old    Jake (jmcentire)      Join Date: Apr 2008       04-12-2011, 10:20 AM Reply   
Thanks everyone for the replies...I looked at Grand Cherokees, but it seems at least in my area they are way overpriced(higher mileage, older, and more expensive than the others I have been looking at). Surprisingly to me was Range Rovers are in my price range, I would love to have one but just like the Touareg I don't really want to deal with the maint and repairs required.

I found this review yesterday that I thought was helpful:
http://www.trailerboats.com/output.cfm?id=1069093

Their pick was the Commander(which is out of my price range) but the 4runner and Explorer were in their top 3. Also seems the 4runner pulled better uphill than the Envoy w/5.3(which I had noticed my Tahoe didn't do that well pulling uphill, constant changes between 2nd and 3rd). Anyway I think I have narrowed it down to the Saab or the 4runner(which I am going to drive today).

Last edited by jmcentire; 04-12-2011 at 10:20 AM. Reason: grammer
Old    Jason (jason95gt)      Join Date: May 2006       04-12-2011, 12:06 PM Reply   
Don't forget to look at the Audi X7. That thing hauls!
Old    Andrew Carnacchi (07launch22ssv)      Join Date: Feb 2007       04-13-2011, 6:47 AM Reply   
The Audi is a Q7 not X7, and most likely out of the price range he is looking at.
Old    Alan Slabaugh (alans)      Join Date: Aug 2005       04-13-2011, 7:18 AM Reply   
I will give a nod to the V8 4 Runners. Love ours, when we sold our '06 Tahoe, we bought a new '08 4Runner. It is tighter, tows better, gets better gas mileage, and rides better. Just rolled 75k on the odo last week and it has never been to the dealership for anything but regular service, which is free anyway. I did put a little lift on it, and it looks much better imho.
Old    doug rose (dougr)      Join Date: Dec 2009       04-13-2011, 7:44 AM Reply   
i had an 04 4runner with the 6 cyl and towed my bu vlx for 4 years and it towed the sh@t out of it. Im in pgh and i tow 100 miles 3 to 4 times a week plus and it never missed a beat. everything here is a hill and it was impressive, plus it still got 17miles a gallon. check one out, you will be impressed. i would have one now but i got a larger boat and now have a tahoe. 4runners 05 and newer have the 5 speed tranny as well, i only had the 4 speed, and we would put 4 peeps and all our stuff in it. good luck
Old    Blabelmooch (blabel)      Join Date: Jul 2001       04-13-2011, 8:04 AM Reply   
Another v8 4runner owner (05')

We tow a small toy hauler that's about 5K loaded and do it up and over a pretty good pass. Bought it as a temporary vehicle until we could get a truck but due to several reasons haven't been able to upgrade. To be honest, it has to be the most impressive vehicle I've owned. Tows over the grade never dropping below 45 and you don't have to push it too hard. We have just under 100K and are waiting for something to go wrong but it still feels tight. Only complaint is the short wheel base, everything else is just as capable if not more than a lot of 1/2 tons.

Car gets beat offroad a fair amount too. Just can't destroy a Toyota.
Old    SamIngram            04-13-2011, 7:19 PM Reply   
I know its more than you want to spend, but this is the best deal I have found on the CRD GC.
Old    Jake (jmcentire)      Join Date: Apr 2008       04-26-2011, 2:57 PM Reply   
Thanks for everyone's replies....I still haven't bought anything, I've now driven 6 4runners, I drove one last night that was $16k and I still didn't like it very much. I'm used to buying cheap cars with high mileage and they have less problems then all these comparatively low mileage cars that cost 3 times as much...starting to get frustrating.

So now I am looking at doing what I usually do, buying a cheap car I'll enjoy(hopefully enough to not mind working on it every once in a while). Seems I can get a 99-01 Range Rover 4.6 for about $6k, anyone have experience towing with the 4.6 RR?

Last edited by jmcentire; 04-26-2011 at 2:58 PM. Reason: spelling
Old    Bill K (bill_airjunky)      Join Date: Apr 2002       04-26-2011, 3:36 PM Reply   
Seems like your fixated on the engine & not paying any attention to the gears in the rear. Any one of these vehicles you've mentioned should tow fine IF their setup with the right gears.
Also would be a good idea to make sure they have a tow package with a trans cooler.
Old    Adam Perez (adamp)      Join Date: Mar 2011       04-26-2011, 3:46 PM Reply   
I would say check out the Land Rover LR3 (you can get an '05 for about 16k) I towed with it for about two years... at least 4 times a week no problem
Old     (Thrall)      Join Date: Oct 2010       04-26-2011, 11:04 PM Reply   
I know you're looking for European or Jap rides but what about the Durango?
They're pretty cheap since the new models are out (and kinda ugly too) but my boss has a 22' Supra and he said his Hemi Durango tows it better than his Avalanche.
Old     (CDoogles)      Join Date: Feb 2011       04-27-2011, 9:28 AM Reply   
Im towing my wakesetter with a trailblazer SS AWD. The tow limit on it is 6700lbs and I can tow over some pretty steep mountain passes at 70mph if I want to. Just be wary of the transmissions. I bought a new tranny before I started towing with it and made sure it was beefed up in the right places and haven't had a problem since.
Old    Andrew"Jet"Mitchell (andrewjet)      Join Date: Jan 2003       04-27-2011, 10:35 AM Reply   
Jeeeeeeep!!!
Old    C.I.E..... Evan (guido)      Join Date: Jul 2002       04-27-2011, 1:17 PM Reply   
I hate to say it, but you're going to get eaten alive by maintnance on almost all of those. You've gotta be looking at vehicles with close to 100k. I'd recommend something Japanese or American. The more bells/whistles, the more potential for trouble. Especially air suspended vehicles. These are all great choices if you had twice the budget to work with. if you insist on these choices, then the most important thing will be a very thorough maintenance record and a good inspection by a shop that specializes in the choice of vehicle. Buyer beware, for sure.

FWIW. I love my LR3 and they can be had in this price range, but be careful. I bought mine under warranty on purpose and I'm a mechanic. In qualifying my above comments I'm a BMW, Mercedes Audi/vw tech.

Last edited by guido; 04-27-2011 at 1:21 PM.

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