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vehicle to the trailhead
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Andy Berner
(Berner9) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Re: vehicle to the trailhead on 05/21/2012 02:38:18 MDT Print View

Subaru has the new impreza with higher ground clearance thats suppose to get in the low 30's mpg. Its called the VX. Hopefully it comes with a different set of rims and more power. Now if they just made a diesel version for us in the states.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: vehicle to the trailhead on 05/21/2012 04:26:24 MDT Print View

@ Steven,

I don't believe Mike knocked over a cone. In Mike's picture he appears to be exiting a 180 degree left hander. Those two cones lying on their sides are I believe directional indicators placed on their sides on purpose to indicate the intended path of travel.

Back in the day we used a Red on Right and Yellow on left traffic cone set-up for auto-crossing. It really wreaked havoc with those of us who were color blind. L O L

@ Mike,

Man that picture brought back some memories from long, long ago!

For the sake of recovering from this thread drift, I drive a 1998 Toyota Tacoma PU with a 5 speed stick to the trail heads. There isn't a whole lot of ground clearance but then again I don't take it that far off road very often either.

Party On,


Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: vehicle to the trailhead on 05/21/2012 07:46:53 MDT Print View

Element! 6.9" clearance and awd. sleeps 2 fairly well for pre/post hike car camping. fits 4 people + gear for days easily.


Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
cone on 05/21/2012 07:59:31 MDT Print View

Newton- you're correct- that's a directional (or pointer) cone :) not that I don't hit cones on occasion!

is your 98 Tacoma a 2WD? in know the earlier gen Tacoma 4x4's have pretty good clearance, my 12 certainly does- also pretty decent approach/breakover/departure angles- besides the better mpg (still far from outstanding), the off road capability of the Tacoma is why I chose it over others


Jeffrey McConnell
decent clearance on 05/21/2012 09:02:13 MDT Print View

Well, the highlander I'm looking at (2008) gets 8" of clearance which isn't bad and it has decent gas mileage which will help me sell it to the wife. I'll be buying used though and it seems like almost all the used models around here are 2WD. How important is AWD/4WD for moderate dirt roads? I've been driving sedans all my life.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: decent clearance on 05/21/2012 09:10:19 MDT Print View

Not everyone buys a large vehicle for the purpose of being a "shopping trolley". Some of us have large families and do use them to have fun as well.

I cannot imagine packing a family of 5 into a sedan. No thanks. Not when one has two babes in massive car seats and the 3rd child has a 34" pant inseam and is over 6 feet tall. It just doesn't happen. We don't even own a sedan anymore. One SUV, one minivan. I can take the minivan to most trailheads. Not all, but most. For the bad ones we take the SUV, which has never been pretty. It is lifted with full plates under it. We go offroading as a hobby.

But having said that? Big vehicles do make life easier IMO. Especially when shopping :-P

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
2WD plus on 05/21/2012 09:56:44 MDT Print View

I have an 09 Tacoma, TRD version, lots of ground clearance, 2WD with locking rear differential. I learned to drive 2WD on bad road/tracks while living in the Northwest Territories. You can do more than you might think with 2WD, but the locking differential is occasionally handy in a nasty spot.

Jeff, does the Highlander have locking differential? Even without it, you should be okay on most national forest roads here in SoCal. Some desert roads might best be avoided - sand can be a death trap!

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: vehicle to the trailhead on 05/21/2012 10:00:21 MDT Print View

1. What is the minimum suggested ground clearance?

2. What other tools might one carry in their car (2WD, high ground clearance) for help if they get stuck? (straps, etc)

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: cone on 05/21/2012 10:33:52 MDT Print View

Hi Mike,

My '98 Tacoma is a standard cab, standard bed, 2wd, get Daddy to the day job truck.

The wife's vehicle is a fully equipped 2006 Toyota Highlander and I have actually driven it further off road than my truck in search of the proverbial trailhead.

We recently purchased a Garmin Nuvi GPS for use in either of the vehicles. The trailhead searches are now rather boring. It's no fun if you don't get a little lost once in a while. ;-)

Party On,


Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: decent clearance on 05/21/2012 12:24:25 MDT Print View

Just remember that when the manufacturers calculate ground clearance they only look at the frame and not the exhaust and other bits that are low hanging fruit. Also don't ignore approach and departure angles. They are as important as outright ground clearance lest you leave a bumper in the backcountry and why crossovers are not ideal.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
2WD on 05/21/2012 13:00:07 MDT Print View

I think w/ adequate clearance- 8" should be sufficient for most USFS roads and good tires, folks ignore tires, but it doesn't matter if it's racing on tarmac, driving icy roads or driving off road- the right tires make a huge difference- a 2wd will be just fine

if it comes w/ a locking diff like the Tacoma Prerunner- all the better!

I think at a minimum one should have a decent shovel, small bow saw (or the like) and a recovery strap (different than a tow rope)- I also much prefer to have a full size spare on board (do that even w/ my WRX)- if where you venture the roads are really tough (or very remote) I'd would bring more

I'm not including emergency equipment or minor tools- first aid kit, water, food, basic tools, etc as that should already be in there :)

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: 2WD on 05/21/2012 14:38:42 MDT Print View

Thanks Mike.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: vehicle to the trailhead on 05/21/2012 18:43:01 MDT Print View

Not an SUV but mine is a 4 year Old Ford Taurus X Station Wagon with AWD that looks to have decent ground clearance, I don't think the bottom is hardened though.

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: vehicle to the trailhead on 05/22/2012 23:36:21 MDT Print View

'10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, daily driver. Bought it new when a friend and I were doing a lot of trips to Death Valley as our prior vehicle was inadequate for some of the locations (the Jeep is overkill). After about 2 years and 51k miles, I think I would've gone with something more civilized. As fun as it is with the doors/top off, the harsh ride and 13MPG (recently upgraded to 35" tires) around town is starting to get old. Haven't had any major problems, just typical "Jeep" things.

Just empty every pocket.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
jeep on 05/23/2012 07:22:44 MDT Print View

I didn't realize they got that poor of mileage, of course 35" tires are probably a big contributor to that :)

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: vehicle to the trailhead on 05/23/2012 09:41:17 MDT Print View

I drive a 2000 Honda Civic Hatchback.

Clearance isn't so good but it is a short small car and that helps me get most places. Size also helps with parking in tight places and/or passing another car on a narrow road. Most of my "approach" to the trail head is on regular highways and getting 40mpg is a nice plus.

If the road is too bad I simply park and start my hike there. I'm not motivated to be the last car on a bad road. Plus, parking lower down increases the odds of somebody being around to help me if my car won't start when I come out.

Tools = battery cables, vice grips, foam pad for lying on ground, bow saw to cut tree if across road.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 05/23/2012 11:47:26 MDT Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 06/24/2015 12:10:46 MDT.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: jeep on 05/23/2012 16:06:59 MDT Print View

That is an improvement ;)

my '89 i had while in college(99-01 i had it) was lucky to get that. mine only had slightly bigger than stock tires but had some engine mods that probably hurt too. I do miss being able to run over just about anything but was glad to have it when it was 89c/gallon

Christopher Yi
(TRAUMAhead) - F

Locale: Cen Cal
Re: jeep on 05/23/2012 18:07:28 MDT Print View

"I didn't realize they got that poor of mileage, of course 35" tires are probably a big contributor to that :)"

Aerodynamics like a brick don't help either. :P I was getting about 15-16MPG around town with the stock 32s and about 20MPG on the freeway. If there's headwind or hills, I have to keep overdrive off with 35s because the transmission will keep hunting for gears, so I probably wouldn't see much of an improvement. I need to regear soon.

marcus hampton

Locale: Pacific Northwest
SUV Becomes RV on 02/06/2015 17:08:54 MST Print View

I turned my SUV's into RV's and made a video. The cut and paste below shows an inexpensive way to put a toilet, running water, curtains, and a heavy duty shelf in a SUV. They can sleep 2 people and 2 heavy dogs.

You could also youtube search "hobo rv".

Edited by TheCritter on 02/06/2015 17:10:22 MST.