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Old 01-09-2013   #11
John_in_Loveland's Avatar
Loveland, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Jun 2011
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Nissan Frontier 4x4 SE P/U with King Cab - Lots of Power with the V6 and reasonable milage. Back seat can hold 3

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Old 01-09-2013   #12
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 134

I would second the 4Runner. The newer models do have a third row seat but don't plan on putting any adults back there for much more than a short shuttle. I do most of my daily driving in a 97 4Runner and I appreciate its versatility and ability to go places most other cars won't.

My other car is a Toyota Sienna AWD. I know that most people cringe at the thought of a minivan but I must admit they are the most practicle vehicle for my needs. I have two kids who have lots of friends. We camp 50 days a year and raft, bike, climb, ski, etc all the time. The van tows our pop-up or our raft trailer just fine. It has two captains seats in the second row and a three seat bench in the third row. I have carried nine people on shuttle while towing the trailer with no complaints. My kids can get in and out without a struggle and there is room behind the third row for coolers, gear, and more toys. The AWD does good in the snow with snow tires, but it isn't a 4WD vehicle. It does not have the best clearance, probably similar to the Outback.

Just my $.02


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Old 01-09-2013   #13
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I've got pretty much the same requirements as you and I'm looking at a kia sorento. It isn't the kind of car I get excited about, but it has the 3rd row, decent gas mileage (26mpg hwy), can tow 3500lbs (I'm towing a pop-up but I can't imagine a raft trailer is much more). Oh and it is way cheaper than a toyota or honda.
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Old 01-09-2013   #14
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Sandy, Utah
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My longest trip/heaviest load was from Salt Lake City to Oregon for a Rogue trip. We had two adults up front, the rear seat down with two loaded dry boxes, one loaded cooler, misc. gear, and a big dog. We towed my friend's 12 ft. trailer with his loaded 16 ft. raft, and my 14 ft. Cat on top. No problems. For long trips from SLC up to Idaho for a Main Salmon or Middle Fork we prefer having four people in the 4 Runner, so that the two in back have more space for the long trip. But that's with two adults or an adult and kid in the back. Depending on the length of the ride, three kids in the might might be ok.....maybe.....if they behave and don't start bugging each other????
After four years, I am super pleased with my choice of the V6 4 Runner. It's been a very sturdy and versatile ride.
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Old 01-09-2013   #15
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Golden, Colorado
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I have a Nissan Frontier King cab, and I get about 14.5mpg towing the raft with all the gear in the 4.5' truck bed. It's not a big cargo area, but enough. The overall mileage was really good when I first got it, but lagging now that the truck has almost 100K on it. Started out gettting over 20mpg for mixed city/hwy driving, now it's closer to 17. Probably needs a tune. But it's been a pretty good choice for a family of four, since we don't need a huge truck to drive around for everyday life.

My buddy has a GMC Acadia to tow his gear, which has a 3rd row seat and plenty of power. But he gets around 12mpg towing a full load.

In my opinion - If you're towing a lot (at least once a month), then get a bigger truck and / or a diesel. If not, a smaller rig with enough power will do fine. And if your wife wants a 3rd row, find something with one and don't fight on that feature. You'll never hear the end of it if it's not there.
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Old 01-09-2013   #16
yesimapirate's Avatar
Denver-ish, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Posts: 739
Originally Posted by cataraftgirl View Post
Toyota 4 Runner, V6 is my choice. I've towed rafts all over Utah, Idaho, and out to Oregon with it. Good balance of fuel economy and power. Doesn't have a third row seat though.
Ditto this. Also, 3rd row is optional in newer models.
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Old 01-09-2013   #17
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The new Dodge Rams claim 25mpg, the extended cab full size Ram could be a good option.
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Old 01-09-2013   #18
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at my house, Montana
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Many families that I know with 3 kids have the Suburban and LOVE it. Lots of room, especially for each kid to have their own space for "stuff" and still room for gear in the back. Plenty of towing power. We have a Tundra double cab, and while it would be fine if the kids were not teenagers (and they eventually will be, right?) they wouldn't have much room for their travel stuff, but you have WAY more gear room with the truck bed. If you go with the smaller SUV's you're going to sacrifice the gear storage in the back with the 5th person.
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 01-09-2013   #19
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as someone that works on car/trucks for a living..... i have never understood why this question pops up so often on the buzz. it would be like me going into the shop and asking the other techs what type of boat to buy...... ***palm to forehead***
Oh! I don't take it lightly! I've always got to know
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Old 01-09-2013   #20
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Originally Posted by colorado_steve View Post
as someone that works on car/trucks for a living..... i have never understood why this question pops up so often on the buzz. it would be like me going into the shop and asking the other techs what type of boat to buy...... ***palm to forehead***
umm... no it is not. If you don't think boaters know much about their cars especially in terms of using them for boating trips then you must not know the right kind of boaters. No one is asking which vehicles are the easiest to work on. Who else would you ask that would have an understanding of the amount and type of gear that goes on trips that could give valid feedback on what type of vehicle works for them? ***facepalm***

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