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Suzuki Grand Vitara vs Subaru Forester vs Hyundai Santa Fe vs Jeep Liberty vs Ford Escape vs Saturn



  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Most ute-owners just want the looks of an offroader kinda the equivilent of the boy racer look of 20-somethings, except for 30/40 somethings. Crossovers are great for that cause it gives them the car-like handling (they can't handle the trucks that might roll if driven inproperly) and the look and feel of being all manly with their SUV.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Actually a lot of Jeep faithful thought the Liberty was a bit soft.

    It's a truck trying hard to be a car. Generally the public prefers the opposite.

    But sales are doing well, so...

  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    I would agree that most people who buy 2WD SUVs are buying them for the image (like the many people driving 2WD Explorers around SoCal). However, there are lots of people who want AWD/4x4 for a number of other reasons, some of them having nothing to do with off-roading. I want it just to get out of my driveway in winter without putting on chains and/or shovelling. To me that is a very good reason for buying an SUV.

    And yes, I know a number of Jeep people that think the Liberty is a pretend-Jeep...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's a valid reason. Clearance and 4 wheel traction.

    It was wild - last weekend I ran over a bunny rabbit completely! But get this - I didn't hit it! I drove right over it. He (she?) jumped out in front of me in an apparent suicide attempt - but when I looked back I saw it hopping off so it wasn't even hit.

    Is "saving bunnies" a valid reason, too? :-)

    Before you guys start quoting clearance figures from press releases, look under any Subie. They are flat and clean underneath. No lower links sticking out to snag on anything or decapitate bunnies, unlike the Escape, RAV4, and CR-V, for instance.

  • baggs32baggs32 Posts: 3,229
    "Before you guys start quoting clearance figures from press releases, look under any Subie. They are flat and clean underneath. No lower links sticking out to snag on anything or decapitate bunnies, unlike the Escape, RAV4, and CR-V, for instance."

    You're right about the Subaru's being flat underneath. But they have to be to compete. Otherwise they would look like any other car out there. Hopefully not a Camry though. Ever notice how the exhaust pipe is routed under the rear suspension? That then leaves about two inches of ground clearance at that point. Mighty odd if you ask me. I'd imagine an ice block (plenty of them fall off of the wheel wells of cars in the winter around here) would poke a hole right through one of those.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Ever notice how the exhaust pipe is routed under the rear suspension?

    YES! I also drive a Miata, and I'm low enough to observe the underside of whatever car is in front of me. Toyotas are particularly bad. Camrys, Highlanders, even RAV4s route the exhaust under the rear differential. I think even a couple of Lexus models have that problem, and not just the ES.

    So yeah, they lose maybe 3" of ground clearance right there. Plus it looks odd, like the exhaust was falling off or something.

    I put a rear diffy protector on my Forester, so I closely observed the routing of the exhaust. It goes next to the diffy, not below it.

    So yeah, clearance is just a tad over 7", but at least it's 7" at every point between the tires. Most vary anywhere from 4" to 8" with all the links and exhaust pipes hanging down.

  • anonymous02anonymous02 Posts: 1,538
    #3304 by ateixeira
    "Actually a lot of Jeep faithful thought the Liberty was a bit soft."

    Most Jeepers plain out reject the Liberty as too soft/wussy.
  • scape2scape2 Posts: 4,124
    to some I guess. When I made my choice it came down to either a Liberty or an Escape. I loved the interior on the Liberty but didn't like the front styling and the rear seates were hard to get in and out of. Gas mileage was also poor. At the time I bought Ford had .9 financing for 3 years so that tipped the scale. I have only 2 years left to pay on my Escape and its all mine!@ I am a light offroading person. I like to fish and hike and my Escape does just fine. Its nice to have choices...
  • bessbess Posts: 972
    Even for many folks who live in the snowy climates, the 4x2 Escape does just fine getting in and out of unplowed driveways and roads.

    The ground clearance of the 4x2 is exactly the same as the 4x4, and the front wheel drive with decent tires and driving ability goes a long way..

    For my wife and I, we just like the performance, handling, interior space, ride, mpg, and overall look of the Escape..
  • anonymous02anonymous02 Posts: 1,538
    I REALLY like the look of the Escape, and hear it's V6 is a good performer. I have a problem with the IFS (is rear IRS or axle, I forgot).

    I'd like to see it come with some decent 31 or 32 inch tires, though.
  • bessbess Posts: 972
    I think most of the mini-utes have 4wheel independant suspension.. (I think the Liberty might be the exception, but I'm not sure).

    The real hum-vee's (not the H2), have 4wheel indpendent suspension as well, so I have a hard time believing that there is any huge advantage either way (solid vs IFS).

    So, I'm curious, what is the reason for your dislike of the Escape supension type?
  • anonymous02anonymous02 Posts: 1,538
    It limits the ability of the suspension to flex properly when off-road.
  • A little late to the party, but here is my experience with a Forester.

    We had a 98 which we loved and it saved our life. We were doing 110mph in the left lane of the A5 autobahn in Germany when someone came into the side of us and sent us spinning. Incredibly, we didn't roll and ended up in the right lane in the direction of traffic. The politizt who invesigated the accident was amazed that the car was not damaged. The only damage was to the tires... they were worn down the entire sidewall. The only reason we got rid of it was that the car was too small for our family. Sit in the back seat before you buy it. It's tiny.

    We just got an 03 Escape and I love it so far. It reminds me of the Forester with a lot more room.
  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    I agree that with snow tires that a 2WD Escape could do well. However, it would require snow tires, and that's not really something I want to do (I think about it every year). The vast majority of my winter commute driving is on the warm, high speed freeways of Southern California - it is only the first 10-15 miles that can be snowy. So it makes sense to use an all-season (longer wearing, higher speed & heat rated) tire. And that means chains for 2WD vehicles - they set up road blocks around here and won't let you past without chains or 4x4/AWD.

    I, too, like the looks of the Escape. Too bad the V6 doesn't come in a MT.
  • anonymous02anonymous02 Posts: 1,538
    What's up with that?????
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    "Most Jeepers plain out reject the Liberty as too soft/wussy."

    Yeah, but the wussy Liberty has certainly been a huge lift to Jeep's finances, especially with the downturn the Grand Cherokee has taken lately. I don't imagine Jeep would last very long selling only Wrangler Rubicons to a very limited market of hard core offroaders who usually prefer building their own rig.

  • You're right but you have to take it one step further. It's that off-road market that made the Jeep name what it is by embracing and using these vehicles to their potential and showing what they can do. These people are feeling let down and ignored by DC. Many of them are now saying they're not going to buy another jeep and they're vocal about it. These people will move onto something else and leave Jeep behind to be another mall-crawling brand.

    Even if DC is dead set on going this direction with the Jeep brand they could continue to cater to both markets. The GC Overland and Rubicon are great but how long are they going to be available? The redesign on both vehicles are just around the corner. What do I do if I want to buy a new mini or mid sized SUV with real off-road capability?
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    The Liberty is selling like hotcakes - the only SUV of any size to sell more in September is the Explorer. Regardless of what the "It's a Jeep thang - you wouldn't understand" crowd thinks (those bumper stickers are more popular than peeing calvins around here), the Liberty is certainly capable enough off-road, and Jeep sold plenty of unibody RWD Cherokees without completely destroying the brand. As long as the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee stay true to form (IE, no 3rd row seat/IRS/Explorer type compromises) I don't think Jeep has to worry about losing their off-roader image. Anyway, where else are people going to go for a true off roader? Ford or Chevy? Not hardly. Only the XTerra really seems to be going after that market at all.

    Oh, and I doubt the DaimlerChrysler honchos are losing much sleep about people in 25 year old CJs with 95% aftermarket parts boycotting Jeep ;-)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    XTerra, Rodeo, and now Sorento.

    The next Grand Cherokee might come in 2 lengths, the LWB version with a 3rd row. I think that's the rumor I heard.

    One mag just did a test of AWD vs. snow tires, and AWD easily won in accelerating on a slippery surface. But surprisingly, AWD also won in braking.

    I guess weight distribution might explain it. Most cars are 60/40, and when you slam the brakes, it's more like 90/10, with brake dive. AWD vehicles spread the weight more evenly, closer to 52/48 or so, depending on the model. So the rear axle can do more braking without over-burdening the fronts.

    So yeah, AWD with all-season tires beat snows, and without all the hassle of having to swap rims for each storm if you don't have a clear-cut beginning/end of winter.

    Escape is fully indy. In this topic only the Lib has a solid axle, and even then it's just one of the two.

    Bren: wow, a crash on the Autobahn can be disastrous. Glad to hear it didn't roll and noone was hurt.

    Mall Crawlers make up probably 90% of buyers, so you can't blame manufacturers for catering to them. And if you don't like it, run out and buy a Sportage or Vitara, which have been collecting dust in dealers since 1997 while the RAV4, CR-V, and Forester sell like hot cakes.

  • anonymous02anonymous02 Posts: 1,538
    #3321 by ateixeira

    "One mag just did a test of AWD vs. snow tires, and AWD easily won in accelerating on a slippery surface. But surprisingly, AWD also won in braking."

    Imagine AWD and snow tires!
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    Yep, a grade school friend of mine was killed there about a year ago visiting his daughter, son-in-law and new-born granddaughter.

  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,172
    saw today on the web that the Jeep TJL or Scrambler is coming back... that should be interesting to see.

  • mtngalmtngal Posts: 1,911
    on the Jeep issue. I don't have a problem with DC putting out a Jeep that isn't trail worthy, as long as they continue to put out Wranglers that are. If the other non-trail worthy vehicles make enough profit so that they can continue selling trail worthy vehicles, then that's OK by me. What does concern me is the possibility that they will do away with the Wrangler just about the time I'm ready to replace mine. It does seem like there are fewer and fewer interesting places to go that require 4x4, other than OHV parks, so maybe there isn't as much demand for true off-roaders (as opposed to bad weather commuter cars). But that is a totally different topic...
  • anonymous02anonymous02 Posts: 1,538
    I have a 97 Wrangler TJ. I don't have any plans on getting rid of it right now, as it suits me fine, and there is nothing available which suits me better. The Rubicon is tempting, but too much money for me right now. (It IS the best choice if I were making my decision now, but not that I now have a Wrangler!)

    If a Scrambler came out, that would make me go for at least a test drive. If it were a Scrambler Rubicon, I'd start checking banks' interest rates. If it were a Scrambler Rubicon with a diesel, I'd get it in a second!

    The slightly longer wheelbase is not too too big of a sacrifice in off-roadability for me, and gains some in road comfort. The extra space would be a great gain for me, for camping, dogs, towing with boat gear, etc.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    AWD + snow tires = DROOL!

    It will be a daunting, nearly impossible task to update the Wrangler. I don't envy that design team.

    I liked the Dakar concept a little better than the Liberty that resulted from it.

    The Compass and other Wrangler-like concepts don't quite nail it. Let's see what they do.

  • I really liked the Dakar and I think I would have bought one if it was produced. The TJL or Scrambler looks really good. I'm going to be looking at another vehicle in the next year or so and I hope that it comes here from Europe, especially with the diesel.

    The Compass and Willys concept do nothing for me. I think the compass is a good idea sales wise, but maybe they should bring back the Eagle nameplate for it.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I agree, those could be added to the lineup but should not (cannot) replace the Wrangler.

  • anonymous02anonymous02 Posts: 1,538
    That is NOTHING like a Wrangler. The closest thing to that junk is the Isuzu Vehicross or whatever it is called.

    The Liberty didn't come out of the Dakar. The Dakar is a lengthened Wrangler TJ. The Liberty is QUITE DIFFERENT.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That was the concept that led to the approval to build the Liberty. I know they're different, I saw the Dakar at an auto show and drove a Lib, night and day.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    What's your beef with that? FYI, it's a SWB Trooper with special shocks and some outlandish body panels.

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