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



  • xostnotxostnot Posts: 232
    That's a valid point, but where there's a lot of smoke, there's ususally a fire. Compare the NTSB complaint volume about 1999+ Jeep Grand Cherokees against similar Pathfinders, and compare that to your impression from other sources. There's a very high level of correspondence between the complaints and what I think is the real world.

    My impression is that about 90% of Forester/Outback owners are extremely happy with their cars, but about 10% have very bad experiences and hate them. It would be interesting for someone to do a study and determine why the same vehicles would be viewed so radically different for some.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "My impression is that about 90% of Forester/Outback owners are extremely happy with their cars, but about 10% have very bad experiences and hate them."

    Let me paraphrase:

    My impression is that about yy% of pick your model owners are extremely happy with their cars, but about zz% have very bad experiences and hate them.

    This applies to any car. Imagine those Toyota fans with the sludged up engine, or the Honda fans with their dead trannies.
  • done37done37 Posts: 64
    90% is an "A" in my book. I'll take it!! :)
  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291
    I looked up my Forester's MY (2004). There were a couple of worrisome items about airbags not deploying in high-speed crashes, but most of them are things like "Customer can't see speedometer in daylight hours and would like full refund" or "customer claims vehicle generates too much static electricity."
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I'm sure there is a grain of truth to most of these. With a boat load of Subarus cars on the road today, there is sure to be some oddball type of issue/problem in a percentage of cars. That is the way it is. Hopefully these issues/problems are not global design defects.

    But somebody is going to report them and when we hear about them, we are going to scratch or shake our heads.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    ODI is looking at a relatively small sample of problems. And it's not scientific at all. Reading that will likely scare you away from ANY new car. :D

    Also, better selling cars will register more complaints. But that doesn't mean your odds are worse. There are more good ones, too.

    CR at least gathers a big enough sample size to be meaningful. Plus they look at what % of cars have problems, so if you want to know what your odds are of getting a reliable car, the data is more meaningful.

    I didn't say the Forester (one R, by the way) would be better off road. It has more clearance, but the Grand Vitara's low range and optional skid plates would make it the better choice if you do more than light duty off roading.

  • xostnotxostnot Posts: 232
    Good points.

    Unfortunately there are no standards for what "clearance" means. Subaru may have given the Forester a larger clearance number than Suzuki gave the GV, but I bet the approach and departure angles are inferior on the Forester. Breakover angle is another issue. The GV suffers from lower control arms on the rear wheels that are typical for independent rear suspension and are a problem in deep ruts. The Escape/Tribute has a good clearance number also, but next time you're behind one, take a look at the control arms. At least the GV's are tucked up a bit and look substantial. A raw "clearance" number ignores many critical issues.

    Softer suspension, gearing to allow crawling, and underbody vulnerability can be even harder to evaluate, but are important factors related to clearance.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587

    At least Subaru does offer a rear skid plate (aftermarket supplies front ones) and the front/rear struts are out of the way.

    Here's a pic of mine, you get an idea how clean the underside is. The lowest point is the front cross member, that's what you see sticking down.

  • I can confirm that the 06 Grand Vitara can do
    some off-roading. I admit, it needs some prep to do more but it could
    be done fairly simply. Check out the pics in my post on my Carspace. The photos don't show it well but this trail was pretty steep. Low range is a must here! I'd be very curious to see the Subaru, Ford, Saturn or Rav4 make it up here. If you're game, I'll take you there. :)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I'd like to think my Outback could handle that. I don't suppose that's anywhere near Idaho though, so I'm probably safe in saying that, lol.

    Mild Idaho 4WD trail
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That looks like fun. Where is that trail?

    I have a rear skid plate but I'd probably add a front one before going on that trail. At least they are readily available since a lot of Subaru owners do Rally Cross.

  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    In my neck of the woods, that is considered to be a road in excellent shape worthy of rush hour traffic. My Forester takes that at 65 with absolutely no issue whatsoever. :sick
  • xostnotxostnot Posts: 232
    I realize these comments were meant tongue-in-cheek. It's notoriously difficult to depict how rough a road was with still pictures. Grades look flat and both holes and protruding rocks just disappear into the road texture.

    If low range was not an advantage in some conditions, no vehicle would be equipped with it. Subaru hasn't offered a low range since about 1980. The GV does. Case dismissed.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    But I don't pretend my Subaru will see trail rated trails that can be easily handled by a Jeep. For the few people who go offroading on level 4 and 5 trails, a Subaru will not do. But I wouldn't get a GV if that was my objective, I would get the real deal a Jeep. As you dismissed.

    Check out this thread written by markcincinatti to see how a BMW X5 handles difficult trails.

    markcincinnati, "BMW X3" #2854, 11 Sep 2006 12:51 pm
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You're off by about a decade. The Loyale was sold until around 1992, IIRC. The Impreza replaced it for 1993, and the low range lockable 4WD was replaced by AWD.

    Subaru still sells a Forester with a low-range in places like Australia. Oddly enough, you can also get one in Puerto Rico, last I heard, and that's a US Territory. :shades:

    We had a member from PR that was active on these boards, but he hasn't posted in a while.

  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 12,526
    low range does encourage you to take some extra chances.
    i've gotten myselg in a couple of situations where i needed it. if i didn't have it, i wouldn't have gone there.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2017 Ford F-150 Limited
  • xostnotxostnot Posts: 232
    Sounds like they gave the X5's a good workout. Near here we have a road that climbs from sea level to 3000', and we use it regularly in the winter to go back-country skiing. Snow level is always partway down the road, which is gravel, rough, narrow, steep, and typically slopes toward the dropoff. Usually it's not plowed, and even if it is, it can be very slippery as it climbs through the freezing point. Because snow depth increases rapidly with altitude, it provides a progressively more difficult test of vehicles.

    Last winter, the GV always effortlessly made it to the top on the stock tires, without chains. Believe me, we passed many vehicles parked, or mounting chains. One day when leaving, I picked up a couple on foot at the top parking lot. Several km's down the road, I dropped them off at their vehicle - an X5. I suspect they must have lost their nerve going up and parked, since I'm sure the X5 could have gone as far as I did, but still...

    Fortunately for the X5 owners I picked up, they had the luck to experience being coddled in the GV's elegant cabin, surrounded by exquisite wood-grain trim and the finest leather surfaces.
  • xostnotxostnot Posts: 232
    Thanks for the correction. I know that in Canada at least, the last few years of Loyale wagons sold did not have the low range, so I'm not sure exactly when it was phased out. Certainly later than the year I stated.

    Interesting that the Forester is made with a low range in some markets. I wonder if they beefed up the drivetrain on that one.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    If I were to regularly climb the type of trail you describe, I would pick up a no nonsense Jeep Grand Cherokee with Quadra Drive II (I've had a Jeep with the QD system, it's probably the best on the road in the price range, although no lockers). But alas, the most offroad I ever go is the rough roads of the east coast. The GV and Forester are made for two different audiences. The Forester is meant for some light off-road duty, with the turbo it's a rocket, measured at 5.3 to 60 with the manual. Performance at 8000 feet is the same as performance on 0 feet. The GV can't touch it in that regard. But I wouldn't take the Forester on trails such as markcinncinati described either.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The low range is a small reduction, something like 17%.

    Unlike in the US, most owners do actually go wander off pavement, and Subarus are used by Park Rangers and the like to get to those places.

    I got a set of snow tires for my Forester, so I'll get to try those for the first time in a few months. Can't wait. It was already great in snow...

    Best of all they were a gift.

  • The low range in the GV is actually ~2:1 giving it around 30:1 overall crawl ratio. The effective crawl ratio for the automatic is actually around 30% more due to the torque converter's multiplying effect. Until recently I used to have a built Jeep with a 4:1 transfer case, lockers and other goodies. You can see it here. However, I still have the '96 Grand Limited. A little more comfy on the trails... :)

    There are situations where even a Subaru, Rav4, CR-V and the like, without low range can tackle a steep hill as long as it's not too long so you don't exhaust your momentum and no rocks to stop you. I learned way back when my Jeep was still mostly stock that just because it had low range it didn't mean it could go anywhere. It is just one component of the total package. In case of the GV and like vehicles in stock form it could also get you into trouble since with it you can now attempt terrain others without low range can't even try but it doesn't mean you'll complete it. For that you'd need to add lift and taller more aggressive tires for clearance and traction and of course underside protection from the inevitable. You'd need to disconnect the front sway bar and might still hit places where a solid diff locker would be needed. At the end each trail is different and it's a fine line as to what works and what doesn't on a specific one.

    The trail in the pictures is in N. Virginia, in the George Washington National Forest. It's about 6 miles long with an average gradient of 20% and some places pegging 40%. Conditions can vary greatly depending on weather. When I was there it was rutted out with cross-flow washouts that were deep enough that I scraped the front plastic air dam and the rear license plate holder several times. It is also covered in several sections with rocks ranging from baseball size to basketball size requiring some spotting to get through unscaved. It's mostly used by dirt bikers and ATV riders who were looking at me when I was there like I was a fish out of water. :)

    It's a legal OHV trail and if anybody want to try it out I'd be glad to organize a trail ride may it be a Subaru wagon or a pimped CR-V owner. :P I don't like to ride alone and there are great scenic trails leading to the trail with camping sites alongside. Fall is coming and I definitely want to get out there a few more times. So let me know...
  • Here is a link to the japanese 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara promo site that has a great video of the Grand Vitara being tested on an off-road course. It shows well the clearances, approach, departure and break-over angles and the traction control system at work: GV off-road test. Choose the second video on the left (either speed).

    You will see of course that it could always use more clearance and suspension articulation but it does very well as it is! I do whish that it had more sensors for the traction control so the wheel without traction wouldn't have to spin a full turn before the system engaged.

    However, a 2" easy-to-bolt-on lift kit is already available and there is room for 2" oversized tires. Add some skid plates and it becomes a whole different animal! :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Cool vid. There's a bit of wheelspin in some scenes, so I wonder if they turned off the traction control to get a bit of wheel slip to help build momentum? Either way, it proved very capable.

    Here's a video of Subaru dealers testing the Forester up against some competition. The on-demand AWD systems don't fare well...

  • The wheel spin occurs because there is only one sensor on each wheel that is used to provide wheel speed input to the traction control. It will have to turn a full revolution for the traction control system to get the input and be able to compute rotational differences between the spinning and the other wheels. You can't turn traction control off anyways, only the ESP (stability control), and that's a different system.

    I heard the Toyota 4Runner has multiple sensors for example but don't quote me on it. It would also be easy to install a proper differential locker into the legendary Toyota 8" rear axle but that's a whole different class of vehicle alltogether. For what the Suzuki is and for the money it seems to work well enough.
  • dstew1dstew1 Posts: 275
    Video of an FXT climbing the following 70% grade:

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Impressive. I'm certain most people would be scared to even attempt that. You're basically looking straight up in the sky! :surprise:

  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    I wouldn't even attempt coming down a hill like that on my snowboard unless the snow was just right! And those fences would definitely have to go. :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Maybe on an inner tube. :D

  • Was that an automatic or manual tranny? I also thought I heard some noises...
  • dstew1dstew1 Posts: 275
    The post I borrowed it from over at said it was an Auto.
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