Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Decked Canoes, Open Canoes, as long as they're canoes!

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Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by k1c1w » Sun Oct 30, 2016 11:47 am

Planning a road trip for next summer and considering the purchase of a new vehicle to do so. Said vehicle must be able to sleep two. Need to go relatively inexpensively, so no RV type vehicle. What is your favorite road trip vehicle and why?

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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by Sir Adam » Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:15 pm

Depends on the type of trip, (where you go, what you haul).

Vans (or better yet an old school bus conversion van) is nice for headroom and space. Gas milage though.... At least they can be had cheaply:)

Otherwise if you don't have boats on the roof (or are willing to tie and until them every night; I wouldn't be) I'm a big fan of a roof top tent; we've had ours for about 8 years and it has paid for itself several times over. Having a mattress to sleep on, and a solid floor with no worries of critters (particularly out west) is nice. We use ours on an SUV, but I've often thought a Tacoma or something similar would also be interesting (sitting on top of the bed, plenty of the room in the bed for gear, and with a little framing work if your tailgate locks you've got locked storage...).

For a one person trip a Honda Element would work really well too (all the seats can be folded flat)

A few roof top tent examples if you are not familiar with them:

http://www.equipt1.com/i/roof-top-tents/series-3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


For road trips I'd go comfortable station wagon (with or without said tent). For a bit of backcountry travel (which we like to do) a tacoma, T100, or an SUV can make for an awesome trip. Just be sure you have a come-a-long or winch;)
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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by sbroam » Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:13 pm

I had a Toyota T100 for a long time - reliable, roomier than a Tacoma (4 adults from SC to WV for a long weekend), better gas mileage than a Tundra. But... that's not new.

We have had minivans for years - my father-in-law for years before that. Newer ones easily get >20 mpg, room for people, room to sleep, moderate towing capacity, just maybe not as cool as some vehicles :-) Our family road trip configuration is either people inside (as many as 8) and cargo on top (Yakima rocket box) or behind (small trailer - bikes, boats, camping gear). Note, gas mileage when towing drops to the mid to high teens.

Currently I have a Toyota Highlander (2nd Gen) - 3 rows of seats have capacity for 7 or with the 2 back rows folded, there is room for 2 to sleep. The same cargo options apply and gas mileage affect when towing, though I can get high 20's unencumbered. And... it drives more like a car :-) It's really more of a big wagon than an SUV as it's on a car platform. This could be edging out the minivan for me - especially as our road trip crew drops as they move out ...

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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by Mike W. » Mon Oct 31, 2016 2:06 am

If you don't need ground clearance, mini-vans are great paddling/tripping vehicles. The roof rack is at a reasonable height too.

My current favorite is my new to me GMC 2500 4x4 with a diesel engine. I have a camper shell, which gives locked storage & you could sleep back there. I have the extra-cab, but wish I had the full crew-cab. I've added a mild-max tune & it'll easily get 20+mpg if I keep it at or below 60mph. At 75 with a canoe on top mileage drops to 17. The 3/4 ton suspension is stiff enough to make it handle the curves much better than my previous 2 wheel drive truck.

The downside is the injector noise. The new diesels have much quieter injectors, but they also have DEF & regens. Pick your poison.
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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by PAC » Mon Oct 31, 2016 10:18 pm

Someone else's vehicle.

That said... depends on the terrain. Mini vans, cargo versions, are usually a shoe in. Had one for years and travelled with wife (then girl friend), dogs, bikes, boats and ski gear.

Trucks with caps work too. Had a few but have some issues with standing up in and ease of in / out. Gear harder to keep in order, at least for me.

Some small vehicles / cars add value in the initial and operating cost and if you are very adaptable. Usually have to get a pod and /or rack on back to increase capacity.

Walk the lots and see what catches your eye.
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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by OC One Blade » Fri Nov 04, 2016 4:34 am

A mini-van is hard to beat, although I was quite against them in my younger, more "image conscious" years. Now, with a wife and two sons and a boat and gear for every person, it's as PAC says " a shoe in". Besides, the cool factor goes up exponentially with four canoes strapped to the top!

Look for one with hassle free seats that lay flat in recesses in the floorboard to conserve head space, although this can hurt ground clearance if that is a consideration. It was the way to go for my family of four, but with less people you might find more attractive options.

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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by arhdc » Sat Nov 05, 2016 4:13 am

Not to sound like a broken record but a van is hard to beat. A lot depends on how much gear you are dragging along as to the size of the vehicle. From my experience most small fuel efficient type cars don't like to be overloaded and doing so kills the fuel savings of the too small vehicle, so getting something large enough to actually haul the load is smarter. Remember, every boat, trailer, cargo pod is going to suck fuel and the less horsepower available the more profound the decrease.

For example, I have two Subaru Legacy Wagons, 2.2L engines, roof racks, AWD. These cars get around 24MPG and can do this with ONE canoe on the roof and relatively light loads but rapidly drops to 16-18MPG with multiple boats, cargo pods, too much weight overall. I also have an old Chevy Astro Van, 4.3L engine, roof racks, AWD. The best MPG it gets is 16-17 but fully loaded, boats on the roof, beds inside, camping gear, canopies, firewood and towing a lightish trailer it still gets 14-15MPG. That is to say, loaded for more than one person it is almost the same cost to run as my smaller Subaru with WAY more space and gear and it's not being over worked in the process.
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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by NickParker » Sat Nov 05, 2016 3:40 pm

Toyota 4Runner has worked out very well for me. The split fold down back seat gives plenty of options for where to put people and gear. Two people can sleep in the back if the gear is elsewhere, or I can sleep in it along with my gear. It's built on a true truck frame, and has a decent sized engine, so as arhdc pointed out, loading it down doesn't totally kill the mileage or over stress the drivetrain. It is stout enough that I can pull a fully loaded cargo trailer (for work, not boating), yet it's not so overpowered for my needs that I get crappy mileage. My overall average mpg is 20 (less if hauling a big load, more if lightly loaded and not going too fast). I've got 181K miles on it, and it is still going strong. I hope to put another 100K on it. I'd say it's one of the best purchases I've ever made.

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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by Einar » Sat Nov 05, 2016 8:16 pm

Agree on the engine size. There is not much difference in gas $ between my half ton 2009 GMC 4.8L and my Hyundai 3.3L when I haul 2 canoes, at least not enough to care about. The further the drive the smaller the difference.

One big plus when shopping for a 2nd hand van is the older models have rain gutters. You can build a pretty solid rack using multiple older style gutter rack towers, enough to take several hulls and a cargo box, freeing up the inside for a bed and comfort.

Probably my best canoe vehicle was a 1999, 2500 GMC Vandura. It's 5.7L sucked gas but it seated 5, had 2'fer bed in the back, with huge storage underneath and would carry 4+ plus hulls on the roof... and it had gutters.
Paddling is easy, organizing shuttles is hard.
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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by Roy » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:49 pm

I am building what will be the Ultimate Shuttle Machine. 1990 crew cab F350, 4x4, 8' bed; it is getting the Cummins 6BT and a 5-speed ZF manual transmission. Hoped-for completion date: 2020. Actual completion date: way past 2020.
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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by sbroam » Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:59 pm

I did think about engine size when I picked the vehicle I did, but also made a point to get the "tow prep package" - AT cooler, oil cooler, better cooling fans, etc - so I don't kill the engine or tranny when more heavily loaded. When unloaded, the extra gas mileage (so far max is 29MPG) is nice, but that it is so much more fun to drive is a real bonus :-)

Still, I'm impressed with the advertised gas mileage for the newer, full sized trucks - are those standing up in real world driving?

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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by k1c1w » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:34 pm

WoW! So much good stuff! FYI, the first trip, summer 2017, will be cross country with boats and camping gear. Sleeping in the back is what we would do if pitching a tent is not convenient. Neither of us have much mechanical knowledge beyond the basics, so new is preferable. Don't want to worry much about breakdowns.

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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by PAC » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:22 am

Make sure what ever you get it can handle a good rack - with spread between bars.
Tow package is good to have. If you get a 2" hitch you can buy a trailer on the cheap...
http://www.harborfreight.com/1195-lb-Ca ... 0%3D%0D%0A" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
or even cheaper get a cargo carrier...
http://www.harborfreight.com/500-lb-cap ... NSJ9%0D%0A" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Get some Tupperware to put stuff in, strap it down and you roll. Good luck
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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by ohioboater » Mon Nov 21, 2016 5:06 pm

Definitely get a tow package with whatever you end up buying. At the very least, have someone install a transmission cooler if you don't want to pay for a hitch that you may not use (I'm assuming auto, since sticks are almost extinct these days). Running at highway speed in the mountains with a bunch of stuff strapped to a roof rack puts similar heat stress on an auto trans as towing a fairly heavy trailer. With the added air resistance, your torque converter will unlock a lot on hills, even small ones, which heats up the AT fluid. Without added cooling capacity for that fluid, it'll significantly shorten its life.

As far as mileage goes, at least in my experience, boats or bikes up top on any vehicle equals about a 20-25% hit in gas mileage if you are driving 65+ in hills: 1998 outback got 25 unloaded, 20 with bikes. 2001 CRV got the same. 2004 F-150 got 16 unloaded, 12 with boats. 2004 Odyssey van gets 23 unloaded and 18 with boats. 2009 Pilot gets 21 unloaded, 17 with boats, etc.

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Re: Your Favorite Road Trip Vehicle

Post by Bob P » Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:52 pm

This is what I got (and modified) for my trips. It only weighs 800 lbs so I can tow it behind my Mazda. I can also get an open canoe on top, if required. It's tiny inside, but there's enough room to sleep and sit at a small desk. The "kitchen" area is accessible through the rear hatch.

http://www.hikertrailer.net" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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