Forum Index > Gear Talk > Would you chose FW car or RW truck for NW back roads?
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carlb328
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PostSun Sep 16, 2018 7:55 am 
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So, I am hoping to move back to Washington (again) within the next year or so. I am thinking that if I have the money maybe I will get a small truck like a Ranger for hiking and fishing.

I have an old Mazda 6 now, and it does pretty well on logging roads, but the manual shift cable bracket is a bad design, and bumpy roads can make the shifter cables pop up, which means I can only put it in third gear by pulling on the linkages. That does not make starting or freeway driving feasible.

Anyways, for our steep, rugged, wet, often snowy or muddy back roads would you prefer the front wheel drive of a car, or the higher ground clearance and carrying capacity of a 2WD truck?

Yes 4WD would be better, but I may not be able to afford it.
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Ski
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PostSun Sep 16, 2018 8:19 am 
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I have 319K on a '94 Ranger 2WD 3.0 V6 with a 5-speed and I've never had any issues with the shifter. The transmission has been replaced twice, but the shifter has always worked fine.
Goes anywhere I point it. Hauls anything I can load into it. Last tank of fuel it averaged 18.95 MPG (city/highway).

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Jeff
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PostSun Sep 16, 2018 8:47 am 
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I'd go for ground clearance and durability. There are enough places accessible to a RWD truck to keep you busy for a lifetime. It comes with the increased cost of reduced MPG though. I'd take a car over a truck if gas prices are a concern.

With that said, 4WD is a great thing to have in the snow. You can get by with chains or thrive with a set of snow tires. I've never encountered mud that required 4WD. Truthfully I only like it because I hate getting out to chain up when chains are required except on 4WD.
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skiorkayak
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PostSun Sep 16, 2018 10:12 am 
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+1 on the Ford Ranger. Makes a great hiking/skiing vehicle. You can get a mid 90s 4wd for pretty cheap. I'm on my 3rd and all have gotten over 300k miles. Wether you get 2 or 4wd, make sure it's a 6 cylinder, not a 4.
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texasbb
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PostSun Sep 16, 2018 1:37 pm 
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I agree with Jeff--clearance and toughness.  While you can get a weenie FWD sedan or hatchback up many, many forest roads, doing it regularly will wreak havoc on it.  Get something that will hold up to the abuse.  4WD is much better the RWD, but with a little weight in the back of a pickup, you can get it to the vast majority of places.
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Ski
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PostSun Sep 16, 2018 6:14 pm 
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^ the "granny low" first gear in that 5-speed Ranger gearbox (actually designed and built by Mazda) has gotten me up and down some pretty sketchy little dirt paths that most people would think passable only with 4WD.

Steer clear of the 2300cc OHC 4 cylinder Ranger engine. It's the old Pinto 2300 with a modified (two spark plug per cylinder) head. I don't care what Ford said about their redesigned head - it's still a Pinto four-banger and it's still a gutless P.O.S. - go with the 3.0L or 4.0L V6. Buddy of mine just picked up a '99 4.0L 2WD auto/trans and loves it - got it for about $3200 because the passenger side was crunched in a bit.

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treeswarper
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PostMon Sep 17, 2018 6:07 am 
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I believe it depends on your driving skills as well and "being one with your vehicle". 

I am a mediocre driver and had a hard time keeping up in my 4x4 Silverado, with a logger in a chained up and well weighted down 2 wheel drive crew cab Ford.  We were pushing through snow at the time. 

I've seen this happen before with other folks driving.  A two wheel drive outdoing a 4x4 because of operator skill differences.

I am happy to hear good reports on Ford Rangers.  My tomato ranger is approaching 100K and I start to worry about that.   I shall be leaving today with my glamping trailer which is pulled with the Tomato.

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joker
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PostMon Sep 17, 2018 7:28 am 
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I've driven some very rough WA roads in my RWD Ford  E250-based camper van. E.g. the road up to Twin  Lakes (near Mt Winchester up near the  border for instance, when it  was in  fairly rough shape). I have yet to want to go somewhere in  WA that  I haven't been able to  take this van  to. Whereas there are many places in  UT  and  AZ that  I'd  love to check out where this  van will never  go  (due more to deep  soft fine sand than to  rough terrain; though there's some of the  latter too). Just fwiw.

And we used to  have  a FWD van with a bit less ground clearance (VW Eurovan) that we got to similar  places,  including to now-inaccessible-by-vehicle Dutch Miller Gap  trailhead,  which had a notorious road (on  one trip we passed a 4x4 truck that had a broken axle for instance).
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mike
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PostMon Sep 17, 2018 10:46 am 
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I've had a couple of RWD Rangers and gotta say they get me there and the gutless 4cyl has been reliable and gets as high as 28mpg hwy, avg 23-24mpg. My experience working in the woods on the wet side a 2WD is fine 95+% of the time and is much more economical. Clearance plus a little weight in the back is key. e.g. a 4WD will start plowing in snow same as 2WD and both need chains anyway.
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Schroder
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PostMon Sep 17, 2018 10:53 am 
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You didn't mention an AWD/4WD SUV as an option.  I had a 4x4 F150 for quite a while and I would prefer one of my SUV's over that because of maneuverability.  Clearance differences were negligible. The truck was miserable to turn around on a one lane logging road against a wall and a cliff.  SUV's are easily had and cheaper than most truck options.
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WaState
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PostWed Oct 10, 2018 4:58 pm 
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No matter what you get,  it is nice to have something that you can lay down and sleep in at the trail head.  Gives you the option to drive in the night before.
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Steve
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PostFri Dec 21, 2018 3:40 pm 
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Between those two options I'd pick the truck. You can throw some weight in the back to bump up the friction on the drive tires and clearance is important.

Like Joker I used to go on the MFSRR up to the Hardscrabble lake logging road or to DMG TH and back in the 80s and 90s it was killer on low clearance vehicles.

My TH vehicle now is a late 90s 4Runner 4WD. Ones in good condition still command a high price, though.

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BigBrunyon
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PostFri Dec 21, 2018 4:15 pm 
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if you're talkin' rigs, you're talkin' clearance. some them roads you can't be on if you don't have the clearance needed!!

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i ALWAYS camp at the upper lake!
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Chief Joseph
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PostFri Dec 21, 2018 5:27 pm 
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Personally, I like a front wheel drive car with stiff suspension over most rear wheel drive trucks.

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RandyHiker
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PostFri Dec 21, 2018 6:32 pm 
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My kids are currently driving a 2008 vortex  V6 GMC Yukon that just clicked over 330,000.   Amazing I never thought of GM products being that durable.  Fits them, their 3 kids and all crap you need with 3 small kids.
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