What is the best weekend warrior vehicle??


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Sport climber
Concord, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 18, 2013 - 05:19pm PT
I'm looking at buying a new car and unfortunately I commute about an hour and a half a day to work and back to my house so a Mercedes Sprinter is out of the question. I'm looking for something with decent gas milage, 4 wheel drive, the seats can fold down in the back all the way so I can throw a pad down and sleep flat, and something that has the potential of lasting me a good 8 to 10 years of taking it out every weekend to the Sierras from the Bay Area. Any suggestions??

The Granite State.
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:21pm PT

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:24pm PT
I think Melissa had a nice post of her modified Prius a while back. I've got a Prius, driven it all kinds of improbable places (think parallel track with 24" bushes in the middle), and I'm averaging 20k+ miles per year and 40mpg. Most of that is driving across SF bay area or from LA to SF area. I'm at 106k miles with no major issues so far (just several sets of worn out tires).

That said, I think a Passat Station Wagon with Turbo Diesel might get slightly better gas mileage and have more power if you routinely haul 4+ people and their gear for weekend destinations. If just you or maybe one other most of the time, Prius is good and no hunting for Diesel gas stations.

Social climber
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:26pm PT
4wd for jeep trail type stuff or awd for snow? Or both?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:29pm PT
You are in the SF Bay Area, and the roads to Yosemite are paved.
You don't need 4WD.
It also doesn't rain, or you at least have an accurate weekend weather forecast, so you don't need to be able to sleep in the back.
You will want something with high MPG, since it's a long drive to the Sierras.

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:30pm PT
Saturn SW2 Wagon manual trans. S series Saturns tend to get 250k lifetimes on average. Simple and inexpensive to service. They are also very low resale value cars. Basically the perfect value combination.

Love mine. Did some simple mods to it and I get 40mpg on the highway 32 in town. Cost me $2100. Thats kinda high for a 2000 saturn but it is hard to find the manual wagons in the excellent condition I got. I expect another 100k out of it EASILY.

It is FWD but I learned how to get into places most folks use 4wd long ago.

Near Boston
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:32pm PT
Subaru Forester

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:33pm PT
Toyota has a good track record of performance.

As a weekend warrior, storage is key. You don't want to have pack and unpack every week. You want to leave your stuff in rig (pots, pans, stove, spare water jugs, maybe climbing gear, etc. So vehicles like a Subaru Outback and or a Tacoma truck in a 4 cyl model will get ok mileage for a lot of bang for the buck in a 4wheel capacity.


Nov 18, 2013 - 05:34pm PT
4 runner. Tint the windows, sleep anywhere. Take care of it and it will last a long time

Trad climber
Nov 18, 2013 - 05:40pm PT
I bought a used Audi A6 quattro with a manual gearbox something like seven years ago and have put about 100,000 road trip miles on it. Seats fold flat, never gets stuck, don't need chains in the snow, hauls ass on the freeway, enough space for 5 people with a weekend worth of gear, and comfortable for hours on end.
the Fet

Nov 18, 2013 - 05:49pm PT
Subaru Outback/Legacy for your needs as posted.

Imprezas and Forester's seats don't go all the way flat.

Subaru's are typically the best mpg you can get in an AWD car. There were also the AWD toyota matrix, but they are pretty gutless.

Put a roof box on either. It'll cost about 1 mpg but you have way more storage space and you don't need to shuffle stuff around to sleep in the back.

You could always get a Prius for commuting and something else for the weekends. 45 mpg in a Prius vs. even 30 mpg adds up. Like $5000 in gas savings over 5 years.

Nov 18, 2013 - 06:50pm PT
I just got an Outback, and I'm blown away by the room. I can fold the seats down flat and bivy in the back (wife laughed that I checked that in every car I considered). Has more rear legroom than any other car I looked at. Smooth as silk and has plenty of power. Great mileage! I filled up this morning - 388 miles on 16.2 gallons = 23.95 mpg on pure city driving.
I'm wondering why I didn't do this sooner...

Trad climber
Nov 18, 2013 - 07:56pm PT
Gotta be a Toyota

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 18, 2013 - 08:01pm PT
Dude, get a nice wagon. The Tool never will realize it was you on the gun.

Daddy's Sleeper Wagon
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Nov 18, 2013 - 08:08pm PT
I have a 2006 Chevy Express Van, AWD, side doors on both sides. My home away from home. Not built out, it's just for me and I love it. But gas mileage is about 16-18mpg. Looking at this thread and wondering what would be better for me. Subaru's are pretty small for kayaks and a bicycle and living out of for weeks, months at a time. I don't want a truck with a shell. If things go bad want instant access to the drivers side to gth outta there.

Been looking for several years so this thread interests me too. Cheers, lynne.

Edit: Reilly, I've had new and almost new 4wd Mercedes and BMW's. The upkeep is beyond what you want to spend money on.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Nov 18, 2013 - 08:21pm PT
Love my Toyota 4-runner sport.
AWD as well as super low 4 wheel. Downhill assist braking and on/off of roll side air bags for extreme off roading.
V8 but I get 17 mpg highway! Go figure.
It's been in extreme weather and road conditions everywhere from Alaska to jeep trails in Moab.



Trad climber
Redwood City, CA
Nov 18, 2013 - 09:46pm PT
I've had really good luck with a Toyota RAV4. I've got a 96 with almost 300K on it (my second Toyota to get to 300K), and it has been very dependable. I'm short, so can line the seats up to sleep if it is nasty out. The 96 seats don't fold flat, but a little padding in the right places get you pretty close. I don't mind the minor bumps in the seats if it is dumping outside. It is good on snow and ice and gets okay gas mileage. It does okay off-road, but can't match a true 4WD vehicle. It is easy to drive and park in the city.

Lynn's requirement for getting away without getting out of the back of a pickup reminded me of a camping trip when I was 17. I'd just bought a Datsun pickup with a camper shell, and a friend and I headed out on the road for a week or two. We were camping off a forest service road in Washington, all by ourselves. We'd crawled into the back around 10 and went to sleep. We woke up to the sound of motorcycles. A gang of about 30 riders on Harleys had pull into the clearing where we were parked and started riding circles around us. Luckily, there was a tunnel between the shell and the cab, and I crawled up and started the truck. They opened up the circle and let us go. I'm not sure whether they were taking pity on a wide-eyed 17-year-old, or just wanted us out of their camping site.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Nov 18, 2013 - 09:55pm PT
drove down and back from the Blitzo memorial in my Jetta Sportswagen TDI...

averaged 47 mpg doing the speed limit down and back

slept in the car at Todd's...

it is my road machine, my weekend warrior vehicle...


Nov 18, 2013 - 10:02pm PT
What ever the hell that is in the driveway that will start! Never really an issue. My climbing buds for the most part stand ready with curb to crag service!

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 18, 2013 - 10:02pm PT
I'm kinda digin' my new one.

Not quite what I think you had in mind though.

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