Top SUV’s

As I said before, I have a Top 3 list of SUV’s.  I’ve studied the current market in detail, and compared all the vehicles in this segment.  I’ve dismissed the Cross-Utes out of hand as they are not true SUV’s.  This does not mean that I’ve dismisses a Unibody construction, but vehicles bases on car platforms and then swollen into a taller hatchback.   So here is my top 3, but not in any specific order.

Number 3:  The Toyota 4Runner.
2012-Toyota-4Runner-Trail-Front-Angle

This is one of the last true Truck based SUV’s in it’s class.  This is a real Body On Frame rig here, and that gives it some some advantages over the rest.  Towing, off roading, and otherwise not being ever mistaken for a Girly-Ute.  Just look at it… It looks pissed.
4.0 Liter V-6, 270 Horses, room for 5, and rolling 17 City/ 21 Highway.
While the 4Runner is under powered, it’s high degree of off roading chops give it an advantage.  But it loses points for not being made in the US when Toyota is making other vehicles here.

Number 2.  Dodge Durango.
2012_dodge_durango

The new Durangos look awesome.  Aggressiveness personified.  A lot of the stuff under the skin is actually Mercedes developed.  This gives it some advantage over the older Durangos.  In fact, the new Durango shares nothing more than the name with the older rigs.  These are now unibody rigs, which is not a bad thing.  Dont call them a cross-ute though, as the platform is shared with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  In fact, they are coming out of the same factory.  Unlike the JGC, the Durango doesn’t pretend to be an Off-Road Warrior.   These are build for streets, with occasional Soft-Roads.  Most SUV’s live on pavement only anyways.   I didn’t pay the new Durangos any mind because of this… at first.  Then I saw one in person.  A local LEO friend drives one now, and It is 100% Bad Ass.  His is the R/T version.  I really love the looks.  It makes me question just how often I would go off road… the answer is probably more than the Durango would be comfortable with.

Number 1.  Jeep Grand Cherokee
2012-Jeep-Grand-Cherokee

The new JGC is that guy you always hated… You know that guy, the one that is good looking with the trophy wife and everything always falls into place for him and he always wins everything… that guy.  The JGC is that guy in automotive form.  It does everything pretty damn well, and it looks great.  The V6 version does good on gas too, for a vehicle in this class.  The V-8 version can tow 7400 pounds…. enough to pull a Senator’s arrogance.  And it can off-road very well.  Not really Moab rock-crawling, but you can easily go trail exploring.  The SRT version though, it goes around taking lunch money from sports cars… sports cars built in Italy.  But the one I like the best is the upcoming diesel variant.  That gives you over 700 miles range per tank.  That’s amazing to me.  The only problem I have with it, is I like the looks of it the least.  And there are a million of them around town.

All three have solid good points.  All three have downsides… well… except for the JGC.  I’m still trying to find actual faults.

20 thoughts on “Top SUV’s”

  1. The JGC is the Girly Ute of the Jeep line. It is the POSER vehicle of choice in AK, I see more Trustifarians in that POS than any other. If you want to go off road, and haul a ton of people, look at a short bed crew cab pickup. Dude you are so bright in so many areas what is your hang up with Jeep/Chrysler? I guess I have never got over the whole K-car debacle, so am biased. That Durango, with a diesel, and Mercedes putting real underpinning and Transmissions in it? Bitchin.

  2. Hey Ogre,

    I have the JGC with the Hemi, of course. It’s been great for the year and a half I’ve owned it.

    It really hates Priuses…like goblinses.

  3. We have an older Jeep and love it. Just keeps running great. I don’t know about the new ones though…I’d be skeptical since they were bought out by Fiat. That scares me.

  4. The only fault with the JGC is the price… especially the SRT version. I would like to upgrade my older GC but that is some sticker shock there. The SRT is obviously not meant to off road, it has its application and purpose. I don’t think it looks the same as my GC though. It stands out…

  5. Get the 4 Runner. Got a used 1997 with 150k on it and never looked back. Pricey, expensive to repair, runs forever and gets you there. If I had known how great they are I would have got one a long time ago.

  6. Out of those 3 I’d go 4 Runner if you even thing of ever going off a paved, or manicured gravel road. If I was going to blow the kind of coin a JGC SRT runs I’d go with a diesel mega cab. Seats 5 full size adults comfortably (and one extra in the front middle that isn’t so happy) with room for some gear behind the seats. Put a shell on it and you’ve got all the dry storage you could ever dream of.

  7. Watch the ground clearance if you plan to go off the concrete. Even a bit of crown in a gravel road will make the Durango into a grader.

    1. Not to mention the approach angle. Anything more than about 10 degrees is going to give it problems. Unless you do the kind of hauling that actually justifies the GJC I’d say go for the 4Runner. They last forever and the 20k you’ll save goes a long way.

  8. Go with the 4Runner. i have a 2004 with 216,000 on it now, and i have NO doubt that i’ll get 350k out of it. I do have the V-8 though. but the gas mileage isnt all that different.

  9. I recently saw a shorter wheelbase Suburban 2500. If I were going to get an SUV instead of a truck that would be it, unless I could find an old Ram Charger in really good shape.

  10. When we get a snow storm there is a kind of driver that still thinks he can do 80, while the rest of the traffic has slowed. He either ends up in the ditch, or creaming some 9 to 5 er just trying to make ends meet.

    Then there is the guy that would not mind going faster, but has nothing to prove. He’s polite, capable, quiet and can kick your ass if he wanted to.

  11. We have a 2001 Durango. It’s comfortable on the body for long trips, but painful on the wallet. 14-15 mpg. Ugh.

  12. Is this a review of full size SUV’s then? Where’s the Jeep Wrangler? The FJ Cruiser? I love the JGC – a coworker has one that I drool over every time we go to lunch, but for the money – I could buy two FJ’s and caravan my family around.

  13. As long as I can afford to, I won’t own another Chrysler/Jeep product.

    Maybe they are awesome now, but unless they come with a $5,000 tribute credit for the POS lemons I sank into repairs in the 1990s, I can’t get excited.

    Since then, my wife and I have collectively owned 3 Toyotas for 25 years (if you add up concurrent ownership), never felt burned by any of them. Times are tough (and about to get tougher). Choose wisely.

    1. The 4runner is very high on my want list. It’s second, actually. First is the new diesel jeep grand Cherokee, due to the range per tank. The Durango has fallen off the list.
      Third is the Rubicon Unlimited, 10th anniversary edition.
      VW Taurag is up there next.

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