The Quest for New Chase Ride Begins

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Tony Laubach, May 20, 2018.

  1. Tony Laubach

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    So I reviewed the dash camera video from the tornado/crash day on Monday, and never once did I say out loud that I would give up my van to see a tornado. I know many people make such promises in times of peril, but those words, nor any related, were ever said out loud, nor do I recall thinking them. Still, I guess I offered it as a sacrifice to the weather gods for a tornado on that POS setup day.

    Still waiting on the formal word form her insurance people, but they put me in a rental yesterday, so I can pretend that she will be found 100% liable. They obviously were dicking me around, trying to determine whether I could've avoided the accident. I am going to send pictures tomorrow with the police report showing that her impact was between my driver headlight and tire, then proceeded to damage the side of the van as I drove by. Obviously everything happened off to my side, so I don't see how I could've avoided anything.

    Assuming that gets finalized, I will begin the process of vehicle shopping.

    I am going to invest, not just in a chase vehicle, but a comfortable ride. After driving a 2015 Honda CR-V for a lot of my tenure at WSIL in southern IL, I kinda fell in love with the vehicle and think it would make a good choice for a chase ride, it's roomy enough, practical, and AWD is a MUST, particularly for winter ventures.

    However, I have also looked at the Mazda CX-5 as a competitor as well. I am lacking any time driving one of those, but it's a similar ride to the Honda and priced about the same.

    Anyone have experience with either of those? Or another mid-size SUV? I'd be open to suggestions.
     
  2. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    From the perspective of a lifelong Ford guy who has also owned Toyotas, Jeeps, and one Pontiac -

    Personally, I switched from pickup trucks and big lifted SUV type vehicles to a sedan. I didn't think I'd like it, but it's awesome. I got a 2013 Ford Taurus. Plenty of available seating and interior room, very comfortable seats, very comfortable ride, turbocharged engine, automatic transmission with manual sequential override, all-wheel drive, it has tons of power and gets out of it's own way very efficiently.

    This car is also offered in the classic SHO package, which includes a massive amount of horsepower at the wheels, a very respectable 0-60 time, adaptive AWD, Sony sound & video system, leather interior, and sequential paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Depending on your equipment loadout, the interior can be cramped with a bunch of stuff, but I'm still pretty comfortable with a big interior loadout in place, owing to the fact that they make police cars out of these, and there's a ton of equipment mounting and powering options available for this car from multiple public safety equipment suppliers. It's one of the few sedans I can think of where aftermarket companies offer a pushbar with wraparound headlight guards and impact bars. A winch might be in this car's future.

    If you are married to the idea of an SUV/van body style, the current generation of Ford Explorer is offered with the same engine and drivetrain packages, with a lot of similarities, and I believe they're even made in the same factory. The turbo V6 that is offered for these Explorers make them intensely fast. The Explorers can be loaded with even more luxury features than the Taurus, including power opening/closing liftgate, and like the Taurus, there is a large amount of aftermarket police/public safety market accessories made for it that makes mounting equipment in them a breeze. Laptop stands, radio consoles, brush guards, the works.
     
  3. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    A few additional observations of vehicles that I have experience with, in the SUV class:

    I have previous experience with the Honda CRV, which I outfitted personally and drove as a mall security vehicle for 3 years. It's a vehicle that has some interesting quirks. This references the 2005/2006 generation, and I have no idea if these quirks still exist. The center console table folds down sideways, allowing center room for gear and equipment. It had an open center-floor area. It's fairly easy to modify if needed. It was rather anemic on the power and acceleration end of the equation. It had two quirks which I consider deal-breakers, both of which we had severe issues with in it's assigned role. If it idles long enough, even without additional equipment, the alternator will not keep up with the demand of the vehicle, and the battery dies. Likewise, it must experience significant amounts of driving in third gear/over 40mph, or the same problem occurs. The second quirk is that Honda decided that the power steering transit hoses between the pump and the rack had to run back through the firewall, into the cabin, and exit the floor by the accelerator. This resulted in the hose eventually experiencing enough chafe and rub that it sprung a leak and made the front floorboard carpet a slick, greasy mess for the rest of it's life.

    I have previous experience with the Kia Sorrento, which I maintain and drive as an EMS response squad. It's an all-around solid vehicle from the 2005 era. Interior space can be a bit cramped, and there's no aftermarket equipment considerations made for it. The only real problem I have had with it, is it's amazing propensity to develop rust in the strangest of places. Dead-middle of the front fenders, behind the wheelwell, and in the tops of the doglegs, but not the bottom.

    My previous experiences with the 3rd (2003-2005) and 4th (2006-2010) Ford Explorers have some rather consequential issues. Lots of problems with the V6 models. Everything from poor wiring to bad head gaskets, weak transmission seals and solenoids, and rear main seals. Personally, I avoid them when shopping for new vehicles. The 5th and 6th generation Explorers are a much better vehicle. Hell, the 1st and 2nd generation Explorers are better vehicles, but old at this point.
     
  4. Brett Nickeson

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    If it's a question between Honda and Mazda for relatively the same price, go with the Honda 100 times out of 100. As far as reliability goes, nothing beats them IMO. I currently have a 4runner but I really miss my Accord.
     
  5. Bill Hark

    Bill Hark EF5

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    I've used Impalas in the past for chase vehicles, but I noticed that something happened to the electrical system a few years ago with a model update and it is now not compatible with Mobile ThreatNet. I still use it as a backup and the new Impala's will cause ThreatNet to crash, and I have to restart the whole system. I plug the ThreatNet into a power inverter. If you don't use ThreatNet, this is not pertinent to you but maybe to others looking for chase vehicles. So far, only seen this on Impalas but I guess other vehicles could also do the same thing.
     
  6. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    That makes no sense. What vehicle change would cause ThreatNet to crash?
     
  7. Drew T

    Drew T EF4

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    My grandparents have had a third gen CRV for several years (theirs is an 09), so I have a good deal of time behind the wheel of one. My primary issue with them is size. I'm only 6'0, and even when I was under 200 lbs, I simply didn't fit in them very comfortably. I'm not sure about the Mazda, but I know both the Nissan Rogue and Toyota Rav4 (both in the same vehicle class) have far more room for driver and passenger, albeit at the cost of cargo space. The other major issue I had was the absolutely massive C-pillar. This seems to be a thing with compact crossovers though, so they're all going to have significant visibility issues.

    That said, the CRV drove very well, as long as you kept the RPM over 3,000. It's an absolute dog off the line, but once the motor is turning higher revs, the power comes in. That observation is probably a little bias on my part, because I'm accustomed to Nissan and Toyota motors of all configurations that make excellent power low in the RPM band and carry a fairly flat torque curve all the way to redline. The 166hp/161tq vs nearly 180hp and tq for both Nissan and Toyota 4 cyl motors (you can definitely feel the difference) is also a contributing factor in my thoughts about it.

    Depending on your size and how much equipment you cart around with you, I'd probably step up to the next size class. Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Murano or Pathfinder, Ford Explorer, etc. The benefit of those is they have seating for 7 if you need it, but if you need cargo room, the rear two rows in the Explorer and Pathfinder both fold completely flat (I'm not sure on the others).

    I've been running this all through my mind lately, simply because my pickup gets rather cramped if I have anyone chasing with me. While the Taurus is a nice vehicle, I'm a little uncomfortable with using a vehicle with such little ground clearance. I've also never been a huge fan of the way Ford lays out their controls, but will admit the newer ones are more to my liking than anything older than 2010 or so. I'll either end up with a Pathfinder/Explorer or maybe a slightly older 4Runner or Sequioa when all's said and done. The new Pathfinders are best in class for fuel mileage, and at nearly 300hp naturally aspirated, it's no slouch. That said, you're probably going to have an easier time finding laptop mounts and the like for the Ford. They both have about the same ground clearance, and both have a much more capable 4x4 system than just about any other crossover on the market, save Subaru.
     
    #7 Drew T, May 22, 2018
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
  8. ericjkelly

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    Subaru Outback. I have owned and chased in many other small SUV's and LOVE my outback. AWD is unbelievable, rock solid reliability and good gas mileage. We own both a outback and forester and find the outback ride to be MUCH smoother for long haul driving.
     
  9. Marc R. O'Leary

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    I'm in the market for a new ride as well, and stormchasing is a factor in my choice. The only reason the Outback fell down my list is because their seats are still built for the anthropometrics of Japanese people (short legs, long torso), and with my bad back, comfort/fit is paramount. I'm 6'4. Outback legroom is fine...but the bottom cushion is too shallow, so no real thigh support and the bottom cushion adjustability is pretty weak. This causes strain on my back.

    However, if you're a smaller person (or have short legs), the Outback would be my vote. I test drove a 3.6R and it had plenty of get up and go. Subaru is just way behind on seat design and lagging behind on other features, like ventilated seats.

    Currently the new-gen (16+) Sorento is the front runner, although I'm not a fan of FWD biased "AWD systems".

    I'm in a pickle about what direction to go. May just have to take the $30k one of these things costs, buy an old 4x4 Bronco and save the rest for gas.
     
  10. Tony Laubach

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    I had an Outback for years, and loved it minus the costs to maintain it. One of the vehicles on the shortlist in a 2016 Forester with 8k miles. Santa Fe also getting a looksie.

    A couple dealerships here in Wichita include lifetime warranty coverage on qualified used vehicles (2013 or newer with less than 80K). That's getting a little attention as well.
     
  11. Marc R. O'Leary

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    FWIW, Kia has a helluva factory warranty.

    I love my Subaru, but even changing the plugs is a huge ordeal...thus me likely moving on from the brand.
     
  12. Drew T

    Drew T EF4

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    That's always been my issue with Subaru. Maintenance is either a pain to do yourself or it's expensive to have someone else do for you. They also haven't modernized their motors in many years. This isn't 1999. You can make a 4 cyl that isn't a gutless turd without turbocharging it and killing fuel mileage. Nissan and Toyota are close to 200hp in naturally aspirated form and have very respectable 0-60 times and excellent fuel mileage both in a mid sized vehicle.


    Sent from my iPhone using Stormtrack
     
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  13. Bill Hark

    Bill Hark EF5

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    My guess is some change in the electrical system that causes enough fluctuations in the power going to the ThreatNet antenna. This has happened to me a few new Impalas and not on older Impalas or other vehicles (so far.) I tried different inverters and had the same results. The ThreatNet eventually locks up, and I have to restart the whole system.
     
  14. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    I would recommend you stop using inverters. That will make dirty sine, no matter what. You're converting 12VDC to 120VAC to 12VDC. Just get a hardwire cord or lighter plug for your WxWorx receiver.

    It also sounds like you're tying your WxWorx antenna lead into your factory amplified XM antenna. Don't do that. Just run a separate XM antenna. Amplified antennas don't play well with the WxWorx receivers anyway.
     
  15. James Hammett

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    The highest output engines require premium gas which I'm happy to have moved away from after years of finding myself in rural Kansas at 10pm after a chase. Subaru was definitely slow to adopt VVT across the board and relied on inefficient turbo designs too long last decade. I suspect they've used some of the gains for fuel efficiency rather than raw power - it's always a tuning tradeoff (see Honda vtec vs vtec-e). AWD has lots of extra weight and spinning mass and they have fuel efficiency standards to meet (my chasing budget is glad they do).
     
  16. Tony Laubach

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    Well, after a ton of research, a little help from a local hailstorm a few days ago, and a great deal on a vehicle with only 8,300 miles covered by a full lifetime warranty, I went back to Subaru. I got a white 2016 Subaru Forester, a lease return with a bit of a discount thanks to a couple hail dings, nothing serious, but enough to drop it into my price wheelhouse. The included lifetime powertrain warranty and the additional full warranty made it an easy decision when all was said and done.

    Now comes the fun part of outfitting it, which will require some work, but fortunately the 2018 season is a bit slow, so I am in no hurry to get it ready. But this, I am hopeful, will be a lengthy life from this car given how young it is, and how well it'll be covered for major issues.

    I am delighted with this purchase, and am happy to be getting into such a great vehicle at a great price.
     
  17. James Hammett

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    Congrats and welcome back to Subie-land. I got a big discount on a Crosstrek that got totaled by the infamous May 8 hailstorm in Denver last year. I found every possible problem and got it all fixed under the remaining warranty, no issues whatsoever. The 400+ mile range has been amazing compared to my old WRX.
    IMGP0071.jpg
     

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