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New Chase Vehicle for '06?

Alrighty, well with the '05 season winding down, I'm already looking ahead to '06 lol... and with that said, I'm also looking for a new chase vehicle. I currently chase in a Nissan Frontier, and although its a great truck (for normal people lol), chase wise its not really what I'm looking for. I would like to find something that has plenty of room for mounting equipment inside such as a Jotto Desk, radio console, etc. Also, something with good gas mileage and possibly 4x4 capability (I learned with my truck the past few years that 2 wheel drive doesnt cut it on dirt roads, or barely gravel roads alone...and also, with the bed...hydroplaning is a common occurence). Maybe having a dual battery option would be nice too. So with all that mentioned, anyone have any good ideas or suggestions vehicle wise?
It's not real manly but a Subaru Outback has AWD, good gas milage, large cargo area and plenty of space up front in the passenger seat. It doesn't have much room for dual battery up front. But you could put a sealed one in the cargo area if you really wanted to. I just replaced the stock battery with a high performance one and run all my gear off the main battery. No issues.

You could probably pick up a used one in good condition for a good price.

In fact I've been working on my Outback all afternoon, doing a David Drummond on it ;) (NMO mount, wiring, etc) was a breaze. Depending on how much stock radio gear you want in it, there is a HUGE center radio area that could be totally replaced with a laptop display or ham radio equipment. Worth a look at least.

You know? It seems that although chase vehicles are quite varied, there are generally two flavors. The full size SUV route and the micro mini gas miser route.

Obviously, both have their attractions. Here's what I see for each.

SUV - Pro's:
4X4 option
OK gas mileage

SUV - Con's:
OK Gas Mileage
Catch wind

Small car - Pro's:
Generally Excellent gas mileage
Not as expensive
Lower profile
Generally no 4X4 option

Small car - Con's:
No room
Can be hard to fix if broke down (depends on the model)
Forget mud

I really think a vehicle like the Outback is a pretty good vehicle. I haven't heard much bad about them. The KIA Sportage is another vehicle worth looking at and reasonably priced. I would really stay away from pick up's for long haul stuff. I have one and know how bad they can get/ Even with a camper shell, I tend to get a little squirrely in the water.

Just my thoughts.
I believe Ford as an SUV hybrid out right now, maybe the escape; however, if your in a sticky situation it really wont have the power your looking for. Your best bet is to wait for the new Jeep 4x4 deisel to come out. Badass mileage, 4wd suv. Deisel is expensive now, but it's possible it will go back down in price hehe. Not sure how much the jeeps will sell for, but I bet they will be a hot item... What kind of vehicles are you interested in? What brand? Jeep, Ford, Chevy, etc?
Good points, John! :D I have been running the exact same list of pros and cons through my mind for the last week in anticipation of next year. My current vehicle will be paid off in March, so I will be going for a new one just in time for the '06 chase season.

What I am currently driving gets 35 mpg on the highway, so I REALLY hate to see it go! But I have found out in the last four years that I am just not a sedan guy. I gotta have my SUV!

As well as considering the pros and cons, you also have to make a list of the characteristics that you absolutely cannot live without in order to quickly eliminate entire classes of vehicles. After doing that, I have determined that I will be going for an '06 Tahoe 4wd for several reasons:

* Room for a full size center console. I am more radio-active than most people, so I need room for a console that will hold six scanners, two dual-banders, a CB, a television, and assorted switches and controls. All the mid-sized SUV's have floor shifters and narrow consoles. If it weren't for that, I would go back to the trusty old Grand Cherokee, which I have had three of.

* Room to sleep. I ain't leaving all of the above equipment overnight unprotected in an Oklahoma Motel 6 parking lot. I'm sleeping in back with a shotgun. Of course, a Suburban would offer even more comfortable sleeping room, but the extended wheelbase presents problems off-road, as well as a decline in mileage.

* Four Wheel Drive. If it weren't for this requirement, the mini-van would probably be a more viable option. After all, they get better mileage and have more room. But there have simply been too many times that I unexpectedly needed 4wd for me to feel comfortable chasing without it. And of course, there is the whole mini-van stigma for a guy that I don't want to deal with.

* The look. The Tahoe is both attractive, yet Plain Jane looking at the same time. So long as you don't dork it out with a lot of stickers and lights, you are less conspicuous, and therefore less likely to attract the unwanted attention of Sheriff Buford. And since it is commonly driven by official agencies, you're also more likely to get waved through pointlesss roadblocks in a plain white Tahoe with a couple antennae on the roof than you would in a purple Subaru with a sat dish and a 3-cup on the roof. It pays to not look like a yahoo.

And of course an Expedition or an Excursion would obviously be out of the question because they're Fords! :wink:

Now if Chevy would get off their butts and reintroduce the diesel engines like they said they would!

If it were not for my specific need for the room, I would go back to the Cherokee. And if I wasn't so paranoid about getting stuck, I would forget the 4wd and just go with a full-sized sedan like the Impala.
Now there's something we haven't seen on this board... Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge debate! :lol: This could get good! Oh yeah, mention foreign vehicles now too. Oh boy! Let the flames begin!

<this post is entirely "tongue in cheek! :D >
Just because a vehicle is hybrid, doesn't neccesarily mean it will have less power. Apparently, the new Toyota Highlander hybrid has the exact same gas engine + additional electric motor which amounts into no lost performance.

I am also in a new vehicle hunt (within a year). I've considered small/mid size cars and small SUVS...

So far I've geared into:

Small car:
Ford Focus
Toyota Corolla

Midsize car:
2006 Ford Fusion
Mazda 6
Toyota Prius

Ford Escape
Honda CRV

One key will be MPG... 25+ please... preferably near 30. I have yet to test-drive any vehicles yet, but by reviews and on paper, they all appear to be decent vehicles.

one thing I've woundered about is if the hybrids provide some method of hooking into a 12V supply. (not the cigerate lighter..not enough amps)

With all my radio and computer equipment wanting 12V, it wont do me any good to have a 24V or 48V hybrid.

I plan on looking at hybrids on my next purchase (2-4 years) and that's one thing I'll be looking for.
Well, I'd say get an Impala due to the fact they have TONS of room and get awesome mileage for the size. My dad bought one awhile back (summer 2004), a 2003 for about $17,000CAD, it was a rental car and it runs perfect had like 30,000km on it, body is perfect, interior is perfect.. Tons of room in the trunk, confortable, i can sit confortably in the back and i'm 5'11". :wink:
A Toyota Matrix / Pontiac Vibe might make a good chase vehicle as well. You can get 4WD/AWD and pretty good MPG.

Of course, I've never actaully been in one of these vehicles, but it might be worth looking into.
Here's my rant ... for one I have been looking for a well-sized car with good gas mileage especially since I am a kayaker. I have looked over a variety of smaller sized SUV's with with good quality features.

My recommendation is for the Hyundai Sante Fe or Tuscon ... even the new Kia Sportage. Reviews have been very good out of KBB and Edmunds.com. All can be 4WD with lots of nice features.

For one they are definitely roomy and have a great warrenty package. Can't go wrong with 10 yr/100,000 mile w/ addition 5 yr/60,000 power train warrenty.

Two ... a Ford Escape Hybrid (mind you built with Toyota technology of their hybrid models ... hence the similarity with Highlander) is $30,000+ base model ... fully loaded Sante Fe can be around $25,000

Three ... seating arrangement. Recommendations for CRV's are poor. They have a terrible flaw in lowering of seats and thus a loss in cubic space. Both Subaru's and Hyundai's have best cubic space for the price.

Otherwise, Toyota and Honda are the far more reliable cars in the long run ... so research has been supported. Subaru's are up there too ... VW's don't come with very much in terms of good storm chasing vechiles seeing that the wagons don't have greatest clearance and you can't go with a 4WD on all models except Passatt and Toureg ...

Finally, it's a good bet that any American car will suffer some sort of recall or setback of some sort.
hey Paul,if i am not mistaken,isn't that a Enterprise rental sticker on the back of that white Impala?maybe rental would be the way to go (insurance wise :lol: ).
Haha, I noticed that. A couple of years ago we had a big discussion on WX-CHASE about using rent cars for the chase. Apparently some companies were getting nosey and trying to determine if you planned to chase in it because of all the damage they have had.

Has anybody had experience with renting this season? Has anybody heard any recent stories about problems renting for the chase?

Renting is a great option, for sure. Costs roughly the same as a cheap motel room each day for a vehicle that meets your needs and won't break your heart to see hail damage on.
Thats an Enterprise car for sure, so is the one ahead of it, and I imagine the 3rd one too.

If I had the money thats what i'd build up. Or a Honda Element.