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September 24, 2014 5:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm shopping for a used SUV. It's harder than I thought because I have specific requirements, essentially that it be exactly the same as the SUV I've driven for the last several years, which is a 1996 Ford Explorer XLT. I love it, but it's reached it's retirement.

I've tried shopping for newer used Ford Explorers, and find that I'm limited to the models prior to 2005 because they become gargantuan in 2006. I've always had Explorers, and love them, but I am happy to consider other makes/models. For example, I was very interested in the Pathfinder until I read about the common problem of it's transmissions blowing somewhere over 100k miles. My current car has close to 300k, I need a car with reliable longevity.

Here's my checklist of requirements/desires:

-Not new because I park on the street s of NYC and don't want to have to care about random scratches or dings.

-Must be able to fit sheet goods flat in the back with the hatch open. This means a sheet or several of 4x8 plywood can slide into the back flat, and I can ratchet strap the back hatch down over them. This eliminates any car with a side hinged back door.

- Four wheel drive to get to my property upstate

-Spacious cargo space; My current car has approx 90 cubic feet of cargo space. It's huge. I love it, and use it to it's max often.

-Must be kinda of short, and kind of narrow. Short for on street parking on NYC streets, narrow for squeezing through double parked trucks in Brooklyn. My current car is 189 inches long by about 70 inches wide. I'm willing to go a few (maybe 4-5) inches up on both aspects, but not too much more.

-Must have cruise control, or I will get speeding tickets.

-Known to be reliable into a ripe old age with minimum of fuss

Price wise I'm flexible, and if there are any luxury models or semi-luxury models that fit the criteria, I'm all for it.

So, what midsize SUV has huge cargo space and can carry plywood flat but is relatively diminutive on it's exterior that will live to a ripe old age do you love?
posted by newpotato to Shopping (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Maybe look at the 60 or 80 series Land Cruisers.

Both of those are known to be highly durable and parts are widely available. Might be hard to find a good rust free ones in the NE, but they do exist - I see them all the time here in Colorado.

You might look at the 3rd gen 4Runners, too. The 4th Gen might be too big for your purposes, but the 3rd is smallish and highly regarded among the off-road community for it's durability and reliability.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:25 AM on September 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 2nding a 3rd gen 4Runner. I've had my '96 for 10 years now and I love it. Before that I drove a similar Explorer. The Explorer's seats are more comfortable and give you a little more legroom, but I've been able to take my unmodified 4Runner on much rougher roads than the Explorer.
posted by homer2k1 at 6:59 AM on September 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My suggestion would be a full/mid size extended cab pickup with a good camper shell. These vehicles are readily available and usually have pretty good build quality. I would go with a Toyota/Nissan pickup but a full size Ford or Chevy would work well also (but might be too wide for your criteria), and maybe an older Ford Ranger would work very well also (you beloved Explorer was essentially a ford Ranger with SUV body bolted on). Ford stopped selling Rangers in the US in 2012? but there are a LOT on the used market in good condition. However the rangers may not have a big enough bed to stack plywood in with a camper shell on it, you would have to check that out.

I bought a new Tacoma 4 door 4wd to solve about the same issue, but I don't have the parking in NYC issue you do (parking in suburban small town Oregon isn't a problem).
posted by bartonlong at 11:35 AM on September 24, 2014

We have a six year old Honda Pilot that we love. I think it fits your criteria except that it's a bit wide.
posted by madmethods at 7:55 PM on September 24, 2014

Response by poster: I'll be looking into the 4runner...seems like an option. I love the look of the Pilot, but yeah, they are pretty wide,
Funny you mentioned a Ford Ranger, bartonlong. I briefly owned one before my Explorer days way back when. I loved it. I don't want to go with a pickup model because besides using the car for building I also use to transport groups of friends to parties in hard to get to places in brooklyn, so seating is necessary. Also, I sometimes store tools in the car temporarily, and feel more secure with a fully enclosed car than with a cab on a pickup truck.
Thanks for the ideas everyone, the search continues!
posted by newpotato at 4:41 AM on September 25, 2014

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