Small Four Wheel Drive: Advice Please

I am looking for a new vehicle SUV or cross (not pickup truck, need the back seat)to tow my kayak trailer (so must have tow package)and has 4 wheel drive, but is not very large in size (slightly better gas mileage, easier to park next to, well, all my kayaks).

Any thoughts? Thanks

i have an 06 unlimited and even with the extended back end, it isn’t very large. have a rack on top to haul boats…very easy to park and 4wd when i want it…mileage sucks though.

how small?
(an unlimited doesn’t fit the description in my head)

How about a Jeep Patriot? I believe they’ll be offering a diesel this model year.

If you can hold on, VW is releasing the Tiguan next spring:

Having said all that you can tow a kayak trailer with an impreza or legacy, RAV4 or CRV.

What about
a Ford Escape (now comes in hybrid), Saturn Vue (now comes in hybrid), Honda CRV, Toyota Highlander 9now a comes in hybrid). All are smaller 4x4 available suvs w/ 4 doors, and the capability to tow a kayak trailer for sure.

Good luck

Subaru Forester

subaru impreza
These are the size of a tiny station wagon, but they haul a lot of gear. Mine got about 29 mpg.

one I lust after
Is a late model (2001 or better) impreza wrx wagon.

220+ horsepower, a turbo engine let’s you get about 30 mpg when you’re not hard on the gas. awd and great handling.

look at
audi a3

No need for tow package
Just a hitch. Tow package is need only for heavy trailer. I used to tow my Hobie Cat with a VW Van (2 liter engine) We did not break any speed records but did OK.

How about a 4 door import truck

Love my Forester!
Replaced my 1997 jeep in April with a 2007 Forester. Easy to load (RM Chatham on top), holds a lot, decent milage. Reasonable price with great reliability reviews on Consumer reports.

Honda Element or Toyota RAV4

– Last Updated: Aug-17-07 10:54 AM EST –

Those are my favorite two canoe haulers. Had a '97 RAV4 and would have kept it were it not a lease. Plenty of room, heck, I took a few trips to MN with 4 people and it was a bit tight, but manageable and still got almost 30 mpg heavily loaded (the RAV, not me).

Only vehicle I like more than our old RAV4 is our Element. We now have had our Honda Element almost 2 years and plan to keep it until it "Dies." I love the minimum of carpet and ease of cleaning. I know you don't care for those back windows, but the legroom for those in the back seat is better than any other vehicle since my '71 International Travelall. You can remove the back seats in less than a minute for both or put them up out of the way in less than that. We live at the end of a dead end road and some of our friends call the county road to our place a "Logging road." I'm certain there's not a non-military Hummer out there that gets as much use off-road use in it's lifetime as our Element gets in a week!
Gas mileage, I pretty much get 22 mpg; but, I have larger tires than stock tires because all the off-road use it gets. The better half and I looked at the Element on a whim (she didn't want to because it was too ugly) and now would trade it only for a new one. It's the perfect vehicle for a paddle vehicle and dog hauler.
Those are the favorite vehicles we've owned. Both should have no problem towing some boats. "Good luck!" WW

Take a look at the Ford Escape

– Last Updated: Aug-17-07 1:28 PM EST –

For years I had 4 WD Jeep Cherokees, (the little 6 cyl one). We had three of them and they were our do-all car.
When our last one hit 200,000 miles and they didn't make them any more, I figured the next best thing would be a Suburu Station wagon, but when we went to look at them their under clearance was way to low for our mountain off road driving. As we were leaving the dealership we happened to notice that they were a Ford dealer also and took a look at the Escape.
Long story short, the Escape was quite a bit less expensive than the Suburu, had great clearance, had a lot more extras and has computerized 4-wd., (which is not "all wheel drive").
I was skeptical about the computerized 4-wd, so they let me try it out, and it is better than any four wheel drive that I have ever had, which includes 4-wd Chevy and Ford pick-ups as well as the Jeep Cherokees.
The other plus for me, (which probably won't affect you) is the fact that it has the built in tracks on the roof, so I could remove their factory racks and use Yakama landing pads.
I get 18 mpg carrying three long boats on the roof, and right around 20 with none on.

Good luck on whatever you decide

07 Rav4 with V6

– Last Updated: Aug-17-07 6:56 PM EST –

The best tow vehicle of the small 4WD's is the Rav4 with the optional V6. It gets about one MPG less than the 4cyl Rav4, Element, CRV, Subaru outback or Forester and is much, much, more powerful. With the V6 towing a light load is effortless. It is quiet (much quieter than the Element) has a good ride and pays for the good ride with slightly vague handling and weak steering feedback.

You have to sort through some bullshit and misleading info about towing capacity to see if it suits your needs. When you order the towing package, it is "prewired". The prewiring doesn't go to the back, it stops at the dash and installer has to run it behind panels to the back at extra cost. Towing capacity is stated as 3500lbs in the brochure. After I bought it I found the towing capacity restated in the manual as 3500 with trailer brakes and 2000 without trailer brakes. The hitch stops under the bumper before the outer end (looks nice without hitch bar installed) but requires a longer bar or extender to clear the bumper. When I found a tow ball bar extender, it said "reduce weight capacity by 1/3. So when finished, 3500lbs became 1334lbs. Still fine for my needs- towing a light canoe/kayak trailer- but a far cry from 3500lbs on brochure. Of course with brakes and possibility another bar to the hitch ball the capacity would be higher.

I'm still happy with the vehicle and prefer it over the Subarus and CRV we have owned in the past. As a decadent aside, the "limited" model also has a auto climate control with split sides. After many trips with my wife and I turning up or down the temp and the other changing it back, we can both dial in what we each want. Bliss! The power lumbar support is also appricated on long trips.


but as long as that turbo is there,there goes the mpg.

How about a diesel subaru?

Its a pickup, but has a back seat.
Toyota 4wd Tacoma with 4 cylinder and quad cab. Friend says he gets 21 town, 24 hwy. Not fantastic, but not bad for true 4WD.

That’s the beauty of a turbo. Keep the rpm down and it doesn’t spool up as much.

I’d love a TD version though…

I’d echo a look at that one also. I have both the Outback 4 cyl., and a 2004 CR-V (mid generation). The Outback makes for very easy rooftop loading, has a fair amount of room and drives well at highway speeds. It is painfully slow with the 4 cyl., but its all-wheel drive system is second only to maybe Audi. In the wintertime with four Blizzaks mounted, it’s well night unstoppable.

The CR-V is great fun to drive, has loads of room, a higher roofline which makes loading heavy boats like the tandem, er…challenging, and the gas mileage is nothing to be impressed about; worse than the Outback. The turning circle is extremely tight, making it very nimble-the Outback turns like a truck. The new CR-V seems slick but I understand its bar span is even more narrow-not optimum for transporting longer boats. Honda knows engines-the V-Tech motor will run rings around the Suby’s boxer 4 wheezer. I’d give a firm nod for reliability to the Honda also-other family members have Subarus and sensor failures seem commonplace, and for some reason the Suby parts are much more expensive. Every Honda and Acura I’ve ever owned has been bulletproof, even more so than my Toyotas.

That said, that RAV is slick, if a little overinflated looking, like you put an air hose on it and plumped it at the seams. :wink: The very fact that you can get it with the 6 that embarrasses the other 6 cyl. offerings in its class, and the fuel economy is as close as it is to the 4s is just gravy. Unfortunately, both my cars just reached middle age, so I won’t be buying anything new soon-if I were, this is what I’d look at.

Subaru Baja
I had 5 Jeep Wranglers, one Honda Accord Coupe, and 3 full size diesel 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks. Not one of them runs in snow, dirt, and muddy roads like my Baja. I have a little covered bed for my paddles, fly fishing stuff, and boots. Plus, I can load a kayak or canoe on it with no problems. I get 20 to 22 mpg.

Almost certainly, a diesel would have a turbo.

I have the Subaru Baja
love it. short roof for racks but you can adapt easily.

taking three boats, Outer Island, and 2 QCCs on it today to lake jocassee.

great little vehicle. I have a 2006 which is the last year made. Still some on the lots that are new as mine was.