I’m told that SUVs and trucks have lost a big fraction of their resale value because they get crummy gas mileage. So it’s a good time to buy.
Not me, though. I’ve had mine for years — a 1972 F100 pickup, that I bought ten years ago for $650. It has a 390 cubic inch V-8 and gets 10 MPG. Its low gas mileage has never been a problem, because we don’t use it for anything but hauling. And that’s the point. If you live in the country, you need a vehicle that can haul a lot of stuff — feed, hay, lumber, firewood — whatever. You can have an economy car, too (I do), but you need a hauler.
Admittedly, my truck needs a lot of TLC, or possibly a wrecking ball. It’s a buyer’s market out there, though, so if you look around, you can probably find a good deal on something nice, whether it’s a truck or an SUV.
Let’s assume that you’re like us — too cheap to buy a vehicle built in this century. The trick with old vehicles is to have a spare, but you must keep the spare running. For example, there are two drivers in our family, so the working minimum is three vehicles: Two to drive, one in the shop.
For a lot of people, it’s so inconvenient to leave a car in the shop for a few days that they never do — until it dies. A spare vehicle makes it a lot easier to get the other ones repaired. It’s not that they need to be repaired very often, it’s just a hassle when you live way out of town. Also, it’s helpful to have a spare so if something happens to your regular car — a flat tire, say — you can drive the other car if you’re in a hurry, and attend to the first one later.
If you insist on doing your own repairs, you can justify one more spare. But don’t accumulate dead cars with the idea that they count. By definition, a spare is a car that will run whenever you want it to — not one that runs in some vague, theoretical sense. Spouses should be given carte blanche to take their personal vehicles into the shop at will, even if you think you’re god’s gift to car repair and will get around to it any month now.
When Karen was looking around for a pickup, everyone said she should buy a Toyota, even people who were sitting inside Ford pickups at the time. (“His and hers” pickups are every couple’s dream, right?) She ended up with a 1996 Toyota T100 3/4 ton extended cab pickup and has been very happy with it. It gets about 18 MPG. The word on the street is that the Toyota’s have a very effective 4WD and are much less likely to get stuck on wet pastures than other rigs, and they seem to last forever. We were tired of towing my pickup out with the tractor.
I have a 1990 Isuzu Trooper SUV, which I like well enough. Its 4WD isn’t as good as the Toyota’s, and it’s only rated for a half-ton load, but it seats four in reasonable comfort and five in reasonable discomfort, and it’s been very reliable through 200,000 miles, though it needed a cylinder head replaced when it was about 15 years old. I’m not very familiar with the other SUVs on the market, but if you need to haul a bunch of stuff and maybe seat 4-5 people at the same time, an SUV is the only way to go.
We used to have a Ford Taurus station wagon, which we hauled feed in all the time, and it tended to eat shocks, tie rods, tires, and other parts. So I figure that hauling needs to be done in a vehicle designed for the task — one with a commercial chassis — a truck, SUV, or full-sized van.