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codette's avatar

What are some SUVs comparable to the Jeep Grand Cherokee but more affordable?

Asked by codette (400points) July 27th, 2012

I have wanted to buy a used Grand Cherokee for a few years now but they’re a bit out of my price range. What are some vehicles that compare in size, shape, and function, but are a bit cheaper in purchase price and hopefully also in gas mileage? Anyone want to brag about your beloved SUV and what makes that model ideal?

I want one for: covered cargo space, passenger seating, and snow capability. I’d like 4wd, and something that’s better on fuel than Jeeps supposedly are. Durability, of course, is a big plus; this is a vehicle I’ll keep for a long time. I want something that sits up higher than a car because I hate not being able to see over traffic and bushes (I’ve noticed some SUV models that have no more ground clearance than sedans).

Any other points I should add to my criteria?

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9 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Here’s a link for some ideas. Welcome to fluther.
It didn’t work, let me try again.
Best I could do. They have a good auto section. Go into it and search the used car guide.
Sorry I couldn’t do better.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@codette Your best bet maybe something a little smaller than the Jeep GC, like a Subaru Outback or a little smaller a Subaru Forester. Both of these have a better average MPG and maintenance history than the Jeep. If you want all the leather seats and accessories of the GC get a Ford Escape Limited.

gailcalled's avatar

My Subaru Forester gets slightly better gas mileage but has less power;

I bought it because it sits high and gets more clearance than the Outback. I can bull my way through 6” of drifting snow easily.

I live in an area of heavy snow, ice and rain. My 3/10 mile driveway is often not plowed, and I know that I can at least get down it (due to angle of the fall line) during a bad storm. Getting up is a different story.

Personally, I love this wagon; it has enough storage room and can fit three medium-sized bottoms comfortably in the back seat. it also seems to have more glass and better 360˚ visibility than many other SUVs.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t know much about SUV pricing and models, but one suggesstion I have is a truck, Ford or Dodge with seating for 4 and get one of those covers for the bed of the truck that completely seals it up and protects what is inside. We had a Dodge Ram like that and when we sold it we did not get very much for it, so the buyer does very well from what I can tell. The back seat flips up so you can put things inside the cab with you if they are small. We also had a type of gate thinging at the end of the bed that can stops items from moving all around in the bed, and you can flip it out onto the back door that goes down to extend the bed for very long items. I have that contraption on my new Ford truck also. If you live in a hot climate (I know you mentioned snow) I think the truck is more economical and comfortable in that the air conditioner cools a smaller space than an SUV, but if the goods you carry around need to be air conditioned, better to have them inside with you. I also think it is safer in the paranoid sense, that it is easier to just check backseats before getting in a car.

I did notice that in Vermont tons of people own Subarus, which a couple people mentioned above, so I assume they are good in snow and I know they are reasonably priced. My mom owns a Subaru and she has liked it very much. But I think the traget market for a Jeep Cherokee and Subaru are different? My truck suggestion too might not fit in quite with what type of vehicle you picture yourself in.

codette's avatar

I should also add that I live in New England. And I have kind of a sentimental fondness of SUV body styles. I grew up riding around in Broncos and my first vehicle was a Blazer. I’ve been lusting over the 1999–2004 Grand Cherokee body style for a long time but it’s hard to find one with low mileage and little rust damage up here. Although that age vehicle would be a good price and I hear that Jeeps run forever.
@JLeslie I thought about your truck with covered bed idea for a while. I think I prefer an enclosed vehicle where I can fold the back seat down to make a larger weather-proof cargo area. Thank you for your response.

JLeslie's avatar

@codette Have you looked online? Autotrader and Ebay? My husband has bought some of his cars online, you might get one that doesn’t have the salt damage that way? Once from the southern states.

I think the biggest thing is you like the body style first from what you have written. What about a Dodge Durango as another option? I don’t know if they are less expensive?

hearkat's avatar

Jeep is owned by Chrysler, so many Dodge models are very similar to the Jeeps… I am not sure how they are priced, but I think they’d be lower than the comparable Jeeps.

jerv's avatar

Snow capability? Trust me, SUVs are not where you want to go there! Maybe it’s the types of people who drive them, but back in my New England days, they were among the most common things I saw off the road in the winter time. If that is a concern, then the only option worth considering is Subaru. You may also wish to consider a Subaru, or a Subaru, but Subaru is probably the best of those choices. Also note that sitting up higher and being good in the snow are mutually exclusive; a low center of gravity is essential for winter performance.

Durability means Subaru, Toyota, or Land Rovers. Fords and GMs (at least those built after ~1990) do not age gracefully, and Dodges are even iffier there, while Nissan, Honda, and most of the others just are not as tough and probably won’t last 10 years unless you are more gentle than I have ever been on a car.

Cargo room means either something too big for decent winter driving, or a station wagon instead of an SUV (most small SUVs like the Rav4 or CRV have less cargo space than a wagon).

I say your best bet is a used Forester. A little taller than the average car without being tall enough to get you killed in the winter. Enough cargo space to swallow loads that many SUVs couldn’t even think about, better MPG, reliable, durable… basically hits every point you ask for except for being tall enough to look down on the roofs of the other vehicles on the road.

codette's avatar

@jerv Very useful answer. I appreciate it!

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