I woke up this morning to the sound of rain pattering against my window. I thought about what it must be like up on my property. The dirt road would be muddy and slippery from the rain, and possibly rockier with all the dirt washed away. Forecasts for the area predicted occasional snow showers at altitudes as low as 3000ft. My property is at 4200ft.
Lying there in bed, it occurred to me that the truck I was testing might not do so well up there. Truck or no truck, a 2WD is a 2WD. And I realized, as many of you commented in the original post, that I needed a 4WD or an AWD. I haven’t seen any used 4×4 Tacomas for sale, and even if they were, they only get 21MPG which is unacceptably low for me. I decided to step back and look at other options. Subarus were an obvious choice, but all the used ones I could find in my price range all had at least 70-80k miles, and no warranty. Then, somewhere the notion popped into my head to look at Toyota RAV4s. They get good gas mileage, and they come in 4WD/AWD. And as it so happened, the dealer I’d been working with had one in stock, roughly in the right price range.
I drove down to the dealer, returned the truck, and asked to test drive the 2006 RAV4 Sport. It felt right. Actually, it felt great. This was a car I could love. And it had all the right features: A “part-time 4WD” system that kicks in when it detects tire slippage, but otherwise drives in 2WD for better gas mileage. A 159HP 3.5l V6 engine, that provides the kind of acceleration the xB could only dream of, yet still gets 26MPG on the highway. A differential lock for when I get stuck in snow/mud. Cruise control, which I (or rather, my knees) sorely missed on my 10,000 mile drive across the country and back (not to mention, speeding tickets I probably would’ve avoided if I had cruise control). Extra 12V power sockets, including one in the trunk. And all the little things I’d gotten used to in my xB, like power windows, locks, keyless entry. I wasn’t too keen on the color (red), but I’m more of a function-over-form kinda guy anyway. The car has 65k miles on it, but is “certified used” so it has a 100k mile warranty on the engine/power-chain (and I bought additional warranty for other bits).
And, here she is:
Over the last few days, I learned a lot about what my car means to me. In short, it means a lot. And it’s no surprise; the Ryomobile has been my one constant during the last several years. In the last 4 years, I’ve had 8 different mailing addresses, 3 different jobs (or none), friends and girlfriends have come and gone, but the Ryomobile was always there. Whether to get me to work, across the country, to the desert, to the mountains, or to the ocean, I could depend on the Ryomobile to get me there. Or, at least, most of the way there. It took me a while to find a replacement that could do everything the xB could do and more, with the kind of reliability and peace of mind that that little box on wheels gave me. But I feel like I found what I was looking for in the RAV4. When we finished the paperwork, got my keys, and it was time to empty out the old Ryomobile, I didn’t feel an ounce of hesitation or regret. That’s how I know I did the right thing.
Tomorrow, I’m heading down to the dealership for one minor repair, stopping by the gun shop to pick up a 12ga shotgun I got, and heading up to Serenity Valley. It’s been almost 5 months since I was last up there. It’s been too long. Stay tuned for an update on the state of Serenity Valley here on this blog later this week…
Sounds like a great choice. Safe travels up to your land… I bet you’ll get to test the 4WD with all the rain snow we’ve been getting this Spring.
Yes, you’ll be glad you didn’t get 2wd the first time you get stuck and the 4wd saves you.
Looking forward to reading about the many adventures it will take you to. Enjoy!
I’m a geek in the silicon valley as well down in the SJC area. I’m also looking for a more simple life, and also have been thinking of buying a parcel of land. I had the next two weeks free. Too bad I missed ya, cuz I’m handy with building stuff as well, and the mini cabin looked like it could of used a little extra manpower over a few dozen beers. Maybe next time.
Yay! Congrats! We’re car buddies! (Though mine’s 7 years older.)
My ex has a rav 4, its a 2003…it has served her well the last few years…I had to pull her out of a snow bank a few times..before the big D.
back seats for real seating beats my “jump seats” by a long shot. However working in the trades…I NEED a truck. I just picked up a 1/3 yard of road base to fill some low spots in the drive…its in buckets on top of my tool deck…over 800 pounds and still not bottomed out..