I have a 2004 CRV as a Toad for our 2003 Travel Supreme and as my daily driver. I got it on May 29 as part of a combo deal with the TS. Because of a family tragedy, we've not been out camping in the TS even once, but it's been my daily driver for the last six weeks. So I cannot comment about it as a Toad, I have definite opinions about the CRV as a daily driver.
IMO, the CRV is a very bland, but very competent small SUV. With a manual, performance is decent - peppy enough around town and enough oomph to maintain illegal highway speeds. With new Michelin tires, handling is very good with excellent straight-line stability. With the tonneau cover in place, its reasonably quiet on the road. With part time all wheel drive and good ground clearance, it's a decent "soft-road" vehicle. Interior space and usability is excellent. While the clutch is an open issue (see below) the shifter is excellent.
The downsides? The engine is very usable, but it could use a bit more horsepower and better gas mileage. The brakes are fair - a bit soft and mushy. (The brake lines have been bled and pads have about 50% material left, so it's not clear if this is normal or not.) The clutch seems poor to me compared to the 2011 Audi A4 that I just turned back in after the lease expired - very heavy and not linear. Again, I'm not sure if this is normal. My biggest gripe is lack of decent water bottle and coffee cup holders (we live in the Seattle area, after all). And the electronics are antiques. No LED anywhere. No connectivity to my iPhone. No NAV. Old school stuff.
A couple of weeks ago, I started wondering what was available that would be a better small, very usable, AWD SUV to replace this CRV as a Toad. Quite frankly, I could't find anything except a new CRV (more money, but not necessarily a much better car). In general, all of the options were either too big (most American vehicles), too expensive, not towable, and/or did not provide significant added value.
Specific options that I considered and tossed out were:
Subaru Forester - All of the newer Foresters with stick shift where the stripped, low end models with none of the fun features. NOT!
Small Ford SUVs - When I asked a Ford salesman about taking their small SUVs off road on fire trails and such, he got a funny expression on his face and muttered something like, "It's... uhmm... not recommended." Scratch them off.
Jeep - Since I want a nice daily driver too, the Wrangler was never on my list. I was blown away with the quality, fit, and finish of the Grand Cherokee. Very nice SUV. WAY nicer than I expected. But it's too big and too expensive. You can easily go past $50K with one of these.
Jeep Cherokee - Initially the new Cherokee looked like a great option. That is until I looked at one. Fit and finish was mediocre at best. The doors did not line up. Stitching on the steering wheel and seats was poor in spots. The rugs covering the backs of the back seats and trunk were wrinkled and poorly aligned. And this is what I could see. I'd hate to think about what was hidden away like what covered in that article.
Finally there is the Cherokee's electronics, including the NAV system. They draw rave reviews and look very nice to my eyes. EXCEPT... You need to have a monthly subscription to get access to some of the nicer features. And Nav updates? Well you can order updates. When they are available. At some cost. When I mentioned this on a Jeep forum (fanbois galore), I was slammed for the question... "YOU DON'T NEED UPDATES! blah blah, blah..." Scratch them off.
Bottom line? I'm going to add better electronics and keep driving my 2004 CRV until something better comes along. It's a bit boring, but it's very competent. I can live with that.
I hope this helps with your Toad decision.
p.s. Regarding buying American or not... I respect everyone's right to make their own choice, but I disagree strenuously with their reasoning. Very few products are American made. At best, they are assembled in America and are employing American workers. Most of the parts are made in China and other lower cost economies.
As for profits going to other countries, let's see if I understand this... A large percentage of profits are going to the 1% folks. So is it better that profits go to the American 1% who park them off shore to avoid taxes or the foreign 1% who park them off shore to avoid taxes? I don't see much difference.
Originally Posted by CJBROWN
yeah, I was gonna say CRV.
I don't know about the new Wrangler, but the ones that had a transfer case could be towed four-down with automatic. Later models of some 4x4's don't have a way to shift them into neutral and thus can't be towed - like Fords. But then a lot of the Ford automatics can be towed.
I've had a couple of Wranglers, and while they are arguably the toughest go-anywhere offroaders, they are horrible as a commuter/daily driver type of vehicle. They are noisy, rough riding, hard to get in and out of, and short on any kind of cargo space. So if you want a really great 4x4 for offroad going they are the ticket, otherwise not so much.
OTOH the liberty and compass never enjoyed the same kind of loyalty as the Wrangler. Any real offroaders thought they were crappy little vehicles. Plenty of people bought them and liked them though, basically when used as a car.
As mentioned, I thought the new Cherokee was pretty nice looking, otherwise I don't know anything about them. Here's another forum thread on setting one up to tow: Towing 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee - Towing - FMCA Motorhome Forums
EDIT: Here's a write-up/review on it....not so flattering. Capsule Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee | The Truth About Cars