High Mileage Vehicle for Work

treillw

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Mar 31, 2017
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MT
Got a different job where I will be traveling about 20k miles a year. I will use my personal car and be reimbursed at the IRS rate of $0.625/mile.

We currently have a diesel Jeep Rubicon with 37s on it - not good for road trips, but I'll cry if I part with it. Also have a 2008 Chevy Silvarado with 135k miles on it - not the best getting 17mpg for these long trips. Even at 17 mpg and current garbage gas prices, I'm making about $0.38/mile not deducting for tires, oil changes, brakes. I do my own oil and brakes, so they don't cost much. Tires will be an extra ~$1000 thrown into the mix every 2 or 3 years, which isn't a huge game changer. Hopefully nothing major happens with the vehicle. I feel like I need a truck to go along with the Jeep.

I'm debating getting a third vehicle - an efficient car. I live up a decently rough dirt road, will be driving in MT winter, and could have to drive a good ways on some dirt roads to get to some ranches, etc. If I know it's going to be really rough or snowy, I could always take the Jeep or truck.

Also thinking of getting a new truck and only having two vehicles.

I will do the math on insurance and registration on three vehicles vs two. Might be cheaper to drive a new truck with two vehicles getting decent gas mileage than an efficient car with three vehicles.

All that to ask the question what are some good cars that won't vibrate to pieces on dirt roads?

I'm on the fence about getting a hybrid. Can't help but feel like the technology isn't ironed out in them and I'll be left with a pile of junk in 10 years. Thoughts?

I can't help but think somebody is going to come out with an engine soon that makes fossil fuel powered cars obsolete. Saw some stuff about a hydrogen engine, but know nothing about it and it will probably be 10 years until they are readily available anyway - I just know how it goes when I buy a new hunting gadget, there is a brand new shinier one out a week later.

I can't believe I'm considering a Hyundai. The Elantra is definitely the best bang for the buck in MPG, warranty, and cost. I hear that they got excellent consumer reports as well.

With the new 5.3L Sierra only getting 21 mpg, it's almost like I should just drive my current truck into the ground getting 17 mpg. The diesel option initially really grabbed my attention, but with the current fuel costs and them seemingly trying to phase out diesel I don't know if it's a good idea. Also increased maintenance costs on them.

A list of everything I've thought of is listed below 🤓

Any other advice is appreciated.

Thanks!

Vehicles.jpg
 
Last edited:

49ereric

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Jun 21, 2022
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3”- rock-gravel Montana road? Those roads kill cars. I remember them from the oil fields roughnecking days.
 
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treillw

treillw

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MT
3”- rock-gravel Montana road? Those roads kill cars. I remember them from the oil fields roughnecking days.
Most are road mix and not too terrible. You can go 55 on some of them in a truck if you keep your eyes peeled for potholes. Heck, some are smoother than paved roads!
 

Evol

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Jul 2, 2018
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252
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PA
Subaru would be my pick. All would be good choices for you. Forester if you want something with a little more clearance. Also a stealth hunting vehicle, folks will think you're a hippy hiker.

Hyundai & Kia have have 5/60 bumper to bumper and 10/100 year powertrain if you can stomach having a kia or Hyundai.

edit: see you included Hyundai
 

FLS

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May 11, 2019
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My two sons bought vehicles to commute to work. One bought a Crosstek one bought a Rav. The Subaru is a nicer vehicle, less road noise, seems better built to me. We all have full size Chevy and GMC trucks, and I’ll wager the little Subaru will outlast them all. We drove the Crosstek from SC to WY to hunt antelope them back thru SD to hunt birds. It did great, got great gas mileage and never had a hiccup. Only down side was everyone assumed we were a gay couple….
 

Yooper

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Jul 18, 2016
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311
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Upper Michigan
I've got a 2014 Subaru Outback with nearly 200,000 miles on it that I picked up from a locally for pretty cheap. It needed some work after that many miles, but at 27mpg, AWD, and a set of snow tires in the winter it's pretty bomber. I have a 65 mile round trip commute daily to work so my miles add up quick. I'd rather pile those on a beater than on a new car.
 

ETtikka

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Oct 28, 2020
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496
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East Tennessee
I rented a Hyundai a few months back, non-hybrid, it got 50mpg on the hwy (gas pump #, not display #), Their quality has come a long way , I would rather have South Korean vs Mexican cars (a lot of car parts sourced from their at this point)

I would also factor in the depriation; the Hyundai is kinda of a disposable car or that’s how i always thought of them; but I have seen quite a few over 200k recently

Subaru would be my first choice , mpg gonna stink compared to a fwd car, but they are built more like an suv than a car, excellent resale, I believe the forester is the only Japanese model left, keep in mind that their latest timing chain series is engines is much improved but they are still having head gaskets issues, but I have bought 2 recently
 

widnert

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Aug 16, 2017
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172
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Three Forks, MT
My 2 cents - find one of the smaller 4wd pickups used and drive it. They all get good fuel mileage and would hold up to the rough roads with 4wd to boot. Chevy Colorado, GMC 'something', Ford Ranger, Toyota.
I personally just purchased a 2000 model Ranger with 140k on the clock ($4000). Spent about $1500 on new tires, plugs/wires, oil changes, brakes, etc. Drives very nice and decent mileage (~18-20mpg based on my calculations) and not worried about weather at all now. YMMV
 

bigeyedfish

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Sep 22, 2021
Messages
30
If you're going to get paid the federal mileage rate for your car, don't plan on keeping it ten years. That will make this decision a lot easier. Diesel or regular octane gas only. I'm not a Subaru guy because I think a horizontal engine is a pain in the ass to work on, but an Outback or Forester would be a good match for your needs. Do your research if you're considering a newer Hyundai or Kia. Some of their direct injection engines have had terrible failure rates.
 

sodaksooner

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Tulsa Ok
I've been commuting 120 miles per day for over 10 years. IMO get something as cheap as possible that is relatively comfortable. I put 325k on a corolla (which I also took elk hunting multiple times) and picked up a used bmw328i after the Toyota was retired which Ive put 140k on. I also own a Jeep. Honestly the Toyota did better on snowy roads, unless the snow was really deep, although I pushed snow up to 6" deep with it (powdery). That said the BMW doesn't so have driven the jeep some lately when the weather is bad. 80%+ of the time the weather will be fine for a small commuter. Plus 30+MPG is really nice. That said we have a hybrid highlander that is AWD and seems to handle bad roads fine and gets like 31mpg. It is a bigger vehicle, along the size of a Grand Cherokee or Durango. Maybe a RAV4 hybrid. They get over 40mpg.

corolla elk.jpg
 

Dented

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Jan 4, 2021
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Another vote for Subaru. We've had 4 of them, got 3 left. 1 of them bounced off of a barrier wall and a semi. Other than minor cuts from broken glass no other injuries. The all wheel drive is stellar, parts are cheap.
 

49ereric

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Jun 21, 2022
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I drive an 09 Ford Focus with 5 speed used it for years driving to work,gone all week and the trip home Friday and then repeat. Learned to drive 52mph unless traffic was a road race. Typically 48 mpg in warm weather winter mpg Minus 10.
colder set of spark plugs really help and Bridgestone ecopia tires.
retired now and out around the woods @40 mpg or slower and never less than 49 mpg.
car was rated 41-43 hwy. never used the AC or mileage dropped asap.
 

S.Clancy

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Jan 28, 2015
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1,567
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Montana
I drive a Honda Fit 95% of the time in MT. It gets the job done and is reliable. Tires are cheap and I average 33-35mpg city and highway mix. I also take it hunting alot, as long as clearance or mud/snow isn't an issue. Has worked for the last 6 yrs.
 

Yoder

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Jan 12, 2021
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I put at least 30k/yr on my vehicle. Honda civics are pretty bulletproof. Just switched to a Mazda 3 a few yrs ago. I got 190k so far on a 2013. Not a single problem other than wear items. One thing I would highly recommend is a power driver seat. If you spend hrs in your car you have to be able to get comfortable or it is just hell. I had a civic for 8 yrs, 265k miles and the seat was like sitting on wood. Never again.
 

keystone112

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Nov 19, 2021
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+1 on the Civic. Not sure it will meet your needs on the un paved roads.

My 2019 Civic Hatchback got 42 mpg. No hybrid, just regular gas.
 

Mtnmilsurp

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Dec 16, 2021
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Larkspur, CO
I drive a 2006 civic daily (was wife’s car new). Weekends I usually drive a ‘53 Willys or 3/4 ton Dodge Ram Diesel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve high centered that civic. I drive it like a rally car on the front range gravel roads between Denver and Springs. It’s the only car I drive like I stole it but I still get 36-40 mpg.
 

Gwchem

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Dec 27, 2021
Messages
86
We don't have your weather, but I bought a Corolla hybrid to keep the miles off my truck. It's averaging 62 mpg.

I'd buy that, and put some snow tires on it, if you need to.
 
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