Here are the latest reader questions – along with my replies!
Amber asks: I’m shopping for car insurance to see if I can get a better rate before we renew next month, and I discovered Progressive’s “Snapshot” device, which I hadn’t heard of previously. I don’t love the idea of plugging in something that tracks info about how I drive, but I do like the idea of getting a discount on the compulsory insurance racket. I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether these devices are worth it! Thank you!
My reply: Don’t do it! For financial and freedom reasons. The “discount” you’ll get will be petty, if you get one. You may not. The device will narc you out for driving faster than they like, accelerating/stopping/cornering more “aggressively” than they like. They will also know where you drive and when – which is creepy in my opinion. The insurance mafia would love for this in-car/real-time monitoring to be mandatory – like the insurance itself. If enough people refuse, perhaps we’ll at least avoid that!
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Joshua asks: I am looking for a manual AWD or front-wheel drive, truck-based SUV from the ’90s. Problem is, I am in High School with a limited budget, aka I am paying for it and can’t go higher than $4,200. I could care less about the mileage but want a car I can drive for five years at minimum. Also, I am 6″4′, so I can’t take a small SUV. I know thats a lot of stuff but thats how it is. What market area should I look into?
My reply: Well, there’s no such thing as a truck-based SUV that’s FWD! Trucks are RWD – with 4WD available/optional. SUVs based on trucks or which are designed on truck-like platforms share that layout. Examples include the Chevy Tahoe, Toyota 4Runner and Nissan Armada.
It’s crossover SUVs which are generally based on FWD cars, with AWD often available as an option (or standard). Examples include the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Explorer and Subaru Crosstrek.
The difference there is that with a truck-type 4WD system, the engine’s power is usually transmitted to the rear wheels, until the 4WD is engaged – at which point, some of the engine’s power is routed back to the front wheels. Truck-type systems also usually have a two-speed transfer case and 4WD Low range gearing, which gives them extra pulling/slogging power.
AWD systems usually route most of the engine’s power to the front wheels. If these begin to slip/lose traction, power is routed to the rear wheels. Most AWD systems are “automatic” and always on, no need to engage the system (as is usually the case with 4WD, though more and more of the new ones have an automatic setting, too). They do not have a truck-type transfer case and most have no low range gearing feature. An exception is the Jeep Cherokee, just reviewed on the main page. It does have a gear-reduction system, even though it is a FWD-based crossover SUV.
Ok. If you want a truck-based 4WD SUV with a manual transmission from the ’90s, you might look around for a Jeep Wrangler, Isuzu Trooper or Toyota Land Cruiser. You should have no trouble finding a solid Wrangler/Trooper within your budget; maybe even a Land Cruiser. But I’d go back to the ’80s or even the ’70s – as you’ll have more choices, including really cool stuff such as older model Ford Broncos (not the Bronco II – stay away from that one!) Chevy Blazer and maybe even a Land Rover or Jeep Cherokee (the old, RWD version). These will have the upsides of simplicity and ruggedness; no got-damned computers or air bags.
Keep us posted!
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Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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