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Old 02-11-2019, 10:55 AM   #1
KHJPHOTO
 
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Default 4x4 or Not?

OK, just have to ask the question of overall expense. Since most of us drive the slabs, spending a small percentage of time in the "outback"; I am having a hard time justifying the 4x4. I live in the Mid Atlantic. Spend most of my travels out West. So, in reality drive roughly 6,800 miles but only a fraction in the dirt.

What are the total costs to maintaining the 4x4 over time? What is the MPG reduction?

Thanks.
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:26 PM   #2
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Default Re: 4x4 or Not?

I have only owned my 2016 170 EXT 4x4 for a few months. It has about 14,000 miles on the odo and the computer reads about 17.3 - 17.5 average mpg.

I needed 4x4 to get up my long steep gravel driveway. This past weekend I pulled an enclosed 6x12' trailer with about a 700 lb load up the driveway & it was nice knowing that the van wouldn't have trouble making it, reversing down it would have been impossible. Pulling the trailer from Charlotte to Boone, NC was about 125 miles & the average mpg dropped to about 14.5.

I was slightly surprised to see the mpg drop so much pulling the trailer. It's smaller than the van and I figured it would draft in the van's wake. I doubt the total trailer weight was only 2000 lbs. I have the 3.0 V6 engine & it had plenty of pulling power. It had no problem maintaining 60+ mph up the steepest grades.

I don't expect maintenance should cost much more than a 2wd. I guess long term there are a few extra joints in the front drive and the transfer case that could require lube or repair, but the van will spend less than 1% of its time in 4x4.

I actually expect the resale value will be substantially higher for a 4x4 because they are rare & the other brands don't even offer it.

But, if you don't "know" if you need 4x4 you shouldn't waste the money for it.
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Old 02-11-2019, 03:26 PM   #3
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Default Re: 4x4 or Not?

Think of it this way, you only really need 4x4 for soft sand, mud, and snow (deeper stuff). For everything else a set of chains does the job. There is little point in the cost and downsides of 4x4 if you don't actually need it. If you want the cool mall crawling factor of lifted 4x4, big tires, and VC lift, and a 4x4 sticker look just as good on a 2wd.

In my experience on good traction surfaces, ground clearance, tires, airing down, and driver skill are much more important than 4x4.
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Old 02-11-2019, 05:52 PM   #4
KHJPHOTO
 
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Default Re: 4x4 or Not?

Thanks guys.

Kinda on the same page. I have enjoyed my "Runner" for it goes anywhere. Just may keep it for another year, since MB can't deliver my 2019 until the 2020's are due - dealer told me delivery around end of September! Might as well wait till the 2020s.

Meanwhile more adventures in the "Runner"
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:26 PM   #5
asimba2
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Default Re: 4x4 or Not?

If you're going to pony-up the $12-14k for the 4x4, be sure to budget another $2k for wheels and tires (because the stock setup looks goofy AH) and another $4.5k for the Agile suspension. There's a reason Agile and Van Compass have a line of Transits and Sprinters out the door...the stock suspension(s) suck for offroad use. A 7,500 lb van that sits 9-1/2' feet-tall rocks like a sailboat in a beam sea. I have done hundreds of miles offroad in my 2WD Sprinter and the more I do it the less I enjoy it. I'm far more limited by the van's height and the general unpleasantness offroad than I am traction. Before ponying up, drive one offroad. It's not a 4Runner. There's a reason I have both. :)

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Old 02-11-2019, 11:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: 4x4 or Not?

Nice to have both.
I need the van so I can take my cats. Yes, cats. Can't get them in the Runner. Traveled thousands of miles with them in my Pleasure Way. But you know, like stated above not gonna pay full pop for a van that will not be delivered till September! Nuts at that time it will be a "year old". Will wait for the 2020 and have a normal delivery date!
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:16 AM   #7
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Default Re: 4x4 or Not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by asimba2 View Post
If you're going to pony-up the $12-14k for the 4x4, be sure to budget another $2k for wheels and tires (because the stock setup looks goofy AH) and another $4.5k for the Agile suspension. There's a reason Agile and Van Compass have a line of Transits and Sprinters out the door...the stock suspension(s) suck for offroad use. A 7,500 lb van that sits 9-1/2' feet-tall rocks like a sailboat in a beam sea. I have done hundreds of miles offroad in my 2WD Sprinter and the more I do it the less I enjoy it. I'm far more limited by the van's height and the general unpleasantness offroad than I am traction. Before ponying up, drive one offroad. It's not a 4Runner. There's a reason I have both. :)
Don't want to venture too far of course from the OP's question; but with your off-road experience in the 2WD - are you considering any upgrades to tackle the "general unpleasantness"?

I haven't driven as many miles off road in my 2WD Sprinter, but I know last fall - the few road trips I did that involved dirt road/two track was enough to rattle my brains. Slight attempts to improve via airing down. (Ex 07' T4R owner with Toytec suspension - why did I sell it! )
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Old 02-12-2019, 03:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: 4x4 or Not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtncrawler View Post
Don't want to venture too far of course from the OP's question; but with your off-road experience in the 2WD - are you considering any upgrades to tackle the "general unpleasantness"?

I haven't driven as many miles off road in my 2WD Sprinter, but I know last fall - the few road trips I did that involved dirt road/two track was enough to rattle my brains. Slight attempts to improve via airing down. (Ex 07' T4R owner with Toytec suspension - why did I sell it! )
Airing down helps a lot. I'm still using a 20-year old MV50 chinese air compressor but want to move to an ARB compressor with a small air tank for faster airing-up. That's on the near-term list and will help motivate me to air down more often. I'll get some Cooper AT/Ws or BFG AT KO's next year.

I refuse to invest $4k+ into a van suspension; I'm willing to spend a little over a grand like I did on the suspension for the 4Runner. It needs more dampening, which I think I can achieve with some larger bodied Fox-type shocks in both the front and rear. I'll give it time and someone smart will come up with a good bolt-on solution that doesn't break the bank. With leaf springs front and rear, these vans have the same suspension technology used in covered wagons, so I try and keep that in perspective.

Even though my build is structurally strong (framed in 80/20), washboard roads just aren't fun in the van...not in the least. It feels like it's going to shake itself apart. There are dozens of open holes in the floor that fill the interior with dust. That rubber boot under the driver's pedestal is a huge culprit and there are holes below the wiring harness that runs between seatbases that turn into dust intakes on dirt roads. I pulled the plastic entry steps by the front doors to insulate and there was a quarter-inch of dust in there. The van just isn't built for off-road travel. I laugh when I see one with a snorkel...I can't imagine a Sprinter would survive long in any depth of water.

Traction-wise, even with the crappy stock tires the combination of the traction control and the weight will allow the van to climb things in 2WD that my 4Runner won't go up in 2WD. I've been amazed where it can go. As I've stated in other threads, I've had to turn around on trails multiple times due to the van's ridiculous height and never because I didn't have enough traction. A 4x4 is another 4.3" taller.

Sorry OP for the diversion...
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Old 02-12-2019, 02:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: 4x4 or Not?

Fox shocks for the rear of the NCV3 and T1N 2wd are not very expensive and help quite a bit with the ride. airing down makes an even bigger difference.

Running your cabin fan on medium (no recirc) on dirt roads helps quite a bit with the dust. You can also partially cover the rear corner vents (under the bumper caps). Which reduces suction, and can help with dust infiltration. Positive pressure is your friend.
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Last edited by Midwestdrifter; 02-12-2019 at 05:08 PM.
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