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  1. Default LA to Miami in Nov, what car to use

    Hello all! This is my first post here, so please forgive me if I posted this in the wrong place. I figured this would be the best forum to use to pick everyones brain in terms of which is the best vehicle for my road trip from LA to Miami in early November. My itinerary is as follows: Los Angeles-Las Vegas-Albuquerque-Dallas-Austin-New Orleans-Tampa-Miami

    It will be me and a few buddies convoying it the whole way and picking up a friend or two along the way. I am planning to return around the middle of December back to Los Angeles and my question is this, what car would be best for that length of road trip? We are planing on taking about 7 days to get to Miami and will be staying with primarily friends and family along the way with the occasional hotel/motel thrown in for good measure. I am looking at buying either a 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser or a 1992 Cadillac Brougham. I know the LC will cost twice as much in fuel as the Caddy but I can haul a bit more stuff in it and its a tank. The Caddy though is a pretty sweet ride and like driving your living room couch which is awesome for a road trip and fuel wise is 1/2 the cost of the LC.

    Give the choice, which would you choose and why?

    Thanks again RoadTrip America readers! I will keep you all posted on my purchase and right a trip report when the day comes to leave.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,064

    Default unanswered questions

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The biggest question you haven't told us is what are you doing before and after your roadtrip?

    A roadtrip is rarely a good reason to purchase a car. Its not financially worthwhile to make a large purchase for a short period of time. If you are only going to use the car for the trip, look at renting. You'll get to drive a brand new car, without having to worry about maintenance or repairs, and it likely could cost you less in the long run!

    Now, if you're going to keep the car beyond the trip, that's a different story - but then you need to figure out what kind of car would work best for your day to day life.

    As far as the specific choices you've laid out, neither strikes me as a good choice. I don't know what you are looking at for a budget, but you are talking about two cars that are both 20ish years old and are relatively rare models - as in neither sold more than about 10,000 a year. That means when they break down, and realistically cars that old are going to break down, it is going to mean it is going to be difficult to find parts, which means it could take you a lot of time and money to get back on the road. If you're worried about fuel economy, they are both going to be pretty horrible. Yes, a Land Cruiser is going to be in the low teens, but a big, old V8 Caddy isn't a fuel sipper my any means.

    On top of all that, since both cars were luxury-priced cars to begin with, you're still going to pay a big premium on the used marked. For the same price point you are looking at for these cars, you could probably buy a more mainstream vehicle that's much newer and much less likely to cause you problems. SUVs like a Ford Explorer or even a Suburban will get you more bang for your buck, as would full sized cars like a Crown Vic or an Impala - and that's if you stick it to the extreme of large vehicles. Going down to a smaller SUV or car could also be a solid choice.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the quick reply MidWest Michael and the welcome to RTA.

    Regardless of the vehicle purchased, I will be keeping it for at least 3-4 years after the fact. As of right now, I am currently in school and will be moving either to Chicago or New York for at least a year then spending the following year driving around the country doing various clinical rotations at different hospitals (I am a medical student). The main reason I was choosing between those cars were for the reasons listed above and I enjoy the looks of both plus I have researched both well in terms of reliability and know what I am in for if things do go sideways which they will as with any car.

    Also since this is a road trip blog, weather wise, could anyone comment on what to expect on the way to Miami in terms of weather? I assume temperate most of the way since I will be staying south the whole trip with occasional rain and hail storms as I cross through Texas and New Mexico. Any must see's along the way? I am a huge fan of all things kitchy like Factory Tours and Worlds largest ....

    Thanks again for everyones help and for those who have read this post.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 06-03-2014 at 10:26 PM. Reason: removed quote of entire previous post

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,064

    Default

    It is absolutely not correct that you can assume that you will see temperate weather most of the way, just because you are staying south. In early November, your odds of seeing winter weather are pretty low, but by the time you return in December it is very possible that you could see snow and/or ice. Every year, I-10 sees significant ice storms and/or snow from West Texas into Arizona.

    That's not to say you will see those things when you travel - no one can predict the weather months in advance - but it is certainly within the range of possibilities.

    RTA's Map Center is a great place to start looking for fun stops along the way.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
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    4,546

    Default

    In between Las Vegas and Albuquerque, here are some ideas:

    Grand Canyon National Park. Not only noted for beauty, but there are some historical things as well, such as the El Tovar and the other buildings on the south rim.

    Meteor Crater.

    Petrified Forest National Park.

    Sky City -- a big casino in western NM.

    As far as weather is concerned -- much of northern AZ and NM, along I-40, is above 5000 ft in elevation. So yes, you're likely to see storms there. If you went along I-10, you'd still have a chance to see ice and snow. My parents have memories of being snowed on, one November, at Van Horn, TX (which is in western TX, about 100 miles east of El Paso). They weren't planning to stay overnight there, but had to pull off the road -- so they did, into an RV park.


    Donna

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default It's all on good maps.

    Get out some good maps, and see just how many attractions are marked on them, along your route. In the Sante Fe / Taos area especially. You are going to need good paper maps when on the road, so may as well get them now. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics. Some have at their peril.

    And yes! it can get pretty cold in places, even in November.

    Lifey

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Get out some good maps, and see just how many attractions are marked on them, along your route. In the Sante Fe / Taos area especially. You are going to need good paper maps when on the road, so may as well get them now. Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics. Some have at their peril.

    And yes! it can get pretty cold in places, even in November.

    Lifey
    Thank you everyone for your replies and advice for this adventure. I forgot about the elevation changes one goes through when crossing through parts of ABQ and AZ on I-40. It's been a few years since I last drove that route. I was originally going to just use my Garmin GPS to guide me most of the way but the paper maps are a great idea as well incase I start getting weird directions or my GPS craps out on me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MrInternational View Post
    ... in case I start getting weird directions or my GPS craps out on me.
    Whereas that is a reality... there is a more important reason to use paper maps as your primary navigational tool. You need a complete overall view of where you are and your alternatives. Not something which can be clearly got within the confines of five inches.... or less.

    AAA (free to members) and Rand McNally are among the best. It also pays to pick up State issued maps at Welcome Centres.

    Lifey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    The woes to a GPS:

    It will die on you when you least expect it, and its battery will not take a charge nor work from the auto 12-volt power. (Has happened to us.)

    It will attempt to send you the wrong way down a one-way road and then will incessantly tell you "re-cal-cu-la-ting!" and then take you around the block to try to make you turn down that same road -- the wrong way. (Has happened to us.)

    Tells you to take a road to cross a bridge that wasn't there. (Has happened to us.)

    Attempts to take you down a forest road that isn't passable by a family vehicle. (Hasn't happened to us, but has been in the news. People lost their lives with this.)


    Mapping programs, online or on computer:

    Always will try to give you the shortest or the fastest ways, which means interstates. This is fine if this is what you are looking for.

    Will always tell you that you can make this trip in XX hours, XX minutes, not accounting for bathroom stops, fuel stops, food stops, construction or traffic delays. SOMETIMES they attempt to give you an idea about traffic delays, but 99.5% of the time, it's wrong. It's a robot time, not real world.

    Seldom will give you the most scenic. A paper map will mark the scenic routes in some way -- usually a dotted line next to the road on the map.


    We use GPS to try to find an address within a city. Very occasionally, we will attempt to find an eating place with it (but that's been mostly useless). I use mapping programs to get exact mileages using the routes we've chosen, but I sometimes have to give it more information than it thinks it wants. Then I take that mileage and divide either by 55 or 60, depending on the type of road, to get the approximate time it will take us to make the drive. We won't use the one on the Smart Phone at all -- too small. Even our GPS is larger!


    Donna

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Whereas that is a reality... there is a more important reason to use paper maps as your primary navigational tool. You need a complete overall view of where you are and your alternatives. Not something which can be clearly got within the confines of five inches.... or less.

    AAA (free to members) and Rand McNally are among the best. It also pays to pick up State issued maps at Welcome Centres.

    Lifey
    I will definitely stop by my local AAA office to pick up some local maps now that I know they are free. I have had AAA for years but never used them for their travel services, just DMV and towing and other random discounts. Good to know.

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