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  1. Default Car Vs. Truck?: our First trip

    Hello all, this is my first post here.

    My wife and I are planning a 3-5 week cross country trip from PA, south to Texas (family) out through the southwest, north through California, and back through the northwest. I estimate our trip to be around 10,000 miles total.

    We plan to camp most nights, with the occasional motel if needed. We also, as most would do, plan to keep our budget frugal, but not at the expense of a good time.

    Anyway, in comes the question, Do we take the car or the truck?
    Vehicles in question:

    1994 Honda Civic Ex
    40mpg highway
    more adjustable seats, can fold back for napping
    Cruise control
    more interior space

    Limited packing space (mountain bikes, fishing poles, cooler, etc.)
    Low ground clearance (problem for dirt roads, camping access
    Sleeping in the car at rest stops not a comfortable proposition.
    175,000 miles

    1998 S10 pickup 2wd, 5spd, 4cyl.
    Lots of room to easily pack things
    With truck cap on and mattress pad, truck becomes a 'camper' of sorts... nice in bad weather, crappy campsites, etc. Convenience for sleeping when not in a tent.
    Tailgate becomes a camp table
    Good ground clearance

    27mpg (very good for a truck, but fuel cost ~$400 more than taking the civic)
    Less interior space
    Seats have no range of adjustability (standard cab)
    Rear wheel drive = stuck in mud.
    4cyl engine is weaksauce.

    Basically it comes to this:
    Civic seems more comfortable for driving
    Truck seems much better for camping/avoiding motels

    What would the Great American Roadtrippers do?

    Any input from previous experience?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default It's a road trip... not a camping trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiffious View Post
    What would the Great American Roadtrippers do?
    I would suggest that you take the most comfortable driving vehicle -- in this scenario that would be the Civic.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default your call

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You've got a tough choice there, and you've done a pretty good job of laying out the pros and cons.

    Civic seems more comfortable for driving
    Truck seems much better for camping/avoiding motels
    I will say when you sum up to that, I would take the civic, since you can pretty easily use the $400 you'll save in fuel and spend some of it on motels, if needed.

    The biggest question I would have is, are you sure that either car is up for a 10,000 mile roadtrip? Honda's certainly have a reputation of reliability, but 14 years and 175000 miles is getting up there for any car, and while you aren't necessarily more likely to break down on the road, it is a lot more of a hassle if you do have a problem thousands of miles from home. Of course, the pickup has some age on it too, so it might not be that big of a difference.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the replies~!

    As for mileage, the truck has 138,000 miles. I am pretty mechanically inclined, and both vehicles would receive a major service before the trip. I am not too worried about that really, but, I would admit that the honda is probably more likely out of the two vehicles to have a problem on the road.

    It is a tough choice, and my wife and I have been waffling over this for a while.

    We are trying to decide early enough to plan based on which vehicle we're in, and also so I have plenty of time to have it ready for the road.

  5. Default

    One thing I forgot to mention: One thing my wife and I discussed about camping in the truck is weather. If the ground is wet, or its raining hard, there is no need to tent it. Also, storms, strong winds, heavy rains, etc, would not really be a problem with a fiber glass truck cap, and being well off the ground.

    The decision has certainly got me flummoxed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    It is true that actually sleeping in the back of your truck wouldn't be an issue if it rains, but that's not a lot of room to move around in, and you'd still have to go out in the weather to go from the cab of the truck into the back.

    I mentioned it before, but if cheap sleeping in the weather is your biggest reason for taking the truck, I think the gas money you save with the car would more than make up for a couple nights in a motel during bad weather.

  7. Default

    Thanks for the reply.

    How is access to parks and campsites, including free campsites on state or national land for a car with little ground clearance? What are the chances that this would be an issue?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default little to none

    There aren't a lot of free sights that are out there, and many of them require you to walk in a ways. That said, I camped for years using a regular sedan and never had problems. I drove some places that in retrospect I probably shouldn't have, but I can't think of any place with an organized campsite that didn't have a graded gravel or dirt road.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default I'd go for comfort

    Here are some of the other questions I would ask myself:

    * Which vehicle is more comfortable to ride in for long periods of time? My New Beetle seats are comfortable even if I'm in them for 10 hour days, several days in a row. No pain in the back or rump. My husband's Ford Ranger seats are uncomfortable and start bothering my back after only an hour or two. Driving in my car is fun and makes the trip a lot more fun. Driving in the pick-up is a bore. That would make a huge difference to me.

    * If you can save about $400 by taking the car, couldn't you hotel it if you think it's raining too hard to camp? And what time of year are you doing this trip? It doesn't rain all the time in the PNW (even though we kinda like people to think so to keep them from moving here, LOL). We do have several dry months (mainly July-Sept, but this can range from May or June until October some years).

    * If you can sleep in the back of the truck if it's raining, then where will your gear go? Wouldn't you have to take it out of the back to make room to sleep? And then all your gear would get wet. If so, what's the advantage? Or you would, at least, have to move a lot of it into the cab. That seems like a hassle to me. A good tent should keep you dry anyway. And a good tent should go up/down easy. Mine takes about 5 minutes to put up/take down. Less if my husband and I do it together. It would have to be raining pretty darn hard to get all that wet in such a short time.

    * How much do you think you'll ride the bikes? Is it possible to just rent bikes where you're planning to ride? Or invest in a bike carrier? There are some nice ones that go in a trailer-hitch at the back of your car but swing away so that you can access things in your trunk. And this should come in handy for all sorts of future jaunts.

    For what it's worth, I have done roadtrips where I have camped most every night for up to 2 weeks. I can fit myself, my passenger, all our camping gear, clothes, etc. in my New Beetle which probably has less room than your Civic. Depending on what we're going to do and where we're going to go, we also sometimes take our 60# Belgian shepherd. If I can fit all this in my little car, I don't know why you can't pack everything in your's. Of course, I don't know what kind of camping gear you have. If you have a huge family-style tent, for example, it's going to take up more room than our backpacking-style tent. And you really don't need more gear for a 5 week trip than a 2 week one. I'm assuming you'll be doing laundry a few times during your trip.

    New Beetles have less clearance than Civics, from what I've seen. Unless you've made yours a low-rider, anyway. I have very rarely not been able to drive on the roads needed to get to a campground of any kind. But, heck, I take my Beetle up on logging roads when I go hiking. I just drive slow and drive around the potholes. Unless you're going to be stopping at true wilderness areas that require 4WD to access, I really don't think this should be much of an issue.

    I have no doubt that I would take the Civic, if it were me. But, really, only you can answer this question. I hope some of this helps you answer that question.

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