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All things hang gliding. This is the main forum. New users, introduce yourself.

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#402113
For the past 5 years I've been very happy with my Tacoma 4x4 pickup for my flying adventures. It's the perfect height for loading gliders, the double-cab works well for hauling my buddies, and the bed is great for harnesses, etc. The rack will hold 6 gliders. Sweet ride.

In the past few years, however my family makeup has changed. When I bought the truck, my household consisted of two adults and the dog. Now, it's three adults, two children, and three dogs. I really need a new HG rig that can double as the family hauler.

I don't want a ginormous vehicle like the Suburban or Expedition - just something big enough for my family, with the 4x4 package to go to my favorite flying sites or visit the Sierras in the winter.

I'm primarily looking at the Honda Pilot and the Ford Explorer. Both have 3rd row seating, come in 4x4 versions, and are moderately sized. Anyone use one of these vehicles for HG and/or have comments about them?

RM
#402128
Daughter just bought a 2014 FE limited with the power stow rear sets. Creature comforts are very good. Really nice and roomy IF one does not use the rear seats for people! Seems too nice car to use as a HG truck... Double sun roof. 20 inch rims standard!! I think it would be a nice rig if you didn't get too back woods or off road with it. Height is good for loading/unloading. Needs expensive rack system.

8)
#402130
While both vehicles are moderately adequate for off road use, you will probably find more creature comforts in the Ford Explorer. However, if you’re looking for reliability (very important for H.G. rigs considering some of the remote sites we fly) and resale value, the Honda would be the better choice.
Just my 2 cents.
#402132
I would keep the truck and buy a minivan I know that is not what you asked, but i was/ am still in your situation. I looked at the same vehicles and decided to get a van. The honda pilot was nice, but not near roomy enough inside....especially if you are hauling everyone. The van is so convient for hauling kids and friends around. I wound up buying a toyota sienna and is has been the best vehicle i have ever owned. Sometimes its hard to have your cake and eat it too.
#402133
Toomb wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:09 pm
I would keep the truck and buy a minivan I know that is not what you asked, but i was/ am still in your situation. I looked at the same vehicles and decided to get a van. The honda pilot was nice, but not near roomy enough inside....especially if you are hauling everyone. The van is so convient for hauling kids and friends around. I wound up buying a toyota sienna and is has been the best vehicle i have ever owned. Sometimes its hard to have your cake and eat it too.
I've certainly thought of that scenario, but there's a good reason why it wouldn't work for us. We own a vacation home in the Sierras that we like to visit year-round. Snow, rough roads, etc. It's also near one of my favorite flying sites - Indian Valley - so I'm often hauling my glider too. The family likes to join me up on the mountain when I'm flying, which is really enjoyable for me as well.

So this vehicle basically needs to be both a family hauler and HG rig.

RM
#402137
I sold my aging Toyota FJ Cruiser and bought a Dodge Durango. I really miss having a front receiver for a rack. I'm using a suction cup rack now and It's nowhere near as sturdy or convenient.

It looks like the Ford is easier to fit with a front receiver, although both vehicles are good choices.
#402138
Lucky_Chevy wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 6:24 pm
I sold my aging Toyota FJ Cruiser and bought a Dodge Durango. I really miss having a front receiver for a rack. I'm using a suction cup rack now and It's nowhere near as sturdy or convenient.

It looks like the Ford is easier to fit with a front receiver, although both vehicles are good choices.
That's something I've been a bit concerned about. I've got a great rack I made for my truck - I can haul more gliders than I can pilots, and it's designed to haul up to 4 rigids. I bet I can come up with something good for whatever rig I choose, but I'm likely gonna miss my current setup. Life is compromise...
Truck Rack 1a.jpg
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#402144
Have you considered a Toyota 4Runner? Seems like it would be about the same size as Honda Pilot, but much more off-road capable. Subaru will also introduce a 7-seater Ascent later this year, if you're ok with AWD and lower approach/departure angles. I'm weary of buying first-year models though.
#402147
I agree that the 4Runner has better 4WD capacity, but the "optional" 3rd row seating isn't great. Certainly not as good as the Pilot. I like that the 4Runner is built from a truck chassis, and like Toyotas very much in general. I'm probably going to have a lift kit installed on a Pilot for better clearance, but I don't really need anything more than moderate 4WD capacity.

RM
#402172
My folks have had a Pilot for something like 5 years to tow a boat and have AWD in Wisconsin winter snow/ice. No problems yet, but that's what I've come to expect from Honda. My two favorite HG vehicles have been the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Xterra. They're very reliable and can take a good off-road beating. Mine also were true 4X4s with a low range that made getting to a couple launches possible and allowed short cuts up to other launches.
#402173
Personally my biggest limitation is going downhilll. Most of our launch roads are 10-15% incline, and I'm weary of SUVs that don't have low range for that reason. My 2000 Pathfinder can't hold reasonable speed going downhill in first gear without engaging either low range or brakes, and it has a 3.5L engine. I'd be happy with a small SUV like a Forester or a Rav4 but they weight the same as my Pathfinder while having a much smaller engine which will provide less engine braking (and they don't have low range to improve engine braking).

In general I'm quite tired of the whole mountain logistics, and will start building an electric harness like E-help in a year or two.
#402194
I know Exactly what you mean when you say "I"M weary of SUV"s that don"t have a low range ..." and"can"t hold a reasonable speed going downhill...." try something with NO range :lol: sorry Raquo my phobia is showing :surrender: see Campfire :shock: Just remember i think we probably lose that subtle handing and rough air tolerance when you add a motor package :?
#402195
I think a motor with some batteries will add no more than 30kg. I don't think it should affect handling all that much, I'm just gonna imagine that I suddenly got a bit chubbier. My wife is telling me that at my current rate I won't need to be imagining that for much longer but that's a different story. The idea is to only carry enough batteries to hook the first thermal at ~2000ft altitude, after that it's free flight again.

Anyways, not to derail this topic for much longer, going electric for me is just the first step to taking control over my HG experience. It's the easiest most well understood improvement I could reasonably accomplish in the near future. My next step would be designing my own glider – a more portable, lower performance rigid wing, possibly even without foot launch capability (just flatland electric start). It'll take a while, but it's doable. You just gotta minimize the hard parts like aeroelasticity and a complicated sail cut (sometimes at the expense of weight/performance). People make their own homebuilt airplanes all the time.

Then I will be able to just buy a minivan and shove the glider pieces in/on it, and fly anywhere I want without the need to scale Mt. Everest multiple times a year. I will spend a lifetime on it, but I'll get it done, and it will be glorious. Probably. Maybe. Eventually.
#402210
My wife had a 2001 honda pilot, and needed a new(er) model. We looked at 2014 and higher pilots, and they were all kinda nice, but they had no get-up-and-go like she was accustomed to the ol' smaller-overall-sized, 2001 V-Tec-engined Pilot.
We test drove A LOT of later model SUVs and every one of them have no guts anymore, except for the Chevy full sized stuff, which were awesome, but too big for her purposes. She ended up purchasing a 2015 BMW X3i (all-wheel-drive, 6 cylinder turbo). It's a frickin' land-based rocketship that can go just about anywhere (within reason) at breakneck speed.
Anyway, the manufacturers have down-sized the power of the newer, small to mid-sized SUVs, sadly. Including the Honda Pilot. Very disappointing to those that use their SUVs for heavy SUV purposes, not just toting the kids to the soccer field.
In my civil engineering and land surveying duties out in the swamps and boonies of N.Eastern NC, we utilized jeeps and chevy suburbans. The jeeps were ok, but could become stuck relatively easily. The suburbans rarely got stuck and could haul ALL the tools and provisions we needed, then some.
Conditions: dry , silty, and powdery to very wet sand (ocean beaches, Corolla, Corova, etc.), sticky muck (swamps), steep, unimproved, rocky terrain (NC mountains), etc. If you've ever seen swampy, nasty, wild mountainous conditions in movies or vids, we were there working in like conditions, dealing with many forms of predators and things that could really f-up your life. Fun. Sometimes. The vehicles got used. Hard. The suburbans stood the test well, with plenty of muscle behind them. AND they have low 4x4 gear. They are not too fuel hungry either for their capabilities.
Vans and minivans.... they sound great in theory, until you get off the pavement and really need 4x4 capabilities. I am forever finding myself putting my truck into 4x4 mode. Especially when going to many Hg sites. But then I own a good-sized farm and work my truck harder than most suburban dwellers would dream of.
If you ever find yourself off road, don't mess with a 2x4 van unless your friends all have 4x4's. If you've lived with a 4x4, going back to a 2x4 you may endure some tough lessons if not mindful of the limitations you've imposed upon yourself.
:)
By mc1
#402236
I am a new pilot and just had to make this same decision for myself. I ended up going with a 2008 Lexus GX470 with higher miles. It's just as mountain/snow capable as a 4runner, but a far nicer interior and ride quality. 3 row seating and super reliable. It's a great family vehicle. The rear door is a swing out too, so you can open it with gliders loaded on a roof rack.

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