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Friday, May 4, 2018

Driving Comfort Comparison - 3 Vehicle Comparison

In the last 5 years of Brent’s Travels I have traveled between 16K and 20K miles in my approx 4 months, each year on the road.

To recap my first year of travels in 2014 I had a Class B camper below.  Years 2, 3, &, 4 (2015, 2016, &, 2017) my Vandwelling Choice was a Prius.  Finally this year (2018) was my Tacoma with a Four Wheel Camper (FWC).

Over a series of blog posts I will look at different aspects of my various Vandwelling travel choices.

If you have questions you would like answered please let me know.

Driving Comfort Comparison:

I paid $8500 for the above camper and put $2000 into it, mostly on the suspension and brakes.  It was in great shape when I headed out in January 2014.

I knew about 1/3 through my travels that when I got home the first of May that I did not want to use the Class B again and sold it in June for the $8500 I paid for it.  Although there were other facts other than driving comfort that weighed into my decision to sell it right away, I didn’t like driving it.  It was a one ton chassis and with the 350 V 8 it was still under powered.  I don’t want to leave the impression I want to speed off from a stop but I felt I was slow out of the gate. There were interstates like I8 heading to San Diego and I could not maintain highway speeds up the mountain.

Even with all the suspension work I had done before I left, and the steering box was tight, the vehicle did not track the road the way I like.  Yes I had an alignment before I left too.  I felt like I had white nuckles holding the steering wheel so tight during many parts of my trip.

The braking was not as responsive as I like.  There were new brakes all around before I left, but the weight of the vehicle caused a long stopping distance.  Coming down the mountains north of San Francisco I had to use the lowest gear to help hold the vehicle back and felt I had to use the brake so much I stopped often to let the brakes cool.  I did not like that braking wasn’t responsive as I like.

The seat was fine and since it had cruise control this was a benefit.  I added a rear view camera while on my travels that helped greatly as I often back into my space.  Being 19.5’ long I could fit into a regular parking space if I could back in and have the rear end hang over the curb and grass.

Oh my Prius is just a fun drive.  It doesn’t have any of the problems with driving comfort it is quick and responsive for a fun drive.  The seat is comfortable enough.

The radio sucks though and the small antenna that’s in an angle guarantees poor reception.  In the west radio stations are often elusive, but I listen to podcasts for enjoyment.

I paid $16K for my used 2011 Prius with 8K miles.

Now that I’m home I’m so happy to be driving my Prius.  You sit lower and I can stretch my legs straight out to obtain the most comfort.

The Tacoma is a good truck and is easy to drive and the V 6 has no problem maintaining its speed climbing hills and even the mountain heading to San Diego on I8.

Driving the truck with the approx 1000 lb camper on the back bed of the truck did change the drive a bit but not major. The Tacoma tracked well on the secondary and highways.  Braking had a bit longer stopping distance due to increased weight requiring being a bit cautious with distance of vehicle in front.

I paid $9500 for the FWC camper that I put at least $3K into the truck and camper.  The Tacoma is a 2011 That I bought new during that model year.  It has the towing package.  Since I bought the truck I have added Firestone airbags to the rear suspension to help level the weight when carrying heavy things.  It was alsoin the back of my head my first year that I may get a camper some day.  In retrospect the airbags was a good idea.  It is not wise on carrying 1000 lbs for that Long and on those kind of roads without beefing up the rear suspension.

The drivers seat has you sitting higher than the Prius so my leg is bent to the gas peddle. After awhile this gets uncomfortable for me and I will often reduce my speed and set the cruise control so I can bend my leg back and forth to exercise the discomfort out.  The seat was comfortable enough.

The stock radio and Antenna in the Tacoma was better than than the Prius, but camper body did shadow some stations reducing distance of reception.

Driving Comfort In Summary:

If I chose a maximum value of 10 for the best ride, I would give the 3 vehicles the following rating for driving comfort.

Class B - 3
Prius - 9
Tacoma - 7


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