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Hello all, I am brand new to the forum...I do not own a hybrid as of yet, I am hoping you can give me some insight.
I would really like to buy a FEH, however I am concerned that it may not do what I am hoping it can. I actually do go "off-road". I don't do anything too crazy, but am an avid hiker and often go down dirt roads that are pretty precarious, especially in the winter. Can the FEH do this? I have read mixed reviews. I have also tried to rent one to try it out more thoroughly, but no one rents them where I live. I would really appreciate any insight you can give me.
I have had my front wheel drive 2005 FEH thru 2 Michigan Winters and have had no problems navigating through the snow and un-plowed roads. The limiting factor you might want to consider is the clearance from the bottom of the front bumper to the ground is about 8 inches. I had a 4WD Ford Explorer before the FEH and was concerned about some of the same things as you, but was suprised at how well it handles in the Winter.
That's a question I have too. Can the FEH handle dirt roads? I've driven down a dirt road for several miles in my current (old) sports car and one of the reasons I'm considering the FEH is to be able to do this better. I am NOT interested in "real" offroading.
I took my FEH off road almost as soon as I got it. I didn't intend to try what we actually ended up doing, because I was remembering a "road" from 20 years ago, and it had done nothing but deteriorate since then, to the point where it was essentially impassable (sp?). I mean REALLY impassable. We ALMOST got stuck, then we almost flipped the FEH (AWD, of course) over. Yeah, I had my brand new $30,000 hybrid SUV up on two wheels (the left ones), so far back in the woods that NO tow truck would EVER have been able to rescue us. Obviously (since I am still driving it!), it survived. We went over logs and big rocks, heard scrapes against the bottom, went in MAJOR mud and ruts and all that stuff, and with nary a consequence. I wrote about it here, last spring, will try to find the post and edit in a link if I can. (nope, can't, see below.)
So, you can do it. It does admirably. I don't think any "dirt road" (or lava road, if you happen to be in HI, I think the lava road out to Champagne Pond on the Big Island would be a piece of cake, and that's really saying something), or snowy road, or muddy road, would be a problem at all.
p.s. - I couldn't find the old thread, I think the forums must be cleaned out (archived?) periodically, there seems to be nothing prior to 1/1/06. Little help from one of the moderators?
I tried off roading with my FEH a few times, and it felt great. I tried it in the snow and dirt, it's not as good as a Hummer, but it's still decent. The best part is you can go off roading and still get 20+ gas mileage.
Plus I also have a FEH AWD. We have not taken it off-road per say - but once I was parked in a simi-muddy field (grass covered) and just about all the other vehicles (including another 4WD) had a very hard time getting moving without the help of someone pushing them - our FEH AWD pulled away like it was on dry concrete. Plus I think if you look at the total ground clearance it is higher that most of the other hybrids.
For those of you that switched from a larger 4WD vehicle to the FEH...do you miss your last vehicle, or did the FEH meet your expectations?
To be honest, how many people need those huge SUVs? If you are not 7 feet tall or you are not a construction worker that needs to carry loads of stuff, there is no point to drive a huge SUV. I have seen 5 feet tall woman drives Toyota Land Cruiser or Ford Expedition, it's a waste.