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Old 06-27-2019, 08:15 AM   #1
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Do I Need 4 Wheel Drive?

We are considering our first RV and are looking at a 2018 Interstate EXT. It seems to have everything that we need but is not 4WD. Our trips will be between Denver and San Francisco, and can be planned ahead of time. My question is do I need 4WD or will the standard 2WD suffice? If 4WD is needed we will need to keep searching since there are not a lot of these units available. Thanks for any input you can provide!
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:19 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by pendergastjm View Post
We are considering our first RV and are looking at a 2018 Interstate EXT. It seems to have everything that we need but is not 4WD. Our trips will be between Denver and San Francisco, and can be planned ahead of time. My question is do I need 4WD or will the standard 2WD suffice? If 4WD is needed we will need to keep searching since there are not a lot of these units available. Thanks for any input you can provide!


Where do you plan on camping?
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:30 AM   #3
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A number of things to consider when considering 4WD

1) Immediate cost of system to vehicle
2) Maintenance costs
3) BIG ONE! Fuel costs
4) Possibly higher insurance costs
5) Going somewhere with 4wd that you shouldn't have gone, (you get stuck further off road with 4wd).

IMHO If you are sticking with proven roads and trails, and learn your vehicles capabilities with 2wd; you don't NEED 4wd. However, if you like to push it, and decide you WANT to park, up hill on wet grass.......you're going to need 4wd.

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PS How much is a Good Sam's membership to pull you out once or twice, compared to the extra costs.
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:33 AM   #4
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Where do you plan on camping?
Mostly National Parks, when we do camp. Our primary use, as of right now, is to travel comfortably, with our dogs, between our primary residence in Colorado and our daughter's home in the San Francisco area. That is a 17 hour drive that we would like to break up into one or two night overnights. I can see us using this unit though to explore other areas of the country or to visit friends in the South Eastern part of the country.
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:38 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Isuzusweet View Post
A number of things to consider when considering 4WD

1) Immediate cost of system to vehicle
2) Maintenance costs
3) BIG ONE! Fuel costs
4) Possibly higher insurance costs
5) Going somewhere with 4wd that you shouldn't have gone, (you get stuck further off road with 4wd).

IMHO If you are sticking with proven roads and trails, and learn your vehicles capabilities with 2wd; you don't NEED 4wd. However, if you like to push it, and decide you WANT to park, up hill on wet grass.......you're going to need 4wd.

Cheers
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PS How much is a Good Sam's membership to pull you out once or twice, compared to the extra costs.
Good info, thanks. Our use should primarily be on established roads/interstates. I was mostly concerned about mountain driving in the winter. However, I also believe (maybe naively) that we can plan our trips to try to avoid the worst of the weather.
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:40 AM   #6
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Personally speaking, there have been only a few times I needed 4wd to get out of a stuck situation. There have been more occasions I used 4wd for efficiency on more demanding steep, unpaved, rocky roads but could have gotten through with 2wd.
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:40 AM   #7
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I do not own an Interstate so I do not really know. I do drive a 4 wheel drive truck. My guess is that I would not need or particularly want 4 wheel drive in an interstate. Unless I was a skier or something that might tempt me to drive on icy roads. Your research seems to indicate that many people do without it.

In 11 years of trailering I have used the 4 wheel drive twice to pull the trailer.

And I got stuck once way back in with the truck and had to be towed even with the 4 wheel drive. To me it would be necessary on a pickup because they are so bad on traction but probably not on an Interstate that is always loaded on the rear wheels.
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Old 06-27-2019, 08:41 AM   #8
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Vague question. Do you need FWD/AWD? Do you (always) stay on roads and hwy's? Do you (only) stay in RV parks? Do you only drive in good weather? "Probably not". However, if you drive in the snow/foul weather alot or just have an adventuress spirit and like to explore dirt roads and remote areas. I would say it is an advantage to have FWD/AWD. Not to get into those areas, but to get out of a sticky situation. I am that guy who goes into places with my trailer that some would not think of going. So I like the FWD factor and use it. Do you need FWD? You have to make that decision based on your lifestyle and driving conditions. Best of luck.

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Old 06-27-2019, 09:11 AM   #9
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We are building our eventual retirement home at close to 9000 feet in the mountains of New Mexico and spend a great deal of time in mountainous areas on our trips in our 2018 Grand Tour EXT 4WD. We wanted the 4WD for inclement weather and the road conditions that can evolve from such weather.

The vehicle is simply too low to the ground and long to take it off-road. When not towing our Jeep we see approximately 17 mpg so carrying around the extra weight that the 4WD system adds is not a concern.
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:31 AM   #10
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If you do go with 4WD on the Interstate, another option worth considering for a smoother ride is the air suspension. It will smooth out the ride.

Good Luck!
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:35 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by pendergastjm View Post
My question is do I need 4WD or will the standard 2WD suffice?
There is no doubt that there is a "cool" factor to a 4WD van, but you do NOT "need" 4WD. Allow me to justify my answer:

I bought my first 4WD, a Jeep CJ 7, in 1979. In the ensuing 40 years, I have had a parade of Jeeps, Land Cruisers, a Bronco II, a Scout II, an Excursion, and a dozen 4WD pickups, mostly Toyotas with a Nissan Titan thrown in. I have not been without a 4WD in 40 years. I currently have a '16 Jeep JKU Rubicon. I use them for their intended purposes, plus towing and launching sailboats, and dragging a landscape trailer around with a tractor on it for snow removal in the worst possible driving conditions. I have been ALL over the deserts of SoCal and Nevada in Jeeps, and over and through most of the NoCal mountains.

I ran a crime scene unit for a rural Sheriff's Department in NoCal from early 1991 through late 1997. My daily work driver was a 2WD Ford Aerostar van. It was a box-stock cargo van with all-season M+S tires. I drove that van ALL over the mountains of NoCal on fire roads, trails, and places there were no roads at all. I forded streams and small rivers. I took that van places that the guys with 4WD found challenging. Anywhere there was a felony crime scene, the van went. I got stuck once in seven years; I was fording a stream that was running high (over the rocker panels) and there was algae on the rocks in the stream bed making them slick. I backed off the accelerator when I should have goosed it. It was my fault. Fortunately the rancher was waiting on the far side with a full-sized '70s Jeep Cherokee and my snatch-'em strap got me out in short order. That was the ONLY time I got stuck.

Now translating that to a motorhome... if the weather is so bad that you need 4WD, you ought to be parked somewhere waiting the storm out. There's so much 'stuff' hanging under the bottom of a Sprinter-based motorhome that likely you're just waiting to tear something off driving on any Forest Service or logging road. You are NOT going to go places with your Sprinter you'd take a Jeep. A Sprinter is just too top-heavy and too long. And if you're not doing logging roads or Forest Service roads, you don't NEED 4WD.

And last, all 4WD does for you, really, is make the places you get stuck a LOT more expensive to get towed out of. AND with a Sprinter van, you NEED a big rollback for a tow. A conventional tow truck that can get to you will tear your van's drivetrain up, and drag your generator and tanks and grind them off.

So... there you go. The long way of getting 'round to "no, you don't NEED 4WD in a Sprinter-based motorhome," except for the "cool factor."
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:39 AM   #12
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Old 06-27-2019, 09:52 AM   #13
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Hi

There are multiple things that make an Interstate (with or without 4WD) a less than perfect rough road vehicle. If you can plan your trips to avoid issues, (or pull over if you get caught) that is by far the best option.

With our combination of "insane" GPS for navigation and choice of campgrounds, there have been situations where 4WD was a comfort. Was it *needed*? Possibly not in all cases.

Back a lot of years, we spent time with a friend's Class A that most certainly did not have 4WD. It went skiing in the winter all the time. It never got stuck.

Bottom line - get out and go camping. If 4WD simply isn't available on what you are shopping for, don't let that stop you.

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Old 06-27-2019, 09:56 AM   #14
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I agree with above. I do not have 4WD. The key issue is all the stuff underneath with minimal clearance. It really is not what I would call an off road vehicle. Just being on roads, my macerator was knocked off by something. Definitely get the air ride suspension...if nothing else so you can pump it up to get under there for repairs, but u can use it for minor levelling too. And agree with bad weather, best to find a safe place and wait it out....which is pretty easy to do in an interstate. You may not be using it much in extreme cold due to freezing. Even with all lines cleared out with antifreeze, you have to consider wind chill under the rig while driving. Best before you buy to actually crawl under there and see what you are dealing with....it actually is pretty amazing. It's a lot of fun to travel in and fun to drive. A lot of us travel with our pets in one. You can still travel unpaved roads in a most of the parks.
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:01 AM   #15
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There are a few places that we did not go, but that was more due to lack of ground clearance than lack of 4WD. But of course with 4WD you get a bit more ground clearance too. Airstream could invest a bit of thought into improving the ground clearance at a far less price than the cost of 4WD, and that would work for us. I can't imagine us wanting to go anyplace in a 10,000 # Interstate where 4WD might needed. We don't use our Nov-Mar, so snow handling is not an issue for us.
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:06 AM   #16
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Consider where and when you are traveling. Four wheel drive really helps off road or in bad road conditions. We have and use the 4 wheel drive off road, in the mud, and during snowy conditions. But, thatís probably less than 5 times a year!
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Old 06-27-2019, 10:52 AM   #17
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Air suspension would be more desireable... suggest that you make sure it has it.


I too struggled with the 4x4 option... wanted it for the additional clearance and "what if" scenarios that we have never encountered in our short ownership... So I have not missed not having 4x4. Does not mean that I do not want it, just that I have not had the need for for it.

Air ride? So glad we got that...
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Old 06-27-2019, 04:05 PM   #18
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Agreed with previous poster who drove his van in all kinds of places without 4wd. I spent 37 years driving news vehicles in the same kinds of conditions...including off-road and snow.

I had 4wd for a time and it was never really necessary. Good ground clearance was the bigger issue.

As far as snow and ice goes, keep in mind that any van loaded with gear—whether electronics or an RV interior—will perform like a pig-on-ice whether 4wd or not. All that top-heavy weight is loading a chassis that was designed to be a delivery truck, running at less-then-max weight most of the time. And we won’t even mention the wind that goes with bad weather and how the Sprinter performs in crosswinds. Hang on! In that respect, we found that the dually-Sprinter we had in our fleet was solid as a rock in crosswinds. Other Sprinter owners I talked to, with normal rear axle setup were not as confident.

The usage you envision might occasionally take you places with challenging snow and ice, and for that, I’d recommend investing in a good set of conventional or cable chains, depending on what your owners manual says. Nothing tames slick pavement like chains. And nothing like chains to force you to slow down. And duallys sure make chaining up a snap.

There are many mountain passes in our state where you would be required to chain up, even with 4wd.

So my advice, worth every penny of .02, is that the added expense of 4wd on a Sprinter will not be worth it for the usage you describe.
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Old 06-27-2019, 04:53 PM   #19
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Iíve never been stuck with my 4 wheel drives. Sure have in the 2 wheel drives I used to own.
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Old 06-27-2019, 07:41 PM   #20
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Do you NEED 4WD?

NO!

Is it worth purchasing?

Yes!

From a "Money" standpoint 4WD or AWD if offered on the vehicle you choose to purchase is by far the best option you can purchase that will retain the same or more resale/trade in value of your vehicle when it's time to sell. Remember the vehicle you buy IS the vehicle you will SELL at some point!

Time and time again I see it all the time at the dealer auctions I attend across the country where a vehicle equipped with 4WD or AWD always sells for MORE money many times MUCH MORE money than the original retail cost of the 4WD/AWD option versus an equal 2WD vehicle. On many vehicles that $2K+ 4WD/AWD new vehicle option will make that same used vehicle bring $3K-5K MORE than an equal condition, mileage and color used 2WD version of the same vehicle at the same auction sale.

In today's vehicle world people WANT 4WD and AWD vehicles. Do they need it? No however they damn sure want it!

Kinda like the Navigation option was 15 years ago. In some vehicles particularly high line vehicles it made the difference between selling the vehicle or not. Back then a used low mile Lexus WITHOUT "Navi" would bring $5K to as much as $10K LESS than and equal Lexus with "Navi" at the auction sale. On the used market back then a Lexus without "Navi" was the Kiss Of Death!

The same thing applies today with 4WD/AWD.

It's all in the buyer's head that they THINK they must have 4WD or AWD. For many people once they have an AWD vehicle they will never go back to a 2WD vehicle. I know that is certainly the situation for my wife. Her last 2 vehicles have been AWD and she can tell a huge difference in the handling, traction and driving characteristics between an AWD vehicle and same vehicle in 2WD.

Ya you will pay more upfront for 4WD/AWD HOWEVER that extra "Expenditure" on the front-end may actually turn into an "Great Investment" on the back end when it comes time to sell or trade that 4WD/AWD vehicle versus the Dollar value of an equal condition 2WD vehicle!

I believe that situation will continue for a long time with 4WD Sprinter vans as popular as they are now and will continue to be with the retail buying public.
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