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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Perfect ski/surf car = Honda Element Ecamper?

    My list of wants/needs for my next vehicle:

    Needs to have AWD or 4WD. I'm not seriously off-roading in this thing so a big truck is unnecessary.
    I don't want to have mileage that's significantly less than what I currently get ~25mpg averaged over four years.
    I need to be able to sleep comfortably in it.
    I must be able to put everything I own in/on it at once.
    Must be fairly reliable and not a super money pit to maintain.
    I am willing to sacrifice performance for economy so no WRX, etc.
    Must comfortably hold two people and gear.

    Audis, VW wagons, Syncros, Volvo XC, etc... all fail at least one of these criteria. The Mitsu Delica would be perfect but ~10k for a 15yo vehicle is steep, not to mention the farther away I get from Canada the harder it will be to get maintenance. Subarus seem to be the best bet overall, but... then I saw this:



    http://www.ursaminorvehicles.com/camper.htm

    Seems like there are a few people here that love the Element, and a few people that hate it. I've never considered them since the cargo area is too small to sleep in but this fixes that.

    Thoughts? Ideas?
    Putting the "core" in corporate, one turn at a time.

    Metalmücil 2010 - 2013 "Go Home" album is now a free download

    The Bonin Petrels

  2. #2
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    Sep 2004
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    I don't see many downsides. Nothing is mechanically or structurally changed from the original Element; it's basically a permanently-installed rooftop tent. It's fairly cheap compared to the other options (old Westy Syncro, Sportsmobile), but it's still $4K for a roof tent, plus whatever the Element itself costs.

    Only downsides to me: the added height of the roof, plus a roof rack, plus attachments to the roof rack (bike racks/ ski racks/ whatever) will make it too tall to fit in a 7' garage. Also, I don't think I'd want to sleep in a rooftop tent in a blizzard, no matter what the vehicle.

    The Element also doesn't have a whole lot of power in 100% stock form. Adding weight and (some) wind resistance won't help.

    Another option that's about as practical for winter camping (i.e. not really), but with more space and bigger motor possibilities (more enjoyable driving): pickup truck plus a Flip Pac camper:

    http://www.flippac.com/

    A current model Tacoma 4WD extended cab, plus Flip Pac, would give you more storage space (particularly for wet surf/ dive gear), and should be in the rough ballpark for MPG (19-20 hwy; guessing the Element with conversion would be ~ 23-24 hwy).
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Hood River, OR
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    655
    Personally I think that a SMB would be the perfect ski/surf car, but they are a shitload more expensive and get crappier gas mileage, even with the the powerstroke.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Banff
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    toyota, diesel, 4dr, 4wd truck with a pop top camper (removable) if you need to use the truck bed.

    [ame="https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=131680"]TR: hilux toyota truck, and pop top camper - Teton Gravity Research Forums[/ame]


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    mntlion I've definitely drooled over your rig. What sort of MPG do you get?
    Putting the "core" in corporate, one turn at a time.

    Metalmücil 2010 - 2013 "Go Home" album is now a free download

    The Bonin Petrels

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Portland
    Posts
    2,035
    After owning an Element I'd say stay far, far away. Taco + canopy or poptop camper is the way I'd go.
    Be careful about buying snowboard goggles for skiing. Snowboard goggles come in right eye and left eye (for goofy-footers) dominant models. This can make it hard to see correctly when skiing because you are facing straight down the hill, not sideways.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    PRB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crystal_Mt_Dreamin View Post
    After owning an Element I'd say stay far, far away.
    why

    5678
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Banff
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    with camper, mountain driving.

    500km, in 60l of diesel. without camper, slow driving etc, 600km

    not sure what that converts at for mpg


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    313
    I can sense another Toyota cock sucking coming on here. Just don’t be blinded by the hype; you pay a shit load for the Toy, they get shit for mileage and are SMALL. Yes they are sweet for 4-wheeling other than that unless you’re a little dude they are too small. What do I drive? A GMC truck, I get 21mpg, it is big and safe and plush and sweet, I can get 3 dirt bikes in the back and it is easy for 4 people on a road trip (did I mention 21mpg) for the price I could have got a Toy with 60k miles (and 16mpg). I don’t get the blind love.
    believe me its real.

  10. #10
    Hugh Conway Guest
    won't a hilux have many of the delica problems being a non-US spec car?

    the element is an overgrown civic. that's pluses and minuses.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    not close enough
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    Found your solution...

    A good buddy of mine built this bad ass teardrop from the axle up, solo, over two months of a summer while working his regular job. Its small and light enough that you can pull it with any of the above mentioned wagons w/ a V-6, fits a full size mattress (maybe queen), and saves you plenty of fuel when you're not pulling it, or using the sleep-in feature of your bigger rig.

    (Spam alert) I'm pushing him to start building these commercially, starting with custom orders so he can transition out of his construction biz into a teardrop building biz. He say's he'd probably be profitable selling them at $7k-$8k, and could turn one out in a month, or two in six weeks after learning shortcuts in the process/from his mistakes over the first one. So! if anyone is seriously interested in a super legit, light & custom camping trailer lemme know and I can put you in touch. Apparently the comparable price of one (with more options) is about $17k.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    So. VT
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    Quote Originally Posted by mntlion View Post
    with camper, mountain driving.

    500km, in 60l of diesel. without camper, slow driving etc, 600km

    not sure what that converts at for mpg
    19.6 mpg and 23.52 mpg

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    is Gorges
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    won't a hilux have many of the delica problems being a non-US spec car?
    The only thing I see down here as often as pistol-grip, pump action shotguns are Hiluxs.

    I think the big selling point, besides being bomber, is that they are not rebuilt US wrecks.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post
    19.6 mpg and 23.52 mpg
    Really? 23.5 is not that much better than a gas version.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin

  15. #15
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    Nov 2007
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    all I did was use google to convert the km/liter number

    1 kilometer / l = 2.35214583 mpg

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Conway View Post
    won't a hilux have many of the delica problems being a non-US spec car?
    That was my thought too. A non-U.S. market vehicle (any) will make repairs more difficult in the U.S. There won't be any junkyards in the U.S. with Toyota diesel parts, the U.S. mechanics won't have any experience troubleshooting or repairing non-U.S. motors, etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    North Vancouver
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    6,182
    I sorta miss my Element.

    Don't have time to write up a detailed response but will try tonight after work.

    It is the perfect road warrior mobile if you don't need to do any serious off-road.

    Pretty sure we have a spread sheet with real world road trip mileage somewhere also.

  18. #18
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    Apr 2006
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    Bravo Delta.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hop View Post
    The Mitsu Delica would be perfect but ~10k for a 15yo vehicle is steep, not to mention the farther away I get from Canada the harder it will be to get maintenance.
    I'd still be inclined to get the Mitsu Delica. They are older, but you can still work on older vehicles yourself. Parts will be more, but you will save on the labour if you do the work yourself. With the Honda Element (if you buy new), you will not have to worry about maintenance, as I'm assuming you'll have warranty.

    However, the Element will be twice as much to purchase. Once the Honda goes downhill, maintenance will be expensive to have done in the shop, and a pain to do yourself.

    Older vehicles can be problematic, but at least you can work on them yourself if you are even a little bit handy. Plus the Delicas that I've seen are pimp and still running very well even though they are 15 years old. Built to last, AWD, good on diesel, home in a van.

    I ran into a lot of these this past year and have met a lot of very happy owners.

    Just my 0.02.
    Quote Originally Posted by Socialist View Post
    They have socalized healthcare up in canada. The whole country is 100% full of pot smoking pro-athlete alcoholics.

  19. #19
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    Oct 2003
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    what about the Ford Transit Connect





    EPA says 25 MPG highway............
    For sure, you have to be lost to find a place that can't be found, elseways everyone would know where it was

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    3rd floor
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    Yeah, doesn't meet the AWD criteria (it's front), but since my '83 6.2L Chevy diesel greasmobile effort failed utterly I've been burning gas, and I'm pretty interested in seeing how those do over here since they're build for fleet use...and they're talking about a full electric version ...

    http://green.autoblog.com/2009/02/09...tric-for-2010/

    might not even suffer from quite as much beta release issues, since they're basically porting stuff from the UK. Will never be an off-road monster, but I suppose if you glued enough panels to the roof you could always go somewhere...

  21. #21
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    Apr 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    Really? 23.5 is not that much better than a gas version.
    With a camper installed??

  22. #22
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    Oct 2003
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    Toyota Sienna AWD could accomplish everything that the Element Ecamper could do, w/o being an Element and needing a $4500 accessory item.

    Hmm. The quest continues.
    Putting the "core" in corporate, one turn at a time.

    Metalmücil 2010 - 2013 "Go Home" album is now a free download

    The Bonin Petrels

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Calgary
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    1,513
    Quote Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post
    19.6 mpg and 23.52 mpg
    I got 23.5 mpg and 28.2 mpg.

    http://www.calculateme.com/cGasMilea...G-imperial.htm

  24. #24
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    Banff
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    and diesel is less money per volume too....


  25. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    13

    20 and 27

    I get between 27 and 28 mpg highway in my FWD Flex. I'm not sure what the AWD would get. City driving puts me @ 20.5 MPG. I like mine better than my Lincoln.

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