Overlanding with a large family

  • Hi Guest, you may choose a LIGHT or DARK theme that works best for you with the "Style Chooser" button at the bottom left on this page!
  • HTML tutorial

Traveler I

60
Indianapolis, IN, USA
First Name
John
Last Name
Reynolds
I have tried to search on here to see if there any posts dealing with this topic and couldn't find anything.

We are a family of 6 who recently purchased a 2021 AW Atlas. We didn't really buy it for the purpose of kitting it out with lots of new add ons as it my wife's daily driver. We are going to head out on a 3 week trip to MT, WY, and CO this summer and I am interested in how the Atlas does.

Yet, as we dabble more and more into overlanding, I can tell I am catching the bug. In the future I would like to purchase a trailer (ie Hiker Trailer) to help with sleeping and storage. But I was curious if there are others out there with families as large as ours and what they drive? I love 4Runners, but the storage behind the 3rd row and the space in the 3rd row is pretty limited. What are some vehicles I could look at that offer a good base level value for off-road adventures? Are new tires the first add on when you start your builds?

Thanks for the suggestions/advice.
 

RideFlyDiveJeep

Rank VI
Benefactor
Member

Enthusiast III

3,129
Shawnee, KS 66217, USA
First Name
Mark
Last Name
Peterson
Member #

3131

Welcome John. Considering the short list of 6+ passenger 4wd vehicles and that you plan to go off-road, sort by the best ground clearance. I once heard lift is like RAM. Get the most you can afford. So if a stock vehicle already has some clearance you can go right to tires. Unfortunately 7 Passenger vehicles are longer, so not that severe off-roading would be possible. Expedition, Suburban, Armada, Highlander, and Durango have the specs. Though the some are smaller. Or if you can wait, the Rivian R1S and be the envy of many people. Without the trailer you'll need the room for tents. You can a roof top box to clear up space in the vehicle. Also check out the video by TFL of the Atlas's off-road abilities. Our tent is the Crua Core. Sleeps everyone, is expandable, and can be attached to the rear. Good luck.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Johnreynolds10

Anak

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

2,271
Sandy Eggo
We are a family of 5. If we are all going on a trip then it is the Suburban. If The Bride is not going then the Varmints and I can fit in the Jeep Cherokee ('96 XJ).

Note that the Suburban comes with a weight penalty, and once you get off pavement weight matters more. OTOH, it is a much more comfortable vehicle.

There are pros and cons to every option. The right answer is the one that works for your family and priorities.
 

Traveler I

60
Indianapolis, IN, USA
First Name
John
Last Name
Reynolds
Welcome John. Considering the short list of 6+ passenger 4wd vehicles and that you plan to go off-road, sort by the best ground clearance. I once heard lift is like RAM. Get the most you can afford. So if a stock vehicle already has some clearance you can go right to tires. Unfortunately 7 Passenger vehicles are longer, so not that severe off-roading would be possible. Expedition, Suburban, Armada, Highlander, and Durango have the specs. Though the some are smaller. Or if you can wait, the Rivian R1S and be the envy of many people. Without the trailer you'll need the room for tents. You can a roof top box to clear up space in the vehicle. Also check out the video by TFL of the Atlas's off-road abilities. Our tent is the Crua Core. Sleeps everyone, is expandable, and can be attached to the rear. Good luck.
This is a great post, I appreciate all of the info. We really do love the Atlas, so we will see how it goes this summer. The Armada was one we liked, but the mpg was something that caused us some worry. Ultimately, if the answer was easy, everyone would have the same rig.
The RAM comparison makes a lot of sense. We will check some of those out.
 

Traveler I

60
Indianapolis, IN, USA
First Name
John
Last Name
Reynolds
We are a family of 5. If we are all going on a trip then it is the Suburban. If The Bride is not going then the Varmints and I can fit in the Jeep Cherokee ('96 XJ).

Note that the Suburban comes with a weight penalty, and once you get off pavement weight matters more. OTOH, it is a much more comfortable vehicle.

There are pros and cons to every option. The right answer is the one that works for your family and priorities.
We like the Suburban, but its price point gets in the way. I dont think we will do major offloading, but its size....at least for comfort and space is a big plus for us.
 
  • Like
Reactions: OverLamb24 and Anak

Anak

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

2,271
Sandy Eggo
We like the Suburban, but its price point gets in the way. I dont think we will do major offloading, but its size....at least for comfort and space is a big plus for us.
Wait until the gas prices get higher.

Seriously.

I bought our Suburban in the summer of 2008 when gas was $5/gallon. 3/4 ton, 8.1L, 4x4 behemoth that sat on a dealership used lot for months. They were asking $14K for it. Originally sold (6 years before) for $44K. I kept calling the dealership every couple weeks offering them $10K for it. I think they finally decided I was their only hope to ever move that lot turd and they came down to just under $11K. I don't regret that purchase in the least.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TahoePPV

Enthusiast III

1,212
Grand Falls-Windsor, NL, Canada
First Name
Steve
Last Name
Adams
I love the surburban too. I miss my POS every day. More so in the winter when it had the sno pro attached. My JK with dinky plow is no where near as good for my property. I will have another when I find a 2005 Z71 in great condition for a decent price. Mine was neglected for a few years as it just sat, so I paid the price with things breaking alot. All due to lack of use. Well besides the transmission, That one was my fault 100 percent. ha ha.

To the OP, if the atlas is anything like the touareg, it should be a really really good platform. One thing I suggest is, if you are going to do ANY off pavement travel, replace the tires with a good all terrian tire. Most every tire that comes stock on a vehicle today is just enough to drive on.
 

Traveler I

60
Indianapolis, IN, USA
First Name
John
Last Name
Reynolds
I love the surburban too. I miss my POS every day. More so in the winter when it had the sno pro attached. My JK with dinky plow is no where near as good for my property. I will have another when I find a 2005 Z71 in great condition for a decent price. Mine was neglected for a few years as it just sat, so I paid the price with things breaking alot. All due to lack of use. Well besides the transmission, That one was my fault 100 percent. ha ha.

To the OP, if the atlas is anything like the touareg, it should be a really really good platform. One thing I suggest is, if you are going to do ANY off pavement travel, replace the tires with a good all terrian tire. Most every tire that comes stock on a vehicle today is just enough to drive on.
Thanks. I was thinking that would be my first buy....all terrain tires. Not sure I can convince the wife...but that is another post all together! My hope is to just get out there this summer and see what I like about the Atlas vs dislike and use that to make a good decision once it is my turn to buy my new one.
 

Traveler I

60
Indianapolis, IN, USA
First Name
John
Last Name
Reynolds
Wait until the gas prices get higher.

Seriously.

I bought our Suburban in the summer of 2008 when gas was $5/gallon. 3/4 ton, 8.1L, 4x4 behemoth that sat on a dealership used lot for months. They were asking $14K for it. Originally sold (6 years before) for $44K. I kept calling the dealership every couple weeks offering them $10K for it. I think they finally decided I was their only hope to ever move that lot turd and they came down to just under $11K. I don't regret that purchase in the least.
What year was the one you bought? I know there are a few generations out there, but was wondering what sort of mileage you were looking at that constituted the 11K price. Really good point about gas prices, I have never thought of that as a good time to buy.
 

Anak

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

2,271
Sandy Eggo
It is a 2002.

Around town we get 10-11mpg. Freeway it will get 12, and very occasionally 13mpg.

My first car was an Oldsmobile wagon with a 455, followed by a square body Suburban with a 454. Those both got about 8 mpg. So I am pretty happy to have moved up to a 496 and up into double digit fuel economy. That is an all around win in my book.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Johnreynolds10

Traveler I

60
Indianapolis, IN, USA
First Name
John
Last Name
Reynolds
It is a 2002.

Around town we get 10-11mpg. Freeway it will get 12, and very occasionally 13mpg.

My first car was an Oldsmobile wagon with a 455, followed by a square body Suburban with a 454. Those both got about 8 mpg. So I am pretty happy to have moved up to a 496 and up into double digit fuel economy. That is an all around win in my book.
Double digits is a big win when you are coming from a wagon like that! When you bought it, how many miles did it have on it?
 

Anak

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

2,271
Sandy Eggo
About 75K.

It was in very nice condition. Although somehow a piece of plastic trim for the roof rack was missing. Probably swiped by a car wash. It wasn't hard to get a replacement from the dealer.

It has required very little maintenance. I have had to replace a couple of servos that control HVAC blend doors. I had a fuse blow for the 4wd actuator motor. The factory recommendation was to put in a larger fuse (really??) and that has fixed the problem, but I have a new actuator motor on hand waiting for me to get around to it and go back to the standard fuse. The biggest maintenance expense has been tires. It has been a great family hauler.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Johnreynolds10

Anak

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

2,271
Sandy Eggo
I forgot the two biggest problems the Suburban has ever given us: Fuel pump and crankshaft position sensor. It earned a tow truck ride for each of those. Still cost less than tires.

No predicting when a CPS will go out.

Fuel pumps really appreciate it if you will replace the fuel filter on a regular basis. I failed on that one.
 

glNH333

Rank I
Member

Contributor I

233
Exeter, NH
Member #

3179

We are a (new) family of 5. I recently picked up a brand new 2021 Toyota Sequoia. So far (I have 4k miles on it) I am absolutely blown away. Coming from a Tacoma (my profile image) this thing is a beast. Compared to the Suburban and other full size SUVs the interior is lacking but to me, there's less things to break. I hope to have this for well over 250,000 miles. We plan on taking it on a 2,000 mile road trip later this summer and am looking at external storage options. Something like hitch and roof cargo because with 3 kids things add up fast!

The only thing I am dissapointed on with the Sequoia is the fuel tank. It's only 26 gallons, so with ~15mpg it doesn't last very long.

I would at least give it a shot in your search for a family hauler/overlander platform.
 

Traveler I

60
Indianapolis, IN, USA
First Name
John
Last Name
Reynolds
We are a (new) family of 5. I recently picked up a brand new 2021 Toyota Sequoia. So far (I have 4k miles on it) I am absolutely blown away. Coming from a Tacoma (my profile image) this thing is a beast. Compared to the Suburban and other full size SUVs the interior is lacking but to me, there's less things to break. I hope to have this for well over 250,000 miles. We plan on taking it on a 2,000 mile road trip later this summer and am looking at external storage options. Something like hitch and roof cargo because with 3 kids things add up fast!

The only thing I am dissapointed on with the Sequoia is the fuel tank. It's only 26 gallons, so with ~15mpg it doesn't last very long.

I would at least give it a shot in your search for a family hauler/overlander platform.

What trim did you buy? A new one would be nice for us, but a used one may be an option.
We are doing a hitch carrier and roof box for our Atlas. But it cant tow as much as yours, that is for sure.
 

glNH333

Rank I
Member

Contributor I

233
Exeter, NH
Member #

3179

What trim did you buy? A new one would be nice for us, but a used one may be an option.
We are doing a hitch carrier and roof box for our Atlas. But it cant tow as much as yours, that is for sure.
We opted for the TRD Pro. Now, many of the folks on this forum would probably disagree with that purchase but for us, it made sense. If we bought a base model, I would immediately want to upgrade the suspension, add running boards, black out the grill and emblems, etc and with a few young kids and other priorities I just didn't have the time. I am very happy with what we got, and I think it looks a lot better than the regular Sequoia.

Also, I really liked it still offers a rear locker and true 4WD unlike some of the other full size SUVs on the market today.

RenderedImage.jpg
 

Traveler I

60
Indianapolis, IN, USA
First Name
John
Last Name
Reynolds
What trim did you buy? A new one would be nice for us, but a used one may be an option.
We are doing a hitch carrier and roof box for our Atlas. But it cant tow as much as yours, that is for sure.
We opted for the TRD Pro. Now, many of the folks on this forum would probably disagree with that purchase but for us, it made sense. If we bought a base model, I would immediately want to upgrade the suspension, add running boards, black out the grill and emblems, etc and with a few young kids and other priorities I just didn't have the time. I am very happy with what we got, and I think it looks a lot better than the regular Sequoia.

Also, I really liked it still offers a rear locker and true 4WD unlike some of the other full size SUVs on the market today.

View attachment 189111
That looks amazing....truly jealous. We would never be able to afford it, but if we could, it would probably be my pick. Have fun with that!
 
  • Like
Reactions: glNH333