I’ve been watching for my dream vehicle for a few years now. I wanted something “truckier” than my Chevrolet Equinox. Something that I could sleep in the back of, or have a dog kennel in there, strapped down, so Hank couldn’t jump around. But not a pick-up truck. Something with big strong tires, and a full sized spare, preferably with four wheel drive.
That is an SUV…. or was an SUV. For gas mileage, every SUV is now really just a car. The last of the great SUV’s is the Nissan Xterra, last made in 2015, made on a truck body (shared with the Nissan Frontier).
As I looked and researched I narrowed it down to the Pro-4x trim level, for the great off-road (ie. Yukon roads) capability. I test drove one last summer in Whitehorse, in black, and loved how much it felt like my old S-10 pickup I had. The price was too high though, and it was scratched so badly.
The colour that really looked the sexiest to me, was white. So I set my search filters in AutoTrader and Kijiji to a 2015 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X in white. And then I watched the prices. There really aren’t many of them available.
Finally one came up with a decent price and kilometres in Victoria, out on Vancouver Island with just 74,000 km on it. But it is winter and that would be silly.
And life is also too short to not have what you want 😀
I got in touch and inquired about the truck. I even had them price out how much it would cost to ship it to Edmonton so it was closer to pick up.
While we worked on figuring how HOW I’d get this truck, I wired the cash to make the purchase official. Sight unseen!
Then fate fell into place and I had a work meetup scheduled in Vancouver! So Jeff flew down at the end of my meetup last week, picked it up in Victoria while I finished up my meetup, and then we drove it back to Dawson City over the weekend.
And by drive… well… really just Jeff drove because it has a manual transmission! Which I wanted, I think, to finally master this skill, and because it sounded fun.
I mean I’ve driven a standard before, on a car a couple times, a dump truck on the farm for a day, even a bus in the woods for a few minutes. Oh and hey, we even had a lawnmower with a clutch once.
But this was a over 3,000 kilometres we needed to drive, with most of it in the snow, with large animals all over the road.
Like this one.
OK you’re right, he was in the ditch.
All together we saw 111 bison, 7 caribou, an elk, 8 moose, dozens of deer, and a mink! Some bald eagles down in southern British Columbia too!
We also had to stop while they control blasted some avalanches in the mountains beside the road and that was pretty cool.
I drove for about 40 minutes maybe? When it wasn’t snowing or foggy.
This beautiful white sexy truck got dirty so fast!
I didn’t do bad on the highway. But I stalled it, then spun the tires good, when I was trying to get going!
Mostly we just wanted to get home, so Jeff drove. I stressed. So much of the drive was super shitty. We had a couple hours of fog after dark the first night, and then an hour of heavy falling snow into Prince George. You know the kind when it looks like you just switched into warp drive and the snow is coming right at your face? Yeah that. The snow got so thick on the roads, we had to use 4×4 to get into Prince George.
Then we had slush.
And then more snow.
And oh the rocks. So in cold climates, salt isn’t spread on the icy road, rocks and gravel and sand are. The rocks are all projectiles with every vehicle you meet, or get behind. It wasn’t long before my windshield was full of rock chips.. and then a crack almost all the way across. Waaaah….
There was a bit of sunshine, and that was nice. Probably my favourite part of the trip was seeing all the communities and sawmills that I used to blog about daily on ForestTalk.com. That was really special.
We also drove by where a new hydro dam is being built. Ever heard of Site C? We drove by it. Lots of the deer were around there, eating the food put out on the cattle ranches.
My truck even has a cute shadow!
Here’s more of the bison that wander the ditches between Muncho Lake in British Columbia and Watson Lake in southern Yukon.
A path was even plowed along the trees to make it easier for the bison to move around. They press their faces into the snow and push back and forth to expose the grass to eat.
Here are some caribou on the road!
There was a place in British Columbia with a phenomenal amount of snow. I’m talking higher-than-the-road-signs type of snow. We had to stop while they blasted controlled avalanches in the mountains there! We were a bit concerned when the sign said these blasts happen between noon and three, but it was probably only 15 minutes. There was a chopper flying around – I think they detonated blasts from the chopper! No.. I don’t have any good pictures.
We spent 3 nights on the road, in Prince George, BC, Fort Nelson, BC, and then Whitehorse. When we made it to Whitehorse, we washed the BC road right off that truck. I grabbed the hose to wash my baby, but tall Jeff took it back because he could see the top (I guess I’m short). I finished it off while he soaped up the spots that were still dirty. It was clean for about 30 seconds after we left the indoor car wash!
The second half of the familiar drive home from Whitehorse was snowy. And with the light snow, it stays in the air in a whiteout for about a kilometre behind a transport, so we spent hours going 70 km/hr behind a truck because there just wasn’t enough visibility to pass. I was a mess of stressed out nerves in the passenger seat.
The truck is great! The gas mileage is known to not be great, and at first Jeff was very fearful with the “km to empty” calculation on the dash, that started in the 300 km range! I think it maybe was driven mostly in town? By the time we were home that average was up to 500 km/hr, still not great, but fine. The tank is 80L.
The heated leather seats are niiiiiiice. The stereo is nice. Nothing is noisy, no rattles.
I drove it home from the airport solo (Jeff’s truck was parked out there). I did great! Oh except for stalling a ton of times at the first stop sign I stopped at on a bit of an icy slope.
I’m banned from attempting to park in the garage until I’m more comfortable driving it. I’m planning to drive around the back streets for a while and get better with this first gear take off! Did I mention it has SIX gears! Lots of fun shifting on the highway!
So overall, I really don’t recommend driving from Vancouver to the Yukon the winter. Unless you stop until it stops snowing. And already have a broken windshield. But we made it, survived it, and now I have a pretty new truck.
Anyone wanna buy a 2010 Chevrolet Equinox? AWD? Two sets of tires on rims!