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Author Topic: Is 4wd useful as a toad?  (Read 3682 times)

EMan508

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Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« on: January 30, 2012, 09:45:20 PM »
Hello,

I live on Cape Cod in MA.  You can't get much off-road 4wd fun-time here. You go off the pavement and poof you are on private property.

I'm about to take the plunge and go full-timing, mostly out west.  I need to replace my current car (Prius) with a 4-wheel down towable car.

My question:  is it worth paying more for a 4wd car (that gets <20mpg) to go off-road elsewhere in the US. If the opportunities to go off-road are still slim, I could just rent a jeep now and then. Might have just answered my own question! Can people mention here where they have fun off-roading the most?

My original thought was to buy a used Honda Fit which is <$20k new and gets >30mpg and can be towed all 4 wheels down. Anyone tow one of these?

Thanks,
Eric

seilerbird

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2012, 09:49:45 PM »
I am in Quartzsite Arizona where about 75% of the toads are 4WD. They are all over the place here running around the desert having a blast. Read the following thread starting at page 3 and you will see what a blast we had on several runs with a group of 4WDs. There are plenty of photos. Judge for yourself.

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php?topic=50130.60

utahclaimjumper

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2012, 10:26:10 PM »
You sound as tho you have lived a sheltered life,,, out west is a whole different world you may have not seen.>>>Dan (Its not allways about gas mileage)
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EMan508

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2012, 10:54:40 PM »
You sound as tho you have lived a sheltered life,,, out west is a whole different world you may have not seen.>>>Dan (Its not always about gas mileage)

I most definitely have lived a very sheltered life and I'm trying to break away now! It's tough to live a life of frugality and then just turn it off and spend $ on fuel that can be avoided. I will admit the off-roading images are enticing.

Tom S - Are you a pro photographer?  I love your Picassa images! The QZ images look like everyone is really enjoying the 4wd.

-Eric

Betty Brewer

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2012, 10:58:42 PM »
Our Jeep gets terrible mileage but  the off roads are priceless. There are still lots of  trails in the west each unique and scenic.  Forest trails,  desert BLM, sand dunes,  and lots of mining roads to explore.  You will never see as much of the " interior" of our  great country  if you can't get there. 

That said the 4 door models will offer better access for additional passengers, groceries and daily running around. I doubt you would be sorry to have your own  4 WD instead of the occasional rental.

Betty

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utahclaimjumper

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2012, 07:57:05 AM »
It can also be 4Wdrive and NOT a Jeep.>>>Dan
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Molaker

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2012, 08:14:22 AM »
Getting off road, especially out west, a 4WD is only part of it.  Good ground clearance and undercarriage protection is also helpful.  That's one reason why Jeeps are popular.  Choose your toad wisely if you plan to do any serious off-roading.
 
FWIW - My Jeep gets great mileage - if I roll in the miles it gets being dragged around behind our MH. ::)
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seilerbird

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2012, 08:16:37 AM »

Tom S - Are you a pro photographer?  I love your Picassa images! The QZ images look like everyone is really enjoying the 4wd.

Thank you for your kind words Eric. I used to be pro but I am retired and I give all my photos away. We had an absolute blast on those runs. The cool thing was the fact that the yellow VW is a 2WD and it went everywhere the 4WDs went. Of course there are plenty of places the 4WDs can go that the VW can go. We drove up to "The Ridge" which is a way cool road with a steep drop off on both sides. Then when we parked for lunch we had a million dollar view of Arizona.

I do a lot of hiking. I have two sayings about hiking and off roading. The longer the trail the greater the prize waiting at the end. You cannot see anything from the highway. Just take a look at a map of the west and notice how much area does not have paved roads.

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2012, 09:17:29 AM »
We have a Jeep Liberty that we tow 4 down. It has been in 4wd 4 times but our next trip out west will probably see more 4wd. 2 times it was in 4wd because we ghot stuck in sand and it came right out, 2 other times was on the farm where we had freshly plowed. I like the capabilities of the Liberty and the comfort as an everyday driver. The Liberty is easy for me to get in and out of and sits comfortably. I got rid of a Cadillac simply because I was having a problem exiting it. There are other vehicles that might suit you better.
I just noticed that the Jeep Patriot is now towable 4 down.
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Bob Maxwell

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2012, 09:24:58 AM »
Getting off road, especially out west, a 4WD is only part of it.  Good ground clearance and undercarriage protection is also helpful.  That's one reason why Jeeps are popular.  Choose your toad wisely if you plan to do any serious off-roading.
 
FWIW - My Jeep anything gets great mileage - if I roll in the miles it gets being dragged around behind our MH. ::)

You will end up spending a lot less on gas for the towd as long as you don't pull the mh. ;D
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Barb

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2012, 09:39:02 AM »
So the question you want to ask yourself, is, if I buy a regular 4wd suv, when I get out west and are having so much fun, will you want to up grade? So maybe you should just start with a rubicon. They live up to their names JEEP, just empty every pocket.

We started out with a Chevy Colorado PU, than to a Jeep Sahara, and now a rubi. We had a riot with our pu, but we got the itch for more adventure.

If you plan on do'n easy to moderate off roading, any high clearance 4wd will do. (jeep liberty is not high clearance)  And you will make priceless memories. And you will have adventures you will talk about the rest of your life. And you'll meet more friends than you could ever dream of.

So you have to decide is the cost of fuel worth the price of adventure, new friendships, and priceless memories.

If you go to the wrangler forum, and scroll down to the bottom, you'll find a sub forum for all the states. Including Mass.

Enjoy
Barb
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2011 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2012, 10:00:03 AM »
Most of the "off" roads that RVers go on aren't really very rugged, so ground clearance and such are not a big factor. A nice all-wheel drive crossover SUV works fine, and gives you a really nice daily driver as well. Obviously there are places you can't go with that sort of vehicle, but it's a matter of choice. If you think you may want to climb rocky canyons or wade through mud bogs and over sand dunes, by all means get a classic 4WD vehicle, something like the Rubicon. But if you just want to ride on dirt roads though the desert or backroads in a forest, most anything with 4WD or AWD will do the job well enough.

By the way, you've been missing a lot of scenery in the East if you never had 4WD/AWD.  We've driven lumber trail roads in Maine & New Hampshire, hunting trails in South Carolina, sandy trails in Florida, farm wood lands in NY,  etc. All done with a Chevy Tracker 4WD.  There are opportunities everywhere and they don't have to be extreme.
Gary
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lone_star_dsl

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2012, 10:13:19 AM »
Hello,

I live on Cape Cod in MA.  You can't get much off-road 4wd fun-time here. You go off the pavement and poof you are on private property.

I'm about to take the plunge and go full-timing, mostly out west.  I need to replace my current car (Prius) with a 4-wheel down towable car.

My question:  is it worth paying more for a 4wd car (that gets <20mpg) to go off-road elsewhere in the US. If the opportunities to go off-road are still slim, I could just rent a jeep now and then. Might have just answered my own question! Can people mention here where they have fun off-roading the most?

My original thought was to buy a used Honda Fit which is <$20k new and gets >30mpg and can be towed all 4 wheels down. Anyone tow one of these?

Thanks,
Eric

I guess we need to know your definition of "off-roading".  I've had trail rigs with 44" tires, semi truck axles and roll cages that got less than 2 mpg highway but could crawl over boulders the size of a VW and swim through 4' of mud.  On the other hand, my Audi has AWD and is great for leaf watching on some of the less traveled dirt roads in the mountains.  The car gets about 25 mpg.
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Theberrys

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2012, 10:51:14 AM »
We tow a Old Zuzuki Sidekick. It does OK offroad but I wouldn't take it on a technical trail.
It gets around 30 MPG and only weighs 2500 lbs, so it's a easy tow. I did have to fix it up a bit but the cost was only around $2500.
Unless your a hard core off roader it makes a good toad.
 
Dick

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lone_star_dsl

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2012, 04:53:25 PM »
We tow a Old Zuzuki Sidekick. It does OK offroad but I wouldn't take it on a technical trail.
It gets around 30 MPG and only weighs 2500 lbs, so it's a easy tow. I did have to fix it up a bit but the cost was only around $2500.
Unless your a hard core off roader it makes a good toad.

That's a great idea!  There are plenty of aftermarket suppliers to increase the off-road abilities of the Sidekick should one be so inclined.
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Colorado Springs, CO

ArdraF

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2012, 05:37:49 PM »
Eman508,

You won't regret getting a four-wheel drive car, but you might regret NOT getting one!  For example, when the group is at Quartzsite we tend to drive in Tyson Wash (a huge drainage that turns into a river at flood time) to get to the RV show and into town instead of driving on U.S. 95 and taking a half hour to drive a few miles because traffic backs up.  We've even been known to drive down the wash just to go exploring!  Depending on the 2WD some can use the wash, but most can't so this is a good example of something we do daily where we love having 4WD.  And then there are our trail rides.  That crazy little yellow VW has been raised and Mike worked hard to make it more "offroadable."  Most people couldn't take their VWs on that trail.

Our first toad was a Chevy Tracker and it was a great little car.  It was quite respectable offroad too.  Shortly after we got it Petersen's 4WD magazine's annual test had it right in the middle of the pack when tested on a technical trail.  Then we got the Jeep Grand Cherokee which was great offroad but then we needed something different so switched to the Acura MDX.  The MDX does okay offroad as long as the trail isn't too strenuous.  It's primary drawback is no skid plate which means we have to be really careful in rocky terrain.  It's clearance is okay for easier trails but not as good as the Jeep.  It has a four-wheel lock in case we need extra oomph climbing.  Two big advantages are that it seats seven (good for three couples going out for dinner) and has very good safety features.  All three of our cars tow four-down.  Newer models of the MDX are not towable, so you have to read the specific car manuals to make sure it's towable without voiding the warranty.  Whoever mentioned getting a four-door model made a good point because it's easier than two doors, especially when using the back seat.  Speaking of back seats, the MDX has three seatback adjustments for those who like to sit more straight or those who like to lean back a bit more and have more lumbar support.

ArdraF

ArdraF
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John From Detroit

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2012, 07:48:08 PM »
Is 4wd useful as a towed?

Though generally I do not want to drive my motor home to places where I'd need 4wd going down the road,,,because of bad weather.. There are other reasons for wanting 4wd.

4wd Vehicle owners come in two types.. Some do not wish to worry what condition the road is in,  A bit of bad weather they wish to still be able to go,, You can  usually find these, in a good Michigan Winter, about a quarter mile out in some farmer's field stuck up to the door handles. (We track them from where they ran off the freeway) because though a 4wd can GO LIKE THE WIND in bad weather,,, It also stops like the wind... When it hits something solid.

Other 4WD owners don't want to worry what road is in.. That is they go OFF ROADING. 

Myself.. I notice that when I was in Quartsite, To get from the BLM land where the forum parks to the big tent was about 1 hr by SR-95 in bumper to bumper traffic.. Getting back perhaps 5 minutes.

Getting from the same start to the big tent via Old Yuma Road... perhaps 10 minutes (Slower speed limit but no traffic back up) however if you are driving a rear wheel drive there is not a lot of hope of making that route, Front wheel drive can go NORTH, but may have issues going south, and 4WD makes it both ways.

I'm a bit of a crossover.. I would like to not worry about if there is a road, even if I do plan on sticking to them.
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2012, 01:10:31 AM »
Quote
Our first toad was a Chevy Tracker and it was a great little car.

The Chevy Tracker is a twin of the Suzuki Sidekick.

If you need 4 doors and a little more room, Suzuki had an SUV called the XL7.  Basically it's the Sidekick with the wheelbase stretched 7" to allow 4 doors and more cargo room and back seat room.

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #18 on: February 01, 2012, 09:04:38 AM »
Actually, the XL7 is a stretched Suzuki Grand Vitara, which is a 4 door SUV available with either 2WD or 4WD.  The Grand Vitara is quite a substantial change from the previous Sidekick model, with numerous chassis and body improvements, including a longer wheelbase.   The 2 door version is known as the Vitara (no "Grand"). Previous generations of the Grand Vitara had the Chevy Tracker 4-door as a twin and both are popular toads. Chevrolet no longer sells the Tracker - it was replaced by the Equinox.

Today's Grand Vitara is rear wheel drive SUV available in 2WD or 4WD.  The XL7 is no longer available.
Gary
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Barb

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2012, 09:16:51 AM »
As I was reading my Colorado Plateau Hiking Book this morning, and I was reminded of this thread. I was reading the directions out to a hike, and they stated 4 low was required.

If you have a high clearance 4 wd vehicle, and are a hiker, you can go just about anywhere, and do things other vehicles can't. The smaller the suv, the less places you can go.

These are things I don't do....climb rocky canyons or wade through mud bogs and over sand dunes. And I have a jeep Rubicon. But I do drive to and hike arches, Petroglyphs , and slot canyons.

So decide what your gonna use it for. And get what suits your needs and finances.
Barb
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2011 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited

EMan508

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2012, 11:02:06 PM »
WOW - I can't believe all the great feedback!  Thank you everyone.

I do like to hike and photography is at the top of the list.  Sometime in the near future I see a 4wd vehicle sitting outside.

-Eric

Jim Dick

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2012, 11:14:24 PM »
Eric,

We owned two Geo Trackers and two Suzuki Grand Vitaras. Loved all of them. Great little off road vehicles that provided us with many wonderful off road trips. They couldn't compare to a Jeep with beefed up suspension but did an admiral job of traversing trails that even the Rangers told us were not driveable!

I would have purchased another GV but, due to an engine compartment reconfiguration, I could not install the M&G braking system which I consider the best. Ended up purchasing an all wheel drive GMC Terrain which will not be able to traverse many of the trails we used to love. I will miss it greatly.

I used to be put in front of many forum off road trips. Because I had the lowest clearance the rest knew if I could get through, they all could!
« Last Edit: February 01, 2012, 11:15:58 PM by Jim Dick »
Jim

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zmotorsports

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2012, 09:31:43 AM »
It can also be 4Wdrive and NOT a Jeep.>>>Dan

What? 

That's blasphemy.  What other 4-wheel drive is there but a Jeep?

Just kidding of course, but like others have mentioned getting off of the beaten path is very enjoyable.

I tell my wife that life begins where the pavement ends.

We have thoroughly enjoyed all of our past Jeeps, we have owned an XJ (Cherokee) and two ZJs (Grand Cherokees) and just purchased a four-door JK Rubicon for our toad.  We like to explore old mining towns and other places that have roads that are made of dirt.  We do somewhat moderate to hardcore trails but also enjoy a leasurely dirt road drive that takes up back to some of the most beautiful country that you can imagine.

There is nothing like packing a lunch and heading off-road for the day to enjoy the outdoors.

Mike.
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Larry N.

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2012, 10:37:55 AM »
... The cool thing was the fact that the yellow VW is a 2WD and it went everywhere the 4WDs went. Of course there are plenty of places the 4WDs can go that the VW can go. ...

Note that Mike & Wendy's VW has oversized tires and, perhaps, other mods to improve its off-road ability.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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Larry N.

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2012, 10:43:46 AM »
Just a note here, about Jeeps. You don't have to get a Rubicon for off-roading. Our 2003 Wrangler Sport is pretty capable in itself, more so than most 4WD other than Jeeps (partly due to the short wheelbase and short overhang front and rear). However if you want severe, rather than moderate or less, off-roading, you'll want the Rubicon.

Note that when a forum off-road trip is led by Terry and Betty, or by Frank and Barb, you'll get some good instruction and some excellent help, too.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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2003 Wrangler toad
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EMan508

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2012, 11:42:56 AM »
Note that when a forum off-road trip is led by Terry and Betty, or by Frank and Barb, you'll get some good instruction and some excellent help, too.

Would people be willing to pull my car out of trouble if my Prius gets stuck going over a pine-cone?  ;D

I really appreciate all the great feedback.  I'm leaning toward a used Grand Vitara for the best of both worlds but the Jeeps are very enticing also with the high ground clearance.

Betty Brewer

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2012, 01:58:28 PM »
Would people be willing to pull my car out of trouble if my Prius gets stuck going over a pine-cone?  ;D


Sure no problemo, Just carry your own tow strap!  On a recent off road trail in Yuma with our 4x4 Club,  Terry rescued a couple of Marines with a tow stap and with an air compressor.

Let the fun begin!
Betty
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Jeff

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2012, 06:26:07 PM »
While off-roading is not a pastime for us like others here the all wheel drive on our CRVs has pulled us through washes in AZ, gravel in Alsaka, sand on the beaches of both coasts, and even a little ice and snow before we left WA seven years ago.

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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #28 on: February 12, 2012, 05:19:04 PM »
In my opinion...YES!  Get a 4wd!  Many of the state and National Parks have primitive backcountry roads open only to 4wd vehicles: Big Bend NP, Padre Island National Seashore, Great Sand Dunes NP, lists goes on.  A 4wd drive gives you the opportunity to get back into the remote areas of these marvelous parks where most people can't go.  Check out there websites and read for yourself. 

Good luck hunting and God Bless!

 
Matt Brown
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Re: Is 4wd useful as a toad?
« Reply #29 on: February 15, 2012, 11:37:06 AM »
I have a TT and my usual tow vehicles are both high clearance 4wd.

In Minnesota the legal climate has made true offroad 4x4ing nearly impossible due to a combination of road closures and restrictions on public lands, and wetlands regulations prohibiting mudding on private lands.  The real reasons have much to do with conflict between motorized and nonmotorized recreation.  There has been a loss of interest in traditional 4x4ing with a move towards ATVs by most hunters and other recreational users and with that many of the offroad trails that do remain open are not wide enough for a Jeep.

That said, part of the reason my setup is the way it is is that either tow vehicle is capable of offroad operation in any area that can accommodate the longer wheelbase and wider body.
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