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Old 09-23-2009, 04:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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High MPG Winter Car - AWD? - $4K or less

I'm looking for a cheap, reliable high mpg winter car. AWD would be great since I live in CO, but not required. I need something reliable and easy to work on. I will probably put 15K on it in the next 6 months. I have $3-$4K to spend on the car, and any maintenance it needs. If not AWD I will want snow tires. I'm used to driving a fulltime 4wd Toyota Landcruiser that can go anywhere in the snow and I do a lot of work in the mountains in the winter. I know civics are cheap and reliable, but I would love something more unique! Subaru, Audi, BMW, small pickup or SUV, etc. Not really picky. Maybe I should just buy a Metro or Civic and shut up?! I can do most basic maintenance like fluids, brakes, etc.

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Old 09-23-2009, 08:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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For your price range, their are not a lot of options, Toyota Rav4, Suzuki Sidekick, Geo Tracker, Subaru Forester, Subaru Outback are just a few that come to mind.
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Old 09-23-2009, 09:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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depends on your priorities / typical conditions. your best fuel economy and cheapest to buy/maintain is going to be a small fwd car with snow tires. but if you often get too deep of snow for such a car then i'd refer to the previous post. while it might be nicer to have the awd and ground clearance this winter, come next summer you might feel differently about the mileage you could be giving up.

i'd say get a car, and drive the land cruiser when weather dictates. personally i prefer how a small car with narrow tires handles in the winter, and i dont break out my truck for getting around purposes unless the snow is up to the saturns airdam, or everyone is sliding around on ice and i'd rather let ppl try to smash up my old truck than the plastic saturn.
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Old 09-23-2009, 10:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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a small fwd handles waayyy more than most people can imagine, just takes practice. Also safer on slippery/icy conditions than 4x4 or rwd. And if it is small there is a very good chance you can unstick it yourself should it lose interest in the tarmac on some usually harmless corner by the field or whatever.

Keep some guiness on hand for the %0.2 of the year that you actually are snowed in
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Old 09-23-2009, 10:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Hi,

I'll second the front wheel drive suggestion -- as long as you get 4 full snow tires. This makes all the difference. I'd recommend the ones that Chang Ho Kim won the Economy Run with:

Modified Honda CRX HF Scores 118 MPG in Fuel Economy Run | Hypermiling, Fuel Economy, and EcoModding News - EcoModder.com
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've enjoyed my Legacy (AWD, 5MT) in the winter. 6" is plenty of ground clearance in Buffalo. Only a few times have I encountered snow too deep for the Subaru to plow through it, and that would be in the case of heavy, wet snow in a parking lot, or in the case of fluffy stuff in the driveway up to the headlights. So I rarely had to shovel.

Okay, it's fun in the snow, but it only got 21-29mpg pre-ecomodder, and 25-35mpg post-ecomodder, depending on the weather and the trip. Yeah, it's better on gas than your Land Cruiser, but can you get by with a Civic with snow tires? Dunno, but I think I can get by in an Insight.
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Old 09-23-2009, 11:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Seriously- who asks others what car to buy? You don't know what you want or need? You don't know that everyone who responds will tell you to get what they have?

OK then. I say get a Spitfire. It fits the budget, you WILL learn a lot about maintenance and repair, it's super low to the ground, has virtually no heater, it has zero traction, but above all else it is unique.
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Old 09-24-2009, 12:49 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I say a Subaru Justy if you can find one.

...or

If ground clearance isn't an issue, any high-FE front driver with a good set of snow tires will do the job just fine.

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Old 09-24-2009, 08:49 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Lee View Post
Seriously- who asks others what car to buy? You don't know what you want or need? You don't know that everyone who responds will tell you to get what they have?

OK then. I say get a Spitfire. It fits the budget, you WILL learn a lot about maintenance and repair, it's super low to the ground, has virtually no heater, it has zero traction, but above all else it is unique.
I guess I thought that is partly what this forum is for? And everyone hasn't just suggested what they drive. I know what I want and need, however I am not willing to spend the 10K plus to get it right now. I was hoping others would share their experiences with some of my ideas and maybe offer up a few I hadn't thought of. It's smart assed worthless comments like yours that caused me to leave this forum the last time..........
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Old 09-24-2009, 08:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RH77 View Post
I say a Subaru Justy if you can find one.


RH77
I clicked on this post to say that. Mostly cause I recently saw a beautiful specimen for sale nearby, 5 spd, awd, all original, an old friend had one with the cvt that lil sucker was fun.

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