I’m in my early twenties, and I’m looking for a car that I can efficiently commute in (about 20 miles round trip) but also take to skiing and camping on the weekend. Efficiency is more important than price, but AWD is a must because I hate messing with chains. Also, I only need room for two people and gear, so no need for a big SUV.
Steve Lang: Most vehicles in the Northern country are not All-Wheel-Drive. In fact, today’s front wheel drive models come with a long list of safety and ‘grip’ features that make them just about as safe as the all wheel drive models of the prior decade. Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control….
We’re going to assume that you can’t buy new being in your early 20’s. If you’re looking for something that’s about five years old, all wheel drive, and affordable, my top choice would be the Mitsubishi Outlander. I regularly see these vehicles with 150k+ at the auctions and I’ve yet to find one with an engine or tranny issue. The powertrains are excellent and owners have routinely rated them as just as good or better than the Subaru Forester at owner review sites (Edmunds, Carsurvey, MSN). You can also buy them about three grand cheaper than the overhyped Subie and parts cost should be far lower over the long run as well.
Sajeev Mehta: Stick with small CUVs in your price range, that’s the best way to have your cake and eat it too. Finding a low-mile RAV4/CRV/Escape/Equinox with four-corner, four cylinder motivation is the best for your lifestyle. Drive them all and see which ones fit in your budget. I’d avoid a used Outlander because reselling an old Mitsubishi (versus a Honda, Toyota or even a Ford) as an individual is like pawning a set of WalMart’s finest silverware. You might as well set it on fire instead. That wasn’t an endorsement of insurance fraud, even if it sounded so.