This is Ryan in Chicago again . I am still driving an Acura 2004 TL with about 80k miles, but with winter on the way, I get the itch to switch to a more winter/city car. I used to park in a heated garage at home and work. Now I am relegated to the street parking all the time. Here are my thoughts: – the tl is going to really suffer with all the time in the cold and snow – I am planning on adding a nice sporty car ($40k) to the mix next spring – I always thought a solid cheap AWD vehicle for driving around (and parking) in the city like bronco, wrangler, outback would be great I look forward to your ideas.
First off, you don’t need AWD in any major city. Okay, a disclaimer: when I lived in Detroit, there was a flash snowstorm that caught the city with their pants down, so to speak. But if that happens to you, do yourself a solid and take a snow day: don’t bother going to work. Or anywhere else! Be drivetrain blind: all you want is a truck-ish beater that’s inherently fun because it’s different than your other ride. I get it, that’s one reason why Texans use trucks as regular transportation, even the filthy rich roll pickups/SUVs to not look terribly ostentatious on a daily basis.
So make a budget and find the most interesting SUV that’ll fit the bill. It’s okay to have fun, but be realistic: the best cheap beaters are 15-ish year old Explorers, Blazers, Pathfinders and other mainstream SUVs (i.e. no Isuzus, KIAs, Subies, etc) that don’t command the insane asking prices of the Toyota 4Runner. I’d go for screwball obscurity, with mainstream value: an Oldsmobile Bravada or Mercury Mountaineer.
Where do we get these questions? (From my Inbox – SM) Ryan, this is no longer the 1970’s.
The rusted out car has gone the way of vinyl roofs and ‘cassette’ premium sound systems. Today’s cars can easily withstand the worst of what the cold and salt can whip up. As for Chicago destroying your beloved TL… even my brother’s 1984 rust-prone Supra lasted for 13 years out there. Your vehicle will easily last well past the point of your interest in the vehicle.
The issue you have isn’t rust. It’s trust. As in, how can any sane soul make it through all those crappy winters? What you need to do is get out of Chicago. It sucks out there in the dead of winter. Even worse than New Jersey on a good day. Go find a cheap flight to somewhere that offers good beer and great waves. Learn how to surf. Find a babe that digs your overspending prowess, and spring for a set of good winter tires.
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