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I need a good winter car....Yes, I know, it's almost summer....

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
but my lease on my truck is up in August and I have to start thinking about a new car. I want to keep my truck, but we are trying to save for a house, and stupid me leased my truck. So now, in August, it will still be $300 a month to keep it. Plus it's a gas guzzler. On those two things alone, it makes more sense to get something cheaper so I can save more money. Anyway, I live in Wisconsin, and if you don't know, we had a HORRIBLE winter this past year. I have never seen so much snow.
I am scared to death to get a car. I have to travel quite often to do my pet sitting business, and I can't afford to get stuck. My truck has 4 wheel drive so it's nice, as opposed to my boyfriends car, which is a Civic, and has NO traction in snow and he got stuck like every day. Which, by the way, I had to push him out with my truck, lol. I can't have that.
So, to sum up, I need a cheaper, more fuel efficient car, that's a little bigger, with all wheel drive. And not a beater, I need something reliable. I plan to put sand bags in the trunk this year.
Any good car ideas??? Thanks.
post #2 of 21
no advice here but i am soo happy to hear you two are going so well!!
post #3 of 21
I have a Chevrolet Cavalier, and I've never had trouble with it in the snow. I don't really know much about what cars are or aren't good in the snow, but I hear that Ford Mustangs are not good in the snow. I also know that, because we used to have one, Mercury Cougars aren't the best thing to have in the snow, either. I'm sure someone who knows more about cars will probably come along with better info for you.
post #4 of 21
Ive got a Subaru Outback. I just got it in Feb (Im in Maine) so I dont have a lot of winter experience with it but I didnt have any problems at all. The AWD did kick in a few times getting up my driveway but I didnt slide around at all, and I didnt have any weight in it either. Its plenty roomy, I have a Great Dane who fits in the back with the back seats up so if you put the back seats down there would be tons of room. Not great on gas, about 23MPG but thats what you get with AWD. Id recommend it.
post #5 of 21
I don't have one, but I have heard good things about the Subaru Outback. I have a friend that drives one, and you couldn't beat him hard enough to get rid of it.
post #6 of 21
The Subarus have an excellent reputation, and all of them are all-wheel drive.

My mother-in-law just bought a new Taurus, and it has it, too.
post #7 of 21
I live in Wisconsin too, and I've been driving a Mini Cooper for the last 3 winters. I've never gotten stuck. I put dedicated snow tires on in the winter, and it is front-wheel drive. Anything that is AWD will be pretty bad on gas. If you absolutely must have AWD look at the Subarus.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isabel View Post
I live in Wisconsin too, and I've been driving a Mini Cooper for the last 3 winters. I've never gotten stuck. I put dedicated snow tires on in the winter, and it is front-wheel drive. Anything that is AWD will be pretty bad on gas. If you absolutely must have AWD look at the Subarus.
Good snow tires are your best bet. My husband has a rear drive with dedicated snows. It performs much better than my AWD with all-seasons.

Suburus have a very good reputation for AWDs.
post #9 of 21
My 4WD Chevy Tracker gets better mileage than my husband's Pontiac Grand Am (both are 6 cylinder and 4 door). This one is my 3rd Tracker. I love them and have never had a problem with them, except that Chevy stopped making them. :p They've all been dependable and like mountain goats in the snow. The only reason I traded in my red two door convertible for my black four door was because I wanted something a little bigger that I could fit a dog in. If I'd known I was going to end up with a small dog, I'd have kept the red one. But I do like having roof racks and can fit an 8 foot plank of lumber inside the 4 door (as long as I have no passengers).

Sadly, they've been replaced with the Chevy Equinox, which is a little larger. Suzuki Grand Vitaras are essentially the same vehicle, though.
post #10 of 21
I've driven my Hyundai Elantra through 2 winters, and put 4 excellent snow tires on it, and it was great. We had a real rough winter this year, and it never failed me at all. Some people don't like Hyundai's but I love my car and will have it for awhile. If you want something with AWD, I've heard good things about Subaru's as well.
post #11 of 21
Up here in the Green Bay area we have the truck and a Merc Milan (the v6 not the 4 cylinder). He didn't have a problem with the last two winters. Look to see what mfg makes a fuel efficient AWD vehicle. Just don't get rear wheel drive!! I know subarus are mentioned I owned one but if you need service work only subaru parts can be installed which makes it more costly. I would go to the EVS dealerships in the Milwaukee area and start checking out whats out there.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaxLisa View Post
Ive got a Subaru Outback. I just got it in Feb (Im in Maine) so I dont have a lot of winter experience with it but I didnt have any problems at all. The AWD did kick in a few times getting up my driveway but I didnt slide around at all, and I didnt have any weight in it either. Its plenty roomy, I have a Great Dane who fits in the back with the back seats up so if you put the back seats down there would be tons of room. Not great on gas, about 23MPG but thats what you get with AWD. Id recommend it.
I would also recommend a Subaru..especially for winter driving.

I drive a Honda Civic which I also recommend, but if I could afford a Subaru I would own one.
post #13 of 21
I would reccomend a Subaru. I have an Impreza and, while I have had it in the shop a few times since I got it last year, I love it! I plowed through about 6" of snow that was completely untouched and it never slowed down. WV roads are not plowed all that well and the only place that I ever had trouble with it was in my parking lot last year because it was covered in ice. The Impreza might be a little smaller than what you want, but Subaru's are good cars no matter what kind you get.
post #14 of 21
I'm surprised no one mentioned the Honda CR-V. The Honda CR-V in 4WD format with good snow tires and you'd be set. Good gas mileage to boot (~27mg). Lots of space, drives like a civic (somewhat harsh suspension but very good handling characteristics).

Somewhat expensive at over $20k. Look out for certified used 2006 models at the dealers, some excellent ones out there for ~$16k-18k range.

If you want a truck however, I'm afraid you'll be screwed in the gas mileage. I've never seen a truck get over 24 mpg (and that's if you're lucky), average I think is around 22 mpg running with an empty bed and a cover (reduces drag). If you still want a truck however, now would be the best time to buy because all the truck manufacturers are hurting big time because of the high gas prices. You can get some pretty awesome deals right now for Ford and Chevy trucks. If you get a big enough discount for the truck you probably won't mind paying a little extra for gas.

Also keep in mind, how you drive affects your snow/ice ability more than the abilities of your car. There are certain physical factors of your car that can help you but hurt you at the same time (i.e. more mass will give you better stop to start, but once you're going at a good clip, it'll be harder for you to stop because you have more inertia). It all really pivots on how well you know the limits of your car and understand how to deal with its short comings. For example, I drive about the most dangerous car possible ('91 Honda CRX) in snow, sleet, ice, you name it. Not to mention the engine upgrades I've done to that car which give it extra low end torque (easier to spin your wheels out from a stop to go situation). It weighs nothing so normally you'll fly around on even the slightest bit of ice. But I prepare the car every winter with dedicated snow tires and I understand the limits of how fast I can go and how long it takes me to slow down in the worst conditions and I do just fine (and 9 times out of 10 I'm blowing past people on the highway in the middle of a snow storm without even a hint of losing control).
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fwan View Post
no advice here but i am soo happy to hear you two are going so well!!
Thank you, and the same to you!
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Ok, so maybe I'm leaning towards snow tires on a smaller car. I want to get something cheaper, and really fuel efficient, so a small car with really good snow tires might be the way to go? What is the best snow tire out there?
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by menagerie mama View Post
Ok, so maybe I'm leaning towards snow tires on a smaller car. I want to get something cheaper, and really fuel efficient, so a small car with really good snow tires might be the way to go? What is the best snow tire out there?
Bridgestone Blizzak tires are usually the standard of comparison. They're very sticky and soft, so don't drive with them unless it's below 40 deg F, otherwise it'll feel like you're driving in mud all the time and you'll wear them out prematurely. If you have money to burn you can get Michelin tires, and usually no one complains about those.

Learn how to rotate out your tires (it's easy really), and get a dedicated snow tire set (get some cheap steel wheels and put snow tires on those) and have your regular summer tires on your nice wheels if you have them. Whenever it gets warm just swap your tires out for the summer tires, and when it gets cold swap to the snow tires. Keep the set of tires that aren't being used in a cool dry place so they don't rot or dry out. It's a bit of a pain during that transition time during spring and fall, and I usually just leave my snow tires on for that period unless there's a super warm spike (better safe than sorry).

Small and fuel efficient? There are lots of choices there. I'd recommend the Mazda 3 series or a Honda Civic. Civic has more options and holds it's value better, the Mazda 3 series gets slightly better gas mileage and is cheaper. Other choices to look at would be VW Rabbit, Toyota Prius or Yaris, Mini Cooper, Ford Focus, Nissan Altima, or any import hybrid. Manual transmissions can get higher gas mileage (not to mention more fun to drive), but if you drive/shift aggressively it'll actually lower your gas mileage compared to an automatic. Although I do have to say that spinning your tires out, drifting, making a high revving engine sing, and overall driving like a jerk is addictively fun in a manual.

(edit) oops, I forgot we were talking about cars that are good in the snow. The above choices aren't really ideal in the snow, but if I had to choose, the Nissan Altima or the Honda Civic might fare better than the others out of sheer weight, handling and wheel base size (wider IS better!).
post #18 of 21
IMO, the tires are more important than the make of car. I've had a Honda Civic that would go through mega snow with Semprit Radial tires, currently drive VW diesels (both hubby and I) and have no problems with good tires. Naturally front wheel drive vehicles are better in snow for traction and less slipping and sliding, but otherwise the vehicle brand has little to do with traction.

We drive diesel because of the fuel prices. I travel 100 km per day (round trip to work) and I only fill my car about twice per month.
post #19 of 21
I have Blizzaks (Bridgestone), but there have been some complaints that they wear early, although I've had mine on 3 winters (I currently have 50,000 miles on my 2005 car, so I'd guess 20k-25k miles with the snow tires on, maybe a bit more) and I still have plenty of tread left.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
IMO, the tires are more important than the make of car. I've had a Honda Civic that would go through mega snow with Semprit Radial tires, currently drive VW diesels (both hubby and I) and have no problems with good tires. Naturally front wheel drive vehicles are better in snow for traction and less slipping and sliding, but otherwise the vehicle brand has little to do with traction.

We drive diesel because of the fuel prices. I travel 100 km per day (round trip to work) and I only fill my car about twice per month.
Wow, a Civic, you say? Funny, I bought my boyfriend new tires for Christmas, and he has yet to put them on....I bet if he had, he wouldn't have gotten stuck so many times!!!
Yes, I do believe I am going to just look for a cheap, bigger car (not for traction purposes, but to be as high up in a car as I can. I love that about trucks) and put good tires on it. Thanks everyone for ALL your help.
post #21 of 21
When we lived in Appleton, we had a Chevy Citation, which did amazingly well in the snow and ice. It was a front wheel drive, and was pretty solidly built.
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