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Best older (5+-) car for mountain driving, with more than 30 mpg?

edited October 2011 in General Discussion
I am searching for a new used car to replace the Subaru Impreza I wrecked 3 yrs ago. I've had several Subarus and like them a lot, but am tired of cars that don't even get 30 mpg ... I'd like one that gets 50 mpg, but is there such a thing for someone who lives in a rural mountainous area? I've heard that Suburu makes a good diesel but they are not available here in the U.S. (disgusting). SHould I buy one out of the country and bring it back?
I've also heard that the newer diesel engine cars in the U.S. can't use bio-diesel without ruining the engine because of the secondary filtering system.
Advice?
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Comments

  • 4 WD and AWD use more horsepower, and therefore more fuel than 2 WD. If you want to improve mpg, buy a 2 WD car. Put 4 modern winter tires on it. Won't go as good as 4WD, but that's the way it is with compromises.
  • edited October 2011
    Agree with lars46. The smallest AWD is the Suzuki, it's smaller and lighter than an Impreza. But it won't get 50 mpg. In fact nothing available in the US will give you 50 mpg on an ongoing basis in mountain driving. The closest is the Prius, and it does not have very good traction with those skinny tires.

    Most of life is made up of compromises, and a light 2 WD vehicle with good snow tires is the best bet in your case. Practice sane driving and your mileage will go up as well.

    Under no circumstances would any of us recommend bringing in a high mileage diesel from abroad, even if you could get it past the US EPA inspection (not likely). You will have no end of trouble getting it serviced.

    We live near the mountains and spend every weekend there in the winter. Our best car is a Corolla with Michelin X-ICE winter tires. We have 5 Subarus in our ski club, but they don't seem to have any significanr advantage over the rest of us.

    I would highly recommned a $150 winter driving course as put on by the AAA and other organizations.
  • Subaru makes a vehicle that gets 30mpgs, according to it's owners. It has a CVT transmission.

    If I drove through the mountains often, I'd probably want a turbo charged vehicle(which I DO have, but don't drive in the mountains). Most vehicles that'll get 30mpg or better might not have the power to get high up into the mountains too well.
  • edited October 2011
    The newer Subaru legacy does about as well as can be expected when it comes to awd. No 2wd car is anywhere near good as awd on ice and snow. No awd car can give you the economy of the most efficient car. Everything is a compromise. Decide which is most important then try to do the best you can in that category. Traction control in cars with excellent economy (Corolla, Cruze etc. with winter tires) can be a good compromise. Higher gas mileage awd cars sacrifice ground clearance, the best cars/trucks in deep snow are worse on gas.
    Get two cars if you want to optimize.
  • You can have AWD or you can have 50 MPG. But you have to pick just one. From what I've read the 2.0L Diesel H4 that they use in Europe is pretty god awful, it lacks the low end grunt that you would expect a diesel to have. As others have said, importing it would be practically impossible as it doesn't meet U.S. emissions standards.

    Realistically there's only a handful of AWD vehicles that can get close to 30 MPG or better. The hybrid Escape/Mariner is the only one I know of. The Suzuki SX4 is rated for about 24 MPG overall. If you can stomach the idea of getting only 24 MPG the RAV 4 is popular choice, the V6 gets about the same mileage as the 4 cylinder.

    If I were living the mountains, though and needed a robust 4WD/AWD vehicle, I'd put the obsession with fuel economy on the back burner, and pick up a 1995 or 1996 full sized Ford Bronco, it may only get 11-15 MPG, but it'll get you and all your stuff through just about any weather or driving conditions, it's dirt cheap to repair, and they built like the proverbial brick outhouse, it's hard to break one.
  • edited October 2011
    "Fo" makes some excellent points. Only you can tell if the rural mountain area is plowed well enough. If not, mountains can present some pretty ugly drifts and "daddy's" reference to an older Bronco with high rollover clearance makes a lot of sense to me living also in a rural mountain area.
  • edited October 2011
    A Honda Civic with winter tires can handle mountains fine and gets a solid 35 mpg. Forget AWD and you have lots of options.
  • edited October 2011
    If you are willing to drive FWD, the VW Jetta Diesel gets about 40 MPG on the highway. A 2005 would cost around $10,000.
  • edited October 2011
    In this day and age of splurging on cars, OP may be just the candidate for two cars. It's definitely more expensive overall but specializing covers needs better if gas mileage is the main concern.
  • edited October 2011
    You're tired of cars that don't even get 30 MPG? I'd be delighted with a car that got 30 MPG. I've never had one. But I like a car that can get out of its own way, and one that I don't feel like I'm cramming myself into it like a tight pair of jeans when I get into the cabin.

    If you can afford a newer car, you can surely suffer a few less MPG than you want for the added capability of 4WD or AWD. If you're driving in the mountains, there's isn't much that's going to get 30 MPG consistently anyway. Unless you only measure it going downhill...
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