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Best cheapest used 4WD or AWD that gets 25+ mpg on highway

Hi I am looking for opinions on a 4WD used vehicle that won’t put me in debtors prison that is reliable and would give me at least 25mpg on the highway. This would be a commute car that would go 80 miles a day 5 days a week and if possible but not necessary pull a small trailer on occasion if needed… any ideas? Thank you!!!

25 mpg and 4WD puts you into Rav4, CRV, or another brand of small SUV. And these vehicles just barely get 25 mpg. You could get a small, mid size, and even a Toyota Camry with FWD that would all get much better than 25 mpg on the highway. A FWD sedan with winter tires could be a more comfortable and economic commuter vehicle. You pay a big price for 4WD in terms of reduced mpg.

Thanks for that are there any hatchbacks you might recommend since we have a dog plus at any given time we carry large items with us on occasion so I need the room a sedan can’t give us… we have a scion xd which is good in everything except snow/ice but even with snow tires I don’t think it will go anywhere, its just too light…

Why do you think a vehicle needs to be heavy to go in snow? I’ll bet you’d be surprised at where your xD could go if it had a set of good winter tires on it.

A “set” is FOUR, not two.

For cheap, I’d go 2WD and four real winter tires. AWD will always cost more to buy and maintain. I’ve lived in Colorado for 35+ years and have always drove RWD cars with four real winter tires and have yet to get stuck.

Now lets say I take your advice… do I get to call one of you guys when my husband calls me and tells me he is stuck in the snow? Believe me the xd gets blown off the road when a semi passes … what do you guys consider “real” snow tires and which would you recommend… I have to have all my ammo ready… my husband wants to get a Jeep Cherokee which gets 20mpg and I will battle him to the very end to stop that from happening…

A Honda Fit with winter tires is a good car in snow, lots of space for the dog and flexible with seats that go down for bigger loads. The Scion Xb is one of those boxy vehicles, you have to expect them to be blown around. It isn’t the weight it is the poor aerodynamic shape of the vehicle. In snow most folks slow down and being blown around by 18 wheelers isn’t the issue in a snow storm. An Xb with winter tires, Blizzack, Michelin x-ice, and there are lots of very good winter tires. Put 4 winter tires on the Scion and you’ll do fine.

A Jeep Cherokee gets horrible gas mileage. You’d be buying twice the amount of gas as you are doing now with the Xb.

If you can find a good used AMC Eagle SX/4, they’ll get pretty close to 25 with the six especially with a manual transmission and selectable 4WD, and you can tow with them. But good luck.
Easier to find might be an older boxy Subaru wagon with low miles and selectable 4WD, the 1.8L engine gets good fuel economy, I averaged about 27 with a dying automatic in one. The top speed was about 65 on a hill, so no towing.
The later 90’s Subaru Impreza wagons with the smaller 2.0 and 2.2 fours did well too, in the 25+ range, but had a lot less room then the boxy wagons.

Try a Forester, good amount of room, good awd, we got about 27 mpg on our Dallas-LA drive. What’s your budget?

Room for a dog - Honda Element? The come with and without four-wheel drive, although I can’t recall the mpg rating. The new Hyundai Elantra touring isn’t terribly pricey and has room for a dog, although it may depend on the size dog.

Note that a used 4WD needs to be sourced carefully. If care was not taken to make sure the tire tread depth was uniform on all four wheels, you could be getting something with an expensive problem. I agree with others that front wheel drive and good snow tires should get you where you need to go. Clearance is a different issue…if you get blown off the road and into a snow bank, 4WD won’t necessarily help you either.

Right now we are looking at $6700 I don’t want to pay more than $10,000 if we have to squeeze out a bit more… we have a cavalier that needs ac, an oil leak (loses a quart every 3 months or so) and rack&pin… so we might be able to sale that for around $500… so I am thinking the FWD with snow tires may be our best bet… I don’t want to deal with any heavy expense after purchase if something not be right …I have been looking at the matrix with AWD, what is their reliability? I have been looking at Honda Element but the gas with 4WD is around 23 to 24 highway… Subaru is also on my list… I will work with these ideas and check snow tire prices… thanks to everyone!

You can get a 2006 Toyota Matrix XR with AWD for under $10,000. The 2006 (and earlier) Pontiac Vibe was also available with AWD. It will cost as much as the Matrix and they are virtually identical cars. If you want a sedan, the 2006 Subaru Impreza is under $10,000. The Impreza has been available since 1993 and every one has AWD.

I drive an 82 GMC Suburban with a 6.2 diesel. I get 31 mpg doing 55 mph, and have plenty of traction in the snow. It’s a great vehicle and I love it. Just need to replace a rear axle that broke last week.

There are still a few of them floating around, though they are rare. The engines are relatively noisy, but it’s because being a diesel… Just turn up the stereo.

As mentioned, all your requirements point to a compact SUV. I feel these are the most flexible vehicles made especially if you feel you need AWD. EVERYONE has gone to low profile tires and low ground clearance rendering the FWD car a shadow of itself compared to cars of old in snow traction when tires were narrow and clearance was greater… FWD only has the advantage of taking off on level ground only over rwd cars. After that, none. RWD and AWD especially have advantages of handling and towing even on dry roads.

Everything else points to AWD in a higher compact SUV which can tow moderate weights and handle safer in slippery conditions than any FWD car made. The most efficient in standard non hybrid form is the RAV. Even the V6 gets over 25mpg highway.

You can get 26+ mpg in a 6 cyl 4 Runner on the highway which tows 5000 lbs and is very comfortable. But, you must drive under 65mph to do it. You therefore can do well in any car if you keep your speed down. RAVs and other small SUVs should push 30 mpg easily at moderate speeds. That’s a key to good highway mileage.

The little known Suzuki SX4 gets 30 on the highway.