Car for Vermont

I’ve never owned a car before and am about to move to southern Vermont for work. I’m young and single and I’m looking for a reliable, small used car with good mileage and low emissions that can handle minor road trips and some long winters. What should I get? Any and all suggestions are welcome–I dont even know where to start!
Thanks so much.

Cars are like shoes – what fits me may not fit you. Go out and drive as many new cars at dealers that you can. Find the one that fits you and what you will normally carry best. Then, look for a 3 - 5 year old one, original owner, low miles with all service records. Get an independent pre-purchase inspection. Do research on the Internet and find out market values. Most Japanese and Korean cars are good first car choices.

My sister and family live in Burlington. The biggest used car challenge in VT is finding a rust free car. VT uses lots of salt on the roads and cars rust out much faster. If you are moving from a more southern state, you may be better off finding a good used car there.

Remember – winter tires are 90% of winter driving (common sense is the other 10%). AWD and 4WD is over rated if you are only using four (read three) season tires. Go to an empty parking lots (no parking curbs or light poles) in the first snow storm and practice. Put your car in a slide an practice recovering. It’s better to find out how your car and tires perform in snow before you need it.

Good luck!

Just buy a small FWD car you can afford. Honda Civic is my choice, but a Toyota Corolla or similar small car should be fine. Don’t get too focused on “winter” driving. There are lots of all kinds of cars sold in Vermont, and 4WD or AWD are not a requirement.

I would suggest whatever car you get you put “winter tires” on the car from around Dec. 1 to April 1. Traction is the key to winter driving and a FWD compact with winter tires will give you lots of traction and do fine in bad weather conditions.

Agree 100% with UncleTurbo and twotone. I will add that you will have better control in winter with a manual transmission.

You will find that Subaru is the car of choice among Vermont locals…Vermont is the Subaru Capital of the Nation…

If you’re in a salt free area now, it’d be good to buy your car there and drive it to Vermont. And fwd with 4 good winter tires is the trick, I spent 12 years in Anchorage driving a VW GTI, never got stuck.

@Caddyman is right. Lotsa Subarus in Vermont but also the rest of New England. They do quite well in snow.

I don’t doubt that Vermont is the Subaru Capital of the Nation. But is that because there is a real need? Or is it because of Subaru’s marketing and the resulting perceived need?

I drove for many winters in Vermont with only 2WD vehicles and never had a problem. However good aggressive winter tires were required.

We live near the Rocky Mountains and our Hiking and Ski club has 85 members, 6 of which have Subarus. That would give Subaru a 7% market share, higher than the national average.

You will find a lot of Subarus in Washington State, as well as Colorado.

However, you don’t need AWD in Vermont if you have a good set of winter tires.

I don’t think anyone ‘needs’ AWD but it is very nice benefit. Traction control keeps you out of trouble if you drive calmly on nasty roads but with good driving habits, any FWD car will do. No amount of brakes will stop you if the weather gets really bad. That’s where people get stupid, I think.

texases is correct. Buy a car before you go to Vermont if you are in an area that does not salt the roads.

Whether you need AWD or 4WD depends on your job. If you are a nurse, doctor, fireman or other emergency personnel, you might need them to get to work under any circumstances. Otherwise, a reliable small car will work well for you. If you live where the highways are not salted during snow or ice storms, you might consider buying where you live now and registering it in VT so that you only pay taxes on it once. If you are interested intros, contact your state DOT and VT DOT to see how to do this.

Sorry…but I have to disagree with everyone who generalizes about needing or not needing Awd in any state or buying ahead of time. Take what you have THEN decide. Buy from a local dealer after you talk with the locals and scope out the roads you will have to drive. I live in New England and cannot survive without awd or 4wd with studded snow tires yet a mile and a half away, most do well without either or snow tires.

It really depends upon the local conditions you travel more then anything. You cannot generalize about any state as even some places in Texas require 4 wd and Alaska may not. Generally, in New England, if you encounter unpaved roads that freeze up in the winter, or lots of hills, or a municipality whose tax base is low enough to wait till the snow melts, then Awd may be a big advantage. I would wait till I arrived then scope out the local traveling conditions you will likely encounter daily.

Either way, snow tires are a huge benefit for all cars for winter travel though you may be able to get away without anywhere you plan to travel on well maintained paved roads or are a school teacher with storm days. It also depends upon your health and physical condition and how much you are willing to put up with in the winter. Everything is worth considering before you buy and nothing can be generalized before the fact.

I hope there is a consensus on this board about what kind of car one should have in Vermont. We are flying to Vermont the last week of August and I want to know what make car we should rent so that we will blend in with the Vermont folks.

I didn’t know there were so many Vermont experts here. You can blend in with the yuppys or the common folk. There are just as many different life styles in Vermont as there are roads. Besides, being the 2nd least populous state, you may stick out just being an out of towner regardless of what you drive.

I have no problem recommending a fwd car with 4 great winter tires for normal street use just about anywhere in the US. We lived up the ‘hillside’ in Anchorage, and like I said, had no problems. If the OP wants to go offroad, or into deep unplowed snow, that’s another matter entirely. But nothing in the OP’s question makes me think that’s likely.

In New England, there are areas with untarred roads that are a son of a gun to keep ice off in the winter. If you have to travel these roads regularly in the winter and there some do , you do it with some peril that is just not worth it. Add any hills and you wish you had 4 wd. Some people get Awd just because they have real long steep drives and they can’t get them plowed quickly or often enough. Rural Maine, where I live and rural Vermont, can be a different world. And, do we know or does OP know if they will travel over well maintained town or city streets.

I live on just such a road and laugh when some one moves in and says their front drive car with studded snow tires can handle anything. Hills and “permafrost” under packed snow makes fwd a joke and these people have an Awd car by the next year…or they move. If they meet no one and no one ever stops them on a hill and they drive like heck to get over them, they can survive. But let them have to stop on an icy hill with fwd, it’s a long trip back to the bottom for another run. NO THANKS. These roads are frozen for months…Awd becomes a cheap alternative to the aggravation. A new Subaru legacy cost nearly the same and gets nearly the mileage as a new Camry.

So go there, then decide after you see your situation.

Ice is on roads in Anchorage weeks at a time. Like I said, if they’re on normal streets they’d do OK. Your situations aren’t what I described. If they have a long steep driveway, or dirt roads, or deep snow, sure, get awd. But southern Vermont isn’t rural Maine.

Here is a forum answered by real people who live in Vermont.
What they say is similar to what I have said. Some live on rural roads( yes they do have them in southern Vermont) and they recommend Awd. And, one who has fwd, says they will get Awd their next car. Others who live in city areas do fine with fwd.
The difference between mileage, reliability and cost just isn’t that much different. If you are going to buy a fwd car before you get there, you could be just as disappointed as buying an Awd car and finding you don’t need it. Weather and terrain vary greatly in New England during the winter. You eliminate traveling throughout the winter to a lot of areas with fwd only.

To say that someone does not need Awd says you don’t live in rural Vermont, Maine or New Hampshire.

IMO . . . Honda is overpriced as far as used cars go