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Choosing a used car for daughter in Chicago

My 22 yr old single daughter is moving to Chicago. For around $15,000 what make & model car has good traction (snow tires?), turbo heater inside, safe, reliable starter, you know, we want her to have a reliable, safe, warm car. What is the difference between all wheel drive & 4 wheel drive? Thanks everyone for your opinions!

We recently bought a 2007 Subaru Forester for our son, seems to meet your requirements. Most folks use ‘4 wheel drive’ (4WD) to refer to systems that are switched on for use in slippery conditions, switched off otherwise, while ‘all wheel drive’ (AWD) refers to systems that are always on (like the Subaru). There are various types of AWD, with Subaru’s being highly regarded.

I’d agree. Suburu isnt flashy, but they’re safe and AWD. Tires should be switched twice a yr. Winter tires, and Summer tires.

Chicago is not Alaska, and snow is cleared as a rule. If you want a AWD, I would look at Honda CRV, Toyota RAV 4, or the Subaru Impreza/Forester. All three are very reliable, easy to drive and park, and not on top of the car thieves priority.

Regardless of what model(s), consider the following as safety features in a big city. Power door locks,power windows and automatic should always be part of the deal for any young lady in a big city. A case can be made for remote starter as well. Make a AAA card as part of the purchase price.
Obviously, awd drive may be traction overkill, but there is security in that as well.

AWD is automatic, and always in operation. 4WD is manual, and has to be turned on and off by the driver. AWD functions well on paved roads. 4WD is best for off road use.

A Subaru Impreza would be a nice car for a young woman in the city. Yes, snow tires are necessary in Chicago, even with AWD.

AWD and 4WD are over-rated. I would rather have ABS, stability management, and traction control. AWD and 4WD will help get the car out of a ditch, but they won’t keep it from sliding into the ditch in the first place. Add a good set of winter tires to ABS, stability management, and traction control, and your daughter should be perfectly safe.

If you want to ensure your daughter will survive an accident, Volvos are worth the money. Cars seem to be built with either safety in mind or reliability. Generally, the safer cars are less reliable and the reliable cars are less safe. So decide which is more important and buy your car based on those priorities.

There are a lot of taxicabs running the streets of Chicago in all kinds of weather and most of these cabs are rear wheel drive Ford Crown Victorias. I would think that a front wheel drive would be sufficient. One of my colleagues just purchased a new 2008 Chevrolet Impala for $17,000–this is a front wheel drive. There are all kinds of bargains to be had presently on new cars and you should be able to find something in your price bracket.

I can understand your concern about your daughter. When my son was a sophomore in college, he went on an Appalachian studies program. He took a car with him and I worried about what might happen. When I went to visit him, I found that he was driving narrow mountain roads with a 15 passenger van filled with children. He is a very responsible person and I figured that if people would trust him with their children, I really shouldn’t worry about his driving ability.

I think a Hyundai Sonata can be had, brand new, for about $15k

“I would rather have ABS, stability management, and traction control. AWD and 4WD will help get the car out of a ditch, but they won’t keep it from sliding into the ditch in the first place.”

Tell that to my neighbor who has slid into the ditch on a steep hill twice this week in a 2 wd car with winter tires…I’m tired of dragging him out with my tractor.
For some AWD is like a firearm…it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it; then it’s certainly not overrated. It’s choice and an extra measure of security if treated right.
All things being equal, AWD is always better traction wise than 2 wd…it’s just a matter of how much extra $$$$ you’re willing to pay for it in purchase and upkeep. In Chicago, I feel it’s not worth the added expense.
Where I live, “I can’t leave home without it”…4+ months out of the year.

In the city of Chicago, I imagine the streets will be plowed rather regularly, so A/4WD shouldn’t really be needed.

I live in the Midwest and would not buy a car without AWD or 4WD. Yes, they plow the roads where I live but not all of them at once and the side streets can be tough to navigate. Both of my daughters have 4WD.

Fair enough. I should stop using that blanket statement without qualifying it.

It’s impossible to generalize as to who needs an awd /4 wd and who doesn’t. In upstate NY, there are areas that can get 6" of unforcast snow every other day for a week and areas in large cities whose side streets are the last to see a plow days after frequent storms. All we can do is state the facts about awd/ 4 wd and let those that move to areas ASK residents there about conditions, and look into their own pocketbook.

You feel you need it, I feel I do and others as well. Many are perfectly content as when I was a flat lander with 2 wd and winter tires only. What people don’t get that keep dissing awd/4wd is that it’s about hills, security, whether you have responsibilities that MUST be met, location,location,location…and $$$$.

To us, the continual reference by some that "AWD/ 4WD may get you out of a ditch but does not prevent you from getting in one. " is uninformed and completely bogus. You can go into a ditch with ANY car. AWD/4wd used and set up correctly, can afford driving control that 2 wd can NEVER approach.

I used to live in a rural county about 20 miles from work. I had to cross 2 ridges each way, every day. I did it with 2WD, usually rear wheel drive, vehicles. AWD and 4WD are not necessary for most people. Nice to have? Yes. But that’s not the same as necessary. I agree, a good AWD system does give one better control in some conditions and the people who say it will only help getting out of a ditch haven’t experienced driving a good AWD, or they are not paying attention or something.

I have said, and truly believe, for years that front wheel drive gives you about 90% of the advantage of AWD. I learned to drive many years ago in a '67 Mustang in Northern NJ when they used to get snow. Believe me, FWD is vastly superior and AWD slightly better still. I haven’t seen enough serious snow and ice in the past 10 years to really know if the stability/traction control on my current car is as good as it seemed the one time I tried it out in a snowy parking lot, but I suspect it is pretty darn good.

Anyway, my point is that FWD is enough for most people. If someone wants and/or feels safer with AWD or 4WD, then that’s fine as long as they are spending their own money. I’ll live without it.

You make the point…it’s about location and “It’s impossible to generalize as to who needs an awd /4 wd and who doesn’t.”

Some will also contend that “if you NEED 4/AWD, then you should stay at home”

So right…but I was never lucky enough to have a job where it was my decision not to go to work because the driving might be difficult.
Another generalization…that doesn’t hold water/snow.

I lived in the Chicago area for many years, driving a subaru legacy for the last eight. Best car I ever owned. AWD, ABS, power everything, HEATED SEATS! After snow storms the side streets may not be plowed for days and the alleys never are. I never had snow tires, just good all weather ones, never got stuck or slide off the road.