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In the market for a car, truck or suv

Hello all,

I will soon be giving up my beloved Volvo 240 DL station wagon to purchase a gently used car, truck or SUV. However, I am not sure what will suit my needs best. I’m looking for something that has 4 wheel drive, is rather fuel-efficient (as in, at least 25-28 mpg on the highway) and has some hauling capacity. Any suggestions?

Thanks so much in advance!

Do you mean 4WD, or do you mean AWD?
4WD implies a rather heavy vehicle, and this will make 25-28 highway mpg all but impossible to achieve.

An AWD vehicle is more practical for most people, and an AWD vehicle is usually more fuel-efficient than a 4WD vehicle, simply because of the weight factor. Obviously, exceptions to this rule exist, however.

A Subaru Forester would meet your needs. A Toyota RAV-4 or a Honda CR-V would also fit your specs, but you should be aware that the AWD system on these two only operates part-time and as a result is not as capable in heavy snow conditions as the AWD system on a Subaru.

No matter what you buy, determine if it has a timing belt or a timing chain. (Subarus use belts, and depending on the age of the vehicle, a RAV or a CR-V could use either a belt or a chain.)

If the vehicle in question is more than 7 years old and/or has more than 90k on the odometer, then you have to assume that the timing belt will need to be replaced very soon–unless you are given documentation that it has already been done. If it has not been done, then assume that you will need to spend anywhere from $500-$700 to replace the timing belt, water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners. You can use this dollar amount as a bargaining point to lower the selling price of a vehicle that needs this work to be done.

Subaru Legacy station wagon, Outback, or Forester.

Trucks or SUVs are unlikely to get the mileage you’re looking for, but a Subaru will, and their AWD system is one of the best on the market.

Wow, thanks for such a detailed reply. I am not sure if I should go w/ AWD or 4WD, as I recently moved to small-town New Hampshire (which precipitated the thought of getting a different vehicle) and am planning to move to an even more rural location in the future. My guess would be that for the long-term, 4WD might be best.

I agree with VDC that the best market may be the compact SUV including the Escape if your so inclined. Right now, the RAV is the biggest of the compacts. I don’t know if you’re male of female, but Honda products like the CRV seem to appeal to the women that I know more than others. All are capable of over 25 mpg highway with the RAV the most efficient and a powerful but $$$$$ v6 option that the rest don’t have.

2 things I would suggest. When choosing from these suggestions, let the dealer location, service reputation and convenience way heavily on your choice. Secondly, drive each as you would use it to see which is the best fit.
If you by new, you’ll have more flex. in these two areas.

Have some fun and take your time in your search…and you’ll soon have a new “beloved”.

I second the Forester suggestion, but you really need to narrow down your choices. Why do you want AWD, after years with RWD? Front wheel drive works for most all situations, and that will open up your choices considerably.

p.s.-buy the Consumer Reports new car buyers guide to get a full overview of what’s available, and how reliable the different models are.

No, trust me, you want AWD not 4WD unless you are planning on a lot of off-road rock climbing and mud bogging AWD is what you really want. Actually, for most people just front wheel drive is so much better than the rear wheel drive that you are used to that you probably don’t even need AWD, but it is nice to have.

By the way, VDCdriver is located in Vermont or New Hampshire, so I’d listen to his advice here.

“By the way, VDCdriver is located in Vermont or New Hampshire, so I’d listen to his advice here.”

I wish!
Actually, I live in the bucolic Somerset Hills of Central NJ. It is beautiful, peaceful, and unpolluted, but it is not in the league of VT or NH.

However, I may act as is I lived further north. My car has AWD, traction control, and vehicle stability control, and I still use a set of 4 winter tires (Michelin X-Ice). With this equipment, I have proven that I can get through any snow/ice conditions with no wheel-spin whatsoever–as long as the snow is not higher than the front bumper. And, most importantly, those winter tires give me a MUCH shorter stopping distance on a slippery surface–even on ice.

If I lived on an unpaved road or if I did “rock-hopping”, I would probably want 4WD.
However, since I do not use my car under those conditions, AWD is far preferable.

I’d recommend small SUVs like the Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV, or Chevy Equinox.

As a lifelong resident of NH, let me suggest that you beloved Volvo 240 will do just fine in NH as long as you put some good winter tires on it and drive gently. You really don’t need AWD or 4WD.

If that’s the only reason you’re considering trading, you’ll be trading needlessly.

I’m looking for something that has 4 wheel drive, is rather fuel-efficient (as in, at least 25-28 mpg on the highway) and has some hauling capacity.

Closest thing that matches your wants is an Escape Hybrid

Just to be repetitive cause I don’t have a life, whether you NEED an awd/4wd is all about you and location. In Maine we are 1.5 miles from dear friends who do fine w/o AWD/4wd and even snow tires, but live on a plowed tarred road and have adult children with a stay at home wife with an “I don’t leave till the roads are dry” attitude. If that’s you, that’s fine. Some of us can’t even get out of our drive sometimes w/o 4wd. These differences are the same for any NE state.

It can only tow 1000#, though.

Personally I think you’re asking too much.

The ONLY 4wd/Awd vehicle that comes close to you mpg requirement is the Subaru. But I’m not sure of it’s towing capacity…And it’s NOT 4wd…it’s AWD. I don’t know of any 4wd vehicle that gets over 25mpg. Let me know if you find one.

I found one Mike ! The RAV4 is in the ball park for mileage on highway with the v6 and has a differential lock to make both 4wd and awd, and will tow quite a bit. Friend just bought one specifically to tow boats.
19/26 mpg…tow 3500 lbs