Moved to Colorado need new ride

I need a used car that I can 1) haul things in (I’ve been driving a '98 Sub Impreza Outback Sport) 2) drive up into the mountains and over the passes at the speed limit 3) is affordable (to me that is $15K) 4) decent mileage 5) compact ( i don’t need an SUV) I live in the city and do lot’s of parallel parking into smallish spaces.

so i’ve been looking at mazda 3, impreza (they are pricey), prius c. Any advice on a good Colorado car ??


Stop at the local bookstore, pick up a Consumer Reports New Car Preview, and test drive the ones that look good to you. Try them over hills and dales, and try them on the highway. You can find one that’s perfect for you better than we can.

I think you all ready have it.

As a 40 year Colorado driver, cars here are no different than anywhere else. Winter tires are your friend and more important than AWD or 4WD. Whatever car you like where you are from will be fine here. Personally, I’ve been a BMW guy for most of my Colorado driving, but that’s just me. Buy what you like and put on four real winter tires. “All season” tires are only three season tires.

Yes, real winter tires are the key to Colorado mountain driving. AWD/4WD not necessary.

Even today’s 4 cylinder cars have enough power for high elevation driving.

@Caddman Correct; we live in mountenous terrain as well and our Mazda 3 does all that we want it to do. In November the Michelin X-ICE tires go on and we have no problem with traction or power. I would add a good battery for parking outside over night.

Drive the Outback for a while if it is still serviceable. If you get winter tires, you might want a separate set of rims to make changeout easy.

A lot depends on where you live, if you are east of the mountains, like Denver, then it’s flat. If you are well into the mountains, you might want something more like your Outback. Look at what everyone else around you drives and you will get an idea of whether a 2WD compact car will work for you.

I can understand replacing an 18 year old car. Of the ones you mention, the Mazda 3 would be at the top of my list, with a good set of winter tires. I drove a FWD GTI for 12 year in Anchorage, no problems as long as it had winter tires.

Priuses are slow at sea level on flat ground. I wouldn’t want to fool with one in the mountains personally.

Either of the other two would be good where you are, though I admit to having a preference for turbocharged vehicles in the Rockies. Air gets thin as you gain altitude, and the turbo helps to compensate for that by stuffing more air into the engine than it could ordinarily take in by itself.

Agree with the others.
The vehicle is variable.
the TIRES will make you or break you.

A Colorado resident friend of mine drives a Subaru Legacy. He tells me that Subaru is the most registered brand of new car in Colorado. That should tell you something.

My father navigated the mountains of Colorado in the 1940s in a '37 Nash LaFayette. The roads were not nearly as good then as they are now. That should tell you almost anything will get you where you want to go if you are careful.

Many thanks for all the helpful comments…I now know it is all in the tires!

Be sure to take a look at a used Toyota Matrix, or its twin, Pontiac Vibe.

Would be hard to beat what you’re driving now unless you want something with much better fuel economy, or a newer model. Colorado is much the same as anywhere else although we have plenty of distance, so you may want a more comfortable car. Our spending for maintenance is fairly low because of tax policy, so don’t expect the roads to be all that great, especially if you live in the city. We get plenty of sudden bad weather, and yoy may want to take your car onto all the back roads occasionally, which may be why so many Coloradans drive Subarus.

A $20000 new car may be cheaper than a $15000 used car. Japanese makes, which are all you mentioned are relatively expensive as used cars.

Japanese makes, which are all you mentioned are relatively expensive as used cars.

BULL…Where did you get that information? Parts are plentiful and as cheap or cheaper then domestic…they are extremely reliable…so they don’t need much repairs.

Japanese cars are relatively expensive to acquire. After that, they might be relatively inexpensive to repair. Maintenance cost is similar to other, similar cars of different origin.

Japanese cars are relatively expensive to acquire

What that means is they hold their value better. New prices for comparable vehicles are very close. Heck…when I bought my 14 Highlander…I also looked at the Chevy’s. The new Chevy’s were actually more expensive. Now the same vehicles in the used market…the Highlander is more expensive.

I agree.