CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Moving and need 4wd

moving from the flat desert to the mountains of colorado.

would like a reliable used 4WD.

have about $10,000 to spend.

can you reccomend a few or one in particular?

Gas mileage is a consideration. I have been extremely impressed with my 03 trailblazer ls. It has an easy interface, 2wd hi, 4wd (auto) if needed, 4wd hi and 4wd lo. I use the 4 lo for towing the boat out of sandy launches but in 12" snows in WI 4 wd auto only kicks in when needed. I am used to 2wd and found the auto a nice option as it engages the front shaft, which increases gas mileage but only engages 4wd as needed. I have never had another awd or 4wd system except on my plow truck at work, but think all wheel drive all the time is overkill, not to mention the care for rotatng tires needed.

Except near the Continental divide, the ski areas, Colorado mountain highways pose no more challenge than the roads in Arizona…95% of the time, they are clear and dry…Even in Aspen or Vail, a FWD vehicle and 4 winter tires is all you need…

Colorado is the world’s #1 market for Subaru (technically, AWD, not 4WD). Personally, I like the Legacy Outback with a manual transmission. $10k buys a nice one – wait until you get here to go shopping. Remember to put on real snow tires, not all-season.

Twotone

Subaru’s make up less than 3% of the cars on the road but they seem to involve 25% of the posts on this board…

I’m very satsified with my '01 Toyota Sequoia. I bought it used with 88K miles in last Nov. Kept the maintenance up to Toyota owner’s manual recommendations and no problems. Mechanics I’ve spoken to all say it is a good solid SUV. Not good on gas but for a big SUV with a V8 it does ok, 18 mpg is what I’m getting for highway mpg. If you are doing any towing in the mountains this could handle it.

There are lots of choices, but this is one of the better ones.

Why not move, then decide whether you need 4WD/AWD? Some people do, some don’t. I live in a relatively snowy place (about 80 inches a year vs 60 in Denver) where most people don’t bother with 4WD. But if your situation involves unplowed roads, very steep hills, or astonishing amounts of snow, then 4WD/AWD may indeed be a necessity. My neighbor’s driveway is substantially steeper than mine and he has, reasonably I think, switched his fleet to AWD over the years because there are ten or twelve days a year when getting a FWD vehicle out to the road was a real chore. With AWD he can – like the rest of us – put off clearing 3-4 inches of snow until the storm is over, instead of having to clear it in order to go to work.