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What vehicle should I get?

so I’m currently in the process of looking for a new vehicle to drive. I currently own a 96 dodge dakota but its having too many issues that I cant afford to deal with. I live in Wyoming and travel a lot. I’m in the national guard and have to have a reliable vehicle to get to drill and emergencies. I would like something fuel efficient but it has to be able to go on ice and snow with moderate ease. any clues as to what I should look into?

How much money do you have? Is your area of Wyoming remote enough that you are limited in the brands of trucks that you can practically own? Mileage on your Dakota is equivalent to a full size pick-up today; maybe worse. If you can afford $22,000 to 30,000, look at the new Ram with the 3.6L V6. But even the standard V8 will get mileage similar to your Dakota. F150 is another solid choice.

well there are all major makes and models of vehicles here ranging from full size diesels to hybrid cars. I can afford up to 30,000. my dakota gets an average 19 mpg.

Really, any small crossover (Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5) might do.

Honda Accord, with winter tires.

If you had a truck, a small SUV that @ParrotAndPotatoes recommends would be the ticket. I have found very few people who don’t like their overall versatility. Personally, I would be real tempted to get two vehicles for 30k as I find it hard to buy one for that price when there are so many good used ones out there when ultimately two could last much longer then one new. A used 4cyl compact pick up in 4wd like a Tacoma and a new subcompact like a Honda Fit or Scion. One for good weather and max economy, and one for bad, the 4wd and snow tires or AT tires. But, I’m spending your money so It’s easier for me to say “buy two cars.” You had a Dakota, you won’t mind the ride of a Fit. Nothing beats two cars vs one for reliability.

If you travel dirt roads often, I don’t think a low sitting car(Accord) would be ideal. The Escape and CX-5 would be my choices to look at

I really like the CX5, too, though wouldn’t recommend it to people who carry heavy loads frequently. It has very modest power, but excellent gas mileage. Unfortunately, at your high elevations, most vehicles make significantly less power because there is less air for combustion. The exception are turbocharged engines, which suffer less decline in power. Of course, the turbocharger adds complexity, but they’re getting quite common and are much improved in reliability. Ford is using them quite a bit across their lineup.

Most compact SUVs have been recently redesigned or are about to be (RAV4). That makes it a competitive class with lots of good choices. Subarus are perennially popular in your climate, for good reasons. The 2014 Forester has just been introduced (don’t know if it is in dealerships yet) so there may be some discounts on the old model. The new one is slightly larger but very similar overall, including looks. I like the Forester and think it’s a better deal than the Outback, which is more expensive and longer, but has hardly any more space inside. The Forester and the Ford Escape both have premium models with turbochargers for more oomph.

With so many good models available I’d be looking at where you plan on having it serviced. If you have a mechanic you trust and would like to use, ask him what he suggests.