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Old 11-03-2014, 09:06 AM
 
5,445 posts, read 4,395,755 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VM1138 View Post
Thanks, but I've been driving in Michigan for a looooong time. I've always had crappy, low powered cars with bad tires. I need a car that can make it through snow drifts and unplowed roads because my area isn't very good about keeping roads plowed after a snowstorm. I also do a lot of country driving where the wind drifts are a huge issue, with big ditches on either side. Not a lot of room for sliding sideways, you know?
The point Wankel is making is that snow/ice driving really isn't about the car. You could have a 30 year old Honda civic with good snow tires and have no problems driving through the snow. Driving through snow isn't about power, it is about driving ability and traction control.

In other words, find the vehicle you like that gives you the ground clearance that you need, then put on a good set of snow tires and you are all set. There have been plenty of threads concerning the different brands of snow tires and what people recommend.
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Old 11-03-2014, 09:18 AM
 
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I grew up in WNY and drove in massive snow storms and in icy situations every winter. Dedicated snow tires are the #1 key... my wife had a small Mazda Protege in college and until she got dedicated snow tires, she got stuck in parking lots and at intersections (when she could get out of the parking lots) all winter long. I did some research and we bought a set of Blizzaks... once those were on her car she never got stuck or slid off road again! If I hadn't experienced that I wouldn't believe it, but it is true. Her little Mazda though not as off road capable as my 4x4, suddenly did awesome in icy and snowy conditions (anything WNY threw at us). The key with snow tires though is to remove them when Winter ends as they wear down really quickly in warm conditions. We just made it a habit to remove and mount the snow tires every year until we had enough money to buy separate wheels for each set of tires.

Now if you have some money than snow tires on an AWD or 4x4 vehicle are even better... but the truth is that I would bet the difference is marginal only. Tires seem to be where it's at.
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Old 11-03-2014, 09:38 AM
 
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Snow tires are critical.

I would say off the cuff, a Chevy Tahoe/Suburban/GMC Yukon/XL would be my pick. They have low range 4x4 and can be found in pretty decent condition in your price range.

A 4Runner might be better, but their resale value is insanely high.
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Old 11-03-2014, 10:03 AM
 
Location: Vermont
5,439 posts, read 14,329,796 times
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I think good condition XJ's are now overpriced because they are rare. I had an 01 myself.. very fun little car.

I think a Subaru Outback or Forester would be a better bet. How much clearance do you really need?

You can cheat a little on each of these cars by installing taller than stock tires. (maybe good for 1/2" clearance). I think Forester has the better clearance of the two.

8k will by a very nice late 00's with highish miles.

Snow tires a must.

Last edited by joe moving; 11-03-2014 at 10:21 AM..
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Old 11-03-2014, 10:06 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,691 posts, read 86,811,612 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wankel7 View Post
The best car for snow driving is the one with high quality snow tires.
The best car for ice driving is the one with high quality studded tires . . .
Studs are illegal in Michigan. Technically it's more complicated than that, but the practical effect is that they're illegal.

Get a Subaru Forester or 4-cylinder Outback. And get dedicated winter tires for winter use.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mbuszu View Post
. . . Now if you have some money than snow tires on an AWD or 4x4 vehicle are even better... but the truth is that I would bet the difference is marginal only. Tires seem to be where it's at.
The difference is a lot more than marginal. Where accelerative traction is concerned, I'd rather have AWD with decent AWD tires than FWD with winter tires. Stopping and cornering traction is obviously a different story.

Last edited by Drover; 11-03-2014 at 10:16 AM..
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Old 11-03-2014, 10:38 AM
 
Location: NY
8,992 posts, read 14,192,166 times
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The best advice when looking for a vehicle that has to battle bad weather is generally the same as when you look for any other vehicle. Buy something that best suits your needs for the vehicle. Then, make it capable in the conditions you will use it. Outside of extremes in the automotive world, just about any vehicle can be plenty capable and suitable to snow.

If your budget is $8000, then go out and buy whatever suits your needs in a vehicle and is in as good of condition as possible for $7500. Spend the other $500 on snow tires. Thats all there needs to be.
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Old 11-03-2014, 10:43 AM
 
7,846 posts, read 5,033,808 times
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Anything with winter tires is fine, unless you are driving off-road.
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Old 11-03-2014, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Vermont
960 posts, read 1,328,353 times
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Subaru with winter tires will get you through most snows. If it doesn't, it would be a good day to stay home. Good gas mileage and reliable cars.
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Old 11-03-2014, 12:06 PM
 
Location: USA
2,580 posts, read 3,434,158 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harpoonalt View Post
Subaru with winter tires will get you through most snows. If it doesn't, it would be a good day to stay home. Good gas mileage and reliable cars.
Yeah & the newest Subaru models have almost the same ground clearance as full size 4X4 pickup trucks..
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Old 11-03-2014, 12:40 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
72,675 posts, read 64,140,481 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VM1138 View Post
I live in Michigan and I'm thinking about buying a new car soon. The trouble is the cars I "want" aren't really practical in Michigan winters (LOTS of snow and wind and ice on the roads) and I don't know a ton about cars to begin with. I'm also one of those drivers that gets really stressed out driving in these conditions.

Can someone recommend me a cheap vehicle that handles well in the snow, gets decent gas mileage (25 mpg+) and usually clocks in at under $8000 for a decent condition? Also, it needs to be off the ground a bit since we get big snow drifts. Does such a unicorn exist?
This will sound like and off-the-wall suggestion, but people where I live swear by these cars. They haven't been made for decades, though, not since Subaru came out with the Outback. But you said you wanted something cheap.

Here in northern NM where until very recently we always got a lot of snow in the winter, the Toyota All-Track, aka the Toyota Tercel wagon, has a cult following. Sometimes you can find them in good condition, but most people buy them for $500, and replace the engine and transmission. Their AWD is better than that of any car currently made, people, including seasoned mechanics, say. They're better than the Subaru AWD's. The ones that are in good condition and don't need any work cause bidding wars between competing buyers. Check the classified ads and also your Toyota (non-dealer) service centers, where you can sometimes find notices posted by people selling one. The only drawback about them is that their top speed is about 55 mph. This doesn't faze people, though. They love the way they handle in snow and ice, and the sense of safety they get from that. They say nothing compares to how those handle in winter conditions.
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