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Old 06-04-2009, 11:04 AM
Location: Londonderry, NH
41,477 posts, read 58,698,238 times
Reputation: 24851


I have an Outback Wagon and, other than a standard ground clearance, it is, with snow tires, the best winter car I have ever driven. Gravel roads are a delight as well. There are kits available to mount oversize off road tires and skid plates on these things if you want really back road capability.

I suggest getting a used Subie for a few grand and setting it up for the woods. That would be cheaper than anythg new would fit YOUR needs not the dealers.
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:33 AM
Location: Fly-over country.
1,765 posts, read 7,201,233 times
Reputation: 921
if you can do basic repairs, why not consider finding an older truck or SUV with 4WD

there's some bargains out there right now

one of the most fun vehicles I had as a youngster was an $800 truck purchased from the power company after they were done beating it to death.
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:50 AM
Location: Oregon
1,532 posts, read 2,611,573 times
Reputation: 6934
I think it all comes down to just how rough a road you are wanting to go on.

I know what you mean about the SUV's. I have thought about it from time to time, but just can't get excited about it. We are out on rough dirt roads all the time. We have a Nissan Maxima and a 3/4 ton Dodge diesel 4x4 pickup truck. That combination works very well for us. We are a family of four, with the kids growing all the time, so the truck is an extra cab (fits everyone fine). We will take the car up anything that doesn't have deep ruts or anything like that, and obviously not too deep snow, but it does great in smaller amounts of snow. Anything more adventureous than that, we take the truck!!

A little story about 4wd cars - - My dh used to have a Mazda Protege with 4wd as a commuter (we live 30 miles from work). He didn't purposely get the 4wd, it just came that way. We got this freak snowstorm one day (it doesn't snow much around here) and everyone on the freeway was getting stuck and they were closing the freeway. My dh hopped off the side of the road went past everyone that was stuck and waiting! He took that car through hell and back that day, passed 4x4's that were stuck, but made it home!! So, I would definitely say the 4wd cars are great for snow - if it's not too much snow!!
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Old 06-04-2009, 12:04 PM
Location: South Park, San Diego
6,107 posts, read 10,500,401 times
Reputation: 12442
A 4wd Mazda Protege?

edit: mea culpa- google it and there it was haha
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Old 06-04-2009, 12:13 PM
Location: SW France
16,271 posts, read 16,963,156 times
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Would an option be to hire a suitable vehicle for the rare times you think you might need something tougher?

Are such vehicles available for hire and if so can you take them off road?
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Old 06-04-2009, 03:39 PM
Location: Wellsville, Glurt County
2,845 posts, read 10,333,797 times
Reputation: 1409
Originally Posted by 509 View Post
As a professional Forester that owned a Honda Accord I took it everywhere. My favorite place was when I pulled up to a 4wd SUV in the middle of nowhere with the Accord. The SUV driver could not believe it.

You can drive virtually anywhere with a FWD. For winter get real aggressive tires. If ice is an issue get studs.

4wd does make a difference. In ten years I usually need it once. Is it worth paying for 4wd?? Maybe.

All things being equal I would buy an AWD car as one vehicle and a 4WD truck for my other vehicle. But I probably travel more dirt roads than the average driver. I would get a vehicle with at least 8 inches of clearance. That's real important.
I agree with this for the most part. The last three vehicles I've owned were Jeep Cherokees, but having 4WD is really more of a novelty and for recreational purposes. I've needed to use it on-road ONCE, and it was due to my own stupidity....though I do use the AWD function (yes, some Cherokees actually have both!) very frequently.

Basically, you can get almost anywhere in America in a FWD car....but in seriously awful weather conditions it does require a lot of thinking ahead and precision. I can totally understand what the OP is saying regarding kids and safety, and I think an AWD Subaru would be an excellent choice if you wanna go that extra mile. I don't know what driving the mountains in the PNW is like either, I live right next to the Atlantic Ocean.

Would you consider buying a cheap old (like early 90s) SUV just for winters? You can get something totally decent for under $2k, it'd last forever not being driven all that much and it would come in handy for hauling stuff around too. Again, I dunno what insurance costs are like around Seattle so I dunno how feasible that really is...just a suggestion!
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Old 06-04-2009, 04:28 PM
Location: arizona on the border
687 posts, read 2,894,057 times
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If you're already nervous on mountain roads, doubt a 4wd with good offroad clearance would be necessary. If it's just the vehicle making you nervous and you like the adventure aspect including rocks the size of your head in the road, ruts and some wetlands on occasion, then I'd heartily recommend a new/used Toyota 4runner or Sequoia, with 4wd.
And yes, fwd "cars" or minisuv's will do well, up to a point. Where they have the traction in many situations, they lack the clearance. I've 4wheeled since 1966, everything from jeeps to scouts to dune buggies to vw busses/bajas and 4wd suburbans. Nothing, absolutely nothing, takes the place of 4wd and clearance combined.
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Old 06-04-2009, 04:38 PM
Location: Eastern Washington
16,873 posts, read 55,541,730 times
Reputation: 17923
Given the other cars you have, an older pickup would be a good addition to your "fleet", very handy for hauling "stuff", you will wonder what you did before you had it.

Here in the PNW, you can find all sorts of older pickups, some in remarkable condition, others showing their age, but for the most part rust-free.

You could do 4X4 or not. You could get a small Toyota or Nissan pickup, they are not bad on gas, friends have owned them and for the most part liked them.
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