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City-friendly AWD snow monster

The Right Car for Me:

This member has purchased a 1999 Jeep Cherokee.


Hello Folks,

Looking for a cheaper, shorter-length car for winter errands when it's too crappy out to bike.

Use case is a bit interesting:
I drive <3000mi/yr, so fuel economy is not a big concern.
Vehicle only needs to last a few years, but be reliable in that time.
Realistically will only drive ~10000mi before living/work situation changes next.

Biggest concerns:
-Enough ground clearance and AWD/4WD to roll over plowed-in street parking spots, and poorly plowed city streets.
-Shorter overall length for ease of street parking
-Ability to attach bikes/skis to vehicle
-Cost needs to be <$6500
-Repairs would ideally be inexpensive (think Civic parts vs VW parts)

I've kind of settled on finding an older Cherokee, Subaru, etc. to get through a few winters. Not really looking at pickups or full-size SUVS, mostly due to length.
Any suggestions would be great!

Priorities: Price or payments / Off-road capability / Reliability & durability / Cargo capacity

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Sedan / Coupe / Wagon / SUV

Car Needs: Errands about town

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 140000

Maximum price: US $ 6500

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Response from mkaresh

12:46 pm February 26, 2015

Suzuki no longer sells cars in the U.S., which should make the SX4 more affordable than a Subaru, so you can get a newer one. And they're short for easy parking. Not all of them are AWD, so be sure to specify that when searching classifieds.

Any Subaru selling for under $6,500 could be prone to head gasket issues.


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Suzuki SX4

Response from mwcten

6:35 pm March 1, 2015

There's also the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix 4wd option that is not super common, but you can find them and they are very reliable. There's also the Honda CR-V and the Toyota Rav 4 that are a step bigger. I think dollar for dollar any of those would, on average, give you a little bit lower automotive repair and maintenance costs than a Subaru. And they'd be a LOT more reliable than a Jeep. A Subaru wouldn't be a bad choice, though. If you're very tight on money, you could get something more in the $3-4k range. If a repair comes along that would cost more than the value of the car, just sell the car unfixed and buy another one. Odds are, though, that any of these models in the $3-4k range would last 10k miles, though, and still be worth about $1k less than you paid for it.


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Toyota Matrix
Toyota RAV4
Honda CR-V

Response from Member6352

7:38 am April 1, 2015

Thanks for the suggestions, folks!
I ended up purchasing a '99 Jeep Cherokee (with aftermarket lift, exhaust, rims, etc) built up as a hunting-trail offroader. Not very fuel efficient, but easy to park and rolls over anything.


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Jeep Cherokee
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