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affordable, efficient, good clearance/AWD

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I want a car to get me to and from work safely and efficiently (twisty mountainous highway, sometimes snowy highway driving (sea-to-sky, BC)), a car to get me on logging roads (i.e. good clearance)

Priorities: Fuel economy / Depreciation / Off-road capability

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Hatch / Wagon / SUV / Pickup

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Off-roader

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 75000
Maximum age: 4 years

Maximum price: C $ 30000

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Response from Garibaldi

5:32 am April 7, 2016

Subaru Forester or Outback


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Subaru Forester
Subaru Outback

Response from ahm1127

6:52 am April 7, 2016

Subaru would be my first choice, just dont like AWD for me. There are models available that sit higher, dont remember name. The newer ones have very good mpg.
The Suzuki is a mini truck & 4 cylinder, with a manual trans it should do well with mpg. There are a few manufacturers for aftermarket suspension.


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Subaru Forester
Subaru Outback
Suzuki Vitara

Response from jasonmreece

5:24 pm April 7, 2016

If the ground clearance is sufficient, I would recommend taking a look at a 2014 or newer Mazda CX-5 AWD. The CX-5 was introduced in 2013, but the first year it was only available with a 155hp 2.0L 4-cylinder that was a little overtaxed by the extra weight of the AWD system (and the mandatory 6-speed A/T on AWD models). In 2014, a 185hp 2.5L version of that engine became standard on all but the entry-level Sport trim level (Sport = GX in Canada, if I'm not mistaken). So a GS or GT AWD is the way to go. Fuel economy is very good for this class of vehicle- 9.8/city and 7.9/hwy (liters per 100km).

A slightly used Toyota Tacoma 4x4 could also be a good fit. I have a 2002 Tacoma SR5 Pre-Runner (RWD) pushing 270k miles on the orginal engine and transmission. It has the standard 2.7L 4-cylinder engine and 4-speed automatic, but most (if not all) 4x4 models have the V6 standard. Fuel economy isn't that great, but depreciation and reliability as well as all-weather/all-road traction are top notch. The same applies to a Toyota 4Runner.

I'm not


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Mazda CX-5
Toyota Tacoma

Response from schwartzki

12:47 pm April 8, 2016

Really comes down to offroad ability and what kind of maintainence budget you want to deal with. I suggested both kinds.

Jeep's are historically less reliable vehicles but very capabable, quiet and refined 2013+. The V6 has plenty of power and with a uplevel vehicle you can get it with low range 4WD or even air suspension. That being said I would only get one with a comprehensive warranty while you own the vehicle as they have been known to have issues.

The 4Runner is a nice truck that hold their value used but in terms of tech and refinment are very behind. The 4.0 V6 is underpowered and thirsty. That being said it will run forever and is very competient off road with a good set of tires.

The Outback is a bit unconvential pick when it comes to Off Road ability but it does suprisingly well for not having low range or any locking diffs with a bit more agressive on/off road tire. Stick with a 2015 or newer for a much nicer interior and modern tech w/ the eyesight system. If you can find a 3.6R in your price point that would be my choice as the 4cyl is a bit slow, esp in the mountains. It will return excellent fuel economy and the AWD system with snow tires is simply unrivaled.


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Toyota 4Runner
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Subaru Outback

Response from LMCRM

3:38 pm April 10, 2016

You can't beat a Subaru for this type of commute or driver - on or off road. All Wheel Drive is standard across the board and the price doesn't jump for it. I have a 2014 Forester 2.5i Limited. This has the larger 2.5 liter motor, AWD, and the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The Forester is very comfortable, seats 4 (5 in a pinch) has great ground clearance, pretty decent mileage and pretty good power/acceleration. The AWD just doesn't stop. The Forester is an upright compact SUV. It's easy to get in and out of, easy to see out of and easy to drive. It's the most ... upright ... in the brand. I do mostly around town driving with the sunroof open (it's a HUGE roof) and - I live in the deserts of So Cal - the AC is running at least 6 months of the year. As such, I regularly see low 20s for my MPG.

There is also the XT Turbo models with a 2.0 turbo flat 4. More power, less mileage, some extra features. There have been some improvements for the 2015 and 2016 models (mostly related to Starlink and a new stereo unit to coordinate with Starlink.

The CVT is often misunderstood. But what makes the Subaru CVT differ from anybody else (Jeep, Nissan, etc.) is that the Subaru CVT mimics the feel of a normal automatic transmission - feels like a 5 speed auto. You can "feel" the shift. With the XT, the CVT offers paddle shifting and the feel of 8 gears.

Next up would be the Crosstrek (and to a small degree, the Impreza Sport wagon). The Crosstrek and Forester share a lot of common features. The Crosstrek has a smaller 2.0 liter engine so you get less power. Mileage is about the same as the larger Forester. The big difference is the Crosstrek Hybrid - which gets you better mileage ratings around town - but not on the highway. It's about $3-grand more than the non-hybrid model. Has the same ground clearance as the Forester, but is lower and shorter, so interior space is snugger. It's a bit more ... sporty ... in marketing and design. Most of the same features on the Forester are on the Crosstrek. Less cargo room. Less outward visibility.

The Impreza Sport wagon is the Crosstrek with less ground clearance and better mileage. And much less expensive. More like a typical small wagon with good economy and pep. Compare it to a Mazda 3 or ... Well, that's really about it.

Stay away from the Jeep Compass and Patriot models with the CVT. They're loud and noisy and - when equipped with 4WD, very thirsty on the road.


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Subaru Forester
Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru Impreza / Outback Sport
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