Which AWD?
August 25, 2006 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I want an AWD car (not an SUV). What does the hive mind recommend?

I'm looking at late-model used or new. I could probably stretch to $40,000 CAD, though I prefer less. I will not buy an automatic.
posted by timeistight to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total)
well, for go-fast, there's the sti!
posted by sergeant sandwich at 2:48 PM on August 25, 2006

I love my subaru outback. Everyone I know drives one (very slight exaggeration).
posted by miss tea at 2:50 PM on August 25, 2006

We have a Subaru Legacy wagon with AWD. Took me a while to get used to driving with AWD, but it's a decent car (if you want a small station wagon)
posted by briank at 3:19 PM on August 25, 2006

For the not-quite-so-fast, there's the WRX, which doesn't hoover up gas as quickly as the STI. If you're contemplating up to 40K, you might have something fancier in mind—the WRX is a bit spartan. But I've got one and I like it.
posted by adamrice at 3:26 PM on August 25, 2006

posted by quadog at 3:27 PM on August 25, 2006

126,000 miles and the only problem I ever had was a minor elctrical problem that corrected itself. Other than rountine servicing--brakes, oil, timing belt, etc,--it was flawless and fun to drive--what else, Subaru Outback. Traded in several weeks ago for a 2 year old Hyundai XG350--time for a bit of affordable luxury.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:28 PM on August 25, 2006

subaru has a deal, here in the US anyway, for 169usd/month on a lease for a 2.5RS....great car on the cheap..basically a wrx sans turbo
posted by TheDude at 3:43 PM on August 25, 2006

We've been very happy with our Impreza Outback Sport (another WRX sans turbo). Fun to drive, great handling, decent mileage (~28 city; ~31 highway), and it performed well in the snow this winter in Yosemite.

Anyone driven that B9 Tribeca?
posted by DakotaPaul at 3:55 PM on August 25, 2006

I just got a 2006 subaru outback 2.51 and completely love it. My only complaint is that the back seat is too small, which would be fine for kids, but adults might find it tight during a long haul.
posted by cwarmy at 4:32 PM on August 25, 2006

Just echoing TheDude... I've seen the deal on TV, $169/mo for the 2.5RS 4 year lease. I close my eyes and put my fingers in my ears whenever that ad comes on.

Sexy car.
posted by empyrean at 4:35 PM on August 25, 2006

I drove a WRX for a while. It's a fun car but I was disappointed in the gas mileage (it's too small to eat that much gas!) and the weak torque in first gear made stop signs on hills a terror. (I've driven a stick my whole life. It wasn't just a getting comfortable with stick thing.)

That being said, if you're not doing a lot of major hills, it was hella fun to drive and very practical for hauling people and things about.
posted by Gucky at 5:15 PM on August 25, 2006

Volvo has a line of AWD sedans which feel incredibly grippy and stable in the worst winter/ice/slush/snow driving conditions -- 1999 s70 is the one I've driven. Loved it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:16 PM on August 25, 2006

There's a user board for all Volvo models, brickboard.com -- they have very knowledgable folks and comparative info, if you're interested in a new or used one you can get a sense of what years and models are more reliable.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:19 PM on August 25, 2006

Another vote for the WRX here. I'm still madly in love with mine. But the mileage does indeed blow.
posted by jclovebrew at 6:03 PM on August 25, 2006

lalex brings up a good point. If you can foot the bill the Audis are really nice.

I driver a lancer variant. If you wanted AWD in a mitsubishi you could look into the Evo, but I've heard the suspension on it is really really stiff.
posted by ibfrog at 6:17 PM on August 25, 2006

When it comes to big purchase decisions (ok, any decisions), I'm a bit of an obsessive information junkie. When I picked my car, safety and reliability were my two main priorities. I started with all the Consumer Reports recommended cars for 4+ passengers, looked at their weight, their IIHS and NHTSA safety ratings, and their Consumer Reports accident avoidance ratings, long-term reliability, and predicted reliability. That got it down to 5 possibilities. I eliminated one on price, and checked out the other 4 in person. That got it down to two, both of which happened to be AWD, though that hadn't been one of my initial requirements: the Volkswagen Passat AWD and the Subaru Legacy (not the Outback, just the plain old Legacy, which a review said rode better). I went with the latter on price, and I've been very happy with it -- I'm sold on AWD from now on. In your price range, the Passat would work, too. The biggest caveat, and it's a big one, is that I was looking at '02's, so there may have been changes since then. The other is that I only drive automatics, so I don't know about availability of these in manual.
posted by daisyace at 6:27 PM on August 25, 2006

Reliability + AWD = Subaru
Luxury + AWD = Audi S4 quattro
VW Passat AWD = Forget it, too many electrical problems
More room + AWD = Subaru Legacy or Outbacks
Subaru Impreza = Cheapest reliable hatchback
Subaru WRX = fast engine in a light weight car

These opinions based on:
1. I own a Subaru Impreza - 7 years old and 90K and not a thing has broken on it. I get about 28 mpg.
2. Friend has Audi S - good car but he hardly drives it, nice ride, handles well, eats gas fast.
3. vw passant awd - brother had one, not that fond of it.

It all depends on what's important in a car for you:
Reliability vs. size vs. handling vs speed vs safety vs price vs gas mileage vs luxury. I'd say the majority of the ability of an awd to stay glued to the road in wet or snowy conditions has mostly to do with how you drive it with the tires you have, rather than the car itself. Any car will go off the road if you drive too fast in the wrong conditions. Just because it has 4 wheels turning in acceleration does not mean you can stop better in bad conditions.
posted by jldindc at 7:41 PM on August 25, 2006

2004 Outback Sport manual transmission here, in 'wish it was snowier' Denver. The wife and I love the AWD in the snow. I've only had one experience where I felt I wasn't in complete control of the car, and it was my own fault (icy road leading into a right turn).

I'm quite happy with the non-turbo performance, as it gets far better gas mileage, and seeing how I would get myself into trouble with more power and torque.

Plenty of zip when I need it (merging onto the freeway, changing lanes at freeway speeds) without the type of car that would beg police to pull me over.
posted by Jim T at 7:42 PM on August 25, 2006

Another vote for Subaru. I love my 2001 Legacy GT LTD - so much luxury and power, with the reliability and value to make it a responsible choice :)

The AWD make a big difference in the slippery Ontario winters.
posted by sonicgeeza at 8:48 PM on August 25, 2006

Audi A6 Quattro. Mine's a 2000 model with nearly 200k miles and No Oil Changes Ever (because this former German car tech doesn't believe in it) and the car has been flawless.
posted by peewee at 9:26 PM on August 25, 2006

I loved my Subaru WRX Wagon. Had to sell it when I moved to Japan. If you want AWD but better gas mileage, just don't get the WRX/turbo model.
posted by gen at 2:38 AM on August 26, 2006

The newer Subarus are great for short people. We are on our fourth Subaru. The new ones have a power front seat and sunroof as standard equipment. This lowers the headliner and raises the drivers seat to the point where anyone over six feet can find a long drive uncomfortable.
posted by Raybun at 7:52 PM on August 26, 2006

and the weak torque in first gear made stop signs on hills a terror.

The 2006 WRX motor has been upsized to 2.5 liter (up from 2.0) to increase torque. I've negotiated the hills of San Francisco with the non-turbo 2.5, in an older 2.5 RS, no complaints.
posted by vaportrail at 5:34 PM on August 27, 2006

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