Reader Question: A Recommend?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Michael asks: I’m looking to purchase a used vehicle and was hoping for a recommendation or two. I live in a Great Lake state, and we get some terrible lake effect snow in winter. The last two winters have been really mild, so I’m expecting some hellacious “reversion to the mean” level snowfall this coming winter. For this reason, I’d like to purchase a vehicle with AWD or 4WD and some reasonable or even generous ground clearance. The wife is not a pickup truck fan, so that leaves SUVs. I don’t like new cars because I prefer for other people to eat up the bulk of the depreciation. I currently own a 2009 Toyota Yaris. I am the second owner. It drives great, gets terrific mileage and has no mechanical issues. I’d keep it till the wheels fall off if it weren’t for winters around here. As long as I’m upgrading though, I’m looking forward to more headroom. I’m 6’ tall and have gained a bit of a belly since getting the Yaris. I also really like the backup cameras I’ve seen in some vehicles lately. Do you have any advice on what to look for/look out for, etc? I’m budgeting ~$15k-20k for this purchase. I’m not afraid of a private party sale, if that helps. I’m not looking to buy a new car every few years. I’d rather just keep what I get until it dies, preferably after a long, long life. Thanks!

My reply: I have two for you!

The first – since you like your Yaris – is a related Toyota, the RAV4. Which is related to the Camry but with AWD available, much more ground clearance and much more cargo room/interior space efficiency. I think you’d really like this one; it’ll be familiar to you in a number of ways just a lot more practical. It is also among the most bulletproof new cars you can buy, being related to the Camry. It’s well within your budget and it’s a vehicle that will last you for 15-20 years, easily. With snow tires, a RAV4 will get you through pretty much anything, too.

My second recommend is the Subaru Crosstrek. A really neat – and similar to the RAV4 – vehicle that is also within your budget and has many of the same attributes, but comes standard with AWD, more ground clearance and has Subaru’s excellent horizontally opposed “boxer” engine, too.

I’d look at – and test -drive both and then decide based on which of these feels “right” to you.

There are some others you may want to consider as well, including the Honda CRV and (surprise) the Buick Regal X Tour wagon.

Keep us posted!

. . .

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  1. By the way, last week I met a person driving a Toyota FJ Cruiser that looked brand new. I was sorta jealous. I’d buy an old on in a heartbeat if I could find it in that condition or even close to it.

    My cousin just lost one that was identical in a wreck where a woman pulled across in front of him on a high speed road for whatever reason. Don’t know how you could miss that bright yellow and white. His was an 07 and had never had a single thing wrong with it and had new tires.

    • I have two friends with new RAV 4’s. One likes the nanny stuff which it is replete with. The other, not so much.


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