• Protip: Profile posts are public! Use Conversations to message other members privately. Everyone can see the content of a profile post.

Which winter beater should I buy?

16 July 2007
New Jersey
looking for a car/SUV for the winter, prefer all wheel drive and four doors. This will be a 5th car so I want to spend under $10k.

The vehicle needs to be great in the snow/rain, reliable, cheap to fix.

It will probably have to get through some unplowed roads in the winter and will have to accomodate two baby seats in back and my hockey equipment, but not at the same time.

For example, a two door Wrangler would work because when the kids are not in it, I can fold up the back seat to create a bigger trunk for my hockey equipment.

I was thinking 2001-2003 Nissan Pathfinder or 2005 Jeep Cherokee. I was also thinking Subaru Outback or Audi A4, but both seem expensive to fix and not that reliable. WRX is a candidate too, but can't seem to find an unmodified one.

Any suggestions? What do you drive in winter?

thank you,

There is only one word you need to know. Subaru. By the way, we have an A4, its utter junk. I would not buy another one nor recommend one to anyone, anyone at all.
^ +1. When I lived in Colorado, it seemed nearly half the cars on the road there were Subarus. They were built for this kind of stuff.
5th vehicle?

Why not just use the Cayman during inclimate weather? Why have 5 - why not drop down to 2 or 3?
Any suggestions? What do you drive in winter?
A year and a half ago, we bought a 2004 MDX with 113K miles for around $13K, and it has been terrific for us. It holds lots of stuff; we carry our large dog crates set up behind the second seat. Ours was a one-owner car with a complete service history. Now you can probably pick up a 2003-2004 with similar mileage for $10-12K. (When we were shopping, we were considering a smaller SUV, such as a CRV, but the MDX was only $1-2K more, for a lot more luxury and a lot more space.) If you look at used MDXs, avoid 2001-2002, as there is a common transmission problem in those years.

4th Gen Civic Wagon RT4WD. You can get them in Auto or Manual.

$10K would make a really nice one. :)
This doesn't make sense to me. These were sold 1988-1991. We bought a 1988 and drove it for ten years until it died. It was a great car at the time. But there are very few of them still on the road, and most of those left are rusted out and beat up, with a bazillion miles. If you asked about a used 4WD for under $2K, this might be an okay choice. But since you're willing to spend up to $10K, you're probably looking for something newer than a 21-24 year old car.
I been having good luck with my Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS. I have a feeling if we get over a foot of snow I probably wont be able to go anywhere. I had the same budget you have 10k. I picked mine up for just over 10k with a 2 year warranty.
^ +1. When I lived in Colorado, it seemed nearly half the cars on the road there were Subarus. They were built for this kind of stuff.

I was thinking Subaru too, but reading owners reviews seem like a lot of maintence, head gasket leaks, timing belts. Those in my price range will be high miles with a lot of deferred maintenance.
Audi R8 is near the top of every top 10 winter vehicles list. =) Some Subaru's are up there too. My current winter vehicle is a 2000 Cherokee Sport and I hate it because its RWD and AWD only sometimes. My last two Grand Cherokees were AWD all the time and were awesome in the winter.

My wife's 2002 A4 1.8 Quattro is also unstoppable in the winter with a set of Blizzaks that I put on it every year and it has the OEM lowered sports suspension. And just for the record, we live in a place where it can snow quite a bit (Michigan).

Whatever you decide to get, you can't go wrong with anything AWD as long as you have the right tires. Personally I would get something a little taller like a Jeep Grand Cherokee or another solid SUV. With those, all you need is a solid set of All Season Tires... with a car, I strongly suggest getting a separate set of winter tires and wheels so that the swap is easier when the weather gets crappy/better.
Being a car dealer I can say Honda crv and subarus of any kind are problem free top sellers. All my clients love them and no complaints. Suburas can reach 300k with no problems
5th vehicle?

Why not just use the Cayman during inclimate weather? Why have 5 - why not drop down to 2 or 3?

What? Why would the man want to have less vehicles? :confused: The more the merrier! :biggrin:

It depends if you truly want it to be a useful beater or something fun. For a useful beater I would vote for Jeep Grand Cherokee or 4Runner (I have one for sale :wink:). For fun, it is hard to beat an Evo or WRX. They have made WRX's for a long time so finding one for 10k is not a problem. No need for the STI as the standard turbo can be made plenty quick.
Last edited:
Escalade! Nothing like comfort in the winter. the heater and heated seats kick ass. Ford Escape, another great choice.
Last edited:
Subaru Outback. If you are going to simply drive it back and forth to the rink in snow drifts. Rather inexpensive to fix if you have to.

You could move south forget the search and drive thevNSX year around!
My '96 Integra 3-door with 225K miles is a fine beater. Even with the seats up I can still load a couple of Heaton Brodeur curves and a bag full of Vaughn and Brian's gear.

Great in snow/rain, reliable, cheap to fix. That's why I just can't quit that car. Might be snug tho.

Edit: That's not just Virginia, that's also upstate NY. Love the Honda FWD with some all-seasons.
Last edited:
I have a Ford Ranger for the snow, but I've been thinking about jumping to a Jeep Wrangler. Just seems like it would be fun to pull the doors off and maybe take it offroading some.
I would second an older Subaru with some winter/ice tires for the colder days. 2 years ago when we got dumped on the entire winter, I had no probelm going anywhere, any time of day/night/storm in my integra with blizzaks. I will never go back to all seasons again after the past few winters (excluding last winter because that was just like a cold spring).
Escalade! Nothing like comfort in the winter. the heater and heated seats kick ass. Ford Escape, another great choice.

I have a 2001 escape xlt 4wd i bought new in 2000. It has approx. 52k miles and never had a issue. Best vehicle i've ever driven in the snow/ice, i'll be keeping it as long as i can.

Subaru is my pick -

I have a 2009 legacy and am getting the 2013
Older outbacks are great too, my folks have one.
The only issue is that they hold their value - so a used one
costs a bit.
I don't see how 4WD is a must. Sure, it makes a big difference when it's slippery, but it's not like it's actually difficult to drive a FWD during winter. I only got stuck 3 times in 5 years and it was because I had a 12 hours day at school and the plowers had been pushing snow around my car the whole day, creating a big, frozen wall of snow.

I think a great set of winter tire is more important than just having a 4WD vehicule.
Scoobie Doo & set of Nokia/Nokian snows. My Subaru was awesome in the snow. Good, reliable, simple cars. Only got stuck 1 time in 12 yrs because they never plow the parking lots at UCONN and got high centered on deep snow in the middle of a parking space (couldn't power thru, car on other side). Got it loose eventually.