Mrs. HotDogWater in in a position to purchase a new vehicle. She has been driving a 1999 Nissan Pathfinder for 10 years, and is ready for something new. Help her choose a car?
Here’s what she has told me so far…
It can be new or used off of a lease
It should be a full size or midsize SUV, although a 4 door sedan may be acceptable
It must be good in the snow, she gets nervous driving in the winter.
Highest MPG possible
Budget is around $25,000.
For what it’s worth, our kids are older teenagers, and she works in an office about a 6mile city commute. We have another “family car” (my Chrysler 300), so she could have a bit of fun with her choice.
Her initial description leads her to a Buick Enclave, but she hasn’t researched it yet. She’s going to test drive one Saturday.
We’ve got a Honda CRV. I just checked my fuel tracking app and I’ve gotten an average MPG of 24 and change in the 2 years I’ve been tracking the details. Higher on the highway (up to 28ish), lower lately because most of my trips have been very short ones - probably similar to what she’s doing commute-wise.
I find it comfortable to get into and out of (my husband drives an older Civic which is a huge problem for me - I’m tall and not-slender). I clong my head against the upper part of the doorframe getting into the CRV sometimes, but a) I’m tall, and b) I’m a klutz.
I believe they have a version with all wheel drive. I didn’t bother with that - we’re in the mid-Atlantic and snow here isn’t usually that bad. But it does fine in most of the snow we get; the height is sufficient for anything but a blizzard.
The Enclave starts at $38k, so unless you’re getting a pretty old one that’s not really in your price range, right? I think you can get one of it’s platform-mates the GMC Arcadia or Chevy Traverse for closer to your budget, though.
For the winter driving, Subarus are by far the best thing in your price range. The Forester and Tribeca are both technically classed as small SUV’s (similar to a CRV or Rav4), but they’re pretty roomy. They’re probably comparable to your wife’s Pathfinder, interior space-wise.
That said, the default position for a true mid-size SUV with decent mileage should probably be the Toyota Highlander. They also start a bit out of your price range, but you could likely get a fairly new used one. Those are car-based, so the non-AWD ones are front-wheel drive and so will handle okay in snow. The current Pathfinder (which bears little resemblance to your wife’s truck-based Pathfinder) is also pretty much the same thing.
If she’s willing to go with a small SUV rather than mid-size that opens up quite a few options at your price point. Pretty much every car company has a model in that segment priced $18k-$30k new, most if not all with AWD as an option, and they will have better MPG than the mid-size SUVs.