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Old 08-08-2010, 01:32 PM   #1
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Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

Hello all,
I had a thread going on here about my 1994 Ford Explorer and the modifications I made to that to get a great increase in Hwy mileage. But, it has come time for me to sell the beast.

I'm looking for advice on purchasing a "new" (used) vehicle. Looking for it to be more fuel efficient than the Explorer, but with all-wheel-drive or four wheel drive. For fuel efficiency I would expect a car to be best, but that's why I'm looking for advice. I don't know of many awd cars.

My price range is going to be under $4,000, which I know I won't find much for that price, but I don't care much if it's a beater (the Explorer was).

I know there's Subaru, Audi, and some other cars, but I know nothing about them.

The winters here in the U.P. of Michigan are rough, with lots of snow. Right now I have my car to drive around ('93 Buick Century 3.3L V6 fwd), and it's quite good in the winter but I'd prefer awd because of the steep hills around here. I usually have to "floor" the car, spinning the tires at ~70mph trying to get up a hill in winter while going less than 20mph. And if you lose your momentum, you have no choice but to back down the hill and try again. And no, the hills aren't avoidable unless I drive 20+ miles out of my way.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:49 PM   #2
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Re: Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

Have you tried studded tires? It seems a shame to spend all that money when merely ascending is the issue.

You will be able to get some more ideas beyond Subaru and Audi using the "Power Search" at Fueleconomy.gov:
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/advancedSearch.htm
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Old 08-08-2010, 04:29 PM   #3
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Re: Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

well just an fyi, you happen to own one of the early generation explorers which so happens to be the best of the explorers.. the rest of them are glorified station wagons.
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:03 PM   #4
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Re: Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

Look for a 1999.5 - 2003 vw golf or Jetta diesel fwd. Check out the discussion about driving in snow at tdiclub.com. Your budget mat be about 1000 low
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:34 PM   #5
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Re: Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

Have you every considered a DSM? This is what I went with. They are awesome in the snow and are great when it comes to MPG freeway.

I would go with an auto and try to find one that is unmolested.
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Old 08-08-2010, 10:11 PM   #6
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Re: Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

Quote:
Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
Have you tried studded tires? It seems a shame to spend all that money when merely ascending is the issue.

You will be able to get some more ideas beyond Subaru and Audi using the "Power Search" at Fueleconomy.gov:
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/advancedSearch.htm
Studded tires and chains are illegal on public roads in Michigan. Right now my car has Goodyear TripleTread tires. They're better than my last tires in the snow, and are only a year old (less than 10k miles). I had them on a 2001 Cavalier (a piece of crap car, btw -IMO) and they were absolutely amazing after I got them put on, so I went with them again and am still impressed.

(had the Cavalier while my Buick was being repaired by students [for 6 months] after I was rear-ended and it was totaled. The Cavalier got about the same gas mileage as my Buick and was a very poor quality car, so I kept the Buick and sold the Cavalier for the same I bought it for).
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Old 08-08-2010, 10:24 PM   #7
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Re: Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

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well just an fyi, you happen to own one of the early generation explorers which so happens to be the best of the explorers.. the rest of them are glorified station wagons.
That may be the case ... I do hate to see it go, it's just not worth it to keep anymore. I drive it very little (usually only winter) and most parts seemed to be original when I bought it - and of course seemed to break while I've had it. The 4x4 breaking (front passenger side axle slip-yoke stripped out) was the 'last straw' so to speak, as the 4x4 was my main reason for having it.

... and it has the lowest ground clearance compared to most other SUV's out there, so to me it is just a glorified station wagon. This is from differential-to-ground clearance. In fact, Michigan law says it IS a station wagon (so are Vans).
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Old 08-09-2010, 01:10 AM   #8
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Re: Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

Well I think you'd do just fine with a FWD vehicle, the AWD is mostly a gimmick unless you plan on driving on truly treacherous roads (snow covered roads in Michigan don't count!).
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:28 AM   #9
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Re: Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

Quote:
Originally Posted by MTUboi86 View Post
Hello all,
I had a thread going on here about my 1994 Ford Explorer and the modifications I made to that to get a great increase in Hwy mileage. But, it has come time for me to sell the beast.

I'm looking for advice on purchasing a "new" (used) vehicle. Looking for it to be more fuel efficient than the Explorer, but with all-wheel-drive or four wheel drive. For fuel efficiency I would expect a car to be best, but that's why I'm looking for advice. I don't know of many awd cars.

My price range is going to be under $4,000, which I know I won't find much for that price, but I don't care much if it's a beater (the Explorer was).

I know there's Subaru, Audi, and some other cars, but I know nothing about them.

The winters here in the U.P. of Michigan are rough, with lots of snow. Right now I have my car to drive around ('93 Buick Century 3.3L V6 fwd), and it's quite good in the winter but I'd prefer awd because of the steep hills around here. I usually have to "floor" the car, spinning the tires at ~70mph trying to get up a hill in winter while going less than 20mph. And if you lose your momentum, you have no choice but to back down the hill and try again. And no, the hills aren't avoidable unless I drive 20+ miles out of my way.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance!
That is a tough order.

We get a lot of snow/ice etc where I am and have mountains. The best I have found for that is a jeep with a REAL SELECTABLE 4WD system and the right tires. It will get you where you need to go and back in a blizzard. Been there and done that many times. Since you have 2 vehicles and are replacing one consider that as an option. You will however sacrifice FE and gain performance and safety in poor driving conditions. But it will be a second vehicle. Also, if it has a REAL SELECTABLE 4WD system, you can shift it back to 2WD if you do not need the 4WD.

AWD would of course be better in the poor driving conditions than FWD or RWD. It will also use more fuel just because it is AWD and they are not selectable and locked in all the time, even when you do not need it..

But the other thing is even if you are driving just a FWD in poor driving conditions you are not going to get optimal FE with it in a snow storm anyway.

So your real purpose in bad driving conditions is not FE but to get to your destination SAFELY with no drama and not end up in a hospital somewhere and your vehicle all busted up.


So, with those thoughts in mind, and considerring FE as a major criteria, and that you want 2 vehicles, get a good 4WD to use in the bad weather, and drive your more economical vehicle the rest of the year.

By the way, I had one of the first explorers and it was good in the snow.

Just some thoughts.
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Old 08-09-2010, 09:30 AM   #10
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Re: Need advice: looking for a F.E. car with awd

talon, eclipse and laser all come to my immediate mind. others are toyota celica alltrac, mazda 323gtx, early subies or late for that matter, and a few odd toyotas as well.
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