I now have a 45 minute drive to work, which now more expensive due to gas prices. Another challenge is that I live in a winter climate and live on big hill, which necessitates an all wheel drive SUV due to snow.
I have about $15K to spend. Any opinions on Hybrid All Wheel Drive SUVs, in the used arena? I saw the 2006 Toyota Highlander and some other options but love to hear opinions about other options.
I used to sell tires in MN. Get whatever 2wd vehicle you want and buy a set of snow tires, Bridgestone Blizzacks used to be the best a few years ago. One story retold to me by a customer. He has AWD minivan with M&S tires, wife 10yr old Escort with snow tires. They live in outskirts of town with a long winding rollercoaster of a driveway. He has to keep moving or he would get stuck and have to get out and shovel out. She could pause, backup, etc with NO problem. They were in to get a set for the van. A set usully lasts 3 seasons.
I run ice/snow tires on my Toyota Landcrusier. Now this truck is a beast in the snow. it kills it. but i choose to run the winter tires for added traction. they turn my truck into a snow mobile. between the tires, 4wd, traction, VSC, ect this 6500lbs truck will track a 90 degree turn in full snow pack at 30 mph! it is insane the difference the tires make.
If you have the ground clearance. Now snow tires are heavier so your MPG will go down 5-10% unless you can mount them on lighter rims. Another difference between snow tires vs awd, both awd and S.T. will give you better traction for acceleration but S.T. will give you much better stopping control. Blizzack tires were the best 10yrs ago and I've moved below the snowbelt since then. Their used to be a great video demonstrating the gripping power of snow tires. A front wheel drive car w/ regular tires looses control on an ice rink, tire change to Blizzack, next shot doing laps at 30mph around small rink! Where & what kind of situatons will you be facing on your drive? Have you driven in heavy snow before?
EDIT: It's not the weight difference with these tires that affect MPG it's the rolling resistance, which is why you by these tires in the first place more grip. Even so your MPG will be better than a 4wd vehicle and (this is were I sold most people) how much will a tow out of a ditch, suspention, body repair cost you?
when I lived in washington state we would take my camaro (99) to the slopes all the time. I had a set of high quality snow tires and a set of low profile chains for ice. I watched my roomate get his 4x4 truck stuck multiple times in snow and ice because he refused to buy a second set of tires.
This of course came the 2nd year of living there, the first year I thought (all season) radials would be fine.... F that, i now own a summer pair and a winter pair on different rims. proper tires makes all the difference in the world
and yes, I have driven in 2.5 inch deep snow with no problem, above 3 my air damn turns into a snow plow and stops my car.
I live in the Lakemont area of Bellevue WA. The problem is while the surrounding area outside of my subdivision gets rain, our elevated subdivision gets snow. I've been told by my neighbors that I should get an SUV. I'm reluctant to shell out a huge amount of cash for a used SUV, especially since I have a 40 min commute. Snow tires might be the more cost efficient way to go by the drawbacks are storage and then even lower gas efficiency due to the snow tires
How often do the roads get so bad you need a 4x4 to get around? 2-3 weeks every year? get a used 4x4 pickup in addition to your main drive, you can find an old dakota or smth like that for like 2k. as for the snow tires - they are great on packed snow/ice, a must for a rear-wheel drive in the midwest; when you have to get through a foot+ of snow, snow tires alone won't get you far though. you'd need a 4x4 with a reasonably high clearance.
On an AWD car Blizzack tires will laugh at anything that your front bumper/spoiler will clear. I could drive at normal highway speeds in my Impreza on 2 inches of snow. If you have never used snow tires before, you don't know what you are missing.
I can understand AWD but why do you need an SUV? How deep is the snow you have to deal with? Do you have to constantly plow through a foot of snow to get to work, or is it a few inches with the occasional snow drift?
People in Bellevue are idiots, I drove from Seattle to Ellensburg and Spokane all winter there for 5 years in my camaro with properly fitted snow tires (studded).... studs are legal in that state so get a pair and enjoy it. also, getting a proper set of chains for when the ice gets really bad is a great idea....
I never had a 4 wheel drive car and on more then one occassion living around there rescued friends with 4x4's that got stuck cause they didnt buy the proper tires.... I had my tires on a cheap pair of 5 spoke Aluminum rims I got from a junk yard for 200 bucks total.... another 3-400 for the studded tires and my camaro had no problems getting around.
little extra info on the chains, if you are gonna live there for more then 2 seasons get the chains with the replacable wearout pieces... its a little more up front, but when the low pro rings wear out you can replace them for 20 bucks for all 4 tires vs buying another set of chains for 80+... also, they make low pro chains for any size wheel, just make sure you have wheel + tire combo before you order your chains...
remember, with a snow tire you want a small contact patch (opposite of summer driving).
You want an AWD SUV for true offroading or "around town, look at me I have an SUV but won't use it like an SUV!" driving?
Because if it's the latter, I would disregard AWD systems in general--that come with these pseudo SUVs--since the complexity of AWD systems increases the likelihood of mechanical problems and the cost of repairs in general. Summary: buy a 2WD if you're just using it around town. Plus, AWD eat up more gas.