“Snowstorm sweeping the Northeast.” This is a phrase I, and many New Englanders, are more than accustomed to. And whether we like it or not, a car’s winter performance greatly effects our buying decisions. New Englanders buy more Ahhdis and Subarus than almost any other regional population. All Wheel Drive is the be-all and end-all of most vehicle purchases in the cold North, and many feel like they can’t possibly ever be without it because all four wheels must be pushing the car at the same time BECAUSE IT’S SAFER AND I HAVE KIDS.
For those of us who treat our cars better than, say, our families, winter can be a treacherous time. Sand and salt destroy our meticulously hand-waxed paint jobs, rims get scuffed, and accidents can happen. A “winter beater” is a very tempting option for the obsessive gearhead, so I’ve done my best to compile a list of the five most practical and fun winter cars for the budget enthusiast.
Bear in mind, this is a gearhead’s list, so it is in no way practical or recommendable to the average driver, but hot damn is it fun.
5. Audi 4000
Pros: It’s an all wheel drive, late 80s Audi that looks like a rally car and only comes with a manual transmission. It has 4-wheel disk brakes and an inline drivetrain system, and it’s cool as hell
Cons: It’s a German car from the late 80s, meaning it’s about as reliable as an oven made out of newspaper.
4. Toyota 4Runner
The 4Runner is all you really need from an SUV. It’s big, it’s Japanese, it looks like a safari vehicle, and it will go pretty much anywhere and run forever.
Plus you can take your spouse, your kids, your kids’ friends, your dog, your other dog, your kids’ stuffed dogs, your kids’ friends’ dogs and also some firewood.
3. BMW 325ix
Ahh the E30. Many the enthusiast has waxed poetic about its perfectly-balanced chassis, its low-price, and its autocross chops.
But alas! Great news comrades! It comes with all wheel drive, so you can even take your BMW elitist attitude off road with you!
2. Jeep Cherokee
Just look at it. Bonus points if you find a 2-door.
1. Subaru Legacy GT
You may be wondering why this list isn’t topped by a WRX. But joke’s on you, sucker, this is a WRX… basically.
The Legacy GT is just as fast, fits more stuff, looks better than a WRX of the same general age, and it’s still a Subaru. They’re also less likely to be previously modded to death by a 16 year old with a death wish. And it comes in a wagon. Win Win… Win.