Andrew will be soon moving out of Brooklyn to the Hudson Valley area and commuting to work. He has both a BRZ and an older MR2 that are super fun to drive, but neither is ideal for his needs. He plans on selling the Subaru and getting an affordable, AWD, commuter car for around $15,000. What should he buy?
(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )
Here is the scenario:
We are moving from NYC to the Hudson Valley, and my partner who never drives needs a more practical daily than either my BRZ or my AW11 MR2. So I’m planning to sell/trade in the BRZ for something automatic and reliable that will short term be my winter car, and eventually be a daily.
I prefer a hatchback body style, and AWD would definitely be nice to have as this will live as winter car for a little while. Would like something small, and I’ve been told it needs to have a rear windshield wiper. We both also want a small car, preferably within the footprint of my BRZ, but maybe not as small as my MR2. Cost of repairs is probably more important than reliability since I would do most of my own work, but I also don’t want to be constantly working on it. One thing that seems to fit the bill pretty perfectly is an AWD Toyota Matrix, but they are not the easiest to find and they seem to sell very quickly.
As for the budget, I can spend up to $15,000.
Budget: Up to $15,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Location: Brooklyn, soon to be Hudson Valley area
Wants: Affordable, reliable, AWD, rear wiper
Doesn’t want: A lot of maintenance.
Andrew, you seem to be a part of a larger trend of folks leaving the city for a bit more space in the suburbs. While it will be sad to see the BRZ go, at least you still have your MR2 for those times you crave a sporty drive.
Now as for your all-wheel-drive commuter car, it seems that sometimes the most obvious answer is the best one. In this case that would be Subaru Impreza hatchback. While the Impreza hatch isn’t going to feel like your BRZ, it will provide AWD capability, great fuel economy, and a decent amount of space.
Finding one in your area won’t be difficult, the challenge will be finding one being sold by a dealer that isn’t a total pain to work with. Here is an example in CT with just over 40,000 miles within your budget.
Certainly getting a Subaru is a wise decision, and you know that Subarus can be as exciting as you want them to be. Even a virtually bone-stock Impreza is a riot on a snowy rallycross course, as anyone who has run Team O’Neil Rally School could tell you.
What I can’t help but mention, though, is that hatchbacks and SUVs are not the only cars with rear wipers. For some reason, a bunch of Japanese-market sedans come with rear wipers from the factory, including the old Skylines everyone loves.
The R32 generation Skyline is one such car, it’s not uncommon for GTS-4 cars to sell in your price range. (Here’s one that went in Richmond, for instance.) At the moment the best I could find was a RWD sedan with an auto and just 47,127 miles. It’s not exactly what you’re in the market for. Still, I would highly encourage you to make the drive down to Virginia to Duncan Imports to check this thing out. You might find something else there (rear-wiper equipped) that catches your eye.
Suzuki is gone, but that doesn’t mean the SX4—the cheapest new all-wheel car in the U.S. at one point, if I recall correctly—shouldn’t deserve your attention. It’s small, relatively fuel-efficient, sends torque to all four wheels, looks good, and can be nabbed for very little money.
The white car above is for sale for $5,800, and it looks to be in great shape. I’m not sure how easy it will be to find replacement parts for a Suzuki, but who cares? The thing is dirt cheap, unique, and fits your criteria. I say: Go for it.
The thing is just cool. I can’t put my finger on why, but it just is.