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What’s The Best Cheap Beater For Surviving Winter?

For a few thousand dollars, what's the ultimate winter runaround you can find?

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A blue Subaru wagon driving in the snow
Is a 4x4 Subaru all you need to survive the colder climes?
Photo: Subaru

The nights are drawing in and the weather is decidedly frostier — that must mean winter is almost here. So as well as wrapping yourself up in preparation for the chill, it might be time to tuck your car up the season and sub in a winter beater. But what would you choose?

You might now be in the market for a cheap beater that you can throw around this season, or something you can strap a Christmas tree to without worrying about scuffing the paintwork. If that is the case, what car would you opt for?


If you live in climes prone to snowy weather, something with four-wheel-drive might suit you. Here in the office, Jalopnik’s own Steve DaSilva argues the best route to go in this case is a post-2006 Subaru. With all-wheel-drive and a solid motor, anything in this wheelhouse will last you through all the winters, he says.

Alternatively, you could instead look to somewhere notorious for its harsh winters. Somewhere like Sweden.


The Swedes have been crafting go-anywhere Volvos for years, and if you need something to last a season there’s some great(ish) cross country wagons out there. they all come with space on the roof to strap a whole forest, room to transport your family to any festive get together, and space in the trunk for all your holiday hopes and dreams.

On top of that, solid Swedish build quality means it will be less susceptible to road salt-induced rust, and a comfortable interior make it a nice place to be stuck in any holiday traffic jam. The price of all this? Well, there’s a few loitering around the online car market for under $2,000. Bargain.

But, what would you suggest as the best budget beater to drive this winter? We’re looking for the best runarounds that you can find for sale that won’t break the bank. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.