If you drive on wet or snowy roads quite a bit the performance of your vehicle is usually hindered by the lack of traction more than by any other factor. As owners of 4 wheel drive cars will tell you, the engine power is much more useful when it's applied to the road surface by all four wheels. Front wheel drive cars are generally more popular but if you spend a lot of time on snowy or wet roads you might want to consider making your next vehicle an all wheel drive model since it is hard to get superior performance out of anything else when the traction conditions are not ideal.
The good news is that many auto makers have expanded their offerings of 4 wheel drive models over what was available in the past. You don't have to go with a four wheel drive truck or truck-based sport utility vehicle just because you want better traction anymore. Auto makers from Ford to Acura to Subaru offer great models with great traction control systems.
Speaking of Subaru, they are one of the long time proponents of AWD systems and have offered the feature on their cars for a number of years. For those of us who can't afford the latest and greatest models this is a fantastic thing since it means there is a pretty significant pool of pre-owned Subaru models out there to choose from.
The 2004 Subaru Legacy
A favorite in the Subaru lineup has been the Legacy sedan. Although it has received a considerable number of updates in the past few years we will be looking back a bit further to the 2004 model since we are focused on getting a lot of AWD value for a fairly low purchase price.
The 2004 Subaru Legacy features a 165 horsepower four cylinder power plant in the auto makers unique H4 engine layout. It's a 2.5 liter engine and puts out 166 lb-ft of torque as well. It's a smaller car so it can get away with the four cylinder engine and still deliver around 28 miles per gallon on the highway according to EPA estimates. Owners however, report achieving some 26-31 miles per gallon during highway driving in their experience. You can expect to find a 2004 model in great condition for under $9,000 according to estimates from KBB.
Of course the defining feature of the Legacy for your purposes is the four wheel drive system which Subaru calls Symmetrical All Wheel Drive. It's observational evidence but it seems like a good indicator of the system's success to note that the number of Subarus on New England roads is quite high.
If you have wanted to get an all wheel drive car but have been putting it off due to the high price then you might be interested in checking out the pre-owned market. There's a huge opportunity to find a great, well cared for model for a great price so be sure to get out and have a look around to see what you can find.