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The 10 Best All-Wheel-Drive Cars for Under $10,000

Best All-Wheel-Drive Cars

There are many reasons why having a car with all-wheel-drive (AWD) is better than going with a standard front- or rear-wheel-drive vehicle. Sure, getting the AWD option is going to cost more than the two, but the benefits make it worth the price. So, what are the reasons? Why should you spend more money for AWD, when it seems that a two-wheel drive does all you need? Well, to put it simply, it doesn’t. AWD is better, and here’s why: You’re going to get better traction, which makes your vehicle safer to drive in any terrain. Neither a jacked up MSRP, nor poorer gas mileage means you should skip out on the feature, especially when having it could save your life or that of someone in your family. Do some research on the feature, and you’ll see for yourself.

Go, ahead…read on and see if it doesn’t help you figure out what best AWD vehicle is going to be for you.

10. 1999 Isuzu Vehicross

1999 Isuzu Vehicross

With an appearance so unique it has been considered by some to be ridiculous, the 1999 Isuzu Vehicross is definitely an attention grabber. Just try driving down the road in one and see if you don’t turn a head or two. Overall, however, the body styling was really only considered especially odd 20 years ago when it was built. Today, it seems to fit in much better, as it looks something like an SUV or Crossover with an attitude. Featuring a four-speed automatic transmission and 3.5 liter V6 engine that was also used in the Isuzu Trooper, it put out 215 hp, and you’re gonna get about 15 mpg average. You should note that these engines did have a reputation for burning oil as they got older, but they run like soldiers anyway…just beware when buying. But it’s the AWD option we’re looking for, and it has it, and the feature does everything you want a vehicle with AWD to do (and well, at that). You can expect to pay between $4300 and $5300.

9. 2003 Mazda Protege5 XI AWD

2003 Mazda Protege5 XI AWD

This particular car is a station wagon that seats five, but it’s smaller than others in its class that are like it. This fact, according to reviews, is a benefit in many ways. It’s more economical, first of all, getting around 28 mpg combined, and it handles like a dream. Its four liter engine gives plenty of power, and its mechanically sound in all other ways. All of these things made it popular back when it was new, and it’s still a good little car today. Though it seems small, owners say they had more than enough room, even with three people in the back seat. There is one issue, however: It rusts like nobody’s business, so keep that in mind when shopping around. You should be able to pick one of these up for between $4,500 and $6,500 in very good condition.

8. 2002 Buick Rendezvous CX

2002 Buick Rendezvous CX

This 4-speed automatic crossover is a larger vehicle, and it will give you approximately 16/22 mpg in the city and highway, respectively. It’s roomy, comfortable, and handles well also. It also comes with a V6 engine, seats five comfortably, and came with a variety of options when it was new. The issue that seems to be a problem most often for owners is the transmission going bad, so be sure to have your mechanic give that a good look before you buy. If you find a 2002 Buick Rendezvous that is in good condition you can expect to pay between $5,300 and $6,700, which is more than reasonable for a vehicle that is so roomy and comfortable.

7. 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

Jeeps are almost always a go-to favorite when it comes to the purchase of an AWD, and with good reason. They are roomy, comfortable, and come with great options, even back in 2004. This particular model, the Laredo, came with a 4-liter, inline-6 engine, a four-speed automatic tranny that came with overdrive, and put out 230 hp. A true SUV, it came with 4x4 capability as well. The main down point is the gas mileage, with 16/city and 21/highway, but it’s bigger in size and weight, so that’s to be expected. If you want to buy one of these that’s in better than acceptable condition you’ll pay about $7,500.

6. 2004 Mitsubishi Outlander

2004 Mitsubishi Outlander

While owners have complained about the Outlander having something of a rough ride and poor visibility, it has gotten very good reviews otherwise, and is considered a very good AWD vehicle. It’s an SUV, but it drives and handles like a car due to its smaller dimensions, and it’s comfortable for travel, particularly on the highway. This 5-seater gets around 24 mpg combined, which isn’t bad at all for a vehicle in its class. It has a 2.4, 4-cylinder engine, which likely contributes to the higher gas mileage. You can expect a price range of between $1,300 and $6,300, depending on its condition.

5. 2001 Volkswagen Passat New GLX

2001 Volkswagen Passat New GLX

This particular Passat version, the GLX, was a higher-end version that came with a V6 instead of a 4-cylinder, so it gave 190 hp. It had a five-speed manual transmission that came standard, which helped the mileage slightly; it averaged around 22 mpg combined. The AWD was actually called ‘4Motion’, which was Volkswagen’s specialized all-wheel-drive system, and it made for easy handling and better acceleration. Comfortable and popular, the Passat GLX also underwent some upgrades, including changes on both the interior and exterior, and some redesigned features and upgraded mechanics. If you plan to get one of these AWDs, you can plan on spending around $6,100.

4. 2000 Honda CR-V LX

2000 Honda CR-V LX

While it wasn’t built to take out driving over rough terrain, the CR-V was a very popular vehicle that seemed to do well for owners all the way around. It is a smaller-sized SUV that still provided plenty of room and power, with an engine that put 146 horses out of its 2-liter engine. The tranny came either as a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual, and it got around 21 mpg combined, which isn’t as good as one may like, but not too bad, either. If you buy one of these that seems to check out okay for you, you will likely have to put out between $3,600 and $5,200, but you likely won’t find an AWD for the price that’s much better. There seems to be few to no complaints when it comes to this vehicle, even when purchased used.

3. 1997 Subaru Legacy Outback

1997 Subaru Legacy Outback

18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway make the Legacy Outback and attractive proposition, and so does its popular station wagon body-styling. It has a flat-four engine and standard 4-speed automatic tranny, but you will likely find some automatics as well. This vehicle seats five comfortably, and has a reputation for being long-lasting and reliable. It really is the whole package, as far as used cars are concerned, and you can probably pick one up for a very reasonable $5,800.

2. 2004 Infiniti G35

2004 Infiniti G35

This powerful sports vehicle may have a price that’s a bit higher, but it really is worth it if you can afford it. It came as a sedan or coupe, and its AWD was called the ‘Snow Mode’ feature, with first came out in this model year. It let the driver lock into a 50/50 front/rear torque split. It put out 260 hp, and got 17/24 mpg in the city and highway. This all-season vehicle was pretty much loaded, with leather seats and many other bells and whistles, so the fact that you will likely pay around $9,500 for a used one shouldn’t matter much, if you’ve got the money.

1. 2003 Subaru Forester

2003 Subaru Forester

The 2003 Subaru Forester takes our number one position for many reasons. It’s durable, reliable, and seems to run well forever, just to name a few of them. It has a lighter curb weight than previous years’ models, which is beneficial in many ways. While it is an SUV, the Forester handles like a car, which it is known for and stays true to. It does look more like a station wagon, but it comes with the benefits and features of the SUV, and that is attractive as well. It come in either 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual, and its 4-cylinder puts out 165 hp. With an attractive 21/city and 27/highway mileage rating, a roomy interior, and easy, comfortable handling, the $9,700 you will pay for one in good condition makes it worth every cent.

Well, we believe we have cut some time off your purchasing task when it comes to the AWD vehicle you are planning to buy. There are a few points left we’d like to make, however. Be sure that, no matter how good your prospective used car looks, you have it gone over thoroughly by a mechanic that you trust. You want to be sure that everything is in good condition, not only so you don’t pay too much, but for the safety of you and your passengers, too. Also, if you’ve never had an AWD vehicle, you will want to be sure you know how the feature works, so get educated on this by someone who knows; don’t second guess or try to teach yourself. With those points made, good luck in your shopping ventures, and we wish you a long, safe life on the road.

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Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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