What’s Your Dream Winter Driver on a Budget of $15,000?

The arrival of winter each year (not available in all areas, void where prohibited) can be a different experience for different drivers. Some are surprised each year that snow can have an effect on commute times, but never quite plan for any kind of disruption and continue driving on all-season tires even in parts of the country where winter can be quite serious, like in Minneapolis. Others plan for winter driving with the precision of a military deployment, switching out summer wheels and tires for a set of winter rubber that’s been purchased along with the car, and hooking up a trailer with snowmobiles to go riding in the back country.

One aspect of evolution of family cars that’s kind of been taken for granted over the past two decades is the availability of all-wheel drive, compared to the decade of the 1990s or prior. It’s now far easier to find it in vehicles in all segments, from luxury sedans (in which it was a rarity even 20 years ago) to hatchbacks, station wagons, and even coupes. A little over two decades ago you had to go to Subaru, Audi, or Volvo to find all-wheel drive in a passenger car, just as rear-wheel drive SUVs were still quite prevalent, and not just in the Sun Belt states. It’s now far easier to find all-wheel drive in vehicles offered by just about every automaker.

One of the results of this all-wheel drive revolution is that affordable winter drivers that are a decade or two old are readily available on the used market, and they’re not just Jeep Cherokees or old Volvo XC70 Cross Country wagons.

This brings us to our hypothetical. With the vast availability of all-wheel drive in cars today, what would be your dream winter car, truck or SUV on a budget of $15,000 or less?

Such a vehicle would have to be just as useful for daily commuting as trips to ski areas, and would have to be able to carry plenty of winter sports gear as well as luggage. It would also need to have some modest road clearance appropriate for the amount of snow your geographic area, and would have to be available in the U.S. (So no Skoda Octavia vRS wagons, please).

Let us know your dream winter driver in the comments below.

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