Modern-day cars seem so space-age-like that many believe they have lost the ability to connect with a driver. Even though cars from today can make you feel extremely comfortable and completely isolated from the very basics of driving, many believe that’s exactly the opposite of what makes a good driver’s car.
As such, they tend to gravitate towards somewhat older cars that still offer all the necessary pieces of equipment, but without the numbness of modern cars. These cars also don’t depreciate as much anymore which makes them great daily drivers.
The 2010-2014 Subaru Outback is a compact AWD SUV with a used sticker price of less than $10k which makes it a great deal, the same story goes for the 2012-2016 Subaru Impreza compact sedan. If you want a $10k AWD full-size SUV with superior reliability and space, be sure to check out the 2011-2013 Toyota Highlander.
If you are willing to spend a bit more, you can get the 2016 BMW X1 compact AWD SUV for around $20-25k which is more or less the same amount of money you will have to pay for an AWD 2015 Lexus GS. If you want a sportier sedan, check out the 2015 BMW 3-series xDrive which also costs around $23k.
2010-2014 Subaru Outback
Whenever we talk about affordable AWD cars, we usually start the list with a good old Subaru. Because this brand has made its mark with a “comes as standard” Subaru Symmetrical AWD system which is arguably one of the very best AWD systems on the market, it’s only right to do so with the Subaru Outback.
The 2010-2014 model years of the Outback are as good as any other modern Subaru models are. The Outback combines the approachableness of a sedan with the practicality and utility of an SUV/station wagon which makes the Outback a great daily driver. Furthermore, the Outback is reliable and fairly affordable.
2012-2016 Subaru Impreza
Cheap AWD cars are Subaru’s specialty, but in a good way as most of them are great at what they do. Sure, a 10-year-old Subaru might not be the most exciting car on the market, but for around $10k, it certainly is money well spent.
The Impreza platform has always been a reliable one, if you add that with increased usability usually associated with AWD, this Subaru can go anywhere at any time. Even though a similarly priced Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla may have a few benefits over the Impreza, none of them can touch the Subaru when it comes to AWD.
2011-2013 Toyota Highlander
If you want a great all-around full-size SUV that can comfortably seat up to 7 and go over snowy and rough terrain in relative comfort and serenity, check out the 2011-2013 Toyota Highlander. This large full-size SUV offers an abundance of family-friendly features such as storage spaces, cup holders, and a decent safety kit.
As far as reliability is concerned, the 2011-2013 Toyota Highlander generations are the very last of the 2nd gen Highlander which means that they should be able to stand the test of time. If you are willing to spend a few grand extras, you can even get the updated 2013+ Highlander.
2016 BMW X1 xDrive
Compact SUV/Crossovers are arguably the most popular cars at the moment which means that there are many of these out and about, and the X1 xDrive is one of the very best. The 2016 BMW X1 still looks fairly contemporary which can not be said about the many of its rivals such as the VW Tiguan from that era.
The X1 platform is fairly reliable with 4.5 of 5 stars according to J.D. Power which is above-average for most used BMWs. The interior is well built with lots of high-quality materials which make the X1 feel way newer than what it is.
2015 Lexus GS
Even though a 4.5 out of 5-star rating is considered impressive, a 5 out of 5-star rating is the very best a car can get, and that’s the story with the 2015 Lexus GS. If you also consider that this Lexus generation is often praised as the most reliable Lexus generation ever, it certainly means that the ’15 GS is a great used car option.
The GS comes with a feisty 3.5L V6 engine which offers decent fuel efficiency while the performance is more akin to a sports sedan. Safety is also class-leading for the 2015 GS and so is the upscale and roomy feeling cabin. The only thing that lets down the GS is the somewhat unusable infotainment system.
Is buying used cars better than buying new cars?
There are many benefits to buying a used car over a new one, and the most obvious one is the price. Used cars have already suffered the majority of depreciation which means that the value proposition favors used cars. However, as cars tend to improve over time, it means that new cars are almost always better.
Be that as it may, newer cars also come with different sorts of warranties and service packs which make the entire ownership experience that bit more enjoyable and stress-free. Furthermore, if you consider financing or leasing, you can get a great deal even for fairly expensive cars.
Are older cars more reliable?
It may initially seem that older cars were more reliable than newer ones, but that’s simply not the case. Some brands like Mercedes offered cars that were more reliable than some newer Mercedes models, but all of that changed in the 2000s.
In most cases, modern-day cars are better and more reliable than older cars, and the statistics are there to back it all up. If you consider Kia as an example, newer Kia models are leaps and bounds more reliable than older Kia models.
Are older AWD systems bad?
Automatic transmissions, air suspension, AWD… If you were to opt for any of these a few decades ago, that would be considered as opting for risky additional equipment that is bound to break down eventually, and that was the case long ago, but not for the last 10-15 years.
AWD cars are indeed exponentially more complex than FWD/RWD cars which makes them more prone to cause issues. Even though most older AWD systems are not as advanced as newer ones are, they are still good enough not to be considered as bad.