Getting a capable, efficient all-wheel drive car doesn’t have to break the bank.
Every day, some of you send in an e-mail asking for our advice on your next car purchase. As always, we thank you for your continued support! Today’s message comes from Brett D., who wanted our opinion on a replacement for his Subaru Crosstrek.
“I am looking into options for my next vehicle. I live in northern New York, I use my vehicle to commute to my job which is 130 miles round trip each day. Gas mileage is a factor in my decision as well as 4-wheel/ all-wheel drive as I have to commute into the mountains during the winter.
Right now, I have a Subaru Crosstrek in Premium trim that I commute with, but I am consistently hearing that this car is not rugged looking enough. In the past I have always driven trucks. So right now I have my choices narrowed down to another Subaru Crosstrek, a Jeep Cherokee Upland 4×4, or a Volvo XC40 R-Design.
Trying to stay around the $27,000 to $38,000 price point. I am wondering what your cross thoughts are on those three vehicles as a whole, and whether they would hold up to the 30,000 miles a year that I am putting on. I appreciate any insight that you have that could make my decision easier.”
Going over the options
Of course, we always like to put these questions to you guys in the TFL community as well. Before we dive in to the ins and outs of each car Brett’s considering, let’s see how they compare on fuel economy. Given the weather conditions, we’ll look at the EPA figures for all-wheel drive models:
|Car||City MPG||Hwy MPG||Comb. MPG|
|2019 Jeep Cherokee 4×4||19||27||22|
|2019 Subaru Crosstrek||27||33||29|
|2019 Volvo XC40||23||31||26|
On fuel economy alone, the Subaru Crosstrek would take the win. However, since you are concerned that the Crosstrek doesn’t look rugged enough, I’m going to take it out of the running for now.
That leaves the Jeep Cherokee Upland 4×4 or the Volvo XC40. The Cherokee is certainly the most rugged-looking of the three, while I feel the XC40 offers the most refined driving experience. However, starting at $38,845, the Volvo is by far the most expensive car of these options. Since it’s also outside the $38,000 top end of the budget, I wouldn’t recommend the XC40 either. It is a good car, but it is also pricey against the other two.
The Jeep is a snow-capable crossover, and the Jeep Active Drive I system has a rear-axle disconnect feature for slightly better fuel economy. Mind you, it’s the only car of the three that dips below 20 mpg in city driving. The 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 is a fairly robust engine, but there are several complaints with the electrical system, according to NHTSA data. As it stands, there are also a few open recalls on the Cherokee.
My Recommendation (try one): Toyota RAV4 XSE Hybrid OR Adventure
Of your original three options, I would recommend sticking with the Crosstrek. It has good ground clearance and fuel economy without breaking the bank. Even if it doesn’t look rugged, it’s a capable car, and you can get the Premium trim with a six-speed manual. That would be my personal choice if I were to buy a Crosstrek. It’s also cheap, at just around $25,000.
However, for your budget, I would strongly recommend taking a look at the new 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Specifically, take a look at the XSE model. It offers a more aggressive, sporty look while delivering great fuel economy and all-wheel drive for a decent price.
The 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid delivers much better fuel economy than even the Crosstrek. The EPA rates the car at 41 City / 38 Highway / 40 Combined mpg, which is better than the old RAV4 Hybrid and way better than the Jeep or the Volvo. What’s more, the XSE version costs from $33,850. Even with all the options, you still come in under budget at $37,780. That includes things like a dual panoramic sunroof, Cold Weather Package, an Entune 3.0 stereo system, plus the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver assistance systems.
The RAV4 Hybrid is all-wheel drive, although it uses an electric motor to power the rear wheels rather than the engine. Another electric motor and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine power the front wheels. The total system output is 219 horsepower, which makes it the most powerful RAV4 option. It’s punchy enough, if not as quick as the Volvo or the Jeep. What you lose in power, though, you gain in fuel economy.
Granted, the Toyota is not the most dynamic car to drive, but then neither is the Subaru Crosstrek. If you are worried about ground clearance, I’d opt for the Toyota RAV4 Adventure instead. At 25 City / 33 Highway / 28 Combined mpg, its fuel economy is on par with the Subaru, and still better than the Jeep. It’s the most fun-looking and most capable RAV4 of the bunch, but I think the engine and 8-speed transmission suffer in refinement against the Hybrid. You do get 8.6 inches of ground clearance, though, while the Hybrid has 8.1 inches.
There are plenty of good all-wheel drive options in this segment, so I would also recommend trying a few other options if the Toyota RAV4 doesn’t feel right for you.