Ask TFL: What is the Best Active Lifestyle AWD Car for a Camping & Skiing Gal?


Katheryne recent wrote us with this great question. Let’s all help her out so she can buy the perfect car for her active lifestyle. Katheryne writes:

Hello –
I have not had a car in 5 years.  And after renting a car for $300 this past weekend and taking it to Yampa, Colorado to camp with my friends who are elk hunting… I’ve decided I need a car.  I want to go back.  I want to explore West by car.  I want to be able to sleep in it when I arrive at a campsite at midnight and am just too tired to pitch a tent.  I want to put my 45 pound Portuguese water dog in the back.  It also must handle snowy conditions as I want be able to drive to all the cool ski resorts we have here in Utah.  I want it to have awesome gas mileage.  Yet I want it small as I live in Salt Lake City. I want to be able to zip around downtown and not have to worry about finding a big parking space. I also don’t want it to cost me an arm and a leg.  My max budget is about $25,000 if it is new.  Obviously much less if it is used.  And I do have the yuppie, momobile judgement of Subaru owners.  But if a Subaru is indeed the perfect car for me, I will embrace that label wholeheartedly.

I am currently excited about the Kia Trail’ster.  Do you think it would be worth waiting for?  Is there something similar to it or even better on the market right now?  Please, I need help narrowing the car selection.  I am so overwhelmed with choices and reviews I don’t know what to think.

Can you please advise me here?  I would be forever grateful!

Katheryne, Andre advises that you should look at getting a Kia Niro. He says:

We don’t know whether Kia will ever build a Kia Trail’ster concept vehicle. So we would not recommend waiting for a car that may never come. However, 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid is coming soon.  It’s not AWD.  However, dedicated winter/snow tires should make it good in snowy condition as it is the case with any front-wheel-drive car. Not sure yet if it will fit your budget.

It sounds like you are looking for a hatchback/wagon/crossover type of car to allow for easy camping and traveling with your dog.

2016 Jeep® Renegade Trailhawk
2016 Jeep® Renegade Trailhawk

However I completely disagree with his advice.

I think that you only have four cars to choose from given your off-road AWD criteria. The four cars that I would recommend are:

  1. Jeep Renegade
  2. VW Golf Alltrack (See my recent review below)
  3. Subaru XV Crosstrek

If you plan to go steep and deep into the great outdoors there’s only one car that will work, and that’s the two door Jeep Wrangler. They start at just around $25K. Otherwise all three of the above new cars will fit your needs. I’d go for the Wrangler because I live in Colorado so going off-road is a huge part of my weekend.

However if you just want to go up a dirt road or bash through the snow the other three will do just fine.

BTW: If you have any suggestions for Katheryne please add them to the comments section below: