Ever since I moved to Missoula back in late summer of 2012, something stuck out to me about the cars that I was seeing everywhere around town. No matter where I went– the university district or downtown, Brooks St. or Reserve, there was a constant presence of Subarus. The unique trait about these robust Japanese cars is the lack of a target demographic who drives them. From new drivers to the elderly, (lots and lots of elderly people drive these things) the Subaru charm knows no bounds. But there are very good reasons for buying these sturdy and odd looking cars: affordability, build quality and reliability. Due to these reasons and more, let us begin looking at the first contender.
The Subaru Forester
These boxy station wagons are a staple of any street, corner, or parking lot in Missoula. Introduced in 1998, these quirky looking cars quickly came to popularity by offering symmetrical AWD, high fuel economy at an incredibly low price. These days, a clean Forester can be had for as little as $5,000.00. They are incredibly well-suited for winter conditions as well as Missoula’s notoriously poor street conditions.
Honda CR V
My girlfriend has an older version of the Honda CR V and it has been a very welcome addition to our family. Honda introduced the CR V in 1999 to compete in the cross-hatchback category, and it absolutely killed. The sloping roof and increased head room make for an excellent daily driver easily capable of hauling a massive trunk-load of things as well as 4 passengers in comfort. The high ride height, ground clearance and off road suspension in addition to part time 4WD make this eager commuter car a very capable off-road companion. The thing that amazes me most about the CR V is the dependability. Over 2 1/2 years of abuse and neglectful oil changes and maintenance, our 2006 CR V has never gone amok once. It has started every single time, even in the dead of Missoula’s harsh winters. For all of these reasons and more, the little CR V will always have a special place in my heart.
Mazda CX 3
For as boring as these new Mazdas look, they are just as much fun to drive in the snow. Being a relatively new release by Mazda, these new crossover SUV’s have been selling by the boat loads all over the country. The reason is due to the very affordable price tag for a brand new CX 3. I have seen them advertised for $25,000 out the door. Having driven two now, I can say that a $25,000 AWD car with this nice of an interior with a factory 100k mile warranty is an AMAZING deal compared to the crossover market’s other offerings. These little cars are very similar to the other two mentioned above. I believe that these crossovers are perfect for Missoula’s climate. This is because they are very capable of driving in the worst road conditions while at the same time being able to hold a good amount of stuff in the trunks. But the biggest reason I love these cars is because they are a great alternative for people who think they need a truck to satisfy their driving needs. Trucks are wasteful, dangerous and in most cases, unnecessary for most people’s daily driving needs.
By: Grant F.