The unofficially official compact car of the snowiest parts of the country, the Subaru Impreza isn't just the most affordable all-wheel drive car in America, it's a resale value champion.
The 2014 Subaru Impreza lineup starts at around $19,000 with destination and includes sedan and hatchback body styles, a turbocharged Impreza WRX performance model, and an even higher-performance Impreza WRX STI version that tops out near $40,000.
But it's the standard all-wheel drive system that defines the Impreza, and Subaru's system is more serious than most. Subaru calls it Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, and it's always engaged, always ready to shift power away from a slipping wheel to the wheels with more traction. Subaru makes safe, long-lasting cars, but the heart of their appeal - and their extreme popularity in the areas of the country with real winters -- is all-wheel drive.
The Impreza is also unique in that it's the only car in the class with a flat-4 or "boxer" engine. With pistons that move horizontally instead of up and down, a boxer engine has a lower center of gravity than a traditional 4-cylinder engine, offering stability and handling benefits.
The base engine combines 148 horsepower and highway fuel economy of up to 36 mpg - courtesy of an efficiency-enhancing, "gearless" continuously variable automatic transmission - while the WRX and WRX STI deliver 265 and 305 horsepower, respectively.
If your new-car budget is in the neighborhood of $20,000 and a significant chunk of your annual miles are spent in the snow, the 2014 Subaru Impreza is the new car to beat.
The affordable, reliable and thoroughly refined Honda Civic is one of the easiest cars to recommend, and a perennial resale value all-star.
A cavernous compact car with unabashedly boxy styling, the Scion xB is a unique mix of practicality and pluck that maintains its appeal in the resale market.
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