View Full Version : Help with identifying the make and model of a 2009 car in the US

Los Pollos Hermanos
02-02-2014, 07:19 PM
A relatively minor request, pretty please, but my googling just isn't paying off and you folks are so helpful on here!

I need to identify a small all-wheel drive car which would have been available in the US in mid-2009. It plays a small but important role in the downfall of my Bad Guy. It needs to be AWD because the family who own it are living a few miles out of town up in the mountains. Price isn't a major issue as the husband's work pay for the car, but the cheaper end of the spectrum would probably be better.

I don't mind whether it's an American make, or Japanese, European, etc. I'd like it to be reasonably common, small enough to be considered as a runabout, but large enough to fit two small children in the back. Boot/trunk size isn't really an issue. I'm not fussy about colour, but if anyone knows which colours were available that would help with my stickler for detail habit. The family already have a large SUV as their main vehicle, btw (which was easy to research).

A google image link would be great!

Typically, I can think of the perfect UK example, but I know they weren't available in the US. I struggle with little details like this for the American sections of the book, so really appreciate help from across the Pond.

Many thanks in advance!


02-02-2014, 07:24 PM
Subaru Impreza (http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Subaru_Impreza/2009/) work for you?

Los Pollos Hermanos
02-02-2014, 07:31 PM
Many thanks - that's a distinct possibility. Would the Impreza be considered a small car in the US? I remember renting a fullsize car one year, only to be confronted with what resembled a Chieftain tank when I got to the rental place - I managed to sweet-talk downgrading to a midsize!

Is there a compact car (using rental terminology) which fits my requirements? If not, I'll go for the Impreza.

Thanks again,


02-02-2014, 07:31 PM
Honda CRV? They are considered to be compact, as they are derived from the popular Civic.

They were (and still are) common as dirt in the US. I drive a 2003 model with AWD (and even though it's a ten year-old car, I see a lot of them on the road, especially in my color (http://dallascarstrucks.wordpress.com/2003-honda-crv/)).

Do you want it to be a new car or can it be a few years old?

02-02-2014, 07:35 PM
Toyota RAV 4?
My crit pal in Texas has one.

Los Pollos Hermanos
02-02-2014, 07:40 PM
The Honda is more like their main car - the husband is originally English so has the car size "stick up his ass" thing going on. ;)

Ideally a new car - purely because his work are paying for it (a long story which I won't inflict).

Think tiny - VW Polo size - which is smaller than the VW Golf (I've got a Golf - I consider it medium-sized - and I've seen them in the US). Not sure if Polos crossed the Atlantic?

Do they do tiny (by American standards) AWD cars in the US?!

Thanks for your patience!


Larry M
02-02-2014, 07:44 PM
KIA Rio might work for you. Small, can fit kids in the back, one of their lower-end models. I drove one for 8 years. Great reliable car, great gas mileage. Don't know if they have AWD though - mine was front wheel.

Los Pollos Hermanos
02-02-2014, 07:45 PM
Just googled the Rav4 - the older one up to 2005 would be perfect, but the newer model is too big.

Something newer but like the older Rav4 would be spot on!



02-02-2014, 07:47 PM
A small car by US standards would be a similar size to a Saab 9-3 in the UK. While you *can* get smaller, it's really unusual, and driving them is kind of dangerous because you're so much smaller and less powerful than the other cars on the road. Also, cars of that size are more likely to be built for efficiency, so all wheel drive is unlikely.

I'll qualify this by saying that I grew up in the UK and moved to the US not quite 10 years ago, so I have experience of driving and cars in both countries. I am not a car expert, however, and I don't live in one of the bigger metropolises.

Los Pollos Hermanos
02-02-2014, 07:54 PM
That would explain my lack of google success! The Kia Rio is the ideal size, but only front wheel drive, whereas the larger cars have the AWD.

AWD wins, so I'll investigate the Honda CRV and the Impreza, although I'd imagine you get better visibility with the CRV being higher off the ground?

Looks like I suffer from the same car size issues as the husband!!! ;)



02-02-2014, 07:58 PM
I love my CRV because I get better visibility without the sitting-up-too-high sense that I get from driving larger SUVs. It's just tall enough to see over regular sedan-type cars in traffic.

Bing Z
02-02-2014, 08:05 PM
Where is the story set? In the North East and Portland/California, Subarus (almost all models AWDs) are getting popular (but still way behind Toyota & Honda). But they may be rare in the mid West. Subaru outback (a station wagon) is another nice choice esp for college kids & the like. Can go anywhere like a good SUV, can rally, fits grocery shopping, fits dogs, etc.

Los Pollos Hermanos
02-02-2014, 08:08 PM
The CRV is currently winning, although I did have a non-AWD version of this in summer 2011:


The dodgy Dodge I'd rented in Las Vegas was not up to scratch for various reasons, so I returned it at the rental place's branch in Salt Lake City. For numerous complex and tedious reasons, they ended up having to give me a pretty much brand new Rogue from the corporate fleet at no extra charge! I remember liking the better visibility than I'd had in the Dodge (Avenger - I think), especially on those LA freeways a couple of weeks later! Since then, I've had a Ford Focus - which was more than adequate for summer road tripping.

I'd be quite happy for him to have an older car, but I can't see a company buying one (there's numerous reasons they buy it, rather than the family).

CRV or Rogue? Hmmm...

Thanks again,


Los Pollos Hermanos
02-02-2014, 08:13 PM
This part of the story is set near Lake Tahoe, but about 1,000 feet up from the lake in the mountains (so the altitude is a little over 7,000 feet) near Kingsbury. I've visited twice (2011 and 2012), asked all manner of random to the extreme questions, soaked up details/atmosphere/smells/sounds at my locations... but didn't pay a lot of attention to the cars!

Most of the story takes place in August and September, but I know snow can roll in during September, so the family are getting prepared in case they have to stay longer than they'd originally planned.




02-02-2014, 08:47 PM
My Stepdaughter likes Subaru Outbacks and she lives in an area where a lot of people have 4WD vehicles due to snow.

Google image search for 2009 Subaru Outback Sedan (https://www.google.com/search?q=2009+subaru+outback+4wd+sedan&client=firefox-a&hs=aRM&sa=X&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=h3XuUoPuNaatsQTk_4CwDA&ved=0CFUQsAQ&biw=1123&bih=486).

02-02-2014, 08:56 PM
All Subarus are AWD. So the Impreza can get as hyped as WRX rally racer, it starts at the low end and is considered a compact car.

How 'bout the Suzuki SX4? I didn't know about this one, but although Suzuki left the US Market a couple of years ago (or was it last year?), it would have been available as a 2009/2010 model.

Edmunds link (http://www.edmunds.com/suzuki/sx4/)

02-02-2014, 09:04 PM

If you are set in the Rocky Mountain area, the Subaru Outback is so popular it's a cliche.

I share your character's aversion to American car sizes. I include a picture of my car next to a modern Smart car next to an American F350.

Los Pollos Hermanos
02-02-2014, 09:24 PM
Smart cars tend to generate a "point and laugh" response over here!

The little fella to the left is quality, although when I was in Phoenix last summer it was 115f/46c (and I loved every roasty minute!) so I assume getting AWD for snow isn't a major consideration when buying a car there? ;)

The Suzuki fits the bill and the husband would like it, but his (American) wife may not be so happy - based on the lower to the ground so less visibility issue. Also, I'd imagine his company would get a job lot of CRV-type cars, rather than pander to the fussy Limey!

I think his missus is going to win this one...



02-03-2014, 01:47 AM
Kevin, could you resize that image please? It plays havoc with displays for folks like me who are using smaller screens to access AW. Checkout the images FAQ (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=258870) for the info you need on image requirements.

02-03-2014, 03:45 AM
Jeep Wrangler (2 door fits your needs). Everyone's go-to 4WD. :)

Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot would both be 4WD, if it works instead of AWD. Otherwise, Subaru is by far the most popular, and Impreza, Forester and Outback would be common to find.

All of the above would be smaller cars in America. In my area, Kevin's car would be a speed bump. :)


02-03-2014, 05:23 AM
Kevin, could you resize that image please?

02-03-2014, 05:44 AM
Thanks, appreciate it.

02-05-2014, 04:15 PM

If you are set in the Rocky Mountain area, the Subaru Outback is so popular it's a cliche.

I share your character's aversion to American car sizes. I include a picture of my car next to a modern Smart car next to an American F350.

I hate to be "that guy", but that is not an F350 in your picture. It appears to be a GMC or Chevy 1500 with 4 doors. The F350 would be a lot bigger.


02-05-2014, 04:28 PM
Pretty much any Subaru, but if you want something less common, the 2009 Suzuki SX4's were small and AWD.(and still are for that matter)

If you were going a couple years newer than 2009, you would have the Nissan Juke as well as some of the 2011+ MINI Coopers to play with.

Los Pollos Hermanos
02-06-2014, 04:22 AM
I'm currently going for the Suzuki SX4, because hubby is going to be the only one driving it. His daily work mileage is a 7 mile round trip*, not counting any additional forays into town for the supermarket, etc.

* Got to love Google Maps!

His wife can hog the big shiny SUV, therefore ensuring his eardrums remain intact. Any family excursions can use that one.

Before I got that Rogue in SLC, they tried to fob me off with this mah-huse-sive big black SUV. It looked like something the FBI drive on those US TV crime shows I'm addicted to! I nearly passed out when I saw the bloody great beast and claimed it would drink too much juice for my budget, hence the Rogue appeared. The Qashqai over here is pretty much identical. Not as keen on the Juke, but a friend has one and thinks it's marvellous.

Thanks again,