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buying used

I’ve wanted a Mustang for years. But the roads take a while to get ploughed here so I want all-wheel drive. There’s no AWD Mustang, so what’s similar? I can go as high as the low 30s, but I’d prefer to spend less. I don’t want a huge sedan but I do want a semi-usable back seat. I also want sporty looks, power and speed. I want an automatic so my partner can drive it too. – Matt, Bonanza, Alta.

If Hazzard County was in Alberta, the Duke boys might be driving a Challenger GT.

It’s the only AWD Challenger – and the only pony car with power at all four wheels, period – but there are other cars that you could take to a drag strip in December.

A good four-door bet is the 2016 Subaru WRX ($26,624 on average, according to Canadian Black Book).

There are also two AWD hot hatches – the 2016 Volkswagen Golf R ($34,996, on average, according to Canadian Black Book) or the 2016 Ford Focus ($36,860) – but they’re pricier than you’re looking for.

2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

Dodge Challenger.

  • Third generation: 2008 – present (Update for 2011 – 2017 was the first year for the AWD GT)
  • Average asking price for base: $32,625 (Canadian Black Book)
  • Original starting MSRP: $38,545
  • Engine: 305-hp, 3.6-litre V-6
  • Transmission/Drive: Eight-speed automatic/All-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 12.8 city, 8.7 highway; regular gas

Technically, GT is short Grand Touring – or Gran Turismo, if you’re feeling Italian. But with the Dodge Challenger GT, it could be Good Traction.

“Never mind the test-track numbers,” Globe Drive said. “This might be the quickest muscle coupe of them all when winter weather is at its worst.”

The GT, introduced in 2017, only comes with the Challenger’s base 305-hp engine (and not the Hellcat’s 707-hp supercharged V-8).

On dry roads, it “doesn’t carve a curve like a Camaro or Mustang,” but handling is still taut and balanced for such a big car, we said.

Consumer Reports liked that the Challenger was “civilized enough to be a daily driver,” had an exhaust note that was “a symphony for motorheads,” and had a bigger back seat than rival ponies.

But it griped that the Challenger was hard to see out. And, “competent handling and lots of grip isn’t the same as agility and driving engagement,” it said.

Consumer Reports doesn’t give a reliability score for the 2017 Challenger. It gave the 2016 version one out of five.

There were three recalls. Only one affected cars with the V-6 engine.

2016 Subaru WRX

Subaru WRX.

  • Fourth Generation: 2015 – present (Update for 2018)
  • Average asking price: $26,624
  • Original starting MSRP: $29,995
  • Engine: 268-hp, 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Transmission/Drive: Six-speed manual, CVT/All-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 11.3 city, 8.4 highway (manual), 12.5 city, 9.5 highway (CVT); premium gas

The 2016 Subaru WRX lets you be Speed Racer on a budget – and on winter roads.

“The base engine is one of the strongest in its class, with sub six-second 0-60 mph [0-96 km/h] acceleration,” review site Edmunds said. “The WRX is a lot of fun when the road gets twisty, too, thanks to its precise steering, nimble handling and standard all-wheel drive.”

You could add CVT ($26,524 used) and two packages: Sport (add-ons included sunroof and rear/side-vehicle detection; $28,851 used) and Sport-Tech (add-ons included leather, navigation and push-button start; $30,490 used). There was also the manual-only, 305-hp WRX STI (starting at $33,115 used).

Consumer Reports liked the “tremendously capable handling,” “very quick acceleration,” all-wheel drive traction, decent rear seat and roomy trunk.

But, it griped about noise, “near-brutal ride,” and hair-trigger throttle.

“[The] typical car became more civilized over the past decade and the WRX has not,” it said. “Like a talented teenager who just won't grow up, after a while the lack of subtlety gets irritating.”

Consumer Reports gave the 2016 WRX four out of five for reliability.

There was one recall for an intake duct that could crack and potentially cause a stall.

Send your used car questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com with the subject: “Buying used.”

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