The most popular cars in these western states

Autos

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Car buyers in the west have a host of extreme weather conditions to consider. This vast region of the U.S. experiences regular rain, fog, snow and sometimes drought.

Here are the top cars for these western states.

Subaru Legacy2 / 15

Subaru Legacy / Subaru

1. Alaska

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Legacy
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: Silverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: Rav4

2021 Subaru Outback3 / 15

Subaru

2. Idaho

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Outback
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: Silverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: 4Runner

Toyota 4Runner4 / 15

Toyota

3. Montana

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Forester
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: S​ilverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: 4Runner

 

2018 Chevrolet Silverado HD5 / 15

Chevrolet

4. Oregon

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Forester
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: Silverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: 4Runner

2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime6 / 15

Toyota

5. Washington

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Outback
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: S​ilverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: Rav4

Fun Fact: Washington car shoppers sought out more Jeep Grand Cherokees than Alaska, Idaho, Oregan and Wyoming combined!

Subaru Forester7 / 15

yocamon/ istockphoto

6. Wyoming

  • Most Shopped for Subaru: Outback
  • Most Shopped for Chevrolet: Silverado 1500
  • Most Shopped for Toyota: Rav4

Car overheating8 / 15

Smederevac / iStock

Dealing with extreme heat and drought

As a car buyer, you’ll need to keep weather patterns in mind when you’re shopping around for a car; the wrong car could end up costing you more to maintain in the long run.

In 2021, parts of this region experienced record-shattering heat. If your next vehicle may be exposed to increasingly rising temperatures, you’ll need to consider the following features.

Car Battery9 / 15

DepositPhotos.com

1. Battery

Heat can place a car battery under extra strain. But some batteries are built to withstand higher temperatures than others. In extreme heat, the ideal battery is an absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery. If an AGM doesn’t fit into your car-buying budget, let the dealer know you’re interested in something that’s fitted for hot weather.

If you’re among the growing number of shoppers who are looking for an older vehicle model, consider having a technician test the battery fluid as part of the inspection. In parts of the U.S. it’s not usually necessary to replace a car battery under five years old, but in extended heatwaves, a battery may need replacing after just three years.

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DepositPhotos.com

2. Interior cooling

Even in mild heat, a car interior can heat up to life-threatening temperatures. There’s no set temperature threshold for danger to passengers, but a vehicle’s interior can reach 115 degrees and higher when it’s only 70 degrees outside. At 90 degrees, the interior can climb above 130.

Most vehicles have an air conditioning system that will last around 100,000 miles or more. Beyond inspecting for reliable A/C, these additional cooling features might be worth shopping for in extreme heat:

  • Remote start
  • Ventilated seats
  • Automatic climate control
  • Roof vent diffusers

Icy road warning sign on a snowy road11 / 15

trendobjects / iStock

For rain and snow

Parts of the west saw above-average rainfall and daily ice in 2021. If you plan to drive your next can in wet or snowy conditions, these are the features to look for.

Salt on a snowy, icy road12 / 15

Iryna Tolmachova / iStock

1. Drivetrain

For driving in snow, rain or even heavy winds, two-wheel drive isn’t a practical choice. All-wheel drive (AWD) offers improved acceleration and better handling over ice and sleet, and it can even help with traction on gravel and grass. Some AWD models come with optimized modes for snow or ice, but for more rugged or off-road conditions, consider four-wheel drive (4WD).

About half of all vehicles sold in the U.S. are now equipped with AWD or 4WD, so as a buyer, you won’t be limited to just trucks or SUVs. If you have to upgrade trims for the drivetrain you want, expect it to add an average of $2,000 to your purchase price.

Car tires in the snow13 / 15

Patrick Daxenbichler / iStock

2. Tires

Tires are the only part of a vehicle that touches the road, so having the right set can be even more useful for handling than having the right drivetrain. Traction can be a major issue in wet conditions. For superior grip, opt for winter or snow tires, which expel snow and stand up to freezing conditions.

If the vehicle has used tires, don’t skip on inspecting the tread. Tread on snow and winter tires wears quickly, and tires with shallow tread or heavy or uneven wear will need to be replaced. During the test drive, look for other tire problems like thumping, vibrating or steering that pulls hard to one side.

If you’re purchasing a new model, check to see if the car has the right tires for the season. At purchase, you can also try negotiating with the dealer to get some of the tire maintenance covered and even ask if a dealer will match or beat tire replacement deals you find elsewhere.

Car Brakes14 / 15

DepositPhotos.com

3. Brake systems

Brake systems and other driver assistance technologies save tens of thousands of lives every year. These are the most useful systems for braking in rough conditions. Note that different manufacturers have their own names for some of these technologies, and they may not be available in models older than 2012:

  • Automatic emergency braking systems (AEBS): The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends this potentially safety technology, which includes dynamic brake support and crash imminent braking.
  • Anti-lock brakes (ABS) help reduce skidding and jackknifing on slippery surfaces. ABS can stop a car faster than a professional driver but still prevent individual wheels from locking up when you brake. Having ABS can also decrease your insurance premium.
  • Electronic stability control (ESC) uses sensors to reduce skidding in wet conditions and can help prevent top-heavy cars from rolling over.

Car in snow undercarriage clearance15 / 15

Tainar / iStock

4. Ground clearance

Driving through snow, rocky terrain and mud is easier when there’s more distance between the vehicle’s body and the ground.  Buying an SUV or truck isn’t the only way to handle winter driving, but an SUV might clear eight or more inches of snow, while just four inches could keep a sedan off the road. For rough terrain, a minimum ground clearance of 8.5 inches or more is recommended.

There are a number of good reasons to shop around for a new vehicle, including changes in the weather and safety concerns. But if your goal is to get out of your current car loan, financing a new vehicle might not be the best solution. Check out these tips for paying off your auto loan faster and see if there’s a better alternative to buying a new car.

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