I Bought a $1,500 AWD Crossover, and I’m Taking It Off-Roading

Some friends and I went to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia last year and spent three days exploring local off-road trails. The terrain wasn’t anything too strenuous, but allowed for fun using all types of all-terrain vehicles. Last year’s group of off-roaders included two crossovers of our own – a 2013 Ford Explorer and a 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure.

Crossovers are a hot part of the automotive market, and we were suitably impressed with how well the newer crossovers performed. It got us thinking – in light Top Gear fashion, could we see how their older siblings performed, in challenge form, on the cheap?

And so, the $1,500 AWD Crossover challenge is about to go down. Six or seven of us have each taken $1,500 of our own money, purchased the worst of what Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace have to offer, and will be taking on some mild off-road trails in about three weeks.

The rules are simple. You may spend $1,500 on your vehicle. The vehicle must be registered, insured, and driven to the event. It must have all-wheel-drive, no real transfer cases or low range gearboxes permitted. Don’t tell others participating what you’ve bought – this will be a surprise when we all arrive at our shared housing. That’s it.

I’ve picked mine out and have been driving it to work the past few weeks. It’s blue, it has 195,250 miles, it has five dash lights on (sometimes four), and the air conditioning doesn’t work. It was purchased locally from a man who flips cars with hilariously poorly-contrived stories as to why, and was actually owned by the same couple from 2003 until this past March. It’s delightful and kind of terrible. I can’t wait.

Have any ideas of how we can challenge ourselves and these crossovers off-road? Fill out the form!

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