jm010713x3

 

 A couple of years ago, after viewing a house on a sunny day, I moved from Birmingham to rural Devon.

My countryside idyll is delightful during the summer, but the last two bleak winters have made life hard,especially as I live at the end of a pot-holed track that has alternately flooded and frozen, and rendered my nippy city hatchback pretty useless. Istarted thinking about buying a vehicle that could easily deal with the terrain and conditions, but, as I often drive the 170 miles up the motorway to Birmingham, I was concerned that buying an all wheel drive gas-guzzler wouldn't make economic sense.

However, when I started to research all wheel drive vehicles I quickly discovered that I knew much less about them than I'd thought. All wheel drive vehicles are equipped with a centre differential that allows the wheels to travel different distances whilst turning, giving you better traction – not to mention more confidence – when driving in snow, ice and mud, all of which I now needed to navigate on a regular basis. These vehicles have had a bad reputation as petrol-glugging monsters that do so few miles to the gallon that they shouldn't be allowed near a main road, and eco-conscious car buyers turned their backs on them at the beginning of the last decade, but all wheel drives have cleaned up their act with fuel efficient diesel engines and green technology, making them a viable choice once again.

The more I looked into these vehicles, the more impressed Iwas. The elevated driving position gave me a sense of security, which was further enhanced by the physical safety of these tough, stable vehicles. I liked the cutting edge technology that had been employed to make them so driveable and efficient: take the BMW X3, which automatically turns off its engine when you stop, and then starts again when you lift your foot off the brake, saving you fuel, and money. I liked the fact that I could get a big vehicle that would do so many miles to the gallon, like the Honda CR-V, and give out such low carbon emissions, like the Mazda CX-5, which is pretty much on a par with a Mini when it comes to the environment (and keeps you in a pretty low car tax band too). These vehicles are lovely to be in and, whether I'm bumping around on unmade country tracks or cruising up the motorway, I'll feel that I'm sitting on the lap of luxury. I'm definitely sold on an AWD. The new generation of vehicles has salved my eco-conscious conscience, laid to rest my money worries with their fuel efficiency, and can handle both the tough terrain and lengthy road drives that I'll be facing. The only trouble is that I'm spoilt for choice: which one shall I buy?

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