Once more I roll the idea of getting a winter beater, something capable and with AWD. Audi is off the list, to vain, to troublesome and only half the battle.
SUV seems to be the ticket. Large, AWD, tow capacity, rugged and enclosed storage with seating for +4. Quad-Door pick-ups are rare and expensive, but I'm certainly open.
Must be able to run AWD in dry highway driving, I've noticed a lot of AWD system can only be used off-road or in wet traction. Some off road ability is a necessity.
Things I've considered.
4Runner... quite a few for sale locally in that price range, however, 5 of the 7 I've found have blown head gaskets AND rust issues... Toyota dependability indeed. Also, I thought the score of "1" on the crash rating was a joke, but Wiki also references the horrific lack of safety and structure to the body of the vehicle, a few head on collision pictures latter and the venerable SR5 is now off my list, they look great, but lack the power, economy and safety of the 4.0 Cherokee.
Cherokee... TCL champ. Obvious choice, however, I've yet to personally see a ~2k example that was not a rusted, beat up, off-roaded pile of steaming simian poop yet alone these fabled tales of TCL lore, $800 minty vehicles. Beyond that, on paper, they seem top notch, offering more power, economy and safety then many rivals. The question becomes, what can they tow? My goal is to be able to pull a car on a trailer.
Land Rover - @#%K NO!
Montero - They seem available and affordable, however, the Mitsu engine scares me and I don't know about their AWD system or tow capacity.
Landcruiser - yeah, good luck finding one in my price range.
Durango - I don't know much about them, but they do seem to pop up at my price point, and at least appear durable enough to suite my needs.