9 Best Cars For Adventurous Colorado Living

Car Culture / Comments

Moving somewhere mountainous? We've got a list of cars for you.

Colorado has always been a vacation destination state, mainly for the Rocky Mountains and skiing in Aspen and Boulder. However, it's slowly but surely also become a destination state to live in as people outside of the Centennial State have started to realize it has more to offer than just mountains with snow on them. It's the perfect state for those with active lifestyles with its mountain and desert landscapes and the red sandstone-lined Colorado river. The weather is consistently bright and clear, the economy is still growing despite COVID, there are a lot of breweries, a great dining scene, and weed is legal. There's a lot of migration to Colorado going on, but if you're thinking about moving there, it's worth considering what to drive. These are the best cars for Colorado living.

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1. Toyota 4Runner

There's no better place to join the cult of the 4Runner than, well, anywhere where there's rough ground to cover. It is one of the best vehicles for the Colorado mountains, though. It's tough, reliable, and should last forever, which is one of the advantages of a vehicle that's been in production for over a decade. Sure, the V6 drinks gas, but there's a reason it's one of the best SUVs for Colorado. It seems like every year, we drive the dated SUV, and every year we fall back in love with it despite its age and flaws.

2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner Forward View CarBuzz/Ian Wright 2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner Lateral View CarBuzz/Ian Wright 2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner View Out Back CarBuzz/Ian Wright 2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner Front Chairs CarBuzz/Ian Wright
2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner Forward View
2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner Lateral View
2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner View Out Back
2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner Front Chairs

2. (Almost) Any Subaru

One of the most popular cars in Colorado is the Subaru Outback, but all you really need to do is decide if a car or crossover will suit your lifestyle best. The Subaru Outback splits the difference as a wagon with lifted suspension and some extra body cladding, and it's especially capable in its Wilderness trim with 9.5 inches of ground clearance. Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system is standard on all but its BRZ sports car, and the Japanese brand is known for its hardiness in wet and snowy climates. If you prefer a crossover body style, you can choose from capable models like the Ascent, Forester, and the high-value Crosstrek. If you're going to find Subaru people, frankly, it's going to be in Colorado.

2020-2022 Subaru Outback Driving Front Angle Subaru 2020-2022 Subaru Outback Side View Subaru 2020-2022 Subaru Outback Rear Angle View Subaru
2020-2022 Subaru Outback Driving Front Angle
2020-2022 Subaru Outback Side View
2020-2022 Subaru Outback Rear Angle View

3. Jeep Wrangler

If you're going to spend serious time off the main roads, you're going to consider a Jeep Wrangler. They're horrible to drive on the road, but you're getting a guaranteed level of ability from the machinery. The rest is up to you. You can also pick up a basic trim level and level up through the aftermarket as you explore more and get deeper into the wild. Or, if you just want to look the part and drive up a dirt track once in a while, get a soft top and take the doors off. Like the 4Runner, the Wrangler comes with a trusted V6 engine that lacks refinement but does the job well in a vehicle such as this. There are many options like the Rubicon's 33-inch all-terrain tires and high-clearance fender flares that allow you to set up the Wrangler for more demanding off-road jaunts.

2018-2022 Jeep Wrangler Front Angle View Jeep 2018-2022 Jeep Wrangler Rear Angle View Jeep 2018-2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Top View Jeep 2018-2023 Jeep Wrangler Front Angle View Jeep
2018-2022 Jeep Wrangler Front Angle View
2018-2022 Jeep Wrangler Rear Angle View
2018-2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Top View
2018-2023 Jeep Wrangler Front Angle View

4. Hyundai Santa Cruz

The general public is only just starting to pick up on just how good the Santa Cruz is for outdoor lifestyles. In a nutshell, you're getting all the comfort and daily drivability of the Hyundai Tucson crossover but with a truck bed to drop your muddy hiking boots and wet camping gear into instead of inside the vehicle. If you don't need the weight and discomfort of a body-on-frame truck and the extended bed but do want an excellent all-wheel-drive system for when things get slippery, the Santa Cruz is one of the best cars for Colorado on the market.

Forward Vision CarBuzz/Ian Wright Rear Angle View CarBuzz/Ian Wright Cargo Room CarBuzz/Ian Wright Dashboard CarBuzz/Ian Wright
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5. Toyota Tacoma

When figuring out the best vehicle for a move to Colorado, you might need a truck. Unless you're towing or need to haul serious loads, the Tacoma is a great choice. Like the 4Runner, it's getting a bit long in the tooth, but there's a reason Toyota is selling them by the truckload (pun fully intended). You can choose between rear-wheel- or all-wheel drive and a four-cylinder or V6 engine, depending on where you need to get the truck to and how much you want to spend on fuel. For that outdoor life, you can fit skis and snowboards in the truck bed or just about any equipment you need. Also, like the 4Runner, the Tacoma is proven in rugged reliability and off-road ability but isn't much fun to drive on the road.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright CarBuzz / Ian Wright CarBuzz / Ian Wright CarBuzz / Ian Wright

6. Volvo V60 Cross Country

Audis are popular in Colorado and should make the best car for Colorado list, but I don't want to saddle my editor with Audi's insistence on stylizing the "allroad" with a lowercase A. Like Audi's lifted wagon, the V60 Cross Country comes with all-wheel drive, and the capable T5 engine produced 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, making for smooth and unruffled progress. The Cross Country is a refined wagon with plenty of great standard features, but we would add the Climate Package with its heated rear seats and steering wheel. You should also option the headlight washers for when that snow starts to melt and gets dirty.

2020-2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Forward View CarBuzz/Ian Wright 2020-2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Side View CarBuzz/Ian Wright 2020-2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country View Out Back CarBuzz/Ian Wright 2020-2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Central Console CarBuzz
2020-2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Forward View
2020-2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Side View
2020-2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country View Out Back
2020-2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Central Console

7. Rivian R1T

One of the best cars to drive in Colorado if you want to fit right into hipster culture is the Rivian R1T. Fortunately, it's also an awesome piece of rolling technology that does everything a lifestyle truck should. It's all-electric and has an EPA-rated range of 314 miles, but it's worth remembering low temperatures affect batteries. However, it's endlessly powerful which means that it'll have no trouble carting your family and all their paraphernalia around or towing up to 11,000 pounds. As long as you've planned your trip in accordance with the location of public chargers or don't venture too far into the wild, the R1T is a terrific electric pickup.

2022 Rivian R1T Truck Front Angle View Rivian 2022 Rivian R1T Truck Driver Area Rivian 2022 Rivian R1T Truck Rear View Driving Rivian 2022 Rivian R1T Truck Front-End View Rivian
2022 Rivian R1T Truck Front Angle View
2022 Rivian R1T Truck Driver Area
2022 Rivian R1T Truck Rear View Driving
2022 Rivian R1T Truck Front-End View

8. Nissan Pathfinder

The Nissan Pathfinder tends to cruise under the radar when it comes to family haulers that can venture off road in support of an active lifestyle. While it won't venture into 4Runner or Jeep Wrangler territory due to its limited 7.1 inches of ground clearance and unibody underpinnings, it'll get you up to your snow runs and camping spots in comfort when the all-wheel-drive option is ticked. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6, good for 284 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque, but the big selling point is the capacious and comfortable interior with a third row of seats. As an all-new arrival for the 2022 model year, the Pathfinder is vastly improved compared to the model it replaces and now has a much more pleasing automatic transmission.

CarBuzz/Ian Wright CarBuzz/Ian Wright CarBuzz/Ian Wright CarBuzz

9. Mazda CX-50

You'll be seeing more and more Mazda CX-50s in Colorado over the next couple of year as it's not merely a bigger CX-5. It is a larger take on the CX-5 for the American market, but Mazda has also embraced the concept of the soft-roader and given the CX-50 some towing chops (up to 3,500 lbs). It's got Mazda's usual attention to detail in the styling and interior, but the selling point here is in the crossover's dynamics. Mazda's engineers worked on the concept of making the CX-50 drive the same both on and off-road, and we tested that idea out on some slippery surfaces and walked away impressed. It handles incredibly well right up until the grip runs out from the tires, and even then, it's predictable. Again, you won't be rock climbing in the CX-50, but you'll be surprised at just how slippery underfoot it has to get before you start considering turning around.

2023 Mazda CX-50 Front-End View CarBuzz/Ian Wright 2023 Mazda CX-50 Rear Angle View CarBuzz/Ian Wright 2023 Mazda CX-50 Frontal Aspect CarBuzz/Ian Wright 2023 Mazda CX-50 Central Console CarBuzz/Ian Wright
2023 Mazda CX-50 Front-End View
2023 Mazda CX-50 Rear Angle View
2023 Mazda CX-50 Frontal Aspect
2023 Mazda CX-50 Central Console

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2020-2022 Subaru Outback Rear Angle View 2020-2022 Subaru Outback Side View 2020-2022 Subaru Outback Driving Front Angle 2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner Front Chairs 2022-2023 Toyota 4Runner Lateral View
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