This summer I got rid of my prematurely rusting Mazdaspeed 6 and leased a BMW 135is. Which is not rusting.

Now here's the thing: I live in Madison, WI. We get lots of snow. I started looking at my options for a winter wheel & tire combo, and they're not terribly expensive, but I got to thinking that I could get a whole winter beater for not much more money than the cost of a set of winter tires & wheels. The city lays down mass quantities of salt on the roads to melt this snow. Sometimes in February or March the city completely runs out of salt, doesn't have the money to buy more, and starts dumping sand on the roads instead. None of which is going to keep the 135is in particularly nice condition, and I might want to buy it at the end of the lease.

My criteria are pretty straightforward:

Budget - $3500 tops

SUV or crossover - yeah yeah I know a regular car with snow tires is fine but I figure if I can get something with good ground clearance, maybe some towing capability, and already has trucky tires on it, that's more useful to me than getting something at regular-car height and buying snow tires for it.

Full-time 4WD or AWD - I'm not going off-roading. I want something that has an actual center differential and can move power around front-to-back while on snowy/icy roads. Limited slip diffs are even better.

Heated seats would be lovely. It's cold here.

So far I've found this '01 Infini QX4 with 180k+ miles. Unlike the Nissan Pathfinder of similar vintage it has 4WD Auto which is what I'm looking for.


Any other ideas?