Regional Buying Guide: Picking a Perfect Car for the PNW

Buying guides tend to focus on the general merits of a vehicle, but what works for one region might not necessarily work for another. A prospective buyer in Alaska, for instance, has a far different set of criteria than a buyer in Florida. There are regional differences in climate, terrain, usage and style that bear mentioning when considering what car to buy.

To amend that, this article will focus on a specific region – in this case, the Pacific Northwest (PNW). What makes a vehicle perfectly suited to the wet, rocky and environmentally friendly PNW? Let’s take a look.

Payload Capacity

Broadly speaking, the Pacific Northwest is an outdoorsy kind of place. Camping, skiing, surfing and cycling are all popular pastimes, from Oregon up to the northern reaches of British Columbia, Canada.

There’s a reason that trucks like the Ford F-150 have historically been – and continue to be – so popular in the region. Whether you’re packing a week’s worth of camping gear into the truck bed, or towing a boat into the marina, you need a hard-working truck, and Key West Ford offers best-in-class Ford F-150s Pacific Northwest drivers can rely on.


While the region doesn’t see nearly the amount of snow and ice as neighbors to the east, the weather can still be slick and rainy. You can absolutely get away with driving a 2WD vehicle – though rear-wheel-drive tends to lose traction on slick roads – but for PNW driving, AWD and 4WD are ideal.

Especially given the rocky terrain of the region, 4WD and AWD are going to fare better than either front- or rear-wheel drive.

Fuel Economy

Understandably, when searching for a vehicle you’re researching more than just functionality. Your vehicle can be an extension of your personal belief system. In general, the PNW is an eco-conscious place, and it’s not uncommon to see vehicle charging stations dotted throughout cities and along highways.

Luckily, more manufacturers than ever are releasing electric and hybrid vehicles. Even the Ford Mustang, the iconic American muscle car, is slated to receive an electric version (the Mustang Mach-E) later this year.

The “Cool” Factor

The glitzy beach culture of Southern California may have missed the Pacific Northwest, but the SoCal spirit of cool is alive and well in the region. In other words, a beat up old van isn’t going to cut it, whether you’re in a buzzing city like Vancouver or the backwoods of Idaho.

Thankfully, cool comes in a lot of shapes and sizes. The new F-150s (mentioned above) are good looking vehicles, and electric vehicles like the Tesla or the soon-to-arrive Mustang Mach-E carry big swagger without the big fuel emissions.

Can it support your outdoor hobbies? Can the drivetrain manage the slick, rainy roads? Does it align with your personal values? Do you want to be seen driving it? Those are the main questions to ask yourself when picking the perfect car for the Pacific Northwest.

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