What was the cheapest new four-wheel-drive car available in the United States during the early 1990s? No, it wasn’t the Subaru Loyale sedan, nor was it the Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz AWD. It was the Subaru Justy 4WD, a tiny three-cylinder machine available here for the 1988 through 1994 model years. Today’s Junkyard Gem
The MSRP for the Justy 4WD GL two-door hatchback for 1993 was $9,478, or about $21,073 in 2023 dollars. This car is the four-door hatchback, so its list price started at $9,913 (around $22,041 after inflation).
There was one new four-wheel-drive truck that was a bit cheaper than the Justy in 1993: the Suzuki Samurai 4WD, which cost $8,599 ($19,119 now) that year.
The Justy was slow, to put it mildly, with its fuel-injected 1.2-liter SOHC straight-three generating 66 horsepower and 73 pound-feet; some sources say that Suburu was still putting carburetors in U.S.-market Justys as late as 1993, but the earliest I’ve seen so equipped was a 1992 model. This car just barely managed to tip the scales at a ton (curb weight was 2,045 pounds for the four-door), so it was light enough to beat a 49-horsepower Geo Metro XFi
Of course, the Justy was even slower with Subaru’s CVT bolted to its engine. This one has the base five-speed manual. The 4WD button on the shift knob was used to switch between front- and four-wheel-drive; leave the car in 4WD on dry pavement for too long and you’d wear out the tires and possibly break drivetrain parts.
Earlier Justys had five-digit odometers, but this one has six digits and so we can see that it just squeaked past 200,000 miles during its life.
It’s rusty for a California car, but its final parking spot is close to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and so perhaps it spent every winter buried in snow.
A Range Rover that’s more in your range.
The off-roading sequence in this commercial requires some suspension of disbelief.
Subaru shipped a right-hand-drive Justy to California in order to shoot this commercial.
A sedan version of the Justy was sold in Taiwan as the Subaru Tutto.