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View Full Version : Subaru Outback vs.... well, what?


black rabbit
04-17-2009, 08:07 AM
I'm in the market for a new small/midsize car, with the following specs:

- Hatchback or wagon
- All wheel drive
- MSRP at most $23K
- I wanna drive it for ten years

Naturally, I looked at the Outback, the Forester, and the Impreza first, all 2.5i. I don't really have the need for a ton of power, so I'm not even bothering with the turbos or the six-bangers.

The Impreza doesn't do it for me because I don't gain anything in fuel economy for the reduced size and weight. The Forester doesn't do it for me because I prefer the Outback's lower center of gravity, and it's not really all that much cheaper.

I figure, after incentives, my trade in, and a bit of a down payment, I can drive off the lot in an Outback for about $15k. I'm test driving one this weekend.

But I still need to do my due diligence and see if there's anything comparable available from other manufacturers. I know Toyota briefly offered an AWD option on the Matrix, but they don't seem to have that any more. Are there any other models I should be looking at?

Gorsnak
04-17-2009, 08:19 AM
Isn't one of the little Suzuki hatches available with AWD?

Bijou Drains
04-17-2009, 08:21 AM
Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV are both 4WD and not too big. The RAV4 has a V6 option. Ford Escape is similar to those 2.

Boyo Jim
04-17-2009, 08:22 AM
According to the Toyota website, the Matrix S has AWD.

shiftless
04-17-2009, 08:45 AM
I think all the Subarus have AWD.

I'm going to cast my vote for the Forester - I've had one for 8 years, 131K miles, and am considering getting another one soon. Low-end models run about $20-22K I think. Sure the Outback is a little lower but the Forester has more room I believe. They have gotten a bit bigger over the years and are more like a small SUV now but the gas milage looks OK and they have clear up a few minor problems.

Brown Eyed Girl
04-17-2009, 08:52 AM
Had an Outback Impreza wagon for several years. It was too small and had no get-up-and-go. It was also noticeably "cheaper" than the Legacy, by which I mean the interior seat covers, panels and such. Other than that, it was well designed from a space POV and it ran okay with few mechanical issues. I would buy a Subaru again and even an Outback, if it was the more powerful, nicer Legacy version.

Telemark
04-17-2009, 10:08 AM
Other AWD cars in the general price range:

Suzuki SX4
Toyota Matrix S
Pontiac Vibe
Nissan Rogue
Honda CRV
Toyata Rav4

There are other trucks that I've excluded and lots more if you're willing to spend a bit more money.

http://www.awdreport.com/

KneadToKnow
04-17-2009, 10:13 AM
If you find any true wagons, let me know. I'm not in the market yet, but I'd like to know there are some out there.

Rocketeer
04-17-2009, 10:39 AM
I think you'll find that the Suzuki SX4 has lots of interior space and a high level of standard equipment at a very reasonable price.

I own the SX4's predecessor, the Aerio (well, actually, we own two) and it's been a fine car, very reliable. 80K miles and still going strong.

billfish678
04-17-2009, 10:41 AM
Honda Element?

several people in our paddling/kayak club have them for our outdoorsy/mildly offroady activities and really seem to like them.

No idea on cost blah blah blah, but they do seem quite well thought out and utilitarian.

SmellMyWort
04-17-2009, 10:52 AM
Hyundai has a wagon coming out (maybe it already is) called the Elantra Touring, but I don't know if it has AWD.

The new Toyota Venza has an AWD option.

Zsofia
04-17-2009, 11:46 AM
That little Pontiac Vibe is adorable, IMHO.

garygnu
04-17-2009, 11:51 AM
Note that the Pontiac Vibe and the Toyota Matrix are clones that only differ in styling.

I have an Element and really like it. The boxiness gives lots and lots of room, but it does hinder highway fuel economy a bit.

Nars Glinley
04-17-2009, 03:12 PM
My wife has owned 2 CRVs and has loved both of them. My only complaint was that the seats were too firm but getting a pricier model might have fixed that. At the time, they were not full-time AWD like Subarus are. The AWD only kicked in if the vehicle detected that the front wheels were slipping. I don't know if they still make them like that or not.

Chefguy
04-17-2009, 03:19 PM
Saturn is giving killer deals on the Vue recently. I bought an '08 and like it a lot.

Morbo
04-17-2009, 05:10 PM
Sure the Outback is a little lower but the Forester has more room I believe.

If you mean cargo space, not true. I was surprised myself. I had an '03 Forester with over 100K on it and when I went to trade it in on a new 2006 model in December '05, the literature and my own external research confirmed that the Outback had more cargo space. The Forester is *slightly* bigger in the cabin, as in maybe an inch or so in each category, but the Outback has noticeably more cargo space. Bear in mind this is the '06 Forester vs. the '06 Outback.

I bought the '06 Outback and have been very happy with it.

black rabbit
04-19-2009, 05:30 PM
Thanks for the input, folks. I'll be driving Outbacks and Matrix S's this week.

Man, that Venza looks sweet, though I dunno if the 12hp it has on the Matrix is gonna be much use slinging around an extra 700 pounds. If I had the money to burn, I'd definitely look at the V6.

Omniscient
04-19-2009, 06:32 PM
Thanks for the input, folks. I'll be driving Outbacks and Matrix S's this week.

Man, that Venza looks sweet, though I dunno if the 12hp it has on the Matrix is gonna be much use slinging around an extra 700 pounds. If I had the money to burn, I'd definitely look at the V6.

You also owe it to yourself to investigate the new 2010 Mazda3 (http://jalopnik.com/5196876/2010-mazda3-first-drive/). It's getting rave reviews so far.

Also check the Volvo C30 (http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Volvo_C30/). It shares some of the same underpinnings as the Mazda if you want to get a nicer cabin.

Neither is AWD, but it's worth expanding your search to see what you are sacrificing for that feature.

TastesLikeBurning
04-19-2009, 06:52 PM
Thanks for the input, folks. I'll be driving Outbacks and Matrix S's this week.

Man, that Venza looks sweet, though I dunno if the 12hp it has on the Matrix is gonna be much use slinging around an extra 700 pounds. If I had the money to burn, I'd definitely look at the V6.

In Australia, the difference between the Liberty (what we call the Legacy) and the Outback is largely cosmetic, except the Outback rides a little higher. Why not test drive a Legacy?

DrDeth
04-19-2009, 11:29 PM
Also check the Volvo C30 (http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Volvo_C30/). It shares some of the same underpinnings as the Mazda if you want to get a nicer cabin.
.

I love my C30, but it's really in a different class than the Forester. I'd call the Forester a Station wagon with a little SUV. The C30 is a sports car with a little station wagon.

It does not have AWD and it sits fairly low.

Now the new Volvo XC60 would work, but it runs $10K more than a Forester. Fantastic car, likely the safest on the planet.

Gatopescado
04-20-2009, 12:03 AM
I would take a hard look at the little Suzukis. I am in a similar situ, where I want a WRX, but don't want to shell out the duckets. The little Suzis are calling me, but I'm waiting for them to "come full term" with the options and features I want. I'm sold on Suzuki quality and price, just waiting for them to catch up on goodies.

Omniscient
04-20-2009, 01:52 AM
I love my C30, but it's really in a different class than the Forester. I'd call the Forester a Station wagon with a little SUV. The C30 is a sports car with a little station wagon.

It does not have AWD and it sits fairly low.

Now the new Volvo XC60 would work, but it runs $10K more than a Forester. Fantastic car, likely the safest on the planet.

Um, I'm not sure what your point is since the OP explicitly excluded the Forester because it was too truck-like....hence the car-like suggestions.

black rabbit
04-22-2009, 08:03 AM
If you find any true wagons, let me know. I'm not in the market yet, but I'd like to know there are some out there.

I ended up putting a pretty good squeeze on a Subaru dealer who's swimming in inventory right now and walked out with a new base model Outback (plus a couple of options) for $7k off MSRP.

It's definitely a real wagon, but I'm surprised at how well it handles, and I'm impressed with the power of the base engine. Then again, I don't drive like a demon. The rear seat looks a bit tight, but I only really haul around a couple of toddler neices and nephews on a regular basis.

They're doing a complete redesign for 2010, so you may be able to score a totally sweet deal a bit later in the year.

Since they made such a sweet offer on the Subaru, I didn't bother with the Matrix S. It's basically the same weight and same mileage as the Outback, with a less powerful engine.

KneadToKnow
04-22-2009, 08:36 AM
Thanks, black rabbit. I'm 3-ish years out from being in the market yet, but when I am, I'll probably be looking at 3-ish-year-old cars, so now is when I need to have my eyes open. :)

I just wish Toyota would bring back the Camry wagon.

mack
04-22-2009, 09:05 AM
My 2000 Subaru Legacy wagon is at around 143,000 miles and is running fine, although the suspension's getting a little flabby. I liked it over the outback because it's more like a simple small wagon type car but with AWD. I love the way it handles. The cargo space is fine for my family of four. I think the last year they made the Legacy wagon was 2007 so the only way you're going to get one is used. Plenty of headroom, unlike my old Ford Escort, but the driver seat was uncomfortable after a couple of hours. Not so much now, though, I think I've gotten used to it. I drove a 2009 Forester for a weekend as a loaner, and it was nice, too, but I like my lower scoot.

Enola Straight
04-22-2009, 10:03 AM
If you don't mind getting a used car....like, 25 years old vintage...go Old School with the car that started it all...The AMC Eagle!

http://www.carlustblog.com/images/2008/03/11/eagle1_2.jpg

A straight 6 similar to that in a Jeep Cherokee, full time/disengageable AWD.

Action!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcXC5IUOdFk