Experience with cars

So, now that the marriage thing has happened, I’m going to be starting to look at a new car that we can “grow into.” (We’re already two plus a dog, and we’re planning to add another dog soon and possibly human children sometime in the next 2-3 years).

Anyway, after diligent research on Consumer Reports and evaluating our current parking situation, I’ve narrowed our possible car choices down to 3:

Subaru Forrester
Honda CR-V
Mazda MPV

These fit my criteria of being big enough to accomodate up to two medium dogs, two adults, and two children while still allowing for luggage on top, and being narrow enough to use in our rather tight parking situation.

Has anyone had experience (good bad or indifferent) with any of these cars? I’m just looking for some track history here.


Based on the people I know who own them Honda’s are the best of that breed. I know people who have Civic’s with well over 200,000 miles on them and still going.

Honda Report

We didn’t like the way the CR-V back hatch operated, I am tall and enjoy not having all that many dents in my head. The Forrester was on our short list, but we ended up with a 2003 Toyota RAV-4. I seem to recall the RAV-4 led the CR pack in that style until this year when the Forrester took over first place.

We love the Toyota.

Seeing as you’ve done some research, I’ll not try to sway you towards my typical answer (BMW); rather I’ll echo Oat1957’s point that Honda does have a reputation for longevity that rivals Toyota’s.

Does Toyota have anything in the model range you’re considering?

One of my best friends just went through the same thing. I told him to at least test drive a Suburban before he made the purchase.

Afterward, he was so thankful and could not believe the hype over the Jap SUV’s

Check out the Toyota Double Cab pickups. Put the people in the front and slap on a camper shell and the dogs go in the back. This should keep the interior cleaner.They are nice and useful. I really have this urge to get one soon.

The area behind the back seat in the Honda CRV is extremely small, unless you have small dogs, your children will be sharing the back seat. I sat in the back seat of a CRV for about 6 hours a few weeks ago and the ride leaves something to be desired. If your considering a Honda, look at the Pilot, it is much roomier, your children (both 2 and 4 legged) will appreciate it.

Ringo, Toyota’s RAV4 was under consideration, but it doesn’t have a rear bumper. While the spare tire holder provides some space between the RAV4 and the car in back, I personally feel that parallel parking in Chicago mandates having impacts between you and the car behind you cushioned by easy to replace bumpers rather than harder to replace tire holders.

And racer72, the main problem with the Pilot, for my needs now, is its 78" width, as compared to 70" for the CR-V and 68" for the Forrester. The developer of the new building I live in (let’s call him “Beelzebub”) gave each unit owner a 93" (7’9") wide parking space. (The minimum required by city law, as I understand it). Anyway, a 78" SUV (with swinging doors) leaves less room for getting in and out than I’d like. One reason that the MPV (with a 72" width) is in the running is that as a van, you have the sliding doors, which require less side clearance to operate than swinging doors.

But the tip about the small back area in the CR-V is appreciated.

I can’t speak for the Subaru Forrester, but I own a Subaru Outback Sport, and it’s been a wonderful, reliable car - and its all-wheel drive is great in the winter. (I live in Omaha, so we get the same crappy weather you guys do - PLUS we have hills to deal with).

You might want to look at the Subaru Legacy wagon as well as the Forrester; I believe it actually has slightly more usable cargo space than the Forrester does. It’s not any wider than the Forrester, but it is a bit longer, so it’s possible that it might not work quite as well in your parking situation, though.

Have you test-driven any of these vehicles yet? A car can look great on paper, but feel lousy when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat. Both Subaru and Honda have a good record as far as longevity and reliability are concerned (and I think Mazda does as well); driver comfort and ‘fit’ might in the end be the most important factor in your choice.

I’ve had 2 Hondas (1 new, 1 used), 1 Toyota (new), 1 Subaru (new), and 1 Mazda (used). They were all good cars, but the Hondas and the Subaru proved to be the toughest under less than ideal driving and maintenance conditions.

Considering the OP is looking at CRVs, MPV and a Subbie, I seriously doubt a Suburban is on their radar.

That being said, my sisters 2002 Suburban has been on a hook 6 times this past year. 2 bad fuel pumps, a seized alternator, bad ECM, and something else. I could never, ever recomend a Suburban with a clear conscience.

That being said, my 98 Cherokee has given me 5 years of relatively trouble free service. Although I’d take either a new CRV or Subaru over any North American small/midsize SUV anyday.

Very good advice!!!

BTW Masda trucks (maybe not all of them) are made by Ford.

If you must select a vehicle based on the size of your parking spot - I’m speachless

Sounds like there was only one problem with the electrical system that caused all the problems. I just told somebody else with a Honda, that had about the same thing to say about their car, that it is foolish to condemn the car based on what seems to be a single pinched wire causing some strange electrical problems.

My suggestion was more for the part about just try something other than what the man on TV says is the only good vehicle on the road.

That’s an incredibly strange statement. Should I just buy whatever I want without any regard to my ability to get in and out of it when parked, or without any consideration for my neighbors and their need to use their cars? I don’t need a vehicle that seats eight (as the Suburban does). I need a vehicle that comfortably seats two adults, two human children, and two mid-sized dogs, but is still small enough to use efficiently and effectively in the urban environment.

The car has to be parked somewhere, and we have to be able to get in and out of it once it is parked. I paid multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars for my new home. I’m not leaving real soon. And for the time that I am living there, I need to have a vehicle that I can reasonably use within the confines of where I have to leave it when not in use. And that isn’t so obnoxiously huge as to piss off my neighbors, whom I also have to live with for the next few years.

So I’m speechless that the concept of the parking space dimensions operating as a restraint on the size of the car you buy mystifies you. Maybe you live in a small town or suburb where it isn’t an issue.

The tech that fixed it disagrees with your long distance diagnosis. The bearings seized on the alternator (probably due to faulty assmembly), the fuel pumps failed 6 months between each other after the alternator failed. I don’t recall where the ECM fit in there but I do know that the other failure was mechanical. Even if you were correct and they were all related, that does little to make the owner for the 2 ton boat anchor feel better as their truck is dragged away from them on the back of a tow truck.

Of course you cannot condem an entire brand based on one instance, but you sure as heck aren’t going to give a glowing recomendation on your experiences either. If you were going to blow $30K on a vehicle and asked for others opinions, are you only going to pay attention to the good? Hopefully not, or else why ask for opinions at all?

“How do you like your Suburban?”

“Its a great vehicle… other than the 6 times it had to get picked up by a hook and the 3 months out of the year it was getting repaired. Go for it! Great vehicle! I recomend it!”

Japanese vehicles surely have lemons too, but in my experiences there are less of them. A lot less of them. I’m sure that lemon Honda Civics, CRVs and Subarus are out there, but I don’t know anyone personally that has one.

Why is that a hard to swallow? Isn’t it important your vehicle fit where you park it?

I would recommend moving as little outside the box of cars you’ve listed, and trying a variant of one of those models.

The Subaru Forester XT.

One of the problems with these small SUVs is that they lack power. We have a Forester, and it’s a great car. In fact, I’d recommend it over either of the others, and I have driven all of them. The boxer engine is great, and the car will last forever. But it can drag a little, especialy with the AT.

Enter the XT, a trim level of the normal Forester. It costs a few thousand more, but you get all the goodies, plus a turbo for your 2.5L boxer.

SUV that does a 13.8 in the 1/4. C’mon. You know you want to toast all the other soccer moms. :slight_smile:

I sold Hondas for the summer between law school and undergrad, and I’ve always thought the CR-V is overpriced. For less than a CR-V you can get a roomier Nissan Xterra, and I think Nissans are every bit as reliable as Hondas.

jeevmon: I am so sorry for you and after spending all that money. I wish you luck and comfort as you load 4 people and 2 dogs in your little car.

bernse: 3 months?!?!?! Maybe time to find another mechanic - one that can find and fix the problem the first time.

3 months was a bit of an exaggeration but all combined 2 wouldn’t be much of one. Diagnosis wasn’t the problem. I remember every single time they had to wait over a week for parts. Kind of scary since most parts on it are interchangeable with the C/K trucks!


Just for the record I am quite fond of many North American vehicles. Heck, my next purchase will likely be a 2500HD Duramax 4x4 Extended Cab. As I said my Cherokee has given me over 5 years of fantastic service… I can’t fault it at all.

However, IMHO there is nothing that the Big 3 make that are in the same league as the vehicles the OP mentioned. They’re all good choices, but I prefer the Honda and Subaru.