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Choose a Subaru

I am moving to Boston with my wife and an 3 months old infant. We want to buy a car that is safe, reliable and within our budget (25k). We looked around and decided to buy a subaru. However, we can’t decide which model to buy. Impreza is large enough for us and it is cheaper. However, the fuel efficiency is not great and the owner’s satisfaction is not good according to consumer report. The legacy and forester are both good, similar price ,served our purpose. The legacy has better fuel efficiency and the Forester has larger room. The outback is the best but also cost $3k more. What is your opinion? Thanks.

I prefer the longer wheelbase Legacy Outback over the Impreza/Forester. Also check out the Hyundai Santa Fe/Tuscon.

Subarus and most other CUVs are not very fuel efficient. The AWD weight and complexity uses fuel. I lived in Boston during my undergrad years. Yes, it snows but not like here in Colorado. Four real winter tires on a 2WD vehicle are much better than all (read three) season tires on AWD. My RWD BMW with four winter tires would run circles around my wife’s Audi Quattro with all-season tires.


I would recommend a 2010/2011 Legacy sedan.
It has the latest safety upgrades, and the 4 cylinder model with CVT gets 29+ mpg on the highway. It is also much quieter and smoother riding than either the Impreza or the Forester, and it handles amazingly well.

Thanks. How reliable is this new CVT?

I heard the acceleration of outback is not as good as others. Have you heard about that?

I agree with VDC…if you want a Subaru in the Boston area, an OB is overkill and the sedan saves some $$$ and is as economical as Camry/Accords. The CVT has been around long enough with other brands and Subaru I feel can be trusted to make one that’s equal to any regular auto. Potentially they could be more durable with many fewer moving parts.

That sounds great. Thanks.

The Subaru CVT is manufactured by the same company, Jatco (Japan Automatic Transmission Company), that makes the CVT for Nissan. Nissan has had some durability problems with their CVT, as well as many negative reactions to its driving characteristics.

The difference is that Subaru designed their CVT to a higher durability standard than Nissan did, and the Subaru CVT has a very different “feel” to it, as compared to Nissan’s CVT. The most obvious difference is the use of a very hefty steel chain (about 3 inches wide) on the Subaru CVT, vs a rubber composition belt on the Nissan CVT.

Truth be told however, nobody knows the ultimate durability figures on the Subaru CVT, as it was only introduced to the market for the 2010 models. When I ordered my 2011 Outback, I opted for the 3.6R (six cylinder) model, simply because I did not know the ultimate durabilty of the CVT (the six cylinder model comes with a “conventional” 5-speed automatic, rather than a CVT), and I wanted to avoid the timing belt on the 4-cylinder engine (the six has a timing chain).

Why don’t Honda and Toyota use CVT? Any idea?

Take them for a test drive and find out for yourself. That’s personal preference.

Honda has been using CVTs since 1995, but not in the USA. The Civic hybrid Insight use CVTs. All Toyota and Lexus hybrids use the CVT.

Type the word “Subaru” into the search window of this forum. They are the board champion when it comes to owners moaning and groaning…

And yet, I just bought my third one as a result of having had incredibly good experiences with the previous two. My '97 Outback was more reliable than all of my preceding cars, including a Dodge, a Volvo, a Chevy, a VW, a Ford, and a Honda.

Because the '97 model was so reliable, I replaced it with an '02 Outback. The '02 model was even more bullet-proof than the '97 model, so when I decided to treat myself to a new vehicle recently, I bought my third one.

I am an extremely thrifty person, so I would certainly not have purchased a particular make or model again if I experienced unusual repair expenses with the first one or the second one. Subaru is the only make of car that I have purchased more than once.

The folks who post their Subaru problems on this board are almost always those who have not maintained their cars properly, or who bought used Subarus that were poorly-maintained. My experiences with two Subarus indicate that if someone simply keeps maintenance current and follows the Owner’s Manual regarding important points like “matched tires”, these cars are as reliable–and in some cases more reliable–than many other makes.

Why limit to Subaru? Any FWD car with winter tires on all 4 wheels will be excellent in Boston, very safe and cheaper to own.

I just can’t see getting a Subaru unless you understand the AWD drive system means you must be very careful with your tires, all must match all the time. Blow one tire and you need to replace the other 3 as well. I consider this a significant downside that you may not worry about now, but at 10K miles with a flat after hitting a Boston sized pothole you may not be happy shelling out $400 to 500 for new tires.

Good points and well taken. Thank you for sharing the positive and negative points of having a Subaru. :slight_smile:

The reason that I think Subaru is safe because that when I checked the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website, Subaru is the only maker that all their cars are in top safety picks. That means something right? Also, for similar cars, I don’t think Subaru Legacy is more expensive, considering Camry and Accord or Fusion.

You might think that the Impreza is large enough. But is probably not. Especially when the 3 mo old becomes a 2 year old and then gets joined by another 3 mo old. My advice would be to go with roominess wherever possible.

If you are sold on Subaru, fine. There are more posts on this site with Subaru problems than any other brand, and Subaru’s aren’t nearly the most prevalent cars on the road.

The Insurance Institute does specific tests, Consumer Reports does tests, the government does tests and Subaru does OK in all of them, but many other cars do too.

With a child don’t get something too small, you’ll need room to carry more stuff including perhaps another child someday. Wagons, SUV, and Minivan type bodies are much easier to load and more suitable for your family lifestyle than a legacy sedan.

Before you buy check out the Toyota Venza, 4 cyl, FWD base unit. It has a lot of features, great safety systems, lots of room, good mpg for the size and should be much less to own and maintain than a Subaru.

If it must be a Subaru, the Forester or Legacy wagon will work. The Impreza is going to be too small.

None of the N/A Subaru 4 cylinders are particularly quick, Even mild-mannered Consumer Reports mentions that they are a bit underpowered when compared to their primary competition. It’s one of the downsides to the increasing size of the cars and AWD. You can opt for the more powerful turbo 4ls or flat 6’s, but then fuel economy takes a hit, and the price of the car goes up.

Fewer moving parts, but that all-important rubber/metal band has always been a liability with CVTs.