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Less expensive, more miles 2007 Subaru Outback vs. pricier, fewer miles 2009 Outback?

I am going to sell my 2002 Honda Accord with 150k miles (which has been wonderful and 100% reliable) and want to get a good trusty wagon for family, dog, camping, adventures. I have a golden retriever who needs to go in the back and a toddler who needs to be super safe and have side airbags. We all want a car that stays out of the shop, doesn’t cost a lot to maintain and doesn’t leave us stranded anywhere.
Debating between: spending $14k on a 2007 with 70k-100k miles that I could pay off in 36 mon or spending $18-19k on a 2009 with 30-50k miles that I’ll need 5 yrs to pay off.

Thoughts???

I’m sure your retriever won’t care, as long as his window opens up.

Seriously, If you’re getting something with near 80K on it, I’d want to make sure they replace the timing belt and water pump. 80K is too close to 90K. They should get that done, if you’re getting it from a dealer, imo.
Subarus used to have problems with head gaskets around 1999-2003 but, while yours would be newer, I’d have it looked at by someone that knows the car. Make sure the car was maintained properly, as is true of any car.

Used Subaru’s are not going to be as reliable and cost more to service and maintain than your trusty Accord did. I think you are in for a let down on on this one. How about another Honda? Perhaps the Pilot is too big? How about that boxy one, the Element?

I’d steer clear of Subaru’s. Your old Honda has spoiled you and the Subaru will disappoint when it goes haywire on you.

I’ve owned over 25 cars in my 40 years of driving. Pretty much every Japanese and European car I’ve owned has been very reliable. Except my Subaru Outback. Sucked a valve at under 100,000 miles. I would never get another one.

A 2007 Outback with 70,000 miles is worth no more than $13,000 and an 09 with 30k is worth $17,000 tops. That’s providing all service is up to date with receipts. Use NADA trade in prices as a place to start, and subtract from there.

If you get an awd, I would never buy one with more than 40 k miles. If you feel you are limited to less then $14k and need to go high mileage, go with something in 2wd. You survived with an Accord, look for a 2wd Rav or other compact Suv in 2wd which will give you more bang for the buck and fewer potential problems. I have had 4 and awd cars and truks for many years and have bought most used. Have never had problems with any I bought with fewer then 50 k miles and feel good maintenance and good driving habits with early ownership was the key.

So, IMO it has nothing do with Subarus, just awd and higher miles and Subaru doesn’t make 2wd cars. So higher priced Subaru or look for different compact Suv in 2wd. Traction control and higher clearance will give you all you need for sane driving.

Your child will be in a booster seat for several years, and I’d put it in the center of the rear seat. How will side air bags have an impact on his safety? The main thing is that you drive sanely, and by the tome of your post, I’m certain you will. Remember that bigger is safer. Between 2007/2009, the truck with the lowest medical payout was the Honda Pilot according to IIHS/HLDI. The 2009 Pilot LX is about $19,000 at a dealer. I’d go with the Pilot and remember that prices go down as the car ages. A 2007 LX is under $14,000 from a dealer.

If this board is any judge, Subaru’s have WAY more than their share of repair and maintenance problems. Just enter the word “Subaru” in the search window and you will retrieve page after page of Subaru horror stories…

Hi Everyone-
I just wanted to thank everyone for the tips and great advice.
Uncle Turbo- Your advice has stayed in my head every since and you’re totally right.
"Used Subaru’s are not going to be as reliable and cost more to service and maintain than your trusty Accord did. I think you are in for a let down on on this one. How about another Honda? Perhaps the Pilot is too big? How about that boxy one, the Element?
I’d steer clear of Subaru’s. Your old Honda has spoiled you and the Subaru will disappoint when it goes haywire on you."
When I thought about how much I’ve spent on my Honda (maybe $2500 in 10 years) I knew I wasn’t going to be happy suddenly having to spend money to maintain. And what’s the point of having a fun car to take on trips if you don’t have any left over money to take any trips???
RemoW and dagosa- thanks for the tips on what to look for and at what mileage. I had it in my head that Subarus could just run forever and never have any problems. Um, not true, that’s the Honda i’ll already have!
JTSanders- thanks for the reminder about bigger and safer. I’ve been feeling like I needed to get the smallest car to fit my needs, and they do, but just barely. Once I broadened my search, I was surprised to see (like the Pilot you mentioned) how much more I could get for similar money with much fewer miles.
And Caddyman- it was a sad day when i followed your advice and googled Subaru maintenance problems. A friend had warned me but I thought her’s was an isolated case. Oh my, so not the case.

So i’ve broadened my search, driven more cars and was pleasantly surprised by the Hyundai Santa Fe. Saw 2 2011’s with 29k miles for $17.9k. Drove nice, is a IIHS ‘top safety pic’ year after year and gets a “good bet” in Consumer Reports used car guide. And after having my heart set first on a Volvo v50, then a Passat Wagon and then the Subaru Outback (all WAY too pricey to maintain and small) it was nice to be higher off the ground, have more flexible space (like a trunk that would fit my dog, the jog stroller and a suitcase) and feel safer. Also drove the Kia Sorrento, it was beautiful but felt a little too big.
Any thoughts?

Again, thanks all for your thoughtful advice and sharing your good advice!

If you wait a month or two, you might be able to pick up a brand new 2012 Santa Fe for close to the price of those 2011s. When the 2013 models come out, dealers will be looking to move the 2012 vehicles off the lot to make room for new ones.
They start out at $23k, so big discounts on them and some negotiating could put you in the 18~19k range with a 10 year warranty; not sure what the 2nd owner gets on the factory warranty, but I don’t think the 10 year transfers

Or, since you liked sitting up higher, and love your Honda, why not a CR-V? They start out about the same price as the Santa Fe, though you might not have as much wiggle room even on a 2012 when the 2013s arrive as you would the Hyundai.

Another suggestion is the Mazda CX-5, also around the same price range, it’ll give the better MPG than the Hyundai or Honda. And, if you desire, you can get one with a stick shift good for 35mpg on the highway. It’s new for 2012. Not sure how Mazda will deal, I’ve heard the CX-5 is a pretty popular vehicle right now, so you might have less wiggle room than Honda on that part.