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My Subaru Is Great But I Want My VW back? Maybe

I have a 2011 Subaru Outback Sport and I have had zero problems with the car @ 60k miles. I like it but I don’t love it. I bought it for the AWD and dependability and it has been very dependable but the AWD hasn’t been as revelatory as I thought it would be. I also think it may be a bit too big and heavy for my tastes. Which brings me to the VW GTI. I previously had a 2001 GTI and I had tons of problems with it. I felt like I was going into the shop every 6 months to fix something. In reviews of dependability of that specific model and year it appears to have atrocious ratings. But I loved the size, the power and the handling of it.

My question is….am i crazy to want to go back to VW? Maybe they are making GTIs better/more dependable now?

That GTI has a power over people. We also have a VW GTI and a Subaru Outback. The cars have totally different personalities. The GTI is a 2009, manual, has about 40k miles, and is always needing some kind of fix; little lights are always coming on for something (this week it was the TPMS). We’ve already gotten our money’s worth out of the extended warranty on repairs. Despite that, my husband loves it & it IS fun to drive. My Subaru, a 1999 automatic at 150k miles, is slow & reliable & rarely needs work,… I love it but it’s not fun to drive. It is relaxing to drive. I don’t know what to recommend to you, but know that you are not alone in loving the GTI in spite of its flaws.

All manufacturers are producing cars with better reliability than 14 years ago. A GTI might not be as reliable as a Corolla, but you will enjoy it more. A good compromise might be a Mazda3 hatchback. If you decide you want to go back the the GTI, you might consider giving the Mazda a test drive.

thanks for the feedback. I do still worry about the snow (I live near Philly). I am hoping that maybe a set of snow tires on the GTI might be enough if I choose to go that route. With the Subaru i haven’t gotten stuck but I did slide out a couple times.

Snow tires are far more important than AWD for snow handling. If you get snow tires, get an inexpensive set of steel rims for them. That way you just change wheels with the season rather than resetting tires twice a year. Do you really get that much snow in Philadelphia? We don’t in Central MD, and I don’t recall getting that much snow in Bethlehem, PA when I was in college.

+1 for @jtsanders on this one.

No, you have a perfect right and it is perfectly reasonable to want to return to VW. Years ago I used to own a VW Rabbit, which is not the same as a GTI, but in the same product line. Driving the Rabbit was more fun than driving my current sedan, Corolla. Better suspension, more road feel in the steering, maybe a little better pick up, and the Rabbit had a sun roof which made summer day trip a little more fun.

For me though, the vastly improved reliability of the Corolla trumped the fun of the VW. I have no desire to return to VW*. But that’s a personal decision, a relative decision, not absolute. If you like the GTI and willing to put up with its idiosyncrasies, more trips to the shop, more time out of your schedule waiting for the maintenance and repairs to get done, more after-purchase dollars spent from your pocket, nothing wrong with that at all. As long as you understand the compromise, go for it.

Good idea to check what Consumer Reports says about it. They have a new publication called “Reliability Guide”, not just what the owners complain about, but what the manufacturer has issued service bulletins and customer care bulletins. Some years/option packages are probably better than others.

Edit: * I should at this time mention I have a crazed desire to purchase an air cooled 1966 VW Beetle. I like those sloped headlights!

Agree with @jtsanders
You have a Subaru near Philly. That is hardly snow country. Please tell me; are you one of those drivers who bought an AWD car but do not put snow tires on it because you think it is a replacement for it ? I have a good friend who thought buying a Subaru was the best thing he could have done to prepare for winter. It is not. You are sliding because you don’t have snow or good winter traction tires…it has nothing to do with AWD. Personally, I don’t think you need a Subaru new Philly for winter driving, but regardless, Get snow tires first for your Subaru because you already have the car. Do it this year…then get back to us. Tires are like shoes for your car and they need to match the conditions. Would you put summer sneakers on your feet to slog through snow ? With out snow tires, that’s what you are asking of your car.

I too agree with Jt on this one. As dag pointed out, Philly isn’t snow country. I’ve been driving without problem for 45++ years in New England and three years in North Dakota, areas that are far worse than Philly for driving weather, and the real keys are tires, patience, common sense, and technique.

Yes, dagosa, I did buy AWD thinking about snow and figured it would eliminate the need for snow tires

Fine to change, except for the $$. You’ve just gone though the big depreciation period, trade now and you’ll miss out on the lower cost period. Up to you, of course…

Don’t use Consumer Reports reliability ratings alone. Cars are so reliable these days that only 4% separates the best from worst categories. That is, “much worse than average” is populated by car models where 4% or more report problems. I would not have a problem picking a car from the other 4 categories.

And, like my best friend, you did find out that AWD does little for braking and cornering. I have two AWD/4 wd cars in Maine and it would never occur to me to drive them in snow without good winter traction tires. They can be really scary with all seasons in snow. Luckily,you haven’t faced much. I had a neighbor with all season and four wheel drive and she couldn’t even make a hill that a Sienna mini van did with studded winter tires. Now, AWD with winter tires are the absolute best , but it’s way over kill for a place like PA.

Back to the original question about whether or not to trade the Subaru for a VW GTI: Don’t mess up a good thing. If the Subaru is dependable, don’t give it up. I always liked the way an MG Midget (or the equivalent Austin Healy Sprite) handled. I had a fellow graduate student who had a room at the same house I did that bought an MG Midget. I liked the handling of the car, but his MG Midget that was almost new had more problems than my 10 year old Buick.

It’s not as if these are the only two choices. There are plenty of cars that are more reliable than a GTI and smaller and more fun to drive than an Outback (which is neither small nor sporty.) I think it would help narrow the field if you figured out what size car you need. Is a Golf/GTI big enough, or was there some reason you exchanged it for the much larger Outback?

Of Japanese compact cars, the Mazda3 is the obvious choice for those who want a car that feels a little bit sporty. Subaru sells the WRX version of the Impreza with a turbo engine and other enhancements, so you can still have AWD if you want it (for what it’s worth.) It’s a quick car, but probably won’t handle as well as the GTI. The Ford Focus ST is another competitor, though I think it’s too expensive for what it is.

I am with @‌MarkM who asks some great questions on this one as far as a smaller Subaru is concerned. Our one area of disagreement is in handling. A Subaru WRX or any Imprezza will make you say “GTI what?” after living with it for a while as far as real world handling is concerned. TheTurbo version just waves goodbye on any mountainous road to a GTI. The handling superiority of a GTI or any fwd car comes at the expense of entering a corner fast, then easing up on the accelerator on a timed flat track around pylons; it is NOT IN REAL WORLD SITUATIONS. . With the WRX and it’s computer controlled drive train management, you have no such limitations and can power in or out of a corner, especially up grades, slight or severe. This translates into better handling while passing and merging on any terrain and any surface conditions. The only limitation is the absolute traction of the tires you have.

Do u have original tires on subaru? I have no idea if tires were “sport” models vs good all season tires. Not up on Subaru sport offerings. Maybe your car was lousy in snow from day 1?

"There are plenty of cars that are more reliable than a GTI and smaller and more fun to drive than an Outback (which is neither small nor sporty.)"

@MarkM–The Outback Sport is actually a trim variation of an Impreza wagon, so it is definitely small, and having driven these cars, I can tell you that they are…relatively sporty.
No, they don’t handle anywhere near as well as a VW GTI, but the reliability difference between those two models is…drastic.

Last winter I had the original all weather tires that had about 50k on them. Slid out a couple times and almost got stuck a couple more. Philly had a record snow season last winter.

The subaru I have is an impreza outback sport. Not sure if they even make the model anymore. It does have about 175hp though.

Don’t like mazdas. I would definitely go for the GTI if I make a change at all.

You definitely have “crappy” tires for winter driving and depending upon awd to compensate for them in snow when they help you go but do little for cornering and stopping, is like asking too much. It’s like complaining about the performance of a Corvette on ice. All season tires, even if they are good in snow new, quickly loose their traction at less then half wear. If you get a new car and do the same thing, you will get the same results.