New AWD car for me?

My 2003 Forester has had nothing but annoying problems since I bought it. CR says they’re supposed to be reliable so I’ll assume mine is an exception. But I want to replace it.

Forester Likes:
AWD (I go up into the mountains for xc-skiing, hiking, and snowshoing a lot); fold-flat rear seat for trips to building supply and landscaping stores for home projects, and its small size for easy parking and turning around.
Forester Dislikes:
Poor acceleration I have to drop it into third all the time for merging onto the highway, passing, or agility in the city. Also the interior is very noisy - a combination of road and wind noise. The fuel economy isn’t so good either.

I’d like a small AWD SUV or station wagon that’s quieter, peppier, and maybe a little more refined (the Forester is very basic). Reliability and safety must be top-notch. I’ve considered the Outback 6 cyl but it feels like a much bigger car with poor rear visibility.

I’ll go to $40K (invoice, not MSRP) to find the perfect car. Thanks in advance.

Have you looked at a Honda CR-V?

You might also look at a Ford Escape.

you might eve3n look at a trailblazer

Consumer Reports says the CRV has “vague” steering, not-so-good emergency handling and lots of road noise. The Ford Escape is brand new so there isn’t enough data to judge owner satisfaction or reliability but in general Ford reliability has been unimpressive. As I said, reliability is extremely important.

Basically ALL these mid $20K small SUV’s have lots of compromises - each maker compromises on different things but when you’re trying to hit that price point something’s got to give. By setting my price up to $40K I’m hoping to avoid that, I still want a small SUV, not a big one, but I don’t want so many compromises.

you might eve3n look at a trailblazer

I did say “new” (Trailblazer is discontinued) and I did say “reliable” and nothing I’ve seen suggests that the term applies.

Currently my top candidates are the Subaru Forester with the turbo option, the Toyota Rav-4, and the Subaru Outback, 6 cylinder. But they’re all compromised so I’m open to alternatives.

Hylander Hybrid $38700 or v6 Rav4

The Acura RDX awd starts at about 35k. The new version has a V-6 but is more efficient than the old one with the turbo 4. I haven’t folded the seats yet. It’s also a little less sporty than before and uses a less sophisticated awd system out of the CR-V. I have my doubts about the CR handling tests as they rarely agree with anyone else. Will a very slight difference in handling save your life?

Have you driven a CR-V yourself? You might be pleasantly surprised. As for road noise, in my experience the stock CR-V tires are the main culprit. Spend $500 on a set of upgraded tires and sell the original set online for $200, and you’ve pretty much solved the road noise issue. The Hankook H727 tire is highly rated and super-quiet.

The 2013 Subaru’s are much improved especially in the area of mpg. Perhaps a new Forester would be just fine, more mpg and more power too. At least check out the new Subaru’s before you buy.

The Ford Escape is brand new so there isn’t enough data to judge owner satisfaction or reliability but in general Ford reliability has been unimpressive”

According to whom? They’ve had a few minor issues with new models (just like Toyota and Honda have) which would have me waiting until they had around 1 years’ worth of production in before I considered a new model (same thing at Toyota and Honda)… but CR has actually pointed them out as very good for reliability except for that confounded MyFordTouch system (just don’t buy it) and AWD on a few models…

Do you REALLY need an AWD vehicle or do you just THINK you need it. 90% of the time, the roads, even Colorado mountain roads, are clear and dry…A set of mounted snow tires solves most winter driving issues and greatly expands your vehicle choices…

The new Mazda CX-5 is getting positive reviews, especially for its fuel economy. Not ‘fast’, though, for that and reasonable (not great) economy I’d look at a Rav4 V6 or the new RDX with the V6.

If you only go back 4-5 years…then maybe Ford’s quality is good.

But start going back 20 or so years…and Ford was NOT on par with Honda or Toyota. Too short of a time period for me. We’ll see.

My neighbour’s wife has an Acura RDX. It’s quiet, handles well, and has reasonably good fuel efficieny. You owe it to yourself to drive one, burt avoid the turbo model. This lady works in health care and MUST be at work on time, no matter what the weather, and we get a lot of snow storms here.

I would avoid a Subaru; you may be the type person who can’t take the time for all the tender loving care these vehicles need. Especially a Forrester with a turbo; I would avoid any turbo.

“awd on a few models” , Ford,… I think that tells it all. I would go elsewhere for awd…any thing else, perhaps.

Try a honda crosstour. They even offer a back up camera.


Who cares what Consumer Reports says about a car?
Either test drive all the cars that have been recommended by us yourself, and make a decision on YOUR opinion of the vehicles, or just buy whatever it is that Consumer Reports lists as the “Best Buy”, if you only trust their information as a credible source.

I find it funny that you complain about your Forester having poor power, poor fuel economy, bad agility, and a noisy interior, yet you’re still considering two Subaru’s to replace it.

I know you will shoot down my recommendations, but I would recommend you go over to a Mazda dealer, and test drive the CX-5, CX-7, and the CX-9. My best friend just bought a CX-7, and loves it. My gf and I have test driven the CX-5 repeatedly, and love it.

But, since Consumer Reports doesn’t love it, chances are you won’t even test drive it.


The CX-7 has just been discontinued, but they will still be around for a bit. They make both a turbo and a regular model. The base model is often criticized as underpowered and the turbo for having a touchy accelerator. The turbo has also has had iffy reliability. Nice other than that. They discontinued it because the CX-5 has just as much room in a smaller package. The new SkyActiv engine in it is unproven and one of the least powerful in the class, so likely not for you. Good gas mileage, though.

The lowest estimated repair costs are for the Lincoln MKX. It also has the lowest estimated maintenance costs by far, and maintenance is far easier to predict than repairs. Surprisingly (to me), the Lexus RX-350 has by far the highest M&R costs; mostly due to exceptionally high maintenance. The sample consisted of the Cadillac SRX, Acura RDX, Volvo XC-90, and the aforementioned SUVs.