New Car Decision

I am going to a car allowance from my company in lieu of the corporate choice (a Dodge Nitro). I would like to buy rather than lease a car that can be used by my family in coming years.

Key things for us:

- Enough cargo space to haul household stuff

- 4WD or AWD for Minnesota

- Dependability

- Reasonable gas mileage

- Comfortable rear seats

We have been considering models like the RAV4 or Honda CRV, but after reading comments on this board and checking Consumer Reports, are leaning towards a Subaru Forester. Are we missing some options in the market? What do others advise? We want to keep this car for a long time.

You may also want to consider the new Chevy Equinox and Ford Escape Hybrid.

All 3 are good, put a lot of weight on extended test drives. You’ll be better off with a car you really like.

Drive all of them and if you like enough arrange for an extended test drive. You need to like the vehicle and comfort beyond the “best” listed by everyone here or elsewhere. I bought a vehicle (95 Civic) that everyone recommended so much. I hated it from one month after ownership. Miserable vehicle for me although I hung onto for 225k miles.

You owe it to yourself to test-drive the new 2010 Subaru Outback. Although it is larger and has far more interior room than the Forester, it actually gets better gas mileage due to the new CVT transmission. The Outback with 2.5 liter engine and CVT is rated at 22 city/29 highway mpg, and many owners are reporting 30-31 mpg on long trips. This rating is definitely better than the Forester’s economy figures.

In addition to greater cargo room, the new Outback has far more passenger space than the Forester, and it has more comfortable seats and a more upscale interior. The rear seats recline, and there are 4 more inches of legroom for back seat passengers than previously.

I also suggest you look at the Equinox. And use and MSN Autos to help you decide. They are good sources for dependability data. They aren’t as restrictive as CR is. CR rates anything with 3% or more failure rate as unacceptable. This may be OK for you, but it neglects a huge segment of the available SUVs. You can also get gas mileage information at

Since you’ve looked at CR you’ve seen all the options. The three you’ve listed are all good choices.

Have you test driven them yet? Has the other half of the decision process test driven any and/or expressed a preference?

I noticed it was a “we” decision process and I think that’s really great. Whatever you ultimately choose, you’re going through the ideal process.

Happy Holidays.