New question: Which to buy 2003 Forester or 2003 fwd Vibe?


#1

We are looking to purchase an auto that our 17 year old son will be using. We have found 2003 fwd Vibe and a Forester, both have 90k and the Vibe is $1,200. less; any thoughts out there? We appreciate it.


#2

Plus for Vibe - cheaper, better mpgs, less to repair (no AWD, less concern with keeping tires the same)
Plus for Forester - maybe a bit more room, better traction in bad conditions, and the crash ratings are better (see http://www.informedforlife.org/getscore.php )

I got a Forester for our teen, so you know my vote.


#3

If your area is normally subjected to harsh winter driving conditions, the Forester’s AWD system is superior to that of most other AWD systems on the road, and would thus be a great advantage. If you are not subject to severe winter driving conditions, I think that you would be better-off with the Vibe.

Bear in mind that one blown or punctured tire on the Forester is likely to result in the purchase of 4 new tires, due to the AWD system. A FWD Vibe will not have this restriction.

The good news is that neither of these vehicles is what I would call a powerhouse, so your invincible 17 year old will likely get into less trouble with either of these vehicles than he would with something like a Trans Am. (And, neither of these vehicles is likely to spend a significant amount of time “up on cinder blocks”, unlike a Trans Am!)

Also, I would suggest that you check whether the Vibe has a timing belt, or a timing chain. The Forester will require a new timing belt at 105k or 8 years, whichever comes first. If the Vibe (which is actually a Toyota Corolla station wagon with more fashionable styling) has a timing chain, that will save you money on one expensive maintenance procedure.


#4

In addition to the test data presented by texases, you can see real crash data at IIHS.org. In this case, it agrees with the fake crash test data. The Forester Collision/Medical/Theft ratings are 78/75/18 and the Vibe ratings are 103/106/40. Toyota Matrix ratings are 149/120/70. Apparently, Matrix drivers get themselves into more trouble than Vibe drivers. BTW, 100 is average in each category and lower is better. Either one will probably never be in a serious accident. It’s all in what you are comfortable with.


#5

I feel that as reliable as a Subaru is, Toyota products hold an edge given comparable maintenance. I’m a huge Corolla fan for kids…and this fits the bill as a clone. The only exception would be a definite need for AWD…you live in a place like I do. Our neighbors had no choice but to raise two boys with three Subarus parked in the yard. If that’s not you…the Vibe has the potential for better service.


#6

I will chime in with this. I owned a 2004 Vibe and had so much trouble with tire wear that I finally traded it in a a new 2005 model. At about the 10K mark I had to replace both front tires. I drive normally and on straight roads for the most part. I traded the 2005 Vibe in on an extended cab Silverado. I spend more for gas but I spend a whole lot less on tires. Other Vibe owners have told me the same thing about tire wear.


#7

My 2006 base Matrix 5-speed wears the inside edges of its Continental tires. The alignment is good, camber is modest, regular rotations etc. A couple days ago I thought of a stop-gap solution to do before the edges are too far gone.

I just went to a tire shop and had them remove the tires from the rims, flip 'em over, remount and balance. So now the worn edges are on the outside. Cost $109. The tire tech was skeptical, but hey, I’m paying…

I haven’t had her up to highway speed yet but the handling feels OK and the tires are much quieter at 30mph. I got 16K miles out of one set of edges and if I can get another 16K I’ll be satisfied.


#8

I’d go for the Vibe. Simplier drivetrain and made by Toyota quality. There are a lot of posts on this site lately about Subaru Forester auto trans issues. The more I read about Subarus the less likely I am to ever own one.