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Should I get a Ford Escape or a Subaru Forester?

Gotta get a car this month and need advice. Last car was a 1996 Subaru Impreza wagon (the little hatchback). Loved it. Now I need a family car–a grocery-getter, as it were.

Test drove Ford Escape and Subaru Forester, and can’t quite decide. Escape was nice, and roomier than the Subaru, but had a complicated system of folding down the back seats, and didn’t have AWD. Forester had lousy back seat (no leg room, smooshy at the edges like a bad mattress) but was otherwise nice.

I’m a Subaru lover and until this week had not considered buying an American car. But the Escape was decent. I need a very reliable car that isn’t too huge. Also have to decide if I want a used model (like maybe a 2007?) or a new.

If rear seat legroom is an issue, be aware that new Forester (2008 and newer) is a “clean-sheet” redesign that has a LOT more rear legroom than earlier versions.

If you have to ask, you’re not ready to make the choice. Keep trying out both models for prolonged use, as close as you can to what their role will be. It’s your decision, not ours. Evolve into something you can live with…you need more time. I agree with VDC that you try out both newer models if you haven’t.

I know I have to make the decision myself, but I’m just asking for opinions/rants/raves. The last American car I owned was a 1968 Dodge Dart, so even considering an American car is wacky for me. I have long assumed they are crappy compared to Toyota/Honda/Subaru.

It’s not a question of being “ready”–I have no choice but to make this decision. I have two little kids and no car. I have to buy one asap. If I had several months to casually test drive cars again and again, I would.

I drove the 2007 Escape and the 2007 Forester, but a new 2009 Forester is only about $3,000 more than the 2007s I’ve found with 40,000 miles. The Escape seems more expensive new, but apparently Ford has some kind of rebate program that might knock off a few thousand? I found a nice 2007 Escape with 30K miles & leather for $17,000. That seemed pretty good to me. But I find some new 2009 Foresters (no leather, but AWD) for $20,000-ish. It’s a tough call for me. I just want the best car for the money.

I’m just not a Subaru fan. It seems so many posts on this website are Subaru problems. There are some posts about Escapes but few considering that there are a lot more Escape’s on the road.

I’d go for a new Escape, get the best deal you can from Ford. I don’t care for leather and all the bells and whistles just inflate the MSRP. I can live without SYNC for instance.

Decide on the features you really need and go shopping. There are deals out there.

How badly do you need (or want) all wheel drive? If it’s important to you I’d say the Subaru is the way to go. If you don’t really care about AWD then choose whichever you prefer driving.

The new Forester is significantly larger than the old model. I don’t see rear seat leg room being a problem in the new model. The old model, I agree, is a bit tight in the rear seat.

The Escape is available with a hybrid drive train, which may interest you as a gas saving feature.

Have fun shopping.

Escape does have a 4wd version.
New: Should get a tax break(deduction) for buying a new vehicle, more if you get a hybrid. Does your Subaru qualify for the “cash for clunkers” thing? Can order it exactly how you want it.
Will take a hit financially with depreciation.

used: the previous owner took the initial depreciation hit. Cheaper in the long run.
Unless the owner has records, you don’t know how well it was taken care of. They could be selling it because it’s 15k miles overdue for an oil change, and making funny noises.

[I just posted this but it vanished? Will try to recreate. Sorry if it ends up posting twice].

Thank you. Your comments were helpful. I only like leather for the kid factor. If a kid pukes on leather, you just wipe it up. If you have upholstery, you gotta go get the car cleaned and fumigated. I wish they still used cheap vinyl or Naugahyde in cars. I don’t care about luxury stuff. In fact, one of the things I really liked about the Escape was the simple/plain dash and controls.

Could be that a lot of Subaru problems show up on this site because of the number of Subaru owners who are NPR listeners. Liberals and hippies. LOL! But I take your point. I’ve just never owned a Ford, and my last Subaru was a champ. Also, I like the way Subarus look, although the Forester looked better ten years ago, in my opinion. Used to be my #1 favorite car on the road, looks-wise. Now I can barely tell it apart from other small SUVs.

The $17,000 2007 Escape I test drove was a “fleet” car (or lease?) of some sort. The Carfax report was clean, but for all I know the car has been to hell and back.

Unfortunately, I can’t do the Cash for Clunkers. My car already went off to the Kidney Society.

The only reason I care about AWD/4WD is that I’m used to it from driving a Subaru for the past 12 years. So I guess it’s not that important. Adding 4WD to the Escape jacks the price up, whereas AWD is standard with the Subaru.

FWIW, Consumer Reports rate them about even in the reliability category. Personally I would prefer the room in the Escape compared to the Forester, if gas mileage isn’t an issue. So far, I have been pleased with my Ford trucks and our Subaru Legacies. We thought the Forester in general was too small for our lifestyle, but we really like the Legacy, with a couple of small exceptions.

Boy, you guys are all really helpful! So glad I decided to post my question. I also find the Forester cramped. Doesn’t actually seem much bigger inside than my Subaru Impreza wagon was.

I have two young boys, so we definitely need room in the car. But a minivan or something like that is just overkill for us. Why don’t more companies make full-size station wagons? A Volvo wagon is probably the exact size we need. But Volvo is too expensive and iffy on the reliability for me.

If you’re used to driving a Suburu for the last 12 years you may be in for a shock when you try to drive another vehicle in winter conditions, assuming winter conditions are part of the bargain. I’ve been unable to determine whether or not this matters.

Where, generally speaking, do you live and drive? Do you need/want AWD or not? Is AWD an important feature when you consider a vehicle purchase?

The Ford Taurus X and the Toyota Venza are essentially station wagons. You might as well check them out. The Venza comes in V6 and 4 cylinder versions and uses a lot of shared parts with the Camry.

The Taurus X was recently renamed and I can’t remember the previous name. It’s been around a few years and is a practical car.

Remember those boys will grow and if space is tight now, it will just get snugger as they grow. I used to hate the feeling of little knees jabbing me in the back as those little legs grew too long for my compact station wagons back seat.

The Taurus X was previously named the Ford Freestyle. It did not sell well under the old name, and unfortunately a new name did not help sales to any appreciable extent.

The newer Ford Flex is selling far better than the Taurus X ever did, which is what led to the decision to axe the Taurus X. Because it is a discontinued model, you may be able to get a generous discount on one.

I live in Virginia. It’s generally snows very little here, but in some ways it’s trickier than being up north (where I’m from originally). Down here they don’t really use snowplows, so when it does snow, you have to be able to drive thru it. At the most, they sprinkle sand around. Usually the snow remains on the roads until it melts. So even though it doesn’t snow much, when it does, it’s a problem. Still, I’m sure I could get by with a 2WD vehicle. However, I do think, hmm, if I move back up north in the next few years–and this is possible–I’ll probably wish I had that Subaru.

Also…you’re not considering a CRV? No better reliability record, an awd system better suited for the occasional use you may give it, excellent rear seat accommodations, and even older models share these features with the newer. Worth your time ?

I actually love the new “crossover” style CRV, but I hate the way the older models look. Same with the RAV4. Looks aren’t everything, of course, but this will be the first new car (or the second late model if I go with used. Prior to my 1996 Subaru I had 1968 Dart and a 1972 Impala) I’ve ever owned, so it’s important to me that I get something I like.

New CRVs seem expensive. I see them starting at about $25,000 (I need automatic transmission and AC).

As for used CRVs, I’m seeing 2008s with 20K miles going for $22,000. Since I can get a new Forester for under that…? But this is one of the issues I’m confused about. Is it smarter for me to buy a 2007 Escape w/ 30K miles for $17,000 and get potential issues from the previous owner, etc., etc., or is it smarter for me to pay $3,000 or $4,000 more to get a new Forester or Escape (which also could have issues–you never know). “bscar” discussed the pro and cons of new v. used in a comment above, but I’m still pondering the issue. We don’t have a lot of money, so I’m trying to make the smartest decision I can. Since I have kids, I need a reliable car. Don’t want to be on the side of the road with the hood up if I can help it. If I didn’t have little kids, I’d probably just buy some cheap piece of junk off craigslist!

Our views are about the same on the Forester. I think minivan might be your answer. I own a Mazda MPV, which is a bit smaller than Odyssey, Sienna or Grand Caravan, and we travel with two grandsons. It is about right for those trips, but I give up a bit on gas mileage on my commutes (19-20 mpg). My wife drives a Legacy wagon, and we travel well in it, but is sometimes cramped when four folks plus luggage, etc are being hauled around; hence the use of the MPV.

Yep, the MPV is the best looking and best sized minivan IMO. If I get a Forester, I would definitely need to get one of those luggage “pods” to go on top for long trips. But I’ll look at the MPV. I also like the Kia Rondo, which is like a mini minivan. But I’ve not heard the greatest things about it…

Just bear in mind that the MPV was discontinued after 2006. So, if you are looking for a new vehicle, there is no such animal as a “new” Mazda MPV. It was replaced in 2007 by the somewhat smaller Mazda 5.