Should I still avoid the first model year of a new vehicle?

My question isn’t about a car we own but about one we’re hoping to own. We’re intending to buy the new iteration of the Subaru Forester when it arrives in showrooms late fall. I’m old school, however, so here’s my concern: The old wisdom held that one should never buy a vehicle in its first year. The thinking was that the manufacturer needed a year “to get the bugs out.” Question: Is that still a good rule of thumb to follow? Should we wait for the second year of the totally revamped Forester to make our purchase? Thank you for your input!

My personal opinion and experience is to say; Don’t buy the first year of any revised model.

There is far less risk of that than in the past but why play with fire?


+1. Look at all of the troubles Ford had when they switched to the current generation Focus and all of the problems with the transmissions…I definitely agree with giving it a year.

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Here’s my answer . . . it depends on the situation

Very often the first few years of a new body style will have holdover engines and transmissions, which hopefully will have had most of the bugs worked out by then. Again, this depends on the manufacturer. Some designs are so junky, the bugs are NEVER worked out

My brother’s 2008 Highlander was the first model year of that body style. But the engine and transmission had been around for awhile, used in other Toyota products. He didn’t run into any problems which I couldn’t sort out for relatively little money.


Putting aside the electronics, the major change seems to be this:
Updated SUBARU BOXER Engine with 182 hp
The all-new Forester is powered by a more powerful direct-injection SUBARU BOXER engine, now featuring Auto Start-Stop functionality. With 182 horsepower and up to 33 MPG, it provides efficiency without sacrificing capability.

Older engine is 170 HP, and I don’t think it is direct-injection. So this is a major change.

Yes! The only car company I would buy a first model from is Toyota. The US manufacturers still treat the buyer a s the guinea pigs to ferret out the problems.

Agree, common sense says to avoid the first year of a model’s redesign.

The Chrysler Pacifica hybrid’s first year was 2017, but there have been few problems associated with it. Only one so far, actually. A diode in the hybrid system fails and stops the van. There is a recall for it. One other recall is for a software issue in the cruise control, but that is for the entire Chrysler line.

If you have any Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep product from 2014-2018, don’t use the cruise control until the software is refreshed.

1 more yr to save money for the new car. is your current car old? tired? needing repairs? you would think the leftover stock of unsold cars will be discounted this fall. maybe not. what does the new version have as special options that are not available now? are you getting the platinum version will all the new toys? or a base model?

Additionally, the electronic safety equipment is undergoing a radical upgrade. Subaru’s Eyesight system will now be standard equipment on all Foresters except for the bare-bones model. And, they are adding a steering-column-mounted camera which is designed to monitor driver attentiveness and detect when somebody is nodding-off.

While the Eyesight system is rated as the best automatic braking system by IIHS, there is still a chance of bugs in that first year in the Forester. And, even though that steering column camera will not transmit data, I think I would give it a year for any latent bugs to be worked-out.

So it’s really a more complicated issue. The problems come in the first year of a new or completely redone major operating component - like a transmission or an engine, or maybe an electronic system. A completely new body might have issues, but if it uses the existing machinery it’s not automatically a risky choice. Body integrity issues can be annoying but they aren’t usually things that put a car in the shop for days at a time.

The other thing to look into is whether the new component is really new, or only new to the US market.

The best deal is often the last year of the older body style. They are hard to sell for the dealer and can be bought a bit cheaper, and they are often solid performers or at least well-known problem children.

I have heard the avoid first year model also, though these days I care less about it. It may take a few years for GDI to rear it’s ugly head as it has on some cars, but next year they will probably do the same.

The Mustang I bought is the first year for their 10 speed automatic transmission.

I figure if something goes wrong, I have a warranty from the factory that should cover any issues. If it happens out of warranty, having the vehicle serviced at the local Ford dealership might help alleviate some financial burden, if I can sweet talk the service advisor. If there’s a recall, then it won’t matter because Ford will pay for the fix- just like Mazda paid to replace the ball joints on my CX-7 last week.

Granted this is a second car and not my primary, so the burden of not being able to drive the thing won’t be as bad. It was also nice to have the Mustang because the ball joints were going bad in the CX-7 and I refused to drive it until I could get it the 35 miles to the closest dealership.