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Toyota vs Subaru

Hello. We’re buying our 19 year old son his first car and are looking for a 2-4 (less than 35k miles) year old sedan, kinda sporty looking, very reliable and safe. We are trying to decide between a Toyoya Camry and Subaru Legacy. Question: Does the all-wheel-drive of the Subaru’s give it a step up over the Camry as far as safety? We have a good Toyota mechanic close by…BUT my husband favors the all-wheel-drive feature.

Ooops, 16 year old son and forgot to mention we live in midwest where we drive in moderate to heavy snow…

If winter driving is a marginal consideration, I would opt for the Camry, a more efficient, more dependable car.

If winter driving is a huge concern and lots of it is done in slippery conditions, a Subaru with winter tires is head and shoulders potentially safer then a Camry…I would base my choice on these driving conditions.

Judiciously driven with winter tires, a Camry can still be a good moderate winter performer. A Subaru can can be outstanding with winter tires that no fwd car can approach in severe weather.

Safety in awd is only marginally better then the Camry in non winter conditions given that the Camry is new enough to have stability and traction control. Consider too, that only recently has Subaru made traction/stability control standard on all models while Toyota has aggressively included it since 2004. Which ever you choose, I would make sure it has that feature.

Consider too, that the more capable winter performance of the Subaru could mean the greater potential for abuse…like having a high powered car, you can over drive winter conditions with an awd car to a greater extent then one with less drive traction. These are questions only you can answer before you decide.

Subaru’s are very popular in snow country b/c of the all wheel drive feature. AWD makes a big difference in drivability on snow and ice covered roads. I think even though the Subaru might not prove to be quite as reliable as the Camry, the AWD feature makes it the better choice for your situation.

According the IIHS/HLDI, the Legacy is a safer vehicle. Look at the reference below for 2009/2011 cars.

http://www.iihs.org/research/hldi/composite

The above reference shows that the Legacy has the lowest medical payment of all mid-size 4-door cars. The Toyota Camry is significantly worse than average (100). Note that medical payment deals with injuries to the occupants of the car in question, while bodily injury deals with occupants of the other cars in the accident. Note that this data is reliable in that it is a compilation of data from all auto insurers in the USA. Now if you really want safety, consider larger or very large pick-ups and SUVs.

Insurance companies love sporty and 16 year old males; talk to yours and find out.

Reliability of used vehicles is based upon how well the previous owner(s) took care of it and how well the future owner takes care of it. If that reliable Camry was a lease return and never seen an oil change until just before they traded it in, it isn’t gonna last very long. Follow the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual and take care of the little things that crop up and you should be fine with either car.

AWD will be more expensive to maintain, and Subarus are known to be quite picky with differences in tires; expect that if you get an unrepairable flat tire, the tire shop will insist you replace all 4 tires. They are not trying to rip you off, they are covering themselves from possible repair bills you might blame on them if your transfer case goes south.

Safety is all fine and dandy, but if they get into the habit of using their cell phone to talk or text while driving, they’re more of a danger than anything else.