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Used AWD wagon

Looking for a good, low-mileage 2004-2008 (or so) AWD wagon. Need a good camping / snow car, and prefer wagon to SUV. Have done some research and seem to be narrowed to 2004 Outback H6, 2005+ Outback H6, and Volvo XC70. Prices seem similar, with slightly better for Volvo (whoda thunk?)

A little concerned about the 4 speed tranny in the '04 Outback (high revs, fuel consumption). Also, it seems Subaru reliability is either “amazing” or “not so much” (which seems unusual for a Japanese car.) A little concerned about maintenance costs for the Volvos.

Thoughts? Alternatives?

Stay away from the Volvo. The H6 Subaru doesn’t have the head gasket issues of the 2.5l H4, so that’s a plus.

You should be VERY concerned with maintenance and repair costs of any used Volvo! I would steer away from it altogether.

Any Subaru needs full documentation that all the need maintenance has been done. The Subaru AWD system is very sensitive lack of proper care.

If I were you I would get a good used minvan and equip it with snow tires in the winter. They have lots more room and will cost less in upkeep than any used AWD Subaru.

The Subaru is a better bet for sure but I would say reliablity seems to be hit or miss based on my families experience. Parents 2000 Forester relateively flawless over 200k(wheel bearings, muffler, starter). My 2005 Legacy turbo(170k) a starter , calipersx2, alternator, wheel bearings, and burned valve($2k+).

@Docnick is incorrect on documentation of maintenance having effect on Subaru AWD. The issue with it is mismatched tires can cause damage to it but that is rarely documented. The best way to check it is back the car up at sharp turn and see if you get undue clunking/jerking. That means damage is done.

Reliability is about the same on both with the common issue being the head gasket.

The Volvo is nicer, more refined (it’s a luxury car) where the Subaru is just basic (not saying they aren’t nice). any newer Volvo (newer than 80’s) seems to be lacking the build quality they had before.

The Subaru does run a little higher revs you are correct. if i remember correctly 60MPH is around 2.5k RPMs (maybe somebody can correct me?) but regardless this alone does not determine engine fuel efficiency.

It is not uncommon to see both cars with 200K miles.

Keep in mind any AWD needs more tire maintenance than a FWD or RWD vehicle.

Maintenance on the Volvo averages about 40% more than the Subaru according to Edmunds. That’s what you get when you buy a luxury car.

No, the H6 Subaru engine doesn’t have the head gasket problem that the 2.5l H4 has.

Edmunds means nothing. look around on different forums to see what problems actual people have with both cars.

Okay i didn’t notice it was the H6 - in that case you do avoid the head gasket problems but that isn’t to say it won’t happen. couple that with the 4 speed auto though and it is a bad mix, they constantly feel like they are searching for gears and running out of breath.
much smoother than the Volvo I-5 will ever run but fuel economy will be worse.

@Harrisjb78, edmunds maintnance cost data is fairly accurate. Labor rates at the dealer are well known and it is easy to find prices for parts and fluids. The owner’s manual tells you what needs to be done at the specified intervals. If anything is easy to estimate, maintenance cost is. And like EPA gas mileage, it is a tool for comparing two cars, not an estimate of exactly what you will spend.

Edmunds true cost to own has about $6,500 for maintenance and repair over the first 5 years for the XC70, $4,500 for the Subaru.

The six Outback would be my first choice by far. Not to worry about the 4 speed. The 4 gear is OD but you have fewer gears for acceleration. That’s the way my older 4 speed autos are…
You would be better served too by not being prejudice about compact or midsize SUVs like RAV, CRV and previous gen Highlanders and Pilots . They are more upright and more space efficient and better for all your suggested uses including camping and snow travel. You will also have have many more to choose from as a used car.

Without question, my vote is for the Subaru also.

@texases, as you know, those numbers are for the 2009 model year. Since the warranty period is over on that model year, maintenance should be similar. I chose to put it in terms of a percentage because of the extra 4 years of life on the 2005. Still, I think the maintenance cost estimates are reasonably accurate for comparative purposes.