Vehicle suggestion for a hiker who misses driving a car?

This is something of a followup to my previous post (on whether a car becomes unreliable simply by virtue of age/mileage alone regardless of maintenance/lack of previous major problems). I’ve decided the Subaru Outback (2013 4-cyl Limited 179000 miles) has to go in the not too distant future. But I’m stuck on what to replace it with.
Things I like about the Subaru: 1) all wheel drive. It doesn’t snow where we live but we sometimes take trips where it does snow, then just driving on with AWD is great. FWD vehicles have to put on chains, or CHP will turn them around. 2) Room and comfort: It has just the right amount of space for road trips, as will as hiking trips with hikers and gear. And it’s comfortable over long distances. 3) high ground clearance. Not often a factor, but say once every year or two we might end up on a rutted dirt road where it’s nice to not worry quite so much about bottoming out.
Things I don’t like: 1) I miss driving a car. The Outback handles well enough, but it’s definitely not entertaining. 2) gas mileage: even a non-hybrid sedan would get quite a bit better gas mileage than the Outback, and it’s outclassed by hybrid SUV’s and sedans. 3) acceleration. It’s slow. I’d like something at least in the 8-second 0-60 range or preferably better.

Problems with buying a new car: 1) they’re expensive. It’s hard to swallow dropping in the high 30’s or low 40’s for a new vehicle. And picking up a used car could lead to the sort of problems I’m trying to prevent by replacing the Outback. 2) New cars have a bunch of “safety” features that don’t make me feel safe and that increase both the initial purchase price and repair costs. 3) Many lack spare tires–not exactly comforting if one’s tire is destroyed beyond the ability of magic air to fix out in the middle of nowhere. So I’m stuck on what car to pick. Some possibilities include: Hyundai Tucson/Kia Sportage hybrid (disadvantages cost and SUV); Camry hybrid (disadvantages cost, low ground clearance, no AWD); Prius AWD hybrid (if I can find one) (disadvantages lack of room, low ground clearance); Subaru Outback turbo (worse MPG than what I’m getting, I have question marks about turbos); Legacy sedan (low ground clearance, only marginally better MPG and acceleration). So–any thoughts, or have any of you driven any of the cars above?


What about an AWD SUV like a RAV4 or CR-V? They are unibody and more car-like. My daughter has a 2020 2WD CR-V and she loves it. Another daughter has a Mazda CX-5 and she is very happy too. Check out the specs of those 3 and if you like any of them on paper, test drive one.

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Those three are on the test drive list, actually. I’m a little dubious of the CX 5 mpg, but it looks like it checks most of the other boxes.

I should add I drive 18k miles a year and live in California (expensive gas) so fuel costs add up.

You make some good points about the advantages of the Outback for your Calif driving style, and the problems with newer cars. I’m thinking you would serve your interests better by focusing on a plan to keep your current Outback on the road.

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Can’t help you with the car selection but I have a story about the CHP turning you around if you don’t have tire chains on your 2 wheel drive vehicle.

Ky wifes cousins son grew up in LA and knew nothing about cars and less about driving in snow. He was going to visit his sister in Bend Oregon. He was driving an early Mazda minivan.

When he got in the mountains, it was snowing and he was stopped by the CHP an told he had to buy and have installed a set of chains or turn around.

He bought the chains and had them installed them on the front wheels.

He said it was a good thing he had them because he barely made it, slip sliding all the way.

I was surprised he made it also because his Mazda was rear wheel drive with the engine in a box in the inside of the van.


OMG, oldtimer-11 that is a funny story. I’m hoping if he needed chains again he put them on the correct drive wheels.

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lol … funny story! I got caught in an October snow storm going over the Sierras, Calif uphill side, VW Rabbit. Even FWD couldn’t move me up the hill. And no chains. Nobody else moving either, so no way to ask for help. I had some rope, so decided rather than just sit there, to try to weave a set of tire chains from the rope. Didn’t work … lol … eventually a 4WD trunks comes along , fellow selling tire chains. I’m a very willing buyer of course … lol … and away I go. His price for the tire chains (including sizing and installation) was very reasonable.

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George_San Jose_1: the plan would be keep a good emergency kit in the car, maintain the heck out of it, and keep a sharp eye for any funny noises or smells. That said, I’m not fond of that plan. I’ve spent quite a bit on maintenance/repairs over the past year or so (and no major repairs–some power steering parts, a few suspension parts, and rear hatch struts), plus about a $75-$100 penalty per month in gas over what a good hybrid SUV or hybrid sedan would cost. I’ve been told I need rear differential bushings, plus the windshield washer fluid light is continually on (even though it has fluid) so that’s a couple more repairs waiting.

Do the math. Even after you pay for the pro-active maintenance & repairs, and more for gasoline, do you end up with less or more in your wallet? Be sure to include the new car loan payments, higher insurance premiums, higher property tax registration fees, and higher diagnosis & repair fees for non-warranty work. .


Rav4 hybrid.

Sorry, I can’t relate to your question. I can think of several cars I would like to own, and none of them are new enough that you’d want them. In fact, the newest is a 2002 model year.

Yes, it’s on the test drive list: Hyundai Sonata hybrid, Toyota Camry hybrid, Rav 4 hybrid, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, AWD Prius are all new car contenders. The Crown looked interesting, but quite outside my budget.

I used to think people who wanted older cars were crazy. Now, however–some of the new technology scares me. Lane keeping assist, automatic braking–I’m afraid one of these will get spooked and turn the wheel or brake the car when it’s both unexpected and unwanted. And it’s crazy that car manufacturers are trying to charge subscriptions for things like seat heaters. Guess I’m getting old.

And speaking of the devil–now the hood struts appear to be going. Wish Subaru did like Toyota and put a simple metal post to hold the hood up that won’t wear out.

It has nothing to do with getting old. It is common sense, really to want to protect one’s privacy and avoid intrusive government overreach as much as possible. Driving old cars is just ONE of the ways I do that. Big Brother can ride along with you. He won’t be riding along with me.


If you want carlike performance with a bit more ground clearance, the only option I can think of is the Audi allroad, which of course isn’t cheap.

If you mean EPA estimates, then they are accurate. By that I mean the estimates are good for comparison between other cars, not that you will get the EPA gas mileage. All cars go through the same test which may or may not accurately represent you driving circuit. For instance, the EPA highway mileage for my 2017 Accord is 36 MPG but I actually got 42 on my drive to work and 38 on the way home.

Toyota has been using a soy based biodegradable wiring coating since about 2012. Rodents like to eat the wires now. Still going on and other car makers are doing it too apparently. Toyota soy wiring recall - YouTube

Rodents have always (for a very long time anyway) liked to eat wiring… True they might like the soy even more now, but they have been eating wires for much longer, I have also seen many EVAP lines and even the newer plastic (or whatever they are made out of) fuel lines chewed through… They also like seats, headliners and about anything interior… lol

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