What to Buy? Subaru and Electronic Throttle Control

Hi All!

My fiance and I are looking to buy a “new” (or “newer”) car. We considered Volvo wagons and VW tiguan, but the potentially costly repairs made us turn away from those. I also like the the new Honda Accord Crosstour, but it’s significantly smaller than the competitors, so it’s out.

We really like the Subaru Outback, because it has what we are looking for:

- large cargo, yet not an SUV


- reliable

- relatively inexpensive to repair

The only concern with it though - the ‘intelligent’ throttle control makes the acceleration very sluggish. In fact, I’m totally against the Electronic Throttle Control. Are there cars (preferably wagons) made in the last 5 years that don’t use that technology?

Thanks in advance for all the tips/recommendations!

Mike (from Maryland)

There are plenty of cars made with “that technology” that work correctly and don’t have any sluggishness.

It’s not the throttle control making the Subaru ‘suggish’ - I assume it’s the 4? The 6 is quite peppy. And the Crosstour is not at all small, so I’m confused…

You could also look at the Honda CR-V and the Honda Element.

Crosstour’s cargo and passenger space is smaller than that of Outbacks, both on paper and by just looking at the two. Crosstour is more expensive too. Other than that, I do like the Accord - I have an old Accord sedan and love it.

Well, it was the Tiguan that confused me, but yes, Outback’s bigger. Try one with the 3.6l 6.

Texases is correct.
While the model that you drove may have been sluggish (undoubtedly the H-4 engine), that characteristic has nothing to do with electronic throttle control. I can tell you that the power of the Outback 3.6R (6-cylinder) models borders on awesome.

As others have said, its not the electronic throttle that is making the car sluggish, its the computer programming, and engine design that make if feel sluggish.

My best friend owns a Subaru Outback, while I own a Nissan Altima.
Both are 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engines, both with electronic throttle.
My engine feels a heck of a lot livelier driving than his does.

Engine design, and computer programming make a huge part of the difference.


You’re going to have a very hard time finding a late model car that does not have a drive-by-wire throttle.

I don’t like them either, but that’s the way of the future.

Unfortunately, there are not that many station wagons from which to choose, either.

I do not consider the Crosstour a station wagon. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not a wagon. I wish Honda or Toyota, or someone besides Subaru, would make a real station wagon.

I know about the VWs, but I learned my lesson with them many years ago.

Audi? Volvo? Yes, they make station wagons, but the maintenance and repair costs on them is prohibitive, and I don’t wish to spend that kind of money.

Good luck on your search. Let us know what you decide to buy.

Why do you want AWD? You can get by with 2WD very well in all parts of MD, even Oakland. But my guess is that you live in the Baltimore/Washington metro area. In most areas the biggest hills are the interstate ramps.

I’m not a fan of electronic throttle controls. This puts iffy electronics between your foot and the throttle lever so anything can happen if a glitch occurs.

As long as it’s working fine, no problem. Let a problem develop and the replacement cost will be 4 digits and change.
It seems like someone posted recently about a failed electronic control on their Ford which is not only backordered and they can’t get it but it’s also 3 grand to boot when and if they ever do get it.
Three thousand bucks to move a throttle plate. Ouch.

I agree with your concerns, but electronic throttle control has proven to be safer and more reliable when combined with other accessories like cruise control and stability control. NO car of any substance is going to be cheap to repair, but maintenance is always less than in older cars if you can do the basics. Tune ups at 100K really leave you with little more than inspections, filter and oil changes. Electric control motors are more reliable than exposed cables and leaking hydraulics and manufactureres have found power windows in many makes are cheaper to include than manual windows as standard equipment.
The fallacy that cars are more expensive has more to do the shear number of features that could go wrong not in the reliability of each.
In my 40 years of car ownership, my two Subarus were the least expensive to own and maintain of any car I’ve owner. Not just because it was a decent car, but because it was well cared for, bought new and though used hard, was not abused.
Get one with the 6 cyl and be happy !
DONOT be afraid of the awd. A Subaru awd is at least as or more reliable than 75% of the 2wd cars out there. Be concerned about tire maintenance as you should for ANY car and it will be as trouble free. AWD cars being more expensive to maintain is a joke…one extra differential change, that’s it. The added expense comes in if you go off road and start banging into things and doing things never attempted with 2wds.
I always get better tire wear with my awds than in my fwd cars; case closed !

Thank you for the reply!
I absolutely agree with you on many points… Honda actually has a beautiful wagon made in Europe - I’m so mad they don’t make it here! Instead, we have that mutant crosstour - all these crossovers (including murano, infiniti ex, etc.) in my opinion are not as functional as wagons. They are barely larger than sedan, but cost way more. They look sexy, and that’s about it.

Regarding the drive-by-wire, at least now I know that it’s not just Subaru… oh well, that is life.

Thank makes sense. Toyota’s engines aren’t bad either; but I guess the programming (or transmission?) makes them very sluggish.

Thank you!

Oh yeah, Tiguan’s pretty big - I like it, but not its price and maintenance cost :slight_smile:

I will definitely try the 3.6! Thank you for the tip!

Electronic throttle is here to stay, whether you like it or not. In some newer engines, especially those with direct gas injection, output is controlled by a combination of throttle opening, fuel injection amount and timing, and valve timing. In some BMW, Fiat, and Nissans, throttle stays wide opened under normal conditions and valve lift is varied to control engine output. Electronic throttle is used because there’s no direct relationship between throttle opening and engine output anymore.

Thank you for the reply!
Good point. There is a possibility of moving to a very “hilly” area :slight_smile: when the snow hits, I would like to have at least one car that is AWD.

Well, don’t forget, they are supposedly fail-safe, have redundancy circuits (or something like that), and are very reliable! … until a Lexus full of people flies into another car because ‘the mat got stuck’. I don’t know… too much faith is put in electronics.

That was a MECHANICAL problem, not ELECTRONIC. It could have happened with a cable throttle.