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Which AWD sedan?

I am trying to decide between two AWD sedans: Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy. I like the Ford’s electronics and safety features, but am worried that the AWD drivetrain is less time-tested than the Subaru? Any thoughts or experience on how each car’s AWD will hold up over time?


The problem is exactly what you are questioning, namely the long-term reliability record for the Fusion’s AWD system. Unfortunately, it has not been around long enough for it to have established a long-term reliability record.

The Fusion appears to have excellent reliability overall, but the only reliability stats that I can find are for the V-6 front wheel drive version, which forms the vast majority of the Fusions that are sold. The car’s AWD system may, in fact, be very robust and very reliable, but in the absence of data, this is a bit of a crap shoot.

Based on personal experiences with Subarus going back 14 years, I can tell you that the AWD system is essentially trouble-free, as long as you carefully follow the caveats in the Owner’s Manual, i.e.–the tires must be rotated on a regular basis (ever 5k or every 7.5k), and the tread depth must be very closely matched. In other words, you need to be running the car on 4 tires that are matched as to brand, size, and tread depth.

If you get a puncture on one tire, you cannot replace just that tire unless you have its tread “shaved” to match the tread depth of the three worn tires. Violating either of these two caveats can result in expensive repairs, however, I can tell you that in more than 240k miles, I never had any issues with the Subaru AWD system, simply because I faithfully do as the manual advises (and because I never had a non-repairable puncture).

No matter which car you buy, you have two good choices from which to select.
And, bear in mind that the above-mentioned caveats apply to the Fusion, as well as to the Legacy.

If you are in an area where having AWD is really needed then I suggest you get the Subaru. Along with their excellent AWD system they have good front and rear balancing and low center of gravity. They are also rated well in crash tests. Like VDCdriver, I am also a long time Soob owner and really like the way they handle, especially on the snow covered roads here in Alaska. They are so popular here that a good used Subaru, that is reasonably priced, will sell the first day it is listed on the market. In places like Texas it is a different story for used Subarus. If you are in an area that doesn’t have many AWD cars then the Ford may be a better seller when you are ready to sell it later on.

The new Ford does have some nice electronic features. If you aren’t planning to keep the car for a long time then you might not have to worry about how well it holds up over a long time period. As far a price incentives go it looks like Ford is making a little better deal currently. It is a very rare time that Subaru ever offers zero percent financing as Ford is doing now.

Subaru AWD is very reliable if you keep matched tires in wear, make and model. If not it can run into a $1000 bill.

Subaru AWD (and Audi) is built as the basis of the vehicle design.

Other car makes AWD is an add on and a limited release. The reliability is very unknown and also the capability is typically far less than Subaru’s and Audi’s AWD.

Thanks! We seem to have a consensus for the Subaru. Any advice on the 3.6 L 5-speed auto versus 2.5 L CVT? CU gave the former much better points for maneuverability, but is 0-60 mph in 9/7 sec enough acceleration for a safe merge? IAlso, it seems strange that the smaller engine has a longer braking distance.

You really need to test drive each of these. You will certainly be able to safely merge with the 2.5l. The CVT does not appeal to some.

I have driven both, and I own an Outback with the 3.6 liter 6-cylinder engine.
The 2.5 liter engine is okay around town, but it lags far behind the 3.6 engine when it comes to acceleration.

I can tell you that the power of the 3.6 engine borders on “awesome”, and that is why I opted for it. Additionally, the 3.6 comes with a timing chain, whereas the 2.5 has a timing belt. Also, the 2.5 has had issues in the past with head gasket problems, whereas the 3.6 is essentially bullet-proof.

If that isn’t enough to convince you about the 3.6 engine, you should consider that it comes with a “conventional” 5-speed automatic, whereas the 2.5 has the aforementioned CVT. CVT technology has not yet gotten to the point where these transmissions can be repaired in the US. Any problem results in swapping in a new transmission, and I am not eager to have technology that cannot currently be repaired.

The 2.5/CVT does excel in gas mileage, but I can tell you that my 3.6 averages ~23 mpg in suburban driving, and when you consider the very ample power that it has, this is pretty good mileage. On long highway trips, I can eke out 27-28 mpg.

The reason for the longer braking distances with the smaller engine is a difference in the brakes.
If you opt for the 3.6 engine, you get larger brake rotors and related hardware.