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The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

hjlb

We are replacing a '99 Outback which we have loved. With it's AWD it was the best vehicle in the snow we've ever had. After 20 yrs it's on it's last legs - head gasket, instrument panel dead, other. We have a pickup so we don't need to haul stuff, we just need a good reliable long-lasting safe vehicle to drive around town and on road trips.

We don't need fancy, we need reliable. We don't want new, we want low miles. We want 4 doors. Don't care about color.

Reliability is first. Have stayed away from American brands for this reason. Have had and loved Subaru Outback, Toyota Tacoma, Honda Accord. Also know that Nissan is decent for reliability.

AWD is very much preferred as we expect to be driving in snow.

MPG to be as high as possible but would love to be close to 30.

We both prefer manual transmission.

Would like a car that has some oompf - responsive with decent acceleration. Tried a manual Crosstrek 2.0L today and was surprised it didn't feel as wimpy as we expected for a 2.0L.


Priorities: Reliability & durability / Fuel economy / Safety & braking

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 25000
Maximum age: 3 years

Maximum price: US $ 20000

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Response from AcuraT

10:49 am April 18, 2019

If you want reliabilty above all else, by a smaller margin than the past it is still Toyota. You won't be able to get an AWD car (the battery powered Prius is a very weak AWD car as when the battery goes dead in heavy snow - you are reduced to two wheel drive). My neighbor owns one and has to make sure the battery is still charged coming home and climbing our mountain because he cannot make it in heavy snow with a dead battery and snow tires). However an SUV with AWD is very possible. I would look at a three year old RAV4. They are below $20,000 for 2015 (about $15,000 in my area) and with 20,000 to 30,000 miles. You will not beat that in reliablity or cost.

Like I said, others come close but I don't think anyone on this board is going to tell you another brand is more reliable. Your old brand, Subaru, is not bad either but some do burn oil (about 10% of those sold after 50,000). Mine does burn some (2013 Legacy) but it has dropped from a quart every 4000 miles to about a quarter of a quart every 4000 miles as I approach 90,000 miles. Nothing wrong with the car (zero problems) I just have to monitor the oil consumption and add on the occasion I have to. I have the H6 engine so no trouble with accleration, but as you already know, Subaru is going to CVT everywhere (Jatco transmission from Renault/Nissan).

Manual tranmission is going to be really tough. For example, today, only 6 SUVs still offer a manual: Subaru Crosstrek, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Mini Cooper Countryman, Kia Soul, Jeep Wrangler, and Jeep Compass. The only one I could say is reliable is the Subaru from that perspective. You are pretty much limited to that brand if you want a used one with a manual. It is still pretty reliable, just not quite as good at Toyota.

I would not go with Nissan as the alliance with Renault did not help their reliablity. It is not terrible but not as good as Subaru or Toyota.

Best of luck in your search!

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Toyota RAV4
Subaru XV Crosstrek

Response from AcuraT

11:09 am April 18, 2019

I should mention I do own American cars as well but I do a ton of research before I buy any car. I look at what the powertrain is, how long it has been built, and where the car is manufactured. For example, I knew the 2006 Saab 9-3 was built in Sweden by GM, had an Asian transmission (Toyota owns 25% of Asian), a GM engine (2.0L ecotec engine), and a Garrand/Mitsubishi turbocharger. That powertrain lasted me 12 years and about 190,000 miles with no problems. The only issue over that time was the alternator was not working right and I had to replace it once. Othewise no issues - just a tree fell on it and in avoiding it, I broke the radiator, subfame, and oil pan. Total repairs if I did it was $3500, if I hired my trusted mechanic was $5000. I sold it to him for $300, he repaired it for $3500, and he sold it for $4000 to a college student. Now a year later it has 220,000 and is still running.

I bought to replace it a 2018 AWD Buick Envision. Why? I got $18,000 off on the vehicle (the 2019 launched last April when this all happened). It uses a 6 speed automatic that GM has made since 2010 and is phasing out now (the 2019 has a new 9 speed). The engine is essentially a modifed Saab design that GM got when it owned Saab. They just changed that 2.0L ecotec to make it direct injection about 5 years ago, so it is still a durable engine that just has more power with the same gas mileage. I now have 17,500 and in two days it will be one year old with no problems. I expect to get another 10 years of mostly troublefree operation because the powertrain is a proven one and I hope to get 180,000 miles on it. I would avoid the 2019 like the plague becuase that is a new transmission and the bugs will have to be worked out.

I don't recommend this approach to many people because you really have to understand cars to go down this path. I have had bad cars as well - a 2001 Acura TL that the transmission failed at 60,000 and again (after I sold it) at 121,000. A 2003 V6 Honda Accord that had its transmission replaced at 30,000, repaired at 50,000, and died at 145,000 a second time. A 1999 Toyota Camry V6 that got engine sludge after 60,000 miles as was junked. Note in all three cases these were imports. I made the mistake of not researching the cars extensively (powertrain in particular, and length of production) when I was younger so I bought a lot of bad cars. I have not had a bad car since 2006. Since then all my cars have lasted about 200,000 with little trouble - both American (the Saab and another Buick, an Envision that just lost its water pump once that was it) and import (the Subaru is well on its way).

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Response from hjlb

5:44 pm April 18, 2019

Thanks AcuraT!

Really appreciate your response. We just got some info on the RAV4 today! Glad to hear you also suggest it. We are planning to drive the hybrid AWD today...though it is a 2019...they didn't have any used ones. I'm afraid we're going to love it. We've got our eyes also on a manual 2018 Crosstrek with 8k miles, and a 2018 automatic Outback with 3k miles...both are around $25k but we may bite the bullet.

It's obvious you've taken the time to learn a ton about these cars. I don't think either of us has the kind of knowledge or passion to do what you did. Really glad we get to learn from your experience. Thanks for taking a significant part of your morning to help a stranger and may you be richly rewarded!

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Response from AcuraT

9:31 am April 20, 2019

No problem hjib and good luck. I used to work as a consultant with six sigma training, and some of the jobs I had to work on was working with car manufacters in the early 2000s to improve their quality. It was when I learned about what they were doing (and not doing) for themselves using data to monitor and improve quality as six sigma is a tool (statistical) that can help them build better cars over time.

I did this from 2005 to 2009 and now I do similar work for one company (not automative anymore). Learning and understanding the methodology to leverage six sigma gave me the background working with the car manufactuers to improve their quality. It tought me a lot. Not being associated with it anymore I still know one trick - track the source of the parts on the powertrain (engine/transmission) and the lifespan as over time they do make improvements at nearly all the manufacturers now so the longer they make the engine and transmission, the more improvements you get and the less problems you get.

Since I worked with two of the American brands and one European brand I am closest to them. But I also did the research on my own to learn about the Japanese suppliers at the time so I know what to look for. Websites like Wikipeida tell you on models when production started and eneded so I can still track lifetimes of major components.

As you can see, when I learned about this in 2005 ever since then I leveraged this knowledge around my purchases - and the cars I have bought have all lasted a lot longer and with fewer problems. I just try to share that with others.

One last thing - Truecar.com is a good website to find used cars in your area. Also Autotempest.com is a fantastic website that can check all the major used car websites in your area to find a used car if it exists. Best of luck.

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Response from LectroFuel

8:32 pm April 23, 2019

The first thing I should mention is that Nissan is one of the worst non-luxury brands right now. They used to be pretty good in the 90s and early 2000s. Now, their CVTs are garbage and many used ones are rental cars, which you want to avoid. They are cars you want to avoid almost like Fiat Chrysler. The reason you see so many of them is because they have a good reputation from the 90s. Also, I find Nissan drivers want to kill me when I'm on the road. It seems like they don't know how to drive. But, that's a personal thing lol.

If you are considering the 2019 RAV4 hybrid, you should know that the AWD system is not very capable. It uses the battery to power the rear wheels and does not do a good job getting you out of a sketchy situation. It is kind of similar to the Prius' AWD system. Snow tires make it grippy in the snow.

Know that if you put snow tires on a front wheel drive car, it positively affects grip more than having AWD with all-season tires. In other words, having snow tires is more important than buying an AWD car. Of course, if you have a steep driveway and know that snow tires with FWD won't cut it then you need an AWD car with snow tires.

The Subaru with a manual should far outlast the Subaru with the automatic. Because of this, I would get the Crosstrek you mentioned between the two Subarus.

The RAV4 Hybrid will probably last around as long as the manual Crosstrek. You have to change the hybrid battery pack at around 200k miles, which is usually a $2000 fee.

If you want a no-frills car that can last 300k miles, the 2013-2018 RAV4 can do that. We just don't know about Toyota's new 2.5L engine they put in the new RAV4. If you like the 2019 RAV4 Hybrid, it can likely get 300k miles. The Mazda CX-5 AWD also might make it to 300k miles. Mazda uses that powertrain in almost all of their cars and has been very reliable.

Good luck and please tell us what you bought!

AcuraT, your Envision's water pump went out?

3

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Toyota RAV4
Subaru XV Crosstrek
Mazda CX-5

Response from AcuraT

9:02 am April 24, 2019

Lectrofuel, no, that was the Enclave I had previously and it was recalled at 50,000 so that if it leaked, it was replaced for free. That happened at about 70,000. I kept the car beyond that and sold it for a lot at close to 100,000 as I did not need it anymore.

The new (2018) Envision I bought last April has had no problems. Sorry about the typo earlier, that probably confused the situation. :-)

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