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Practical or Fun?

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

wvmidnightrider

I am currently the owner of a 2012 Altima Coupe. I am also the owner of two wonderful young children, a great wife, and a totally ungrateful cat. So I need to upgrade the car. I need at least 4 seats and 4WD/AWD. My budget is 15000. I really don't want to have to finance anything. The manly independent me was thinking about a 2003-2006 Toyota Tundra with just under 100K miles. The practical me says Outback, 2013 probably 80-90k miles. Maybe a similar year Toyota Highlander or Nissan Pathfinder. I don't really need to tow or haul anything. I would get way better gas mileage with the outback and a ton more features. Any thoughts about reliability or safety of the above options? I'm just not sure I'm ready to turn in the man card for an outback.

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Price or payments / Materials & workmanship

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 100000
Maximum age: 10 years

Maximum price: US $ 15000

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Response from AcuraT

10:15 am March 15, 2018

Subarus are very good cars. The mostly are troublefree and have great AWD. I live in CT on a 6500 foot mountain and our AWD Subaru Legacy has no trouble no matter what getting up the mountain during a snowstorm if the clearance is enough (the Legacy can navigate up to 6 inches on the road with little issue). It sounds like the Outback is your best option because the Highlander is overkill for what you need (although it is excellent) and the Pathfinder is the same (and not as reliable as either the other two cars you mention).

One note about Subarus - about 10% of all sold burn oil. I own one of those, a 2013. All I do is every 1000 miles check the oil and if I need to add any, I do it. Otherwise no problems with nearly 70,000 on the odometer. Best of luck on your decision.

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Response from NormT

11:05 am March 15, 2018

That era of Subaru was known for motor oil consumption and if they ran low, as our 2012 Forester did, it ruins the engine. There was a class action lawsuit regarding it.

Subaru's also tend to crack windshields which can get costly and is also a safety issue. Both the Legacy and Forester cracked their windshields and driving through the west coast most every Outback had a cracked windshield. Our GMC Terrain driven in the same conditions did not crack it's windhsield.

Some Japanese cars require a timing belt to be replaced at around 100,000 miles. This usually includes a new water pump a d is usually under $1,000, so figure that I to your budget as well.

I suggest a GMC Terrain from 2014-2014 or a slightly smaller Buick Encore with longer 4 year, 50,000 mile warranty which is transferable to you based on thr in-service date. Both of those offer AWD which resorts to 2wd on the highway for better efficency. We had very good luck with both our Terrain and Encore. Currently my mother in law is driving a 2015 Encore AWD and her sister liked it so much she bought one too.

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Buick Encore
GMC Terrain

Response from Dnslater

1:38 pm March 15, 2018

Ignore Norm's misinformation..... he push's GM cars only. While Subaru oil consumption is a real thing, it has been somewhat overblown and is less of an issue on newer models. Also Subaru H6 engines have had timing chains for a long time, and the 4 cylinder models switched to a chain in 2013. Highlanders have chains. Pathfinders have chains...... Also, timing chains also can have issues. Tensioner failures, lubrication, etc..... and the last time I had a belt changed (2008 Odyssey) it was $550, not $1000. As for every Outback and Forester on the west coast having cracked windows........ I have no words...........

Forester might be a good option for you in lieu of the Outback. Slightly more upright and rugged compared to the Outback. If you think outside the box, lots of cars can do families well, and unless you live in a very snowy area, snow tires will make most cars handle well in snow for less $$ than AWD. My wife sold her minivan and got a tiny Lexus hatchback and now my GTI serves as our big family car, with two preteen kids in the house. I have snow tires. I have a Yakima skybox for road trips. I make it work.

Consider a Mazda CX-5 which might be a bit more fun to drive than the Subaru.

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Response from AcuraT

2:42 pm March 15, 2018

I should have been more specific. The oil problem I am having is on the H6 engine which I have - so the oil burning extends across all engines in the Subaru line, not just the base four cylinder (impacts the turbo as well as my parents have experienced). Also, the oil burning is still around - my neighbor has a 2017 with 24,000 and the H6 engine and it just started burning oil. People who claim the newer cars don't have the problem don't account for the fact those cars in general have not gone far enough yet for the problem to occur. Again, only impacts 10% of those buying a Subaru.

Honda through today has been having problems with their automatic transmissions on the V6 models only. The newest are plagued with bad shifting transmissions that are very rough in many cases. The only thing I can say in buying a used one is test the transmission and how it shifts - you may not like it as well.

Mazda CX-5 if the right size is truly another option I agree with. Those cars can be fun to drive.

The GM choices are fine as well these days. Maybe not quite as reliable as a Toyota but definately close to what Subaru offers as they don't have engines burning oil but instead from time to time have electrical issues which can be worked around.

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Response from danlisahall

3:49 pm March 15, 2018

Another Subaru fan and owner (3) here. It is true that some Subies have some issues. But they offer a combination of economy, performance, space effiency, superior AWD system and are RELATIVELY reliable at a price point that is tough to beat As whole they tend to have very high owner satisfaction, loyalty and to be on the road a long time. So while not perfect, they are a far cry from all bad.

To have assage reliabliity concerns you might consider looking looking for a Certified, Preowned Subaru which will provide you with a 7 yr/100,000 mile warranty on the engine, transmission, and AWD system.

And yes I encourage you to turn in the "man" card and be The Man your two wonderful young children, a great wife by getting a car that meets the entire family's needs - whatever that may be. You won't regret it!

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Response from Dnslater

4:20 pm March 15, 2018

The Subaru oil consumption issue is the inherent design issue with boxer engines...... being that the gaskets in the engine block are vertical in orientation. Porsche has had their own issues with this. Consumer Reports included oil burn rates in their 2014 Annual Auto survey and interestingly a large number of Porsche, BMW and Audi models rated higher than Subaru on oil consumption. Perhaps the issue is that German car owners expect it. :)

https://article.images.consumerreports.org/prod/content/dam/cro/magazine-articles/2015/August/CRM_Page_63_Thirsty_30_08-15

The bottom line here is that every brand/car has their issues. Honda transmissions. Exploding Takata airbags. GM faulty ignition systems. Oil consumption in Audi/Toyota/Subaru's. VW dieselgate. Toyota truck rusty frames. BMW/Mercedes electrical gremlins. Ford Focus turbo/head gasket issues. People just need to do their research before buying any care and be aware of the weak points.

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Response from NormT

4:43 pm March 15, 2018

The motor oil consumption and head gasket problems on Subaru's are two different problems. The oil consumption is either Subaru's way to to beat fuel economy game with low tenting ring lands and 0w20 synthetic oil or a poor PCV design. Not gaskets as that would be coolant and our Forester would drink coolant on occasion and throw engine misfire codes.

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Response from LectroFuel

2:00 am March 16, 2018

Oil consumption is only bad if it ruins the engine. My dad's 2014 Panamera was rated as "most likely to burn oil" by Consumer Reports before that update. It doesn't burn any at 40k miles with the 3.6L V6. The early 2000s were the days of the bad Honda transmissions. Keep in mind that the Honda 9 speeds right now are rough and not reliable and the 6 and 10 speeds are smooth and reliable so far. Our 2002 Odyssey's timing belt was $515, not $1000. The benefit of having timing belts is that they are quieter than timing chains. I don't really try to look at Subarus' windshields, but I know it is only a problem with the 2015 and newer ones.

wvmidnightrider, the Outback, as everyone said, has high oil consumption rates. The Tundra will likely be more reliable even though it is 7 years older. But it is a truck and it doesn't sound like you need a truck. I have never owned a truck and hopefully never will because I enjoy driving small, nimble cars. Skip the Nissan Pathfinder. IMO, the ideal cars a family should have are a smaller sedan/hatchback/wagon and a larger family car like a minivan or midsized or large SUV. If you need the size of a midsized SUV, the Highlander can't be beat for reliability.

Of course, I agree with everyone except Norm. Since you want a fun car, I suggest the 2013 Mazda CX-5. It handles well, looks good, and is pretty spacious. Nice for a family car. Check if you can handle the road noise as that is a big complaint with these. Mazda has a 7 year/100k mile powertrain warranty with their CPO cars and a 1 year/12k mile bumper to bumper warranty. They are very reliable, so you don't need to spend extra on a CPO model. With an Outback, I would probably go with the CPO model. The CX-5 is available with AWD.

If you don't like the CX-5, the Toyota RAV4 is even more reliable. It is one of the more comfortable small SUVs. 2013 and newer ones are much better than the older ones.

As Dnslater said, most people don't know that winter/snow tires are all you really need in the snow. AWD only helps get started off the line from a stop. Winter tires help corner better, stop the car, and start the car from a stop. These snow tires stop the car in half the distance than an AWD car with all-season tires can.

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Mazda CX-5
Subaru Outback
Toyota RAV4

Response from NormT

8:32 am March 16, 2018

A water and timing belt replacement is $850-900 on a a Honda V6.

Thr reason oil consumption ruins engines is that Subaru did t think it was necessary to included a low oil sensor like most cars have. My wife's, then girlfriend, Forester didn't have the sensor and by the time I got to it to check the oil level and topped off the dip stick it was down 2.5 quarts. The damage was already done. Even her father who has no mechanical ability what so ever could hear the piston slap at start up when stand next to the car.

The Subaru oil consumption class action suit includes rembursement of engine repair and costs of the oil added. Too bad I didn't get a receipt as it just about drained my synthetic reserves as i would have gotten paid. We just off'ed it with the blue puffing on cold start and crack windshield.

My wife likes the GMC and their firmer ride but likes thr chiseled look.

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Response from wvmidnightrider

10:01 am March 16, 2018

Great responses. I really didn't know about the Subaru oil issues but I think we can all agree there are potiental issues with all makes. I didn't even consider the Mazda. I'll have to look into it. My wife is thinking maybe an 2013 Explorer too. Definitely moving away from the truck cause it's totally impractical and 13 MPG in the city makes me a bit nauseous. But it does appeal to the insensible side of me. But thank you all so far for the information.

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Response from danlisahall

1:11 pm March 16, 2018

Subie windshield issues are primarily with the 2015 Outbacks. Subaru of America replaced mine under warranty; but apparently not all every one whose windshield cracked was so blessed.

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Response from LectroFuel

1:44 pm March 17, 2018

FYI, the 2011-2018 Explorer is not reliable. The most common problem is paint chipping on the hood and causing it to rust. The windshield weather stripping is prone to flying off the windshield molding. If this happens, there will be much more wind noise and when it rains water can get into the cabin. While idling, carbon monoxide (exhaust) can get into the cabin, which can be deadly if you don't get out of the car in time (often you can't smell it). People have put carbon monoxide detectors in their Explorers. I believe there was a recall about this. There are many recalls for the Explorer. The power steering pump breaks often. The fuel pump breaks often. The "door ajar" light comes on even when the door is closed (a common problem with Fords around 2011-13). My neighbor drives a 2011 Explorer and she likes it. My sister used to have a 2012 Explorer corporate car for 2 years and she didn't like it as it gave her problems involving the 2.0T engine. Frankly, this is unacceptable in a modern car and I can't believe how many people drive them. Where I live, it is a big soccer mom car (and police car), which you said you were trying to avoid.

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