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Small SUV or wagon

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

sdavis

Looking for recommendations for a small SUV or wagon. We're cyclists and active outdoors so we need something that can handle a 3-4 bike hitch rack and/or a roof rack. Two kids in their early teens so rear seat space will be a factor too. Plus we live in an area where the roads are very slippery in winter. Not snowy, but icy/slushy/wet snow/freezing rain. So traction and handling are important. I've been the fortunate owner of a V-70 so I guess that's the standard I have in the back of my mind. ;-) We've looked at the Outback, Golf Alltrack, Cherokee (not an option I love them so much but they'll break your heart), and even the V-70 although it's out of our range. We wouldn't go offroad but we'd definitely be driving on dirt/gravel/fire roads from time to time. May need to tow a small trailer.

Priorities: Powertrain performance / Cargo capacity / Reliability & durability

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 30000
Maximum age: 2 years

Maximum price: C $ 34000

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Response from NormT

6:24 pm March 1, 2018



I'd suggest a Regal TourX, new for 2018, but none are going to Canada at this time.

A Regal Sportback is an option. It has a 30 cu ft trunk area under the lift back and a large back seat. In the US it starts at $24,999 for front wheel drive and turbocharged 2.0T.

2018 Buick Regal Sportback Preferred For Sale In Cullman | Cars.com

2018 Buick Regal Sportback Preferred For Sale In Cullman | Cars.com

New 2018 Buick Regal Sportback Preferred for sale at Bill Smith Buick GMC in Cullman, AL for $24,195. View now on Cars.com.

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Buick Regal

Response from LectroFuel

8:27 pm March 1, 2018

I suggest a wagon over an SUV for practicality and handling. The Outback and Alltrack are IMO overpriced in the higher trims, but they are nice cars. They are direct competitors, so you should definitely drive them both.

The Outback drives like an expensive car and is not tinny like some recent Subarus. Long term reliability in the previous generations has been so-so because of blown head gaskets. It is less likely to occur in the latest engines if the surveys are correct. Now, the main problem is with infotainment, which isn't a big deal. The 2.5 base engine in the Outback is slow and it would work hard to tow a trailer. The 3.6 is inefficient and expensive. Something to keep in mind is that except for front leg room (barely), every dimension of the interior is larger in the Outback than the Alltrack. The Outback's cargo space is 3.5 cu.ft larger than the Alltrack. The Outback gets 3 MPG better overall than the Alltrack, which is pretty significant if you plan to run the car to the ground. Hopefully, danlisahall can respond with his first hand experience (I thought he said he liked his).

The Alltrack probably will probably not be as reliable as the VW. The VW, however, has a 6 year/72k mile bumper to bumper warranty. This means that if you don't keep your car long, the VW is the way to go. The Alltrack is more tuned for handling than the Outback. The Alltrack won't be as comfortable and the Outback will be a little better at off-roading (both are good at gravel roads). The Alltrack is a little faster than the Outback. There is only one engine choice, but at least it is a good one. A potential source of problems may be the engine once past 100k miles.

If I had to buy one of the two it would be the VW because of the driving dynamics, but I think most people would prefer the Subaru for the comfort, space, and MPG.

The new Buick Regal TourX is a perfect car for many people, but it won't be available in Canada and is just out of your budget.

Another bad response from Norm. The Sportback isn't even a wagon or SUV. Most sedans are more spacious than the Regal Sportback. Why do you show Buicks sold around Alabama when he lives in Canada?

Skip the Cherokee because it is unreliable and made by Fiat. Be prepared for headaches and expenses with the Volvo. If you do buy the Volvo, buy a CPO one with a warranty.

Good luck and please tell us what you choose :)

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Subaru Outback
Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

Response from sdavis

8:54 pm March 1, 2018

That Regal wagon is gorgeous. Curse GM for not bringing it here. The sportsback is nice but not quite something I'd be happy with 13 year olds throwing dirty bikes and gear in/on/over. That said, I had a Mazda6 sportsback and I loved it.

Going to check out the Sube and VW tomorrow. I'm also going to take a look at the Sportwagen and maybe the Mazda CX5 if I have time. How far back are the Subes iffy? There are a lot of 2015s here at good prices.

Also, what's the scoop on the 6 cyl? I like the better HP but is it that much of an improvement?

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Response from LectroFuel

1:36 am March 2, 2018

Subaru Outbacks had many engine problems before 2010. 2010-2014 fixed almost all the problems, and 2015-2018 hasn't really seen any engine issues. Between 2010 and 2014, the CVT had some failures. CVTs are good for MPGs, not for reliability or driving enjoyment. This is a big reason I would choose the Alltrack (or CX-5) over the Outback.

The Sportwagen is just a lowered Alltrack with a lower starting price and less off-road capability. It is available with AWD on the lower trim I believe, but not the higher ones. If I had to choose between the Alltrack and Sportwagen, I would choose the Sportwagen because I live in SoCal and don't even see rain more than 5 times a year. The Sportwagen will handle a little better than the Alltrack with the tighter, lowered suspension. This means the ride comfort will likely degrade slightly.

Out of all the cars we have mentioned, the 2017/2018 Mazda CX-5 is the one I would actually be willing to buy. A lot of people on this site including me often recommend this CUV for good reason. It is reliable, stylish, smooth, quiet, durable, fun to drive, and a great value. It has the best interior of any small economy SUV and is stylish inside and out. Automotive reviewers and myself could easily mistake the interior of the CX-5 for a $45k luxury CUV. The exterior styling negatively affects rear visibility a little and the interior and trunk are considerably smaller than other small SUVs like the CR-V, RAV4, and Chevy Equinox. The CX-5 is more reliable than the Outback and We recently bought a 2015 Mazda3 and love it.

The 6 cylinder 3.6i Outback is not really fast, but it is a huge step up from the 2.5i 4 cylinder. The 3.6i cuts the 0-60 time from 10.5 sec to 7.4. That doesn't seem like a big difference, but when driving it you will instantly notice. 10.5 seconds is slower than my 2016 Prius, and that is saying something. Adding to that, my Prius is quiet at full throttle and the engine never feels stressed. With the 4 cylinder gas engine in the Outback, the engine will sound loud and stressed out at full volume. The 3.6i comes in an expensive trim and you'll lose 3 MPG on top of that. For that price, I'd get the EyeSight package with the 2.5i Touring or Limited. The engine issues in the previous Outbacks were mainly with the 2.5i.

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Response from NormT

9:31 am March 2, 2018

Based on interior measurements the Regal Sportback is basically the same as a new Accord. Except for 1.5" rear head room, and 1" leg room, the Buick Regal has 30 cu ft of trunk space or about double the Accord trunk.

Plus the Regal comes standard with larger 2.0T and offers all wheel drive as an option and has a longer warranty. Comparing to the Accord 2.0T the Regal is $5,000-7,000 less before discounting.

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Response from Dnslater

10:27 am March 2, 2018

LectroFuel covered the two best options well. As suggested, the driving dynamics and interior quality/layout are the two biggest advantages to the VW over the Outback. Outback is larger inside. Real world mileage will be similar in both. VW's outperform their EPA mileage and the Subaru will do a bit worse with the 2.5 because it is underpowered and will really need to rev the CVT to get decent acceleration. The Subaru's AWD system is better as it is full time, but that won't matter much in regular driving.

Also consider the Sportwagen 4motion. If you like a manual transmission, both the Sportwagen 4motion and Alltrack in Canada can be optioned with a six speed manual. As far as transmissions go, the Alltrack has the excellent dual clutch, while the Sportwagen has a standard automatic transmission. The DSG Dual clutch has lightning fast shifts and a great manual mode, although it takes a $500 service every 40,000 miles. The Subaru is stuck with a CVT which really is not fun to use.

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Response from danlisahall

7:22 pm March 6, 2018

LectroFuel covered things very well & I concur with his comments. I'm fairly familiar with the cars you're considering as I have a 2017 W Golf Wolfsburg & a 2015 Outback. Both are very nice cars. As Norm noted the VW Altrack will out handle & accelerate the OB & is quite comfortable. But if you are gearing up with 4 people, y'all are gonna be really cramped inside the VW! Also you can improve the Subaru's handling characteristics by simply replacing the stock rear sway bar with a Subaru OEM 19 or 20 mm rear sway bar. The bar itself costs less than $100 and is a easy half hour swap (or $50 by a mechanic. Many OB owners have these & find that car corners much nicer & is less subject to wind at highway speeds. I highly that on either the OB (or VW - I love how it flattens the car's cornering!).

Regarding Outback, the 2.5i is definitely slower than the 3.6, perhaps a few more potenital issues. Yet the vast majority of OB owners find the 2.5i meets their needs. I find I can still keep my 2.5 at 60 on 4,000 Cascade passes with a 2,000 boat, camping gear, & two passengers. That said it is definitely puffing a bit & passing someone is rarely an option. So if you have travel a number of times each year with your car loaded with gear & 4 people, the 3.6 is something to consider.

The Subaru suite of driver assist safety features including Eyesight are fantastic. They work great and make driving much more worry free safe. I definitely would get those. My impression is that VW's safety features apparently are not quite as robust and add quite a bit more to the cost.

Regarding reliablility: My 2010 Outback was trouble free after 6 year and 55,000 miles except for a sunroof issue common to all cars with SRs (plugged drains). My 2015 OB with 28,000 miles just had the cam follower gaskets replaced. They were barely leaking, no oil on garage floor & no oil use after 5,000 miles. But it was detected during a routine oil change and Subaru replaced the gaskets under warranty. Strangely, both my VW & OB had issues with the fuel door sticking & had to have new parts under warranty.

One other car to consider is the Subaru Forester. It will perform very much like the Outback but its configuration is a bit diffrent and may be more space efficient depending on your particular needs. I can get my bike in the back or an OB or Forester, but the Forester is easier due to greater hatch opening height. Similarly equipt to an OB the Forester will cost a few grand less and not be quite as comfortable or quiet.

Love to hear what you get in the end!

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Subaru XV Crosstrek

Response from NormT

8:03 pm March 6, 2018

Response from danlisahall

8:47 pm March 6, 2018

Nice find Norm, very informative / helpful.

Gotta admit the Buick is looking pretty good on the basis of the compro!

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