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Toyota Camry or Subaru Legacy

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2015 - 2018 Subaru Legacy
A member in Serbia

Hello Everyone,

I am in the market for a new car and I have narrowed my search down to the Camry and Legacy. I own a 2001 Camry with 224,000 miles on it, but I am looking at new cars now and I am thinking about buying something different (Legacy). I have driven both the 2016 Camry and Legacy for a week each and I seem to like the Legacy better. My question is do you think Subaru is as reliable as Toyota (hands down most reliable brand)? I have looked at the charts on this website and the Legacy seems to have twice as many problems as the Camry. After doing research it seems that Subaru has had problems with oil consumption, head gaskets, and wheel bearings in the past and even to an extent in the present time. For the camry, I basically did nothing and it lasted. I changed the oil and oil filter every quarter and that was pretty much it-no engine problems, no transmission problems, no wheel bearing problems, etc. The only thing that the Toyota had problems with was the struts and catalytic converters went up, both of which were not really that costly to replace. It just seems that the Legacywill be high maintenance compared to the Camry. Please enlighten me if you have any comments or suggestions. Most people I have talked to have said the Camry is the better overall car.

Josh

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Response from AcuraT

12:51 am June 29, 2016

I personally believe you are comparing apples and oranges. Sure, the cars are about the same size and they offer both four and six cylinder engines but you are trying to compare a front wheel drive only car with an All Wheel Drive only car and by definition, they are not the same thing. I have owned Toyotas, Honda, GM, and now a Subaru. Cars are only as reliable as the maintenance of them. I still own a 2006 Saab 9-3 and although a blower motor went out this year for $300, and an alternator went out in year 7 for another $300 - that is basically it. Does that make it unreliable after 144,000 miles? No. Is it less reliable than Toyota? Probably - but only slightly.

However, taking your question about reliablity - Toyota is probably most consistantly the most reliable brand out there. Subaru is pretty good too, but you are dealing with a far more complex platform with AWD and by nature, those have more issues.

You obviously did your research. Toyota only had problems with the 99 Camry V6 where engine sludge due to bad ventilation caused issues and engine failures prematurely. They fixed the problem in 2000. Subaru has had engine oil consumption issues - probably because of their boxer ddsign which places the cylinder head on the side. They get better handling cars but in about 10% of all built, they will start having engine oil consumption issues before or at 100,000. Not terrible, but it does happen. By the way, they have been improving the design since they started so used cars before 2010 are far worse than the cars built after 2010 as they started redesigning the engines then to reduce the early oil consumption issues - which is why it is down to about 10% now.

I live in CT where living on a 650 foot incline up a small mountain owning a front wheel drive car is not so great in the winter even with winter snow tires. So we replaced our Honda Accord with a 2017 Subaru Legacy. So far, so good and we have 43,000 on it so it is a high mileage car. Then again, I don't expect problems with it until about 100,000 and then I have a 10% chance for issues. For me, the Camry was not an option as the only front wheel drive car that has worked on this mountain is the old Saab which for some reason, has a better traction control feature than other GM cars and other brands. It still does not work as well as the Subaru, but it is at least acceptable in up to about 3-4 inches of snow.

Good luck.

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Response from smileypanda

4:56 am July 5, 2016

If absolute reliability and lowest maintenancecost are your overarching concerns then yes the Camry is probably the better buy for you.

I also considered the Camry but ultimately decided on the Legacy for a few reasons, namely AWD, and the Eyesight safety package, and the hard to refuse lease cost factor (APR).
The big questions for you are:

  • Do you live or will you travel to areas where it snows or rains a lot? For us living in an area where we can get a lot of snow, AWD is a godsend so since the legacy is the only sub 30k sedan with AWD this was the main deciding factor for us. There is a price to pay for AWD, For example, Full time AWD does mean more friction so Subaru had to put in a CVT transmission to meet CAFE fuel consumption targets, and time can only tell whether or not the CVT units will hold up in the long run. Also, with AWD, you must replace all four tires at the same time with the same exact tread pattern, and if you get a puncture you must get the same exact tire as the others, which can be annoying if your local dealer doesn't have it in stock. In other words if you live in a climate like southern California where you get bad weather only a few days a year, then Subaru is probably not for you.
  • The legacy is the only sub 30k car with adaptive cruise control that will slow the car all the way to a dead stop, whereas on the Camry it is only offered on the top trim level and it only works down to 20mph. Similarly, the legacy is the only sub 30k car with emergency braking assist that actually can avoid a collision. For day to day driving, the blind spot monitoring mirrors and Rear cross traffic alert are a great help and well worth the extra thousand dollars or so the eyeSight package costs in my opinion.
  • It sounds like you plan to buy your new car outright, so for maintenance costs you should consider:
    1. Yes, there are reports of excessive oil consumption for the Subaru 2.5 engine (the headgasket issue is no longer an issue in the current engine design), and for Subaru to consider an engine replacement should it happen to you, you will need to show that you replaced the oil and filter well within the 6000k mile oil change interval.
    2. the Subaru 2.5 requires 0-20w synthetic oil, it is probably a good idea to use the oem oil and filter whilst the car is still under warranty. (I have since learned the new Camry models may require synthetic oil too so this point may be irrelevant)
    3. Independent toyota mechanics and u-pick salvage parts will be much easier to find for the Camry unless you live in Colorado. Aftermarket parts for Subaru is more limited and more expensive then compared with the Camry
    4. The CVT and eyesight are dealer only repairs for the most part, so you should roll the price of the gold plus extended warranty into the purchase price for comparison purposes.
Ultimately, do your needs coincide with Subaru's strengths (AWD)?

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Response from dfj240

11:05 am July 12, 2016

I have personally been less than thrilled with the Camry in recent generations. They are a fine car, but the reliability in the 4-cylinder doesn't seem to be as good as it once was. The V6, to my knowledge, is still quite strong, but might be overkill, and parts will likely be a bit more expensive if something were to need replacement. I think the responses before mine pretty well sum it up though. As a Subaru owner (coming from Toyota/Honda very recently), I can safely say that I'm happier with Subaru than I have been with any other car. There is always the wonder if yours will be the one that starts consuming oil, but it's really not THAT common, and the headgasket worry is a thing of the past with the new FA/FB series boxer engines. They're very well made. Keeping a good maintenance schedule is important for Subarus though. With the AWD system, and the boxer engine, it's a bit different than a regular inline-4, front wheel drive car. Subarus are as reliable as anything else on the road if they're maintained, as stated before. Many things will need to be done by Subaru, or a Subaru specialist, but the interesting thing that I've found is that, so far, I haven't really come across a situation where the dealership service is really much more expensive than an independent shop, and in 1 case, the dealer was actually quite a bit cheaper. I now go to the Subaru dealer for all the service on our new Impreza (recently replaced our Legacy because we wanted a wagon), and I've been very happy with the experience. All told, the Camry is probably going to take the win in reliability, but not by much, and the repair costs of the Legacy are usually the result of poor maintenace. We maintain our Subarus and they don't need any more attention than our Toyotas (We own both currently). The Subaru wins for me, though Subaru has made me a bit biased because of my great experience with multiple Subarus now.

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