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good in snow, reliable, roomy, economical, tow small trailer

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


Looking for opinions!

Need a reliable, fuel efficient car for daily driving (20 miles per day approx) in Boulder CO, but I would also like a vehicle that could handle Colorado ski trips and tow a light trailer on occasion, as well as transport teenage boys to the ski hill.

Considering used Civic/4runner combo (buying 2 used cars) vs. one less-used Subaru Outback.

Currently have a reliable Toyota Matrix that is a great daily driver but very weak on hills and load capacity - looking to trade for one of the above options.


Priorities: Reliability & durability / Fuel economy / Towing / Warranty, maintenance cost

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Wagon / SUV

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Family transporter / Errands about town / Long trips / Towing or hauling

Primary Driver(s): Short driver / Tall driver

Need minimum of 5 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 100000
Maximum age: 15 years

Maximum price: US $ 14000

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Response from wcpowell12

3:45 pm May 13, 2015

Go with the Outback. While not great fuel economy, it is very good considering you are driving all 4 wheels. There is a safety factor in that 2 mpg loss. Ours would handle a small trailer, and traveling up a slipperly slope is what this vehicle was made for. My wife has driven up very challenging roads in the Carolina mountains, driving right by the SUV 4 wheel drivers who were pulling over. She is a wimp driver, so do the math on the confidence thi AWD system provides.

Go with the Outback. You may pay a little more. As Nike cornered the market on this saying, "Just Do It". If you can find one. Most owners keep them a long, long time. Another clue on their reliability.


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Subaru Outback

Response from mkaresh

8:23 am May 19, 2015

A turbocharged engine has an advantage at high altitude, as the boost partially compensates for the thin air. Unfortunately, Subaru stopped offering the Outback with the turbo engine with the 2010 redesign, and the previous generation has been far less reliable lately.

They did continue to offer the turbo in the 2009 and up Forester, though. You might be able to find one of these in your price range.


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Subaru Forester

Response from Dani413

9:31 am May 19, 2015

Thanks for the very valuable comments. My hesitation about the Outback are the reliablity problems friends have had with theirs - transmission and especially that head gasket problem. The Civic and 4Runner seem bombproof in their repair histories, though, truthfully, I am leaning towards the Outback to have ONE car. Thoughts about repair issues?


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Response from mkaresh

1:52 pm May 19, 2015

I suspect your friends have the 2005-2009 generation, or even the one before that. The 2010 and up have been much better--aside from some reports of oil consumption with the new, more efficient engine introduced for 2013. Given your price limit, those with the new engine are off the table anyway.

Have you test driven the Outback? Does it feel strong enough in the Colorado mountains?


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