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AWD car
Old 10-13-2010, 02:28 PM   #1
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AWD car

Back into daydreaming mode again about cars. I had kind of been thinking about the Subaru Outback and Forester....kind of think the Outback is a little more than I want to spend. Tested both last summer and liked both. Also tested the Hyundai elantra touring which I liked, but that was fwd......still thinking about it. Guess I am just looking for some other cars that I haven't considered. Requirements: dependable, 27+mpg highway or better, under $25K, fair amount of room for dog/recumbent bicycle/stuff but not too big. I am kind of biased against US brands, even though that is slowly changing in recent years since it looks like the reliability has risen on a lot of models. Right now....
*Subaru forester (not turbo)
*Suzuki SX4-kind of small, but AWD cheap
*CR-V- but wife had trouble getting up in it
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:45 PM   #2
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You can't go wrong with the Forester..........
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Old 10-13-2010, 02:50 PM   #3
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Honda Element is what I bought in 2007 after driving the ones you mentioned and several others. Much more open feel and more cargo room -- back seats come out or flip up to the side. The best fit for me with more headroom for a tall person, plus it is ideal for dogs (roomy with no carpet in rear) and bikes (can transport a large frame bike inside without removing the front wheel). After 3.5 years, I still really like this vehicle. The mileage has been good as well, 24-25 around town and as high as 30 on longer trips, and I have the 4wd EX model. Many folks do not like the look but the Element is great for an active lifestyle (and dogs).
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Old 10-13-2010, 03:26 PM   #4
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You can't go wrong with the Forester..........
+1. AWD by the folks that do it for a living, not one line. Consumer reports
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The Forester is among the best small SUVs. Its cabin is quiet, with very good fit and finish and a roomy backseat. Safety equipment includes standard curtain air bags and stability control, and crash-test results are excellent. It has the most comfortable ride of any small SUV yet also has agile and secure handling
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Old 10-13-2010, 03:30 PM   #5
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I bought the CRV in August . I liked the Subaru but I liked the looks of the CRV better and it's been a great car . Great gas mileage ,nice ride and big enough to haul lots of things without being too big . I bought the EX model and walked out of the dealers under $25,000 including taxes ,registration & all fees .
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Old 10-13-2010, 03:58 PM   #6
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Love my Forester
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Old 10-13-2010, 04:10 PM   #7
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+1 on the element. i have had 0 problems with mine.
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Old 10-13-2010, 05:09 PM   #8
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Considered a Chevy Equinox? I don't really think of it as a car, but it has AWD, starts at $22k something, new. 32 MPG highway supposedly. I like the one we have at work, but prefer Subaru's AWD system and clearance more.

-CC
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Old 10-13-2010, 07:37 PM   #9
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I have an AWD Honda CR-V, and my sister has the exact same car except no AWD (copycat!). I totally love my CR-V - it is fun to drive, easy to navigate and park, has great crash ratings, adequate storage and all that good stuff.

I will tell you, though, that when I compared mpg with my sister, I learned that my AWD vehicle gets about 3-4 mpg worse mileage. It's a heavier vehicle due to the AWD components, and apparantly AWD just takes more gas to run, so the mileage takes a hit. I average about 24-25 mpg around town, maybe 28 on the highway. My sister's regular CR-V gets 28 around town and 31-32 on the highway. I wish I'd known about that before I bought the car, because I might have skipped the AWD... (and that way I'd have a better excuse to stay home on snow days, too)...

All the same, I love the car, and highly recommend test driving one to try it out.

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Old 10-13-2010, 07:43 PM   #10
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We have had 3 Subarus. Both '96 legacy sedans are still running (owned by others)
We have a 2003 Outback that has 70,000 miles and never needed a repair
DW M.D. really wanted an AWD and they were absolutely reliable. However if you are tall, they are cramped
Mechanicals are the same as the Forester
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Old 10-13-2010, 08:54 PM   #11
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I've never driven one, but doesn't a Toyota RAV4 meet or at least come close?
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Old 10-13-2010, 09:44 PM   #12
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I've never driven one, but doesn't a Toyota RAV4 meet or at least come close?
The RAV4 grew too much for my tastes. I'd prefer the CRV or Forester. I have a Forester now and a Forester will likely be my next vehicle.
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Old 10-14-2010, 01:30 AM   #13
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My experience with AWD was with a Subaru with on-demand 4wd so maybe not comparable to current AWD cars. Still, I found that FWD was nearly always as good as 4WD UNLESS snow was deep enough to build up under the car. At that point, switching to 4WD gave slightly better traction until the build up got worse. Overall, 4WD gave me about 1" more snow to deal with and then all bets were off.

SO, I've never been a big fan of full time AWD as it isn't needed for most applications but costs 2 - 4 mpg all the time.

Of course, YMMV, heh, heh.
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Old 10-14-2010, 01:31 AM   #14
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Last summer when I was back in the Spokane area I tested both the Subaru's, Honda CR-V+Fit(I have the UK version which I like) and the Hyundai Elantra Touring. Kind of crossed the RAV4 off the list because of the tailgate, although it isn't that big of a deal. The Equinox I probably should have looked at, certainly read a lot of reviews.....I am still just a little put off by US brands....if for no other reason than they have always been so damn ugly and boring looking compared to European models (in my opinion). Reliability for Ford etc has really seemed to improve in recent years. The Honda Element I liked when it came out, but with AWD it will likely come in over the $25K limit. What I thought of the tests last summer:
*CR-V- can't complain about the reliability...it's a proven model. I was ok on it by my wife had to climb up into it.
*Fit- only drove the automatic and really didn't like it. I really like the Jazz I have here, but on the big open roads in Spokane it just didn't feel good.
*Hyundai Touring- loved it. The right size, nice drive, good mpg, well under $20K, up and coming brand. Not AWD.
*Outback- only tried the 2.5 CVT. Could live with it, but just a hair sluggish and the ride reminded me of an old Oldsmobile Cutless Supreme with worn out shocks I bought from relatives 20+ years ago. Nice comfy ride though and am still thinking about it. Pushing the $ limit. The 3.6 smashed the limit.
*Forester- liked it. Felt snappier than the Outback and I like a simpler dashboard. Just wish they would come out with a new automatic transmission (5-6speed?) that would improve mpg a hair.

Still thinking about buying used, but the Sub's resale is so high it isn't much cheaper than buying new.

As far as I can see right now it is between the Forester and the Hyundai. Although I just keep waffling between several cars driving my wife nuts talking about it. Problem over here is I can't go down and test these cars easily.
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Old 10-14-2010, 06:52 AM   #15
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I have a 2003 Legacy wagon that has been absolutely bulletproof. Over 140k of punishment and it still runs like a top. The newer models are roomier and cushier (and they only make the wagon as an Outback). Excellent in nasty weather. Within a month of buying the car, we got to see what a wonder the AWD was when a blizzard hit badly enough to shut all the highways and strand us with a few too many relatives (being able to make that liquor run was priceless).

If it ever dies, I will buy another Subaru. I would want to always have one in the driveway in addition to whatever hulking monster we use for towing and kid/dog hauling.
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Old 10-14-2010, 06:59 AM   #16
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Just as a little side note...I get a little too focused sometimes on MPG. Just for the heck of it I checked some $ numbers on gas use. If I drive 15000 miles a year....the difference between a car that averages 25mpg and 30mpg....$100 a year (at $3 a gal). Not enough to really make it a big deal breaker either way. My wife has pretty well just told me to get whatever I want and stop driving her nuts....
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Old 10-14-2010, 07:22 AM   #17
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Just as a little side note...I get a little too focused sometimes on MPG. Just for the heck of it I checked some $ numbers on gas use. If I drive 15000 miles a year....the difference between a car that averages 25mpg and 30mpg....$100 a year (at $3 a gal). Not enough to really make it a big deal breaker either way. My wife has pretty well just told me to get whatever I want and stop driving her nuts....

Eh? More like $300, but still, maybe not a deal breaker.

15000/25*$3= $1800
15000/30*$3= $1500

-CC
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Old 10-14-2010, 09:11 AM   #18
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Aaaarg! I knew it looked low when I did it, I was too lazy to go back and double check. Luckily it wasn't for a grade.....
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Old 10-14-2010, 12:01 PM   #19
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I like Subarus, older son has one and put one of their engines in an 85 VW camper when we had it. But we have come to really love our Jeeps. While there have a reputation for less reliability that has not been our experience. I have 80K miles on an 06 Jeep Liberty Diesel and it has been flawless. Younger son drives an old 98 Cherokee with 150K miles and older son also has a Jeep Grand Cherokee as well as his Subaru. Our Jeep rides well, has 2 WD as well as full or part time 4WD. We sometimes tow a small travel trailer and hardly notice it is there. But the key for this is if you expect really bad weather (like Alaska or some northern parts of the US) or ever go off road you really want to consider a Jeep, as nice as the AWDs are they are like bringing a knife to a gun fight in serious conditions.
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Old 10-14-2010, 12:18 PM   #20
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I like Subarus, older son has one and put one of their engines in an 85 VW camper when we had it. But we have come to really love our Jeeps. While there have a reputation for less reliability that has not been our experience. I have 80K miles on an 06 Jeep Liberty Diesel and it has been flawless. Younger son drives an old 98 Cherokee with 150K miles and older son also has a Jeep Grand Cherokee as well as his Subaru. Our Jeep rides well, has 2 WD as well as full or part time 4WD. We sometimes tow a small travel trailer and hardly notice it is there. But the key for this is if you expect really bad weather (like Alaska or some northern parts of the US) or ever go off road you really want to consider a Jeep, as nice as the AWDs are they are like bringing a knife to a gun fight in serious conditions.

I would have to disagree. I had a 98 Jeep Cherokee Sport and it wasn't as good in snow as my '04 Forester
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