Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Subaru Experiment

Photos by Salt Water New England
A few years ago, many had experimented with Subarus as a replacement for their Saabs or Volvos.  In some cases they were no longer commuting, could not find a model they liked, or simply wanted what they thought of as more low-key, utilitarian, or less-fussy vehicle.  In recent conversations, however, some of these people expressed a remarkably similar antipathy for their Subarus.  In some ways, the common emotion may best be described as betrayal.

One may think of the Michael Pollan quote from Food Rules, and wonder if some variation would apply:
Be The Kind Of Person Who Takes Supplements - Then Skip The Supplements.
Or, did these sample experimenters simply chose wrong configurations, models, or even model years.  For those who have Subarus, either through a similar experiment or as a brand loyal customer, what are your experiences?  Are there secrets to making the experiment successful?

Now that Volvo has significantly changed the look and feel of their wagons, more are looking for alternatives.
Just spotted today, which isn't easy, as there aren't many around.

89 comments:

  1. Volvos are great, but I love my Subaru Outback ///9I'm now on my second)! It goes everywhere, costs a lot less to buy, service, and insure. And, as a MA resident, the annual excise tax (an awful invention) is much lower. It may not have the high-quality construction and panache of the Volvo, but it's been a great car for me. Just my two cents!

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  2. We refer to Subarus as the "car of the Northwest." I've driven our forest green Outback for about five years and LOVE it. There's no brand name loyalty or experiment driving our appreciation for this car. We just see all the other Subarus on the road and know they must be good cars. We can take our car to the mountains, on road trips and through most snow conditions with no concerns. In these parts, it's not uncommon for people to drive their Subarus for years and years before finally breaking down (the drivers, that is) and buying a new one. They're just plain good cars.

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  3. Subaru Forester: The unofficial "state car" of Vermont.

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  4. I've had an Outback and currently own a new Impreza and I love them both. They are dependable and handle great in New England winters.

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  5. Oh dear. This is comparing luxury+utility to simple utility. We jumpstarted my 96 Volvo 850 this week-end and gave it the periodic drive-around. It still drives like a dream and has the sort of seats you can drive across the country in. However, one of these days a patrolman will discover the speedometer doesn't work. Well, it does work, if I cock the key back towards the steering wheel after cranking. It would also be used more if the gas gage and air conditioner were less intermittent. That's despite the thousands we spent keeping it in good shape, until we no longer did. We're thinking of donating it, which is like giving away a child. The Volvo 740 we drove prior to that was also loved, but expensive to keep up.

    I can only speak for the Subaru Outback, Forester, and Impreza models, as we've owned all three. Our Subarus have been more reliable, less fussy about fuel, and have served our family better on black ice and mud than the 2 Volvos we've owned. They are the kind of car you want to drive a few years and then pass to the kids. You can't have everything, but I do wish Subarus were quieter and comfortable.

    If I had to guess another object that SWNE readers have is common, it would be old Electrolux vacuums. There's another thing that won't break and that we can't bear to part with.

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  6. I used to love my 240s, but as I despise the unpredictable feel of AWD, neither new Volvos nor Subarus are for me. Today I opt for manual transmission Jeeps--which, depending on the whether, I can switch from RWD to true 4WD. It's only too bad they rust. My old 240s never rusted.

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  7. Amen to the Volvo 240's! I have no idea why Volvo doesn't bring that model back.

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  8. My husband and I both drive 2011 Foresters. After we had one for a few months, we got rid of the Volvo for the second Forester. I agree with all of the positive comments stated above, but they could be quieter and a bit more comfortable. The seats in our 740 Volvo were wonderful, and I was sorry that we parted with it for the S60. I never liked that car--too low, hard to get into, no trunk space. Lots of remorse about that purchase. I'm pretty sure that we will have these Foresters for many more years. They are easy to get in and out of--not too high, not too low. I can get up my steep driveway in snow.

    Jacqueline

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  9. It may be that our wants a preferences go against the current trends in family cars. There are few large station wagons like the old 240-series available now. They were not luxury cars, not in my book, anyway, although they were also not economy cars. We had our first one for eighteen years until it became too unreliable to keep. The next one, a V70, was not as reliable, although we had it ten years. Those were my wife's cars. I drove a V40 for many years until it, too, became unreliable. It was the saddest thing to see them taking their last ride.

    Before replacing the V40, I drove two rental cars while it was in the shop. One was a Ford Escape. It wound up buying one new. It wasn't too expensive and did everything I needed done and I'm content. I didn't do much looking around. My wife just said I wasn't getting a Mercedes and please don't get a pickup truck. After that, it didn't matter much what I got.

    Her car got sideswiped and had to be replaced. We didn't do a lot of looking but her main requirement was heated seats. She now drives a VW wagon. We're both retired now, so they should last a while.

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  10. I love my Subaru outbacks. I've been driving various models since the 1990s and they replaced a slew of unreliable German/Scandinavian cars (plus Jeeps) I drove previously. The new Chinese Volvos speak for themselves. $1000 visits to the mechanic are a waste, I'd never go back. I can rely on my Subies. Just bought a 2017 and love it -- they've kept the successful formula over the years... These are the real deal in New England...

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  11. I always wanted a Volvo station wagon, but when we could finally afford one, while as the below post mentioned, a Chinese Volvo just wasn't going to work for us. We looked at the Subaru Outback and Forester and really liked them, but we found that the Ford Escape had more room and items we wanted, plus it was made in Canada. We would certainly try a Subaru for our next car, but for now, we are really enjoying our Ford Escape.

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  12. After owning a DL, S60, and (currently) an S80, and following our one Subaru Forester, we agree with the "Utility+luxury" vs. "Utility" description above. Our Volvos have each served us well into the 100,000s of miles before we were able to recoup much of our investment on resale. The Forester barely made it to the end of its lease before "things started to happen" and we bailed on it.
    If vole hadn't been co-opted by its new owners, we'd probably still be buying them. But the S80 will be our last one.

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    1. Agreed that Subaru is utility, whike Volvo also adds luxury.

      Which engine did the Forester have ? Their turbo engine of several years ago reportedly was problematic.

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    2. Yes, it was the turbo (perhaps an I-4?) engine but I've blocked out the details after spending too much time having Subaru mechanics working on it once we reached ~40,000 miles. Just prior to making the decision to rid ourselves of the Forester, we also needed to penetrate Subaru's bureaucracy and invoke a "silent recall" on the engine, but again the details escape me & the records are not available.
      It was a instantaneously maddening process that lasted for 4-5-6 months, but one that convinced us to leave Subaru behind.

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  13. The Subaru: A Maine Love Story: https://downeast.com/subaru-maine-love-story/

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  14. Drove my Subaru Outback for about 10 years and loved it. Then drove an Audi Allroad for about ten years. Wonderful car, but the Subaru was better. Currently driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Its also a good car. I feel any brand new car won’t be as good as an older one. By the was, the aforementioned cars were 2000, 2002 and 2003, respectively.

    MaryAnne

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  15. I never had much luck with the older Volvos, loved the seats, but their driving characteristics were better suited for the crowd that dislikes cars. I was very sorry to see Saab fail. Volkswagens have served me well, sturdy and capable, much more comfortable than our Subarus, which certainly saw the mechanic at least as frequently as the VWs.

    The new Volvos are still developed in Sweden and mostly built there (or Belgium, depending on model), the Chinese owners do not interfere much. The reality is that Volvo now has to compete with Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus, and similar makes, there is not a sufficiently large market for their old way of making cars. They have to sell well in UK, the continent, the US, and China, so they need global products with fewer regional quirks.

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  16. Wife and I both have Foresters. Perfect all around cars. Living on Lake Erie (Erie,PA) we have lots of snow year after year. This years total was 192". Wife's family is from Buffalo so the trip back and forth on I-90 can be white knuckling. The Foresters handle it without any issues. Plenty of room in the Summer for golf clubs, plants, and you name it.

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  17. I am sure these are all lovely vehicles. I wish everyone well with their choices.

    After years of expensive to buy and fix fancy cars, I now only buy low mileage used Hondas. Give me solid reliability and great gas mileage any day of the week.

    Cheers!

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  18. I grew up in a Ford family, but in 1985 my mom got a Subaru and she hasn't looked back. My husband was also a Ford guy, but Mustangs just weren't what they used to be, and we turned to Subarus (WRX and STIs). I have driven a Toyota van for the past umpteen years, as Subaru just didn't have a model big enough for a 5 person family and their gear. My next vehicle will be an electric Arcimoto (an around town 2-seater), and when the van gives up the ghost, I'll get a Subaru again for camping, long-distance, and multi-person trips.

    Volvos have always meant reliability and safety to me, but the price tag is a bit much for us.

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  19. My parents have had several Volvo wagons, beginning with a 1983 240DL. I hated that car. It was so boxy, rattled, and had tremendous body roll. But the brakes were the worst: they squeaked like crazy. But, the ones they had in the 1990's were a bit better: lower with a wider wheelbase, tighter all-around, better brakes. My 76 year old mom needs a new car, and I told her to forget the Volvos and look at a good, used Subaru Forrester.

    I slowly came around to Volvos, and now have a 2010 V50 that works pretty well. I wanted to buy a V70, but don't particularly like the new body styles, and have decided to look at a used 2009-2011 Cross Country (better styling) instead.

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  20. Manufacturers no longer make basic, utilitarian cars. They like to add a lot of options to drive the price up. We've had Volvos in the past but now they are bloated luxury cars. My wife drives a Forrester, her second. It's a good car. We'll probably buy another one when it wears out.

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  21. We have a base model Subaru Outback and a Volvo XC70. I love both but I believe that the Outback is more akin to the Volvo wagons of yesteryear.

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  22. Just some thoughts. Republicans are not permitted to purchase Subaru vehicles. Republicans, however, have purchased Volvo vehicles for 60 years. It's hard for me to imagine Betsy driving a Subaru to pick up the kids after a day of sailing lessons in Town and then driving it back to Sconset for dinner. However, it is relatively easy to believe that Jane and her wife Rebecca drive their Outback to Cleveland for a #MeToo rally. Folks, comparing these cars is akin to asking the Hatfields if they would like to change their name to McCoy. No self-respecting, head-band wearing, size 2, blond, sharp-elbowed Lacrosse mom from Duxbury is going to step foot in a Subaru. It just isn't done. Now I will grant you that Volvo cars are few and far between and if found new appear to be designed by someone who recently woke up after falling asleep sometime in 1983. Most card-carrying Prep Moms I know have recently started to rock Range Rovers, or the newest object of desire, a Maserati SUV, though the Range Rovers are somewhat passe, especially if you have been anywhere on Long Island lately and couldn't drive 20 seconds without seeing five of them. All in all, in my opinion, Prep Gods and Goddesses should stick to what brought them the dance: 1978 Ford Country Squire Station wagons; Ford Broncos made before 1980; IH Scouts; Wagoneers; very old Jaguars and Morgans; and anything without license plates from the US (you get extra points at the Club if you arrive in a BMW neither sold nor licensed in the US - "Oh, yes, John was in Europe last month and his roommate from HBS insisted that he drive this car for a while". Extra points are good.

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    1. Hysterical !!! You should team up with Lisa Birnbach for a new "Preppy Handbook" for the new world ! Thanks for sharing !

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    2. Hush! I've been a Tory Republican since '76.....and we just bought one....heck, my brother who's a GOP elected official and his wife are looking at buying one. The area he lives in wouldnt bat an eye at what he drives....

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    3. It appears you've missed a decade or three. The Republican you're describing went the way of the Passenger Pigeon sometime after the "Contract with America." The current variety of New England Republican drives a jacked-up domestic pickup about three sizes too large for the neighborhood in which he lives (look for Pats decals and a bed so pristine that you can tell the truck has never been involved in a day's worth of work), wears sweatpants in public, and listens to WEEI. "High Prole," if you read Fussell.

      Based on what I see every day on Route 128, the "enlightened" of the current era--the NESCAC-educated horde with the consulting/tech jobs, the mountain bike racks, and the ski stickers--can't get enough of Subaru these days.

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    4. This comment by Milwaukee Mike is...well, perfect. Spot-on.

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    5. Great reply! This Republican with a 2018 XC90 agrees with your assessment, anonymous.

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    6. As funny as your response is, I believe that you have forgotten that the true "prep"/ New England ethos is practicality (form follows function). That is why Subaru has become today's Volvo and Saab. Volvo can make some beautiful cars but they won't have the staying power with this crowd that the Volvo's of old still have (think of how ugly they really were... beautiful to us, but really only for their practicality). Subaru is to the car world what the Bean Boot is to the shoe world. And Range Rover? Please... it's been at least 15 years since they've had any real appeal to anyone who knows cars. They are better suited for NYC where one never has to drive it (and risk getting stuck when it inevitably breaks down). Enough of the confusion between the NYC snob set (cough... Range Rover, Gucci, Hamptons, Flash) with real New England (Subaru, Bean, Kennebunk, Restraint).

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    7. Thank you, Deadly Ernest.

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    8. Thank You!!! You win the Internets for today! ;-)

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    9. The updated Preppy Handbook that LISA BIRNBACH brought out several years ago was in no way even an adequate sequel to the original. It fell flat, in my opinion.

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  23. I’ve owned two Volvos and would not accept another as a gift. Loathsomely expensive to maintain and for some unfathomable reason, not especially good in snow. I determedly drive my 1999 Toyota 4 Runner wherever and whenever I please - and as to you elitist snobs, yes I drive it to
    my yacht club and my dining club and have been to many lacrosse games and regattas to boot. My “nice” car is a Mercedes which can’t be beat. But after reading this obnoxious chain of posts, I’ll be damned certain to replace it with a Subaru when the time comes.

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    1. You will glad you did.

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    2. That Volvos are terrible in snow is a piece of inside information known only to Volvo owners. The other piece of insider Volvo knowledge, known only to long-time Volvo owners, is that their skittishness in snow is curable by installing Blizzak winter tires on the back and putting about 100 pounds of weight in the trunk, or in the cargo area if you have a wagon. For that matter, the ride all year long improves with an extra 100 pounds in the back. They were apparently designed to ride best under load.

      We have always had two Volvos since 1972. Never again. Going Subaru Forrester this year. Running family joke: the reason Volvos last so long is that after 10 years you have had to replace everything on it, so it is essentially still a new car.

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    3. Virginia Lawyer: Relax. I’m sure none of us “elitist snobs” would think you live in a trailer park just because you drive around in a 1999 Toyota 4 Runner. As they say: Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

      And yes, it is a paradox that a car from Sweden should have winter traction problems. I know because I still (and always will) own a 1989 Volvo 240DL Sedan purchased new in Chicago, and it’s rarely driven nowadays – and especially never in the snow. I could tell you some adventure stories about its slippery past, but, anyway, you’d think it should have front-wheel drive, but there you are.

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    4. One more reason I was always more of a Saab appreciator rather than a Volvo fan back in the day, Saabs were always great in the snow, Volvos were tragic. Even good Gislaved or Nokian Hakkapeliitta snow tires only made Volvos marginally adequate in the snow, while a Saab would go anywhere almost regardless of the tires.

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    5. I was a Cult of the Saab driver (1 "base," 1 Turbo) for over 20 years. I loved them; endured their codependency syndrome of outrageous shop bills, and cried when my Turbo, companion of 17 years, died knackered on Barney's flatbed. As Saab by then had surrendered to the execrable GM, asked said mechanic/sage/Delphic oracle which was better, Toyota or Subaru? He told me the Subaru engine literally rips itself apart due to the configuration of cylinders, go buy the Toyota. Test-drove something I'd never seen, a "Scion XA." Looked cheesy, but went like a buzz-bomb and with no turbo-lag! "Got one with a stick-shift? OH YEAH!" Only car I ever impulse-bought like a pair of shoes, and I'm still driving her.
      That tiny darling is going on 13 years old now, will soon attain "classic" status since there are so few, and has never cost me more than the price of an oil change and one set of new tires.
      $25.00 fills 'er up for the month for errands, and the tiniest parking space will suffice. "Practical" car with the handling of a dune buggy! When I have a bigger job to do I fire up Big Bertha, her Tundra 4x4 stablemate who straddles any road, imposes respect with her big black nose, and, in "tow/haul" mode could drag-race with a thousand pounds of feed and probably climb trees. Maintenance on both: under $100.00/year. Whoo! Couldn't care less what "message" either sends.

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    6. Our ‘07 Forester has over 215,000 miles on it. The engine hasn’t ripped itself apart yet.

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  24. Owned one of the old Volvo DLs..nice car, but, as others have noted, incredibly expensive to maintain. Have had two of the Subaru wagons and, at nearly two decades old and many miles of driving, both are still going strong and a pleasure to drive.

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  25. I have to plug my 2002 Toyota RAV4 w/ 170,000 miles. She (Gigi) has never caused me a problem (ever). She's like a family heirloom now. She worked w/ me through two careers (Interior Design, and Real Estate). Lots of good memories. I've owned three Toyota's over 25 years, and have not had a problem w/ any of them (just regular maintenance) Subaru Outback was my 2nd choice when I purchased new in 2002.

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    1. I second Toyota as a solid choice. Over the years my husband and I have owned 6 and have never had a problem. I currently drive a Rav4. I must add, my neighbour raves about his Outback!

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    2. I've had a 'bulletproof' Toyota Yaris for my work commute for nearly 10 years. Despite having a new Mini Clubman, the Toyota probably gets used the most. In fact the Toyota is probably the main car and the much more desirable Mini is classed as the second car!

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  26. I owned a Volvo wagon and it was in the shop as much as it was on the road and was expensive to maintain. With 3 small kids, I was motivated by safety. In 2016 I sold my Porsche Cayenne for a Subaru Outback 3.6 and it is a fantastic car. It provides the height of a small SUV and is both comfortable and very reliable as well. The 2 mid-size dogs fit in the back quite comfortably.

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    1. We loved our Volvo 164E when it worked. Alas, it frequently broke down on the road, sometimes on the way home from the repair shop Ultimately, we decided that the frequent breakdowns were too much of a safety issue.

      A colleague bought an XC 60 last year, which he really loves for local trips, but when he takes his daughter to college (8 hr trip), he gets a rental car out of fear the Volvo will die unexpectedly en route.

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    2. We loved our Volvo 164E when it worked. Alas, it frequently broke down on the road, sometimes on the way home from the repair shop Ultimately, we decided that the frequent breakdowns were too much of a safety issue.

      A colleague bought an XC 60 last year, which he really loves for local trips, but when he takes his daughter to college (8 hr trip), he gets a rental car out of fear the Volvo will die unexpectedly en route.

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  27. I bought 740 wagon for my wife because it handled very much like our xj6 but with a tighter turning radius. Upgraded with ceramic brakes and slotted rotors,my daughter successfully competed in autocross agaist an assortment of bmws,Audi's,et al.With some Finnish snow tires,it had no issues with snow at all.
    After 12 years,an unresolvable electrical problem ended it's career.we leased a new xc70,which,though very comfortable,was the worst driving car I have ever owned.We tried an outback,a car that did nothing very well and nothing very badly,we had an accident that kept it in the shop for a month and they gave us a jeep Patriot. Cupid fired his arrows and we now own a Patriot,which,equipped with every option,is still cheaper than the outback,has more useable cargo space,has much better road feel and manages snow and rough terrain much better,not to mention that it looks much like our old 740,a brick on wheels.

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  28. I own a 2007 XC70 and 2 used Outbacks which my kids drive. The Outback is built like a tank and is seriously underpowered. I prefer my Volvo with its turbo, especially on the highway. The Outback gets slightly better mileage, but the XC70 is still a pleasure to drive because of its comfortable, luxurious interior. The design of the Outback looks modern and sporty. Its raised height increases visibility comparable to an SUV. However, the interior proportions aren't well-suited to hauling kids' gear to and from school/camp. The angles of the Subaru's cargo area are all wrong. It feels cramped and crowded even though both cars are roughly the same size. The Outbacks are great,safe cars for kids that will last them until they buy their own cars. They fit in perfectly on college campuses and you can park them anywhere without attracting unwanted attention. My Volvo will still be giving us years of service hauling trunks,furniture and boxes which fit perfectly in its cavernous cargo area. Unfortunately, Volvo's new V90 Cross Country,although a beautiful car, cannot offer the same combination of luxury and utility. I'm hoping for an eventual redesign of its sloping tailgate. Until then it's simply not worth the price.

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    1. Most Outbacks one sees on the road seem to have the smaller engine, which is widely reported to be a bit under-powered. The one person I know with the larger 3.6 L engine reports that his Outback has plenty of power.

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    2. I hope that's true about the 3.6 L engine. However, I have been concerned that such a large engine would be very thirsty on gasoline. As a rule, I try to keep our Outbacks at around $50 per tank of gas. More than that is a little too expensive for college kids to afford.

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    3. The actual difference in fuel consumption between the smaller engine and the 3.6 L is pretty minor. Gasoline prices vary across the country. Here one could fill the entire tank for less than $40. In California, by contrast, between taxes and their “special blend”/of gas, it could be expensive to refuel a Prius.

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  29. Muffy, if you are contemplating replacing your old XC70 in the next few years (or sooner if a catastrophically expensive repair occurs) as I am, I have the following suggestion. I plan to buy a used 2015 or 2016 XC70 AWD T6 with less than 30,000 miles on the odometer. This would most likely be a car just finished its lease or a car that was used for gentle suburban commuting. They are rare, but such cars pop up for sale online every few months. They are usually black or silver, so color choice is somewhat limited. You can expect to pay around $30,000 for a low mileage XC70 that is two or three years old. The 2016 final year model represents the good-as-it-gets version of the XC70 with all the kinks worked out. It may look slightly dated and far from the ultimate in cool, but it will perform exactly as advertised. Considering that Volvos last well past 100,000 miles, it is a reasonable price for five plus years of relatively trouble-free driving. Newer model XC70s have significant safety features not available on our old XC70s - such as the Blind Spot Information System, Front Blind View Camera and Rear Park Camera - which make upgrading well worth it. As with our old XC70s, the last model of the XC70 continues to offer the large cargo capacity and nearly vertical tailgate that is noticably lacking in the new V90s and V90 Cross Country models. I've had my present XC70 for ten years and I plan to drive it for another year or so before passing it on to my youngest child. Given the options available in large family wagons, buying a used Volvo XC70 is the least bad option. Although the newest V90 Cross Country is a stunningly gorgeous car, I cannot justify spending nearly $70,000 on a car that will be used to haul trunks, dirty dogs and firewood.

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  30. With any car manufacturer, it is best to avoid turbo-charged engines. Both Volvo and Subaru have erratic histories with their turbo engines.

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    1. The V40 I had was turbo-charged and provided a usable boost to acceleration at higher speeds, although in fact, it did give trouble, which is to say, it quit working. But I got it fixed.

      Unlike others here, however, it seemed to handle okay in the snow for me. But you have to know what you're doing.

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  31. The windows - I drive in a state where people smile and say "have a good day", then try to kill you if you change into "their" lane. So when shopping for a work horse of a car, I wanted one with great 360 visibility. For whatever reason, the back window of compact SUVs are getting narrower - test drove the various usual suspect models and thought the Forester had the best combination of features, albeit with some minor compromises. Throw in safety & terrific turning radius and I was in. Subarus' Outback was one of the best selling cars in Alaska at the time I bought my Forester (2012) which sits a little higher; I like the clearence. Going up to the mountains in heavy snow conditions we see all manner of impressive cars on the shoulder with some very unhappy would be skiers. Having car trouble @ 5,000 elevation is not where you want to be.

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    1. Agreed. Both Subaru and Volvo have larger windows and provide better visibility.

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  32. I almost missed this post, we're touring Ireland( love the place, presently in Norther Ireland....you must visit we love, literally love this corner of the UK! )
    But I digress.
    We are a rarity for Texas. Subarus are not found in Texas. Oh, you can see one from time to time, but when it was time for my wife to replace her SUV, we bought a Subie. We are hooked, well she is, I will take her Subie in a couple of years when I get it handed down. ( I drive less than 200 miles a month. Retirement is wonderful.)
    And the 3.6 liter motor in the Subie we found was plenty of go, even in Houston traffic....

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  33. My father is in his late 80s and is still struggling to deal with the resentment caused by WW2. He won't buy a car from a country we went to war with. I struggle with this for years owning various Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles and Dodges during the 80s and 90s.

    I later decided that I would rather deal with his wrath then own another American made vehicle. I was liberated and owned some fine Japanese vehicles for around 2 decades.

    A few years ago I decided to buy my first SUV. GMC was offering 81 months of 0% financing. How could I resist.

    I purchased a 2013 Equinox. It is approaching 150,000 kms and seems like it is good for at least 300 more. We live above the city at nearly 1000 feet. It handles snow and ice very well and I just recently had to do the brakes.

    It is comfortable, fast (over 300hp) reliable and cheap to service.My wife has been eying a Volvo lately but the price has been a barrier thank God.

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  34. We are on our 4th and 5th Subaru's. Nothing better for our lifestyle.
    Our son and daughter-in-law have Subaru's also.
    Top drawer, not flashy, but totally reliable and functional.

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  35. Have driven Foresters for the last 16 years, ever since my 2nd Saab 900 died a noble death. My 2013 forester is paid for, still under warranty, has less than 40,000 miles, is in excellent condition inside and out and, with luck and proper maintenance, will be my last car.

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  36. I very much want to like and own a Subaru, but none of their models have driver seats that are sufficiently comfortable for more than short local trips. Then again, my friendly local mechanic advises that Subarus generally need substantial work at higher mileage. He recommends that those of his clients who drive more than 15,000 miles annually select some other makes. I have noticed that my many acquaintances who so love their Subarus are people who rarely drive any great distances, some only six or seven thousand miles in a typical year.

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    1. You brought up a very important point: seat comfort. Volvos are famous for their comfortable seats. As a woman who is approximately 5'4" tall, I would agree with this in general, but I have always found that I am too short to benefit from the Volvo seats. I'm not tall enough to really lean into the head rest or to enjoy the back support that Volvo seats offer taller drivers. My much taller children, however, agree that Volvo seats are the most comfortable seats ever.
      I find that driving my kids' Outbacks is a much nicer experience for me in terms of seat comfort. This makes sense since Subarus are manufactured in Japan with Japanese customers' needs in mind. My height is more in keeping with a typical Japanese driver and I find the Outback's seats offer excellent lower back support and cushion my head and neck in just the right way. While the Outback overall is a noisier and bumpier ride on long highway journeys (compared to my smooth-as-silk Volvo), the comfort that the Outback's seat offers me more than compensate for this. If you are 5'7" inches or taller, you may enjoy the Volvo seats more. If you are 5'5" or shorter, you might find the Outback's seats suit you better.

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    2. Subaru Outback's are manufactured in Lafayette, Indiana. Not Japan. Not sure of other models of Subaru.

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    3. Subaru started manufacturing Outbacks in Indiana from 2015 onwards. Both of my used Outbacks were manufactured in Japan prior to then. I doubt the design of the Outback's seats varies much from country to country. It would be an expensive undertaking for Subaru to offer multiple seat options per car model.

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  37. I drive a 1999 Subaru Forester every day and it is, by far, the best car I have ever had (and I've had more expensive and luxurious cars).

    This car has my heart. With more than 200,000 miles, my beloved Forester has never caused me a moment's worry (knock wood!). I will drive it until it stops going (or until someone hits me.)

    I believe its present trade-in value is $247 but, to me, it's priceless.

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  38. We have two Subaru Outbacks (a 2014 with all of the options and a slightly less less all mod cons 2015). We would rather have had the considerably more expensive Volvos, with which we both have previous experience, but we are very happy with the Subarus for the drives into campus, carting the child around, tossing skis in the back, etc. At some point, Volvos became luxury cars and priced accordingly.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich von B.

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  39. My 99 Outback was cheap at purchase and runs well enough. It gets me and a bunch of stuff wherever it needs to go. For being almost 20 years old, I'm amazed at how reliable it has been to me.

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  40. I'm known among my friends as the "Volvo guy." Truth be told, they were a gateway drug to Saabs for the last couple cars, but since they are gone, I think the going assumption is that I'll be heading back to Volvo. I have no horror stories with Volvo, and those that I've convinced to buy one don't either, so I suspect my friends are right.

    The issue is that cars have been further commoditized compared to 30 years ago. Then, you had quirks of manufacture that led a Ford to feel different from a Chevy for better or worse, and (from a US perspective) non-domestic cars each felt a little like their country of origin. Now, there are two boxes: "luxury" and "non-luxury." Bells, whistles, and splashy design make up much of the difference rather than personality or dynamics, as even some makes known for prioritizing handling prowess are getting softer, larger, and making it up through flashiness (ahem, BMW).

    In a globalized world, there's really no spot in the marketplace for a car that straddles a middle ground in an odd way - sad, to be sure, but the reality of business at this point in time. Thus, I don't really fault Volvo for understanding that they must be regarded as luxury, since their price point won't allow otherwise.

    I see a lot of folks pass to Subaru, and some further throwing in the towel and getting a Honda or something. In some ways, I view the return of preps to driving low-key non-luxury brands as a case of everything old becoming new again. After all, the beloved Country Squire, the poster prep vehicle for a good several postwar decades - was a Ford.

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  41. I loved sitting in "the way back" of my Mom's Country Squire. Loved the classic woodgrain sides. All three of us kids learned how to parallel park in them. Such good memories.

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    1. And I'll throw in yet another vote here for Mom's Ford Country Squire back in the day! Wonderful memories of Mom and Dad in the front seat driving, Grandma and Grandpa in the back seat, and little sister and me in the "the way back!", probably squabbling. Only downside was the A/C had a hard time keeping "the way back" cool. In later years the Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon was the best!!! And both of those CARS (not SUV's)had endless power and could pull a pretty good sized boat. No need to go buy a new truck so you could pull the new boat you just bought!!! And yes, we too learned to parallel park in these huge cars...which means I'm still good at it and will never let myself get to where I have to have the car park itself!!!

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  42. Recently, I spent a few years living in beautiful Thomasville, Georgia, the quail hunting capital of the country, with a very country elegant ambiance, similar to the hunt country areas of Virginia and Maryland. For most of the women in town, who had gone to eastern boarding schools and top colleges, with last names that are brand recognized, and belonged to the Colonial Dames, the car of choice was a Subaru--why? They needed all terrain type cars since they all had plantations outside of town, with gravel or dirt roads! So no fancy cars for them! Although a couple of traded their Subarus for Volvos! I loved to tell people that in Thomasville, a Subaru was the ultimate status car!

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  43. My daughter recently talked to a mechanic who knew a lot about Volvos and he suggested she rent, not buy, one now. He said all the computer stuff (brain cramp) starts breaking down in 3 years and is very expensive to fix. His reasoning was that it would be good to rent and trade in once that starts happening.

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  44. How long has the Takata airbag fiasco been going on? We only just last week received our safety recall from Subaru to have the passenger side fragmentation grenade replaced in our 2013 Forester. That's right, a Japanese auto manufacturer, who all usually reside at the pinnacle of ISO this and Kaizen that only just now found out that a 5 year old car was affected. I realize that Subaru has multiple trillions of airbag component suppliers, but come on.

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    1. It's truly awful, isn't it? This has been a multi-year fiasco for many, many car manufacturers. It's the fault of Takata, not Subaru. Many car companies sourced their airbags from Takata and, after years of successful collaboration, assumed they continued to make a quality safety product.They (and we) were terribly deceived.
      My understanding is that replacing so many airbags takes a long time. That is why it has been rolled out over a period of years. Apparently, the trigger that sets off the air bag for no reason is heat plus humidity, so Subaru customers residing in hot,humid climates (eg. Florida) have had their airbags replaced first. The further north you live,the longer the wait for a new airbag will be. What concerns me the most is the way the recall keeps expanding to include more years and additional models of Subarus. It seems to me that the car makers were hoping that the defective airbags were confined to quality lapses in specific years. Now it looks more like any Takata air bag from any year is a ticking time bomb. I hope I turn out to be wrong about this.

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    2. About a month ago, when we had the Forester's oil changed at our local dealer(before receiving our recall notice in the mail), there was an actual Subaru USA rep haunting the service area. When the service writer tried to gouge me $80 to replace the cabin air filter ($14.00 online and 5 minutes to change if you don't have thumbs) I thought the rep was going to kill him. Don't know what was going on, but I suspect he was there for damage control. I guess my point was that traceability for all parts used in the manufacturing process is a major component of ISO certification, and that it shouldn't have taken ages to identify the specific issue and all affected installations. In our case, the actual replacement took the dealer about 45 minutes. In general, it's a fairly simple vehicle, and my favorite thing about it is the flat-4 engine layout and AWD system puts the weight down low. It handles very well for a smaller SUV, while having a bit more ground clearance than most passenger cars. Like the old Volvo bricks, to me anyway, it has somewhat 'agricultural' driving qualities.

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  45. I bought a Subaru after reading adoration for them in the comments here a few years ago. I had been a three time BMW driver and one time Saab-er. I drive a lot and bring a lot with me. My Outback is great and drives well and is so fuel efficient. I miss a "fun" car though. So maybe a second fun car is in my future. Am I passionate about my love for Subaru? Ehh. Could I be without an Outback now? No. I'd love a Mercedes wagon but comparing the cargo room to an Outback is a joke.

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  46. Here in southern Maine Subarus are everywhere. It's not uncommon to pull up at a traffic light and be surrounded by them, waiting for the light to change. They are reliable, a great value and practical. Some people opt for the ostentatious German cars or a Lexus. I'd be embarrassed to be seen in a BMW in my neighborhood. We have an Outback, a Forester and an Impreza. If we ever need to get rid of one, it would be for a pick-up.

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  47. Mother-in-law still drives her black 2003 9-3 SE convertible.

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  48. I am close to driving the last car/truck I will pass along to my grandchildren. My goal is to buy a '10 year car.' I have just about settled on a Subaru. My father in law drove a 70's era Subaru with 240,000 miles on it from Texas to Alaska and back in 1988 and kept it for another 4 years after that.

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  49. You all are making me feel bad!! I just bought a Volvo S60 after my Audi had had it. I got it because I'm a poor starving grad student and it was a steal--very low miles and cheap, you know, the old lady owned it. Now I'm wondering what I've gotten myself into.

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  50. On my fourth Subaru: two Outbacks, two Foresters. It handles every dirt "road" in Nantucket where I live, gets decent mileage in town, excellent on the highway. Plenty of power for normal driving.

    No one has mentioned how good Foresters are for older people. When we pick up friends for church or to go out to dinner, they back up to the passenger seat, swing their legs in, and it is as good as sitting in a chair. A much younger friend with back trouble went through a Jeep, an Escape, and a BMW SUV before riding in our Forester. He almost immediately traded in the BMW on a Forester of his own.

    As older drivers, we appreciate the Insight warning technology. To the horror of the Salesmen, we call it the "Geezer package." We leased our current 2016 because my clever wife expected an even better technology to be available in 2019. She was right, and we will buy this time.

    The perfect vehicle combination for us would be a small hybrid for town (gas on Nantucket is often approaching $4 a gallon) and a Forester for everywhere else.

    Like others I have had dealer issues. One in Richmond charged me $100 for a service that was free in Massachusetts. Two dealers, one in Massachusetts and one in Virginia, gouged on battery and wiper replacement. But our current dealer, Planet in Hanover, has been excellent

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    1. We bought from Planet and they were excellent. Leaving them was one disadvantage to moving out of Massachusetts.

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  51. We've had two SAABs (9-3s), two Volvos (XC70s) and now a 2017 Subaru Outback "Touring model."

    We bought the Subaru because SAABs are no longer are made, Volvos are now as expensive and mechanically and electronically complicated as German cars, and because the Subaru was $7500 off of sticker price with 0% financing.

    The Subaru is adequate, and that's about all I can say for it. It's clearly built to a price point, not a standard. The suspension components are all stamped steel, as opposed to the cast aluminum control arms on the Volvos; it rides like it during mud season on our dirt road. The engine is borderline underpowered, but doesn't get any better mileage than the much heavier (and 6 cylinder powered) Volvos did. Inside, the seats are less comfortable, and the leather seats are leather in principle only (two narrow stips on the seat bottom and back, the rest is vinyl that doesn't quite color match). The passenger seat is only 4-way adjustable. Only one phone can pair with the stereo system. There are no rain sensing wipers, no headlight washers, and no ski pass-through.

    If the 2017 V70XC had been either more reasonably priced (the MSRP has far outpaced inflation, and costs what an E-series wagon costs) or had been designed in such a way that getting 250,000 miles out of it were a certainty, we would have purchased a new one in a heartbeat.

    At least the Subaru commands a way-higher-than-reasonable value as a trade. I can hardly wait for that glorious day, and we've only had it 6 months.

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  52. I have a lot of good will for Volvo right now. My son is away at college with our 2002 V70, long story short the fuel pump went, and Volvo North America replaced it as a courtesy because of low miles and a basically unused extended warranty. I'll take it, saved $1k...feel like it's just good vibes to pass along that story.

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  53. I doubt I'd ever buy a Volvo now that the company is owned by GEELY of China. What they don't steal via industrial espionage, they buy, often at distressed prices, as they did when they bought VOLVO from FORD MOTORS. I do all I can to buy as little as I can from the authoritarian Communist country.

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