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Suzuki Grand Vitara vs Subaru Forester vs Hyundai Santa Fe vs Jeep Liberty vs Ford Escape vs Saturn

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Comments

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's cool. We have someone (Patti Mickel) from SoA who participates actively in the Subaru Crew topics. I've noticed you've already found those topics.

    Our group also has sponsorship for events (from Quality Subaru of Dandridge, TN) and SoA even catered our last event for free!

    How's that for service?

    -juice
  • dniehusdniehus Posts: 83
    I've driven a Forester for three years. I'll admit it has been a trouble free car. I would have loved to have stayed with Subaru after my lease expires in May. Over the past two years, I've sent SOA several emails with product suggestions. They have always promptly and courteously responded. Well, since 1998 the small SUV market has changed dramatically. The Forester has not. Yes, there now is an S+ (true, awesome moon roof), but otherwise only very minor changes. To me, the Forester just has little excitement or sex appeal. From the first time I test drove the Tribute I felt exhiliarated. A feeling I never experienced driving my Forester. The Forester is a very safe, reliable vehicle -- but, to me, a very boring choice. I realize to some extent I may be taking some risk with the relatively untested Tribute. And, believe me, I have agonized over this decision for several months. But, I'm ordering my Tribute ES on Monday. Zoom zoom!
  • topgntopgn Posts: 132
    Santa Fe , Tribute , or Forester, just not the "Aztek". We have enough of Eye pollution in this world..
    Of course why would anyone in his right mind buy a vehicle that in just it's second year, is being
    redesinged..!!!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Subaru has added plenty of content over time. Cruise control, power mirrors, 2nd odo, temp gauge, more torquey engine, rear LSD, 3 year roadside assistance, etc.

    Better yet, prices haven't really gone up. If you account for inflation and content, costs are way down.

    If the Tribute makes your heart pump, can't blame you I guess. Hope it's reliable and the mileage at least comes close to the Subie.

    -juice
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Just went to the Baltimore auto show, and was able to see the Santa Fe and Tribute up close.

    Have to say, not bad.

    The Santa Fe in particular was a pleasant surprise. I'm not into the styling much, but that's subjective. The interior was nice and roomy, and the one I saw carried a price tag of just $21.5k. It seemed heavy and probably could use more power, plus I'd wait to see how long-term reliability scores do, but otherwise it seemed like an impressive value, especially considering the warranty.

    The Tribute was pretty nice, too. Very roomy interior, despite compact proportions. I prefer the Tribute's styling, but hated the front high-back seats and column shifter. Price was about $25k on the one I saw, which would be OK if they get a hold of the quality control quickly and stop using the Ford CD4E tranny. 3/50 on the warranty is not enough given this tranny's bad history in other vehicles.

    So both seem competitive but could be better. Give the Santa Fe a bit more power, and keep quality in check long-term. I'd also like to see a manual transmission.

    The Trib could use a manual tranny (which would kill two birds with one stone - more speed and dump the CD4E) and different front seats with adjustable head rests. The current ones look like a Pinto's.

    -juice
  • natescapenatescape Posts: 176
    I almost bought a Santa Fe instead of my Forester S+, but the gas mileage and environmental impact were concerns (the SF had a real bad rating on the window, like twice that of the Forester). I was VERY impressed with it. My wife drives an Elantra wagon and loves it.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's no bull, either. Forester won a "Preferred" Award from Automotive Market Environmental Sensitivity (AMES). There is a link from the Edmunds main page.

    -juice
  • What the heck are you talking about?
  • natescapenatescape Posts: 176
    There was a sticker on the window of the floor display Santa Fe and Forester. I think it was an EPA air pollution meter, but I could easily be wrong. It showed a line from 1->10, with 1 being cleanest and 10 being dirtiest. I believe it had about 5.4 as "average".

    The Sube was well lower than average (I think it was like a 3.5 or so) and the Santa Fe was well above average (like a 7.5 or so). Being a closet environmentalist (I almost bought a Jetta TDI for the fuel economy), I went with the significantly cleaner Forester.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Interesting, I'll have to check on Monroneys (window stickers) from now on.

    -juice
  • All- FYI.

    The Santa FE is a full time four wheel drive vehicle with a 60/40 split. The split never changes. Neither the Tribute nor the Forester can run ALL the time in four wheel drive. The Tribute can run for short durations when in "lock" mode with a 50/50 split but when you exceed 18 Mph it switches back into normal mode "AWD". All all wheel drive systems can induce instabilities into any vehicle. AWD can be a detriment at times. The Explorer is such a vehicle that has caused accidents due to it's AWD system activating at highway speeds and causing the vehicle to either spin out or tumble even while traveling straight. Don't assume you are better with AWD.

    JVM
  • jsteckjsteck Posts: 1
    Gotta love the web: I narrowed down my choice of a mini-SUV to two -- the Trib and the Forester -- just through web research (and a lot of eyeballing). Then when I went for test drives I asked for the internet salesperson, got great, knowledgeable service, and a fair price with relatively little haggle.

    The Mazda dealer had no stock and said the Escape was getting the parts (e.g. rear discs), so the wait was long and no price breaks. He had one Trib available for a test drive. The handling was overall excellent -- very fun to drive! And I loved the rear-seat room. The interior was somewhat chintzy; my guess is they don't want to undercut the Explorer, as the Escape is almost as wide and roomy, and, best of all, very stylish.

    So why did I go with a Subaru? One word, no two, no three, sorry five-- quality, reliability, safety, and fuel-efficiency. I'm giving up a 13-year-old, 35mpg, ultra-reliable Toyota Tercel, finally ready for a change after 159K miles. I want ski and backpacking access, great handling, room for 5 in a pinch, a good commuter vehicle, and I *don't* want my truck in the shop. The Forester, a finely-tuned, proven vehicle, handles as well as the Trib, gets much better, more consistent gas mileage, and is safe. I'll be teaching my kids to drive in this vehicle. The clincher was checking out the user boards, which confirmed my fears about the first-year Ford reliability - ugh! Not to mention very inconsistent (and lower) gas mileage.

    Lately, every time I drive up to the ski resorts (in our minivan), I just can't wait for my new Roo -- five more weeks on a custom order. I treated myself to the 'S', which, compared to my basic Tercel (which doesn't even have a day/night mirror!), will be like driving the Taj Mahal...

    Regards all,

    John

    P.S. I like the way the Forester looks, whereas I love the Tribute's styling. So watch out, Juice, if Ford works out the bugs, I think they'll grab market share from every mini-SUV maker out there.

    P.P.S. The Mazda/Hyundai dealer also took me for a spin in the Santa Fe. Not bad; I just didn't like it's looks or feel compared to the Trib.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The manual-equipped Forester has a center viscous coupling differential, which allows the full time AWD. Power is split at 50/50 and when one axle slips more than the other, the fluid in the diffy heats up and locks temporarily, ensuring that the power gets to the wheels with grip.

    It is absolutely full-time. In all gears, all speeds, even in reverse, AWD is active.

    With that center diffy AWD is not a detriment. With 4WD locked (i.e. no center diffy) you could have binding, like with the Explorer in your example above. But this does not happen in Subarus with the center differential, which can tolerate axles spinning at slightly different speeds.

    AWD pro: reduced understeer, neutral handling, proactive traction. AWD con: slightly less gas mileage, about 150 lbs weight penalty.

    The Tribute's system is part-time for slippery surfaces only. That's different. Two other catches: rear drum brakes only, and no limited slip differential on either axle.

    John: as to market share, I think the Escape and Tribute are mainstream, so they'll steal sales from the Cherokee and Blazer, plus the market itself will expand. Subaru is a niche manufacturer and sales are actually up since the Escape came out. Go figure.

    I didn't know the Santa Fe's system was full-time, but kudos to Hyundai. It also has rear disc brakes and an optional limited slip differential.

    -juice
  • I do not believe the Sante Fe AWD system is full time. It is computer dirven and transfers power only when there is slippage. But I do not believe it is a 60/40 full time split.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I found a couple of reviews on it. Edmunds doesn't give any details at all.

    New Car Test Drive wrote "details from Hyundai about its full-time four-wheel-drive system are lacking", so they're in the same boat.

    The Car Connection wrote "The 4WD system has a viscous coupling transfer case", which implies it's similar to Subaru's setup.

    It's achilles' heel may be the mileage, though. One review said the V6 felt burdened by the AWD system, despite EPA ratings of only 19/23. A Forester S auto gets 22/27.

    -juice
  • natescapenatescape Posts: 176
    Is a major factor in my decision to get a Forester over the Santa Fe.
  • big_guybig_guy Posts: 372
    The Sante Fe V6 is taxed by the 4WD system because it is hauling around a portly 3752lbs whereas the Tribute comes in at 3455 lbs, and the Forester comes in at a svelt 3140 lbs.

    Initially, I thought that Hyundai should put the 3.0L V6 from the XG300 into the Sante Fe. However, the increase is not that much. The 2.7L V6 in the Sante Fe has 181 HP and 177 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0L V6 in the XG300 increases the HP to 192 but it only increases the torque to 178 lb-ft. Torque is where you feel it off the line so it probably wouldn't make a big difference in the Sante Fe.

    It would be fun to see Subaru put the 3.0L H6 from the Outback into the Forester and stretch it out another 6 inches to allow adults to sit in the back seat. The 212 Hp and 210 lb-ft in the H6 would really make the Forester get up and go!!
  • rutegerruteger Posts: 60
    The Subaru H6 would be a fine engine in the Forester, just as it is in the Outback. However, that 'get up and go' comes at the princely sum of more than an additional $7,000 over the price of a standard Legacy / Outback H4. Until Subaru gets their more powerful engine prices in line with that of the competition, I'm afraid the H6 will be going nowhere in comparison with the Tribute/Escape's much less expensive and nearly as powerful V6.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Using those numbers, power-to-weight ratios would be:

    Forester: 19.0 lbs per horse
    Santa Fe: 20.7 "
    Tibute: 17.3 "

    Not bad, it splits the difference.

    I wouldn't mind a bigger Forester if the weight gain was under 200 lbs, otherwise I'd keep the light and nimble current one. Weight is the enemy of handling and manueverability.

    -juice
  • natescapenatescape Posts: 176
    The Outback h6 is $7k more because both versions are loaded with goodies. The actual cost for the big engine is significantly less, I would guess.

    More likely to arrive on our shores (IMO) is a turbo h4 for the Forester.
  • rutegerruteger Posts: 60
    You are correct. The H6 comes with a raft of things that are not included with the $7,000 less base Outback, the least of which is the automatic transmission.

    When comparing similiarly equipped vehicles (like the Limited wagon with an auto and the H6 which comes standard with the auto), the price difference narrows down to around $2,000 between H4 and H6 equipped Subarus.

    It would definitely be an interesting situation if a strippo H6/auto Legacy wagon were available at around an MSRP of $23,290, since a similiarly-equipped Tribute LX-V6 AWD with ABS/side airbags now goes for almost the exact same amount.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'd like to see a manual trans with an $800 price drop, too. That would really go.

    LL Beans are listing locally for $27.2k freight included. Even loaded Tributes don't have as much equipment and the real-world price is closer than you'd think.

    -juice
  • rutegerruteger Posts: 60
    With the present dearth of ES Tributes, and they were selling any available loaded ES Tributes (tow, LX1, ABS) at MSRP of $25,705 and comparable LL Beans at invoice of $27,764 (6-disc CD, tow hitch), and I needed to buy something *right now*, I think I'd give serious consideration to the LL Bean.

    Any other set of circumstances would probably give the nod to the Tribute.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The funny thing is they would not have a supply problem if they weren't recalling them and ordering stop-builds.

    At least by now they supply/demand balance would be more in your favor.

    Just consider an extended warranty if you get one.

    -juice
  • big_guybig_guy Posts: 372
    Have you test driven a Tribute? It is 315 lbs heavier than the Forester but still feels pretty nimble and maneuverable even with a higher center of gravity and increased bulk. I think the Forester could gain up to 300 lbs with the increased power of the H6 and still be able to run circles around any of the other mini-utes out there. The lower center of gravity and superior AWD system really give the edge to the Forester. The Forester really needs a stretch job to make the rear seats accessible to anyone over 5'-0" tall. I love the handling of the Forester and the reliability of the Subaru engines and AWD system . . . but that back seat is just awful.

    My needs are for a good snow vehicle with lots of head and leg room for the driver and good head and leg room for the rear passengers. I don't plan on doing any stump busting so off-road prowess is not a concern. An increase from 33" to 37" or 38" and a 1" to 2" longer rear seat would do wonders for the Forester. The Sante Fe, Forester, and Tribute have similar front seat head and leg room but the rear seat room really tells the difference. I could put 5 adults in a Tribute or Sante Fe when I am driving, but could only fit 3 adults in a Forester under the same conditions . . . I guess I could fit 5 adults in a Forester as long as two of them were very short.

    I do agree with you about providing a manual transmission on an H6 Forester. Manual transmissions are a lot more fun, get better fuel economy, and I like the control you get with a manual tranny.

    I still have the luxury of waiting a while before making any purchases. By the time I am ready to buy, perhaps the Tribute will have worked out all the bugs, the folks at Hyundai will have put the Sante Fe on a diet or tweaked the 3.0L V6 to produce numbers closer to the 3.0L Duratec V6, and Subaru will have found a way to stretch the Forester and add more bang under the hood with either a turbo H4 (or supercharged H4), or the 3.0L H6. That would make a decision much more difficult between these three mini-utes. As it stands right now in my book, the Tribute edges out the Sante Fe and the Forester is in third due to the awful rear seat leg room.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    No, but it's not like I haven't tried.


    I saw one last Saturday at the Baltimore auto show, and was able to get inside and check it out up close. Obviously, we couldn't drive them.


    Earlier, I was hoping to drive an Escape at Edmunds Live, but their DC event coincided with the steering-wheels-falling-off recall, so we didn't get to drive them. Here is a photo of the sign telling us the Escape was MIA:


    http://thejuiceman.homepage.com/live.html


    Note the Rodeo that got stuck on their dirt hill. Remember - the driver counts more than the vehicle does!


    I have a 19 month old, so the back seat has more than enough room for us. I was more concerned with the cargo hold being able to hold strollers and the like, which is does well. If you move the front seats up a click or two, it's fine for even normal sized adults.


    The Santa Fe has a 2.7l V6, actually.


    I like small, nimble vehicles, so I consider than an advantage in the Forester. For extra space I have a roof top carrier by Samsonite (just $50) as well as a trailer hitch, plus a bike rack for that hitch.


    That setup allows me to pack heavily for vacations, yet still have fun driving to work (and get 25mpg in the process).


    -juice

  • natescapenatescape Posts: 176
    I don't have a big concern about the rear seat because I have two babies who won't need tons of room for 10-15 years. I have the Forester S+.

    But, several weeks ago 4 adults made a long drive (with a highway accident stoppage for a while) in my car and everyone had plenty of room. Two of us were 6' (me and one passenger), and the other two were 5'9" or so. Everyone had plenty of room, even when the other 6 footer sat behind me.

    So, IMO, the rear seats are slightly cramped, but are plenty big enough for most use. Sure, if you're going to be carpooling with lumberjacks, get a huge vehicle. But if there won't be more than a couple of adults in the car at a time, you're fine. And when you DO need to put people in back, they should be at least "not uncomfortable". :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I've also taken 5-6 hour trips from DC to CT with 4 adults. I'm about 6", but the others ranged from 5'6" to 5'9", and noone complained. We had lots of luggage, too, some on the roof rack (which can carry 150 lbs).

    Of course, I'm from Brazil, where cars tend to be tiny, so I see the Forester as a big (!) vehicle.

    -juice
  • big_guybig_guy Posts: 372
    -Juice The 3.0L V6 for the Sante Fe I was referring to was the unit in the XG300. I think there is plenty of room in the engine bay of the Sante Fe for the 3.0 L V6 and they could do some tweaking to up torque and HP. They could probably do some tweaking to the 2.7L V6 that is currently used to increase HP and torque as well but I think the 3.0L would be a better match.

    As far as the rear seats in the Forester go, I am 6'-7" tall and my wife is 5'-10" tall. I test drove a Forester and adjusted the driver seat to a point I was comfortable. My wife then tried to get into the rear seat behind me. She couldn't. I have three children, a 7 year old, a 3 year old, and a 6 month old. The 6 month old is obviously in a car seat and the 3 year old is in a car booster seat. To get two car seats and my seven year old in the back seat of the Forester was not easy. They could fit but the feet of my 3 year old were firmly pressed against the back of the driver seat. When I buy a car I intend to own it for 5 to 7 years. In that time, my family will have grown significantly (all three of my children are already in the 90th percentile in height and will probably continue to be in the upper percentile as they grow) and will easily outgrow the rear seat of the Forester. If I tried to take a trip with another couple, then it would be very difficult to get someone to sit comfortably behind the driver seat (unless they are 5'-4" or shorter). The Forester is a great car and I would love to own one (even with the standard 2.5L H4) but not until they do something to increase the rear seat leg room. I understand that the Forester isn't due for another make-over for a few years so it is unlikely they will do anything for additional room in the near future . . . which is a pity because I really like the Forester.
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