Need 2 new cars - please help

overhearoverhear Member Posts: 10
edited March 2014 in Honda
We're facing a dilemma. We have been planning on replacing our ancient Saturn sedan and just totaled our Audi a4 Avant wagon in our first accident ever. So we need one car right away and will need to buy a second car soon also.

I'm a soccer mom with 1 child so my priorities are safety and cargo space for lugging around kids, gardening supplies, tall house plants, etc. My husband is a engineer who wants the smallest car possible, with a manual transmission. We both dislike SUVs for their bulk and styling, but we live in the northeast so we do face some snow days each winter.

Given all that, we've been test driving AWD hatchbacks -- the Suzuki SX4, the Toyota awd Matrix (which we rejected outright due to poor sightlines), the Scion xB, and the Subaru Impreza and Forester.

The Forester was too bulky for us, so we were leaning toward the Impreza 5-door, but then we test drove the Honda Fit. And the problem is, we both fell in love with it. Ironically, I love it for the cargo space and the 3-person rear seat -- which feels bigger and more versatile than the Impreza, whereas he's taken by its small size. So while we need 2 cars, neither of us is thrilled with getting "stuck" with the Impreza -- which is too big for him and too small for me.

BUT, here are my reservations: Despite its stellar safety ratings, I do have worries about the safety of the Fit if it were to go up against a larger vehicle in an accident, and we still should have one AWD vehicle in the driveway for snow storms.

If the old Subaru Outback wagons with non-SUV styling were still on the market, they'd be a natural for us and would complement the Fit nicely. But what to do now???

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILMember Posts: 694
    If the old Subaru Outback wagons with non-SUV styling were still on the market, they'd be a natural for us and would complement the Fit nicely. But what to do now???

    What is wrong with a left over 2009 Outback? The price should be reasonable too.
  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788
    You may not care for the 2010 Outback styling, but it's a better car in just about every way over the model it replaces. It's actually about an inch shorter than the model it replaces, yet is soooo much more roomier inside. Plus the new CVT transmission is great, in that it is both more economical and transfers power more efficiently (it's quicker than the old model) than the old conventional automatic. In fact, the new CVT-equipped Outback is rated better than the smaller/lighter Impreza and Forester in terms of gas mileage!

    You and your husband sound like practical people. That being the case I would say go for the following, and in this order:

    1) 2010 Outback (or '09, if you can find one—but again, the '10 model is a better choice)
    2) Forester (wife drives a '01 Forester S-Premium)
    3) Impreza 5-door (I drive an '09 WRX)
    4) Honda fit
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Think long-term, you want 2 cars that perform different tasks.

    Get one small city car, one bigger family car for road trips and more comfort. Not to mention an all-weather vehicle.

    With that in mind, I think a Fit+Forester team would be perfect.


    Fit is a great little city car. Let that be your hubby's primary car, a manual transmission Sport model ought to run in the high teens, so it's very affordable. Yes it's small for crash protection, but at slower city speeds you should be fine.

    Out on the highway you can take your family/road trip car, a Forester 2.5X with the premium package, also available with a manual transmission (rare in this class). It aces crash tests and is a bit more substantial.

    Think the Forester is too big?

    It's shorter than a Chevy Cobalt coupe!

    It is not big, not by a long shot. Tell your hubby he's nuts. ;)

    An Outback with a 6 speed manual would be nice, but it's further from your ideal - bigger, heavier, more expensive. Plus it's not as nimble, so it feels even bigger in person vs. on paper compared to the Forester.

    Any smaller than a Forester (for your bigger of the 2 vehicles) and I think you'll regret it. Even with just one child, he or she will want to bring a friend along later, plus all your gear.

    What else can you get with a manual trans? Not much. Mazda5, but you don't need 6 seats, plus they don't offer AWD in the US models. Suzuki Grand Vitara may also come in a manual, IIRC, but it's less car-like than the Forester.

    Otherwise you could go smaller - but for AWD I think the SX4 is the only choice, and it's just too close in size to the Fit, they overlap too much.

    Buy cars that meet different needs, I think you'll be happier.

    Good luck. :shades:
  • overhearoverhear Member Posts: 10
    I know that the Forester just looks big, and I am wondering whether it's just the cosmetics that bother me, or how I perceive it drives.

    Given that and everyone's suggestions I'm going to go test drive the Forester again this weekend and try to be more open-minded.

    I also think the manual Fit would be great for my husband altho he's considering waiting for the new diesel rabbit (or is that the golf???).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Make sure you do U-turns to sample the tight turning radius - for its class.

    No way can it match the diminuitive Fit in this regard, but it does have best-in-class turning radius, per Consumer Reports.

    Diesel sounds good. Audi just showed a new A4 2.0 TDIe that gets 51mpg. It was a sedan, though, and meant for the European market. Wonder if they'll bring it here and sell an Avant version. That would be pretty cool.

    You could also do Fit + A4 Avant 2.0 TDIe Quattro.
  • overhearoverhear Member Posts: 10
    I must say, I won't miss my Saturn SL1's steering radius. There is just nothing subtle about executing a 3-point u-turn in heavy traffic. :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Funny thing is our 1998 Forester was not good. Our 2009's is much tighter despite a longer wheelbase, so that was a nice surprise.

    Thing is, you use that all the time, parking, U-turns, etc.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaMember Posts: 1,786

    I think the Fit is a great idea. They are fun to drive and are like Doctor Who's Tardis - carry an extraordinary amount of stuff and seat folding is very clever.

    If you are at the soccer mum stage, it might be worth having a look at one or two of the smaller SUV which have seen seats.Whilst some of them are bulky, they are frequently shorter, although wider and higher than station wagons. That makes manoevering them easier. The Forester is a little unusual in that it actually looks bulkier than it is. A very nice drive and quite appealing


  • overhearoverhear Member Posts: 10
    Well, I took the Forester out for another spin and I really did like the way it drove.

    Now I'm getting prices. So far I've just heard from one dealer -- $21,700 for the base model in automatic and $24,322 for the premium. Ideally I'd also like the all-weather package.

    One last thought: Does anyone have thoughts on how the VW Jetta compares to the Forester? Apart from still not caring for the Forester's looks, I'm a little concerned about its reliability rating in Consumer Reports (just "good").

    Thanks again for any thoughts...
  • backybacky Twin CitiesMember Posts: 18,946
    Jetta SportWagen: Very good handling, but a small wagon vs. SUV and FWD vs. AWD. Much different kind of vehicle than the Forester.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 14,793
    I am surprised to hear that you shied away from the Forester due to size! I suppose it is a matter of perspective, but I find my new Forester to be quite compact. The seating position can be upright and "commanding," depending on how it is adjusted, but very comfortable. My other car is a Fort Escort, which sits very low to the ground and feels small, but its overall size really isn't all that much smaller than the Subaru. In terms of space, the Forester packs quite a punch. A friend of mine who has an '08 Impreza rode in my Forester for the first time today. He immediately commented on how roomy it felt. Parked next to each other, there is very little difference width/length between the two models.

    As Bob stated, though, if you are not looking for a manual and fuel economy is high on the list, the Outback's CVT is a very efficient bugger.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Funny thing is they're about the same length!

    I'd consider a Jetta TDI Sportwagen, sure, the diesel variety.

    Thing is, I've known a lot of VW owners, and they fall in to 2 camps:

    * rabid VW fans that will never buy another non-European car


    * VW lemon owners that will never own another, even if it were free

    Pretty scary (to me) all-or-nothing experience.

    A friend just traded a Passat for a Honda Ody because it was rarely running. She put more miles on her loaner Ford Five Hundred (comfy, huge car) than she did on the Passat she owned.
  • overhearoverhear Member Posts: 10
    We finally bought a Subaru Forester. I held my ground and insisted on the premium model (which has a sunroof) against gentle but unmovable resistance from my husband.

    I thought the pricing situation might interest others. The deal was just about as good as I could get altho I'm not sure it's a bargain. I called every dealer in Westchester Co (NY) where we live and couldn't get anyone to sell the car below $25,700, which is $300 under the sticker price of $26,000. Apparently Subaru had banner sales in September and inventories are very low in the northeast. (I thought I'd found the car in NJ for $24,100, but it was missing the all-weather package and turned out to be a manual.)

    Finally, after checking the inventory of every dealer in NY state I found one within reasonable distance that had the right color, all-weather package, and 2 additional options (cargo tray and mirror compass) in a demo car with 1,400 miles on it. We negotiated a price of $24,256.

    That was all great, altho when the car came home last Friday we did hit a minor snag: My husband had not noticed that the cargo tray was missing. I emailed the dealer immediately (Friday) and heard back today (Monday) that (contrary to my original conversation with the dealer and to the online inventory page which is still on the web) that the tray is "not included with this model."

    Hopefully we'll resolve this last bit peacefully, and without a 2nd drive upstate.

    Thanks to everyone for assistance with the decision!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 14,793
    I held my ground and insisted on the premium model (which has a sunroof) against gentle but constant resistance from my husband.

    Good choice!

    While it was not one of the factors in my choosing the Premium, I cannot say enough good things about it. I am flat-out sold on that huge moonroof! I hope you really enjoy your Forester.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587

    I read about the missing tray in another thread, but didn't realize it was you who made that purchase.

    It's under $50 but I think they owe it to you. Print out the list of equipment from the web site, call the dealer back, and remind them that you have yet to fill out the satisfaction survey.

    If they don't agree, call 800-SUBARU3 and explain what happened. Be nice, I bet they take care of it. I can't believe a dealer would soil a relationship with a customer over such a minor item (their mistake, too).

    The price sounds good. Supply is indeed very tight right now and 1800 miles is nothing, it's just barely broken in.

    Enjoy it! :shades:
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