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Help Me Select a Wagon

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Comments

  • As the owner of an '01 LL Bean, let me say that Juice's comments are right on the mark. My wagon has about 21,000 miles and other than a "check engine" episode (which was corrected without delay) I've experienced no problems whatsoever. I owned a '96 Outback previously and can definitely say the H6 LL Bean is truly a superior vehicle in that it's so much more refined as well as more powerful. The gas mileage ranges between 21+ around town to a shade over 27 on the highway and that's with the A/C on full time here in Florida. I'd be pleased to answer any specific questions you might have.

    Don
  • Why do you need an Outback in Florida? :-)
  • The Outback was bought in Illinois before I moved to Florida. I use the wagon to carry two bicycles INSIDE when my wife and I bike (which is about four times a week). The extra interior height of the Outback handles this well. As for AWD, I greatly appreciate the safety factor of the system in the tropical rain storms which occur here frequently. Lastly, I do like the H6 engine which is available only in the LL Bean Outback and the VDC Outback. I used to own an SVX ('91-95) and feel the H6 is an ideal engine for my use.

    Hope this answers your question.

    Don
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    LOL, there are very few Subaru owners in Florida. In fact I know both of them! ;-)

    -juice
  • nelsoncmnelsoncm Posts: 103
    I traded in my 2000 Sable LS wagon for a Saab 9-5 Arc (v6 auto) a couple of weeks ago. After only 2 weeks, I've discovered I personally prefer the smoothness of the American wagon, and I miss the space. But the Sable had quality issues and I got fed up with Ford and went radically different, but not before also driving:
    1) a Toyota Highland and 2) Volvo V70 2.4T and 3) Passant v6.

    The Highlander was very nice and had even more room than my Sable. But it was an SUV and I just didn't know about safety (rollovers) and the cost of ownership. It also felt a little "twitchy". But I liked it and think it's a nice smaller SUV.

    With the Volvo, I thought I wasn't getting enough new stuff to justify the trade. Yeah, lots of safety, but low head room, not as comfy seats as you'd expect and rumors of horrible reliability.

    The Passat is very nice, smooth, but I hate that red/blue night instrumentation and the seats aren't great. And reliability is questionable. (Also, VW is very greedy and expensive on non-warranty repairs. They're getting so full of themselves!)

    So i got a Saab. It's definitely top quality build, nice cabin (albeit crappy cupholders), the most awesome stereo I've ever had and has other thoughtful amenities. A little small, but great seats, nice performance.

    The only thing I don't like is the tight European suspension drive. Very tight. After having a Sable that you can steer with your pinky finger without even thinking about it, it's a rather harsh ride. I'm trying to adapt. If I don't, I'll probably try a new 2003 Sable. They've upgraded the seats and added some basic
    s, like ABS standard.

    I'll keep you posted.
  • danielj6danielj6 Posts: 285
    Would you mind telling me how much the dealer gave you for the Sable? I also have a 2000 Sable station wagon (LS Premium), and I'm very curious of its value on trade.

    Thank you and enjoy your Saab!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 9-5 is probably a lot sportier once you push it. But if you drive laid back you may never notice.

    -juice
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    Try giving the Volvo a second chance, but go for the base 2.4 if you want value and economy. Personally, I find the comfort to be outstanding, and the new V70s definitely set the benchmark in the wagon class.
  • Also trying to decide on a wagon. Any views on the BMW 525i vs. the VW Passat W8?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Both should be real nice.

    I love the 5 series, and the wagons are roomy and offer everything a family with an enthusiast dad could want. The 2.5l is not quick, though, that's the only catch. Especially loaded up with passengers. Besides that they are super nice. I like them better than the X5, they drive better, handle better, ride better, cost less, and have more cargo room.

    I like Passats, but IMHO a $22k 1.8T is a much better value than a $40k W8. Chip the former and call it a bargain.

    C&D did a comparo with the W8 a couple of months ago, it didn't do so well in that price class.

    -juice
  • As a formerly very satisfied Subaru owner (my '92 Legacy Wagon with 178,000 on the odometer still runs like a champ), I unwisely bought a new 2002 Outback Wagon without thoroughly test driving the car. For what it's worth, the new Subaru is not the quality vehicle of years past. The lower body cladding is painted plastic - paint which easily scratches and detracts from the appearance of the car. In addition, road noise and the incessant whistling of wind infiltrating the poorly fitting windows and doors are absolutely nerve wracking. Also, I had numerous problems with electrical switch failures. With only 15,500 miles in the car I sold it and will never again buy another Subaru. Perhaps the recent acquisition of part of Subaru by GM has led to the dramatic quality lapses.

    On a positive note, despite Consumer Report's less than positive reliability ratings of the new Passat, I've heard nothing from praise from Passat owners and very much enjoyed my very thourough test drive of that vehicle.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Passat has indeed improved to "average" lately. But the Legacy and Outback still score better. Keep in mind that's on a large sample of cars, of course there is plenty of variance when you're talking about a single car.

    I think your Subie was an exception, though. The window angle can be adjusted, someone in the main thread even shared instructions on how to do that yourself. Electrical problems are rare.

    They don't use any GM parts (yet, at least). In fact Subaru cancelled plans to share a GM platform for the 2005 SUW. Get metric sockets because the english ones you might have for your domestic car will not fit on any Subaru nuts and bolts.

    Subaru has remained fiercely independent, one Legacy ad even showed a GM vehicle performing poorly in an IIHS crash test, saying the competition was banging their heads up against the wall. That's independence.

    -juice
  • Hey everyone, I'm considering buying a new 2003 Kia Rio RX-V conv. package (different from the 2002 models). Looks like a good deal at $16,150 CDN (5 sp., a/c, pw, pdl, pm, cd, alloys, roof rack), and Kia of Burnaby (Vancouver Metro area)is throwing in 5 years scheduled maintenance (oil changes, brakes, exhaust, tune-ups, even wiper blades) to match the warranty. I'm jumping from a 2001 Volvo S60 (lost it - and lots more - in the divorce...) Should I jump?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I don't even know what those look like. You have a web site URL?

    We get a Kia Rio Cinco wagon in the US, is it similar?

    -juice
  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    I am very frustrated after searching since February for a wagon just like my Subaru Loyale. Sadly, it's a 1993 and Subaru didn't make them after that, otherwise I would buy a new used one. That one was still made in Japan, unlike the ones Subaru offers today that are made in USA and not as good quality/reliability wise. Brother switched to Mazda (Protege5), friend to Ford Focus (for gosh sakes!), and Mom still insists on Subaru (bought a Japan-made Impreza Wagon but has had PROBLEMS!) All of us used to be Subaru fans.

    What can you suggest that has the reliablity and cargo space of the Subaru Loyale?
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    On a rainy day a few months ago, I did an across the board numerical analysis of long term reliability on car brands based on CU data. Toyota (incl Lexus), Honda (incl Acura) and Subaru were far ahead of all other brands in overall reliability. Where the cars were assembled had little bearing on the data; the car designs are still done in Japan and that is what determines long term reliability.

    The data also indicates that Subaru models are continuing to increase in reliability, not decrease. Of course, any brand can have problems on any specific car, but statistically your best bet are those brands. I would think a base legacy wagon would be your best bet.

    Good luck,
    Mike
  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    Yes, I found a 1992 Subaru Loyale with 130,000kms and no rust, cheap cheap! It is a year older than my Loyale but obviously has been a lot better taken care of! Hopefully by the time this one rusts out Subaru will have brought back a nice reasonably priced (2WD) and reliable wagon with ROOM! And in the meantime, I can add to my savings so that I will have more than enough money to pay cash for it!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Try a Forester. They are about the same size, just taller.

    Foresters are made in Gunma, Japan, and if you pick up the CR auto issue you'll see they're at the top of the reliability ratings for small SUVs. I have a '98 and the only way I'll give it up is if a Forester turbo arrives next year.

    Loyales are fun. My cousin had one, later traded up for an Outback. Loved both.

    You won't find a 2WD Subaru, though. They went exclusively AWD in 1995 and haven't looked back. Sales have just about doubled since they made that decision, and AWD now defines them, basically.

    -juice
  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    Dealer sold it before I got there. Trip to Montreal for nothing. I was angry. So back to looking again. Saw the Matrix (not a real Toyota..made with GM parts just like the Pontiac Vibe),saw the Protege5 (not much cargo room) and the Suzuki Aerio. So far, the Suzuki Aerio is the most likely, but it is also small and more likely to rust than the others...the dash is a little annoying (digital) but I suppose I could get used to it. Forget Subaru...they are AWD and that means I'm paying for something I don't need. Any other suggestions before I sign?
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    The engine and the rest of the drivetrain are also found in the Corolla and the Celica so I'd say it is more a Toyota than a GM. Yes, it has some GM parts (AC Delco stereo, etc.) but it is becoming a global economy so it is hard to get away completely from this sort of thing (GM owns ~20% of Subaru and Suzuki too along with Saab, Opel, etc).
  • nelsoncmnelsoncm Posts: 103
    Sorry it took so long....I got $10,000, but then I still owed like $2500, so really I got $7k and some change. Really, terrible. And the Saab dealer was only selling it for $12,500. (I wonder if it sold yet???) Anyway, it's pretty awful because it only had 24k miles. Privately, I'm sure I could have gotten much better.
    I still miss my Sable, but I'm getting more used to the Saab.
  • nelsoncmnelsoncm Posts: 103
    Well, I've owned my 9-5 Arc for a couple of months now, and have semi gotten used to it. My biggest complaint is how much engine and road vibration comes into the cabin, especially into the steering wheel. Enough vibration to make my hands and fingers tingle and go sort of numby. I put one of those crappy vinyl steering wheel covers over the wheel and it helps. To me, that is unacceptable in a $40K car. And Saab says everything checks out fine.

    And there's other little things, like the central door lock button is on the floor console and the hatch button is on the door. Confusing and easy to forget. The storage area under the cargo area floor (for shallow or flat items) is useless because you can only lift the storage compartment door if you have nothing else in back. Hello, parent with stroller and other child stuff!!!!!!
    Other than that, it's ok. Power is decent in regular Drive, and in the "sport" mode, you just plain haul [non-permissible content removed]! (Not that I need that to go to the grocery store.) The seats are still way comfy (better than Volvo in my opinion) and the stereo still rocks.
    And it still feels very solid and will probably last for years. Don't know that I'll keep it that long, but it does feel good to know I'm driving a quality build car and I only have to take it in for routine servicings ever 10,000 miles. Plus all the people at Santa Ana Saab are great, and treat you like they give a damn about your business, even when they know you don't love their product.
    Who knows, maybe I'll keep it a while after all.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You don't get snow in Canada? We just got 10 inches way south in DC.

    Aerio felt a little cheap to me. Look at some of the rough edges on the doors, unfinished carpet and trim, stuff like that. I'd lean towards a Matrix, Outback Sport, or P5.

    Nice update Nelson.

    -juice
  • danielj6danielj6 Posts: 285
    I really don't believe you could've gotten much more than $10.000 for your Sable if sold privately. Perhaps $1000 or $1500 but no more. Did you have the LS Premium wagon??

    The problem with European cars is that at least the parts are outrageously expensive. I'd rather go American.

    Good luck with your Saab!
  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    Took another good hard look at it. Then drove home with husband and kids in our Chevy 2500 extended cab long box farm truck and husband says "do you really want something THAT small?" Took my good old Subaru Loyale grocery shopping, picked up a lazy boy chair on the way home and said to myself "I guess not". Heard rumours of an extended Aerio in the near future? And a Mazda 6 wagon......any other wagon possibilities I should wait for. Loyal Loyale is still running so might as well hang in there and wait for manufacturers to come to their senses and offer good practical wagons again...which I think they will.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    I have a 2001 LW200 and find it to be an excellent vehicle. Only real problem was the stock Firestone tires but tires are quite easy to change and on Michelins it is much quieter and has better grip and handling. The cargo area is good though the 30/70 split passthru is really only useful for small long items as the safety bar for the rear seats stays in place until you fold all the rear seats down -- then it will hold huge items.

    The car easily holds 4 adults and a child seat plus a decent amount of cargo or with the rear seats down it holds a ton of stuff. The roof racks are good too, I have the Thule system for cargo and bikes.

    The stock stereo is quite nice, an 8-speaker Panasonic.

    With 0% financing they end up being quite a bit cheaper than a Subaru Legacy unless you're paying cash and it is a couple thousand cheaper to begin with ($25K CND vs. $27K CND for the Legacy). It is FWD with a fully independent suspension. I have the 2.2L 4-banger which I find gives good fuel economy and more than adequate acceleration. With snow tires on it there are no worries in snow or ice.

    If you look at used ones, 2001 and up is better than the first year, 2000, though most 2000's probably have all the recalls done on them already. There may still be a few 2002's on the lots.

    Saturn didn't used to do incentives but they do them now so while it is still no haggle I find with cash and finance deals it turns out to be competitive. The Focus wagon is cheaper still but it is a smaller vehicle with a smaller engine.
  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    Actually I did take a serious look at it, and did the Edmunds comparison with that one, the Ford, the Matrix and the Protege5. The Saturn looks like a really good family wagon with a sensible wagon shape, but my husband says don't touch it because build quality is poor and resale value is bad too. Since it's also his money, he has a say too.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    but that makes them fairly cheap to buy used. I bought mine for the long haul so I'm not worried about resale.

    I find the build quality is quite good.

    Oh well, good luck in finding your wagon!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 6 wagon looks promising but won't be squared off like you prefer (for more cargo space).

    I think I saw an ad on Sunday where Saturn is offering pretty big cash back now. When we were shopping back in May, the Legacy L actually carried a small price advantage, even with AWD, but not with this rebate.

    I still preferred the Legacy and don't regret it, but it may be worth a look if you like the idea of not haggling for the purchase.

    -juice
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    For some reason car prices aren't 1:1 between Canada and the USA. The Saturn LW200 starts at $25K here while the Legacy L starts at $27K, both with 5-speed trannies. There used to be a cheaper Legacy Brighton which didn't have all the bells and whistles of the L but it is gone now (it hasn't been available in the USA for even longer than here).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Absolutely true. Subies tend to cost more relative to their competitors in Canada.

    I should have said "here in the US". I also got a $750 rebate and paid a price at around invoice, compared to full MSRP with no rebate (at the time) for a Saturn wagon.

    The Brigthon was only available for MY2000, then it was gone. It looked wierd withouth the roof rack, if you ask me.

    -juice
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    Just a strange stereotype about them that I have in my mind. Must be part of the reason why I preferred the look of the Vibe to the Matrix when I test drove them.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That and the Legacy has a raised roof that is custom made to wrap the roof rails in a customized fashion. Without them it looked sort of ridiculous.

    I actually prefer the Matrix over the Vibe, but that roof is smooth.

    -juice
  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    I did go and look at the Matrix, but the roof looks like a giant stepped on it at the back and started to squash it. Is it supposed to look "cool"? It certainly isn't practical for cargo space or visibility. I'm looking for an older model station wagon now, or I might even patch up my Loyale enough so I won't get pulled off the road.
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Have you thought about finding a last-generation ('96/'97) Accord or Camry wagon? They're tough to find, as not many were sold, and I suspect those who have them want to keep them. Another option, I suppose, would be a non-turbo Volvo 850 wagon.
  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    Yes, I did. The local Toyota dealer told me he hadn't seen a Camry station wagon "for years". I take that to mean there have been none in for repairs either. My brother (ex Honda driver now Mazda Protege5 owner) checked out Accord too, and there are never any for sale. I even visited a typical "corner used car lot" that I would never buy from and asked. I was told that any wagons they get do not stay on the lot. Wagons are very popular. As for Volvo..that's out of my league I think.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think it's supposed to look like a built in spoiler, the Matrix roof, that is.

    Look in the paper. You're on the right track by having well defined needs, be just as thorough on your test drives and you'll end up just fine.

    -juice
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    Our local Honda joint has a 66k mile '96 Accord EX wagon on the lot right now. Doubt it will last long. :-)

    If you're looking at a Matrix and vehicles in its price range, you'd be in about the ballpark of a certified pre-owned Volvo.

    Good luck!
  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    Well, I plan on keeping a Japan-made car for 10 years. My Loyale is 10 years old, so was my rusting Chaser when I sold it for 10% of what I paid for it. So, if I spend the same amount of money, about $20-22,000 Canadian, how long will the Volvo last?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Volvos are durable, they should last a long time. It may require more repairs along the way vs. some Japanese brands, but it'll last as long if not longer.

    -juice
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    If you define car durability as the engine, then I believe that Volvos are long lasting; but if you define durability as the entire car, then I would disagree totally. My Volvo 850 wagon, at 80k miles, was failing fast: paint, ac, motor mounts, power seats, steering column, oil leaks. An independent Volvo master mechanic listed a bunch more failures I should expect over the next 30k miles. Repair costs were in thousands of dollars at a pop, not hundreds. Needless to say, I dumped it and will never go there again.

    I believe reliability is where failure of anything at 100k miles is out of the ordinary, not expected.

    Mike
  • Volvo lack of long term reliability is one of the reasons their sales have been lackluster. Many components tend to fail and repair costs are high.
    Regarding the build quality of the Saturn LW, I have one and find it's decently put together. However, component and interior material quality is lacking and resale value is terrible. Unless you keep it until it is worn out, the Saturn L series wagon only makes sense as a leased vehicle.
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    The Volvo 240's used to last forever, often clocking 200K, 300K or more miles easily on the orginal engine (though you did have to replace motor mounts, exhaust components, etc.). Those 4-bangers were bulletproof and the rear wheel drive-train and suspension were very simple. Now with FWD/AWD, turbo on almost every engine, they are very complicated and don't seem to last as well. Perhaps newer ones are better but the 850's in particular were quite bad, with a friend recently replacing their auto tranny for $5500 CND.

    I agree with the Saturn resale comments. I also have a LW and love the car but fully intend to drive it into the ground. Mine has been just great so far and I hope to get many more years out of it.

    You should know that lease rates and residuals are related to the resale value so you rarely do better with a lease -- a car with poor resale will generally have a low residual which means higher payments. Leasing a car with high resale value will actually yield lower payments (but a higher residual for if you want to buy it out at the end). The guys who lease them aren't completely stupid you know, as they have to get rid of them afterward!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Mike: now that I think about it, my next door neighbor gave his 850 to his kids, and it's such a beater now. His paint is in pretty bad shape too. Older Volvos seemed to last forever, though.

    I guess when you see lots of 20 year old models on the road, it's perceived as durable. How many Dodge Omnis do you still see driving around? Not many. How many Volvo 240s? Plenty. That's what I mean.

    -juice
  • mikenkmikenk Posts: 281
    I do believe cars get "long life" reputations primarily because of the engines; as long as the sucker will run, someone will drive it. I don't believe I have seen many old Volvos in great condition, but they get you from point A to B with consistent safety. All teenagers should have old Volvos: they will be safe, will learn to fix things, and will learn self denial.

    Realistically, I think that newer Volvos will prove to be similar to the old ones in terms of staying on the road, but not cheaply.

    Mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, and the slow 4 cylinder 240 wagons too. No turbos. Make 'em slow and safe!

    Another thing is it might be worth spending $$$ for repairs on a Volvo, and not a Kia Rio, since the Volvo has more value to begin with. So the Rio will be retired much sooner.

    You're not going to pay for a $3000 engine rebuild on a Kia. For a Volvo, maybe, depends on the age.

    -juice
  • hpulley4hpulley4 Posts: 591
    Yep, engines ranged from 82HP carburated (with manual choke) 1.9L to 112-135HP for the fuel injected 1.9-2.3L engines and even up to 140HP fuel injected 16V OHC 2.3L depending on the year, the country and the model. The OHC engine wasn't really too bad for a 3000lb car, similar to many 4-banger midsized wagons today but those carburated ones were awful, especially with an automatic tranny. Funny to think a modern Saturn LW is the same mass as a Volvo 245 and an Subaru Impreza is actually heavier!

    There were turbos and Renault-built 6's plus some diesels too, more engines than you could shake a stick at. The Haynes manuals were huge.

    Enough room in a 245 to carry a 3-person couch in the wagon with the hatch closed (and rear seats folded down) so they were great for moving into college. The 740s and later models seem quite small by comparison...
  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    I currently drive an '89 Volvo 740 non turbo. I assure you, there's more passenger room and trunk space (it's a sedan) than a corresponding 240 sedan. The 700 series begat the 900 series, which really is a fairly large car.
    I've got the 2.3l 8 valve motor (B230F, for those keeping score at home) with the five speed manual transmission. It's no speed demon, but it get around town and cruises on the highway pretty well.

    With any older car, Volvo or otherwise, how it looks 15 years from rolling off the assembly line is all about how the owner takes care of it. I'm the second owner of this car; I've had it two years and it's obvious the first owner took great pride in it (as evidenced by the maintenance book that was found in the glovebox when I bought it. He serviced it at the Volvo dealer it was bought from new, and traded back into the same dealer, which is where I bought it.) I'm constantly getting comments from people who think it's a newer car than it is. It's got 124k on the clock, and I've sunk $0 into non-scheduled maintenance. (Scheduled maintenance, even at an independent shop, is a bit pricey, though, I'll admit.) I, too, am fastidious about maintenance, both mechanical and cosmetic.

    Having said all this, though, I've seen some pretty ratted out Volvos, especially down in the local college town (Iowa City.) Again, it's all about how it's taken care of from day one.

    I've heard from a few sources that the average front drive Volvo isn't as durable, and that might be true; a quick check of eBay reveals more than a few 150,000 or even 200k+ mile 850s, however.

    I really like my Volvo and will likely replace it (or my wife's Accord, when its time comes) with another one.
  • joybelljoybell Posts: 275
    After lots of headscratching and penciling, I deceided to stick with Subaru and get an Impreza 2.5TS. It isn't really a wagon in my view, but it is made in Japan and should last 10 years. No matter how you look at it, a car is going to cost you $2000/yr minimum, if you buy new or used. At least with new you have no repairs for the first five year, and if this Subaru is as good as the other two I've owned for 10 years each, it will need no major repairs during its lifetime.
This discussion has been closed.