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Help Me Select a Wagon



  • hersbirdhersbird Posts: 323
    I don't think the subie AWD systems get poor reviews, especially the varible center differential systems like in the automatic WRX and the Outback VDC. My I have driven some poor AWD systems (the Ford Aerostar electronic AWD was the worst ever) but think my brothers automatic WRX is one of the best. The system on our 2000 AWD caravan is actually very good too, you would never know it was there except the tires never spin like on a FWD minivan. I've also owned a Jeep Grand Cherokee with the older style quadratrack. It was good off road, but on snow and ice it had a potential to fishtail some, probably due to a limited slip rear. My brother's wrx will oversteer as well with it's limited slip, but that's due more to it's power to weight ratio, and just amazing stability while doing it. In the Jeep it's scary, in the Subie it's fun. Subie has been doing the AWD thing for a long time. The older audis with AWD are falling apart, where a 85 Subie AWD wagon with 250,000 may still be going (I won't say going strong, as they weren't strong even when new!)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Most Quattro systems use a Torsen, which are good for track driving but actually show their achilles' heel on frictionless surfaces (ice). That's why they are paired up with traction control.

    Subaru's systems are not as well suited to track driving, but are inherently better designed for use in foul weather.

  • peetertpeetert Posts: 124
    Well, I really need a bunch of lines for the title, but to try and sum it up, since selling my boat, we no longer need a tow vehicle so we're looking to trade our '98 Explorer in on a station wagon. The top condenders are the Volvo V70 (just bought a '99 S70 as a commuter car) and an Audi A6.

    We've driven a '99 V70 and liked it, I'm doing research now, but will porobably be buying in the fall. Buying new is out of our budget, so this will be a used purchase.

    Questions, not in any real order, are as follows:

    1. Volvo body styles (-2000 vs. 2001+) - Are the older platform V70's better/worse than the newer style. We're going to be keeping this wagon for a while so would the extra cost of getting a 2001 model be worth it. Are they that much bigger/better.

    2. AWD vs FWD - From what I've read, the Volvo AWD system has it flaws and one has to be real vigilant about tire rotation, etc. Since we'll be buying used, is it wiser just to get a FWD w/ traction control as opposed to AWD. We do live in a hilly area and our main transportation in the winter has always been a 4x4.

    3. Turbo - our S70 is non-Turbo and while it still moves w/ 4 passengers, we've decided that if we get the V70, loaded, it'll have to have the turbo.

    4. Towing - I've got a small utility trailer (4x8 w/ 1000lb capacity) that we use to haul dirt/mulch to/from the local landfill. This should be no problem, should it?

    5. Finally, V70 vs. A6 - in terms of size, etc. The A6 is an alternative to the V70. We've driven an A4 Avant and it's jsut too small. The advantages here seem to be a V6 vs V5 w/ turbo and better AWD system. For those that have looked at both and chosen one over the other, what were your reasons.

    Thanks for putting up with this long post and all my questions. I'm sure I'll ahve a few more once I get more into the specifics.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I have not sampled the A6, but I did sample several Volvos at the Fire & Ice event they hosted here in DC.

    We drove FWD and AWD samples back-to-back on a course they had set up. In a wet start, the AWD absolutely killed FWD+traction control. No contest, it just took off while the FWD had the engine fighting the brakes.

    AWD also improved the handling, and noticeably. There was less understeer, and it generally felt more sure-footed, stable. I left convinced the AWD was worth the extra money.

    The S60 understeers worse than the S80, at least that was my impression. Lots of plow. The tranny was also slow to pick 1st gear after a full stop, in fact all the models I drove presented this characteristic.

    You may not drive at 10/10ths most of the time, but it's nice to know how it'll handle at the limit.

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    << 4. Towing - I've got a small utility trailer (4x8 w/ 1000lb capacity) that we use to haul dirt/mulch to/from the local landfill. This should be no problem, should it? >>

    The V70 can tow 1100 pounds of unbraked trailer, and 3300 pounds with braked trailers.

  • mod62mod62 Posts: 38
    Any info on this wagon would be great. Apparently it is in good shape and has 136,000 on it for $4,400.

  • lancerfixerlancerfixer Posts: 1,308
    The most important question would be about periodic maintenance: has it been kept up to date? That's especially important for turbo powered vehicles; turbos can get kinda spendy to replace. Aside from mechanical issues, look out for some other common 740 bugaboos (I've got an '89 740) like falling headliners, tailgate rattles (wagons only) and dashboard cracks. These are all known, fixable issues, but they'll cost to do so (you can save a bundle ordering the parts from some place like iPd and doing the work yourself. I really like my 740, all things considered; I think you should be able to pick it up for a hair under 4 grand, though.
  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Edmunds' 2002 Midsize Wagons Comparison Test is now available!

    Also, for those interested in discussing the results, please join us in this new Wagons discussion: 2002 Midsize Wagons Comparison Test. Thanks for your participation. ;-)

    Hatchbacks & Wagons Boards
  • I am going to look for a new car this weekend and have tentatively selected the Subaru Outback
    L.L. Bean Model. Can anyone who owns this model or any Subaru Outback tell me how it
    rides on long distance trips? How comfortable is the ride on long distance trips. I currently have a 1994 Ford Explorer and it rides rough in town and on the road.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    We test drove one recently, and I loved it. We bought a Legacy L because of our budget, but the Bean really impressed. Even our L is quiet, rides nicely, and is very refined.

    The Bean goes further and has more insulation, the wonderfully smooth H6, and a more tolerant long-travel suspension.

    In fact, the H6 is not about drag racing, but about smooth power delivery. When we swapped drivers during the test drive, my wife tried to start the car, not even realizing it was already running. It's that quiet.

    Subaru was criticized for its pricing, some reviews gawking at $33k price tags, but real world prices are much lower and make for a solid value. If you are in the DC area, is selling a VDC with freight included for $26,375, and the Bean is cheaper than that (none are in stock right now). The price ought to fall just over $25 grand or so.

    Not bad for AWD, heated leather, 6CD changer in-dash, 16" alloys, ABS, and 2 moonroofs. No other car has all of the above for even close to that price.

    I say go for it, then join us in the Subaru Crew topics, under Owners Clubs.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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,
  • 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.

  • 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).
This discussion has been closed.