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:
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).
My friends have had similar experience with Audi, so I'd also rule them out.
One other consideration is resale value, and the Outback's is good. In fact, that makes it a bad choice among used cars, because the price is close to what new ones cost. May as well buy new.
The best site for safety scores is:
Subaru aces pretty much all the tests. Santa Fe and Tribute have not been tested yet, but keep your eyes on that site.
All the others get overall ratings of only "acceptable". This is a summary of several safety tests and real world data.
Unibodies actually tend to be safer. They have crumple zones to absorb impact. A full length frame acts like a battering ram and could harm others, but does nothing to absorb crash impact engery.
Trucks also have lower safety and emissions standars than cars do, so one should not assume they are safer. Even if their weight is a relative advantage (and crashtest.com already accounts for that in their scores), it makes them less nimble and therefore unable to avoid some accidents that some cars could.
An example is better, though. Lexus comes out with a new model, wouldn't you assume it's more than likely going to be very reliable? Honestly, you would not?
The price is great, I agree. The Santa Fe is the budget buy in the segment, but most folks are willing to spend a bit more for piece of mind. If you're looking for a budget buy and got the Hyundai, then I think you made the right choice.
However, I disagree 100% about the bad deal you're speaking of. Demand is high for new models, like the Santa Fe, which then sells near the full retail price, i.e. with higher margings.
The Forester isn't as new and so it sells near invoice. Look at Fitzgerald, which sells both Hyundai and Subaru, and you'll see:
The same dealer that is selling Foresters for $300 under invoice, starting at $18,893 for an L with AWD and ABS, is asking for $800 above invoice for their only 4WD Santa Fe.
So apparently they are shaking Hyundai customers like money trees, not Subaru customers. Because the Santa Fe is new. Once initial demand calms down you'll be able to get a better deal.
I'm glad you have clubs forming; it certainly looks promising for Hyundai. We also have several and I happen to be very active in several (Subaru Crew, Subaru Club of America, i Club, Yahoo Forester Club, and Mid-Atlantic Subaru Club).
Remember - Subaru is an underdog, too. Hardly the giants that Honda and Toyota are.
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