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



  • natescapenatescape Member 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 Member 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 Member 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.

  • rutegerruteger Member 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 Member 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.

  • big_guybig_guy Member 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 Member 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:

    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).


  • natescapenatescape Member 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 Member 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.

  • big_guybig_guy Member 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.
  • natescapenatescape Member Posts: 176
    So, it looks like you WILL have lumberjacks soon, and there's a giant driving it. :-D

    The Forester back seats aren't big enough for ya. Heh. Guess your username is appropriate.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Agreed. The 3.0l from the XG would be better - because in this class it's about torque, not horsepower. Or at least it should be.

    The Forester will be revised for the 2003 model year, which may be too late for you.

    Can I be honest, though? 3 kids, and you want a compact SUV? I would think about that long and hard. You'd be far better served by just about any minivan, or at least an SUV with 3 rows of seats.

    You're going to find that the kids are going to want to bring guests, and otherwise you'll be stuck taking two cars on every weekend outing.

    Take a gander at the Suzuki XL7, and maybe the new Explorer, both which offer extra seats. Later on the Blazer will, plus you have the Durango, Tahoe, and Sequoia you could consider. Some Volvo and Taurus wagons also have the 3rd row.

    I think you may need it! :-)

  • big_guybig_guy Member Posts: 372
    I already have a minivan (just started the 2nd year of a 3 year lease) for hauling around the whole family and extra passengers . . . however, in winter driving here in the Rocky Mountains I need something with AWD and I don't need another minivan (although when the current lease is up I may consider an AWD minivan). I don't want to break the bank and get a big SUV (not only are they more expensive to buy but they are generally gas hogs). I also don't want to get a vehicle that spends more time in the shop than in my driveway. I have tried to sit in a lot of the mid sized SUV's and can't fit. That includes the Durango, Pathfinder/QX4, 4Runner, Cherokee (although the Grand Cherokee has enough drivers room but it is up over $30k), Rodeo, Trooper, Montero Sport, Blazer/Jimmy, MDX (due to the moonroof), and even the giant Suburban lacks sufficient head room. I do fit in the Explorer, Expedition, Excursion, Montero, Sequoia, Highlander, Land Cruiser, and M-Class. The Explorer is the least expensive of that bunch and has the least appeal to me. Suprisingly enough, I do fit in the drivers seat of some of the small SUV's the Forester, Tribute, Sante Fe, and CRV, but not the RAV4 or X-terra.

    I have tried the XL-7 and fit in the drivers seat. However, I found that in order to get anybody to sit in the third row of seats (even my 3 year old), you need to push the second row of seats up and that reduces the 2nd row leg room from the 36" (as advertised) to the realm of the Forester and worse. I have also sat in a few Volvos and found the head room lacking not to mention that a good sized Volvo wagon is pricey. The Taurus is big enough but I owned a Taurus sedan in the past and had nothing but problems with it and am extremely reluctant to invest in another Taurus. I even test drove a VW Passat Wagon w/ 4motion. It drove nicely and had enough room in it but it was expensive. I don't know much about the reliability of the 4motion system but I see a lot of VW and Audi vehicles in for service and that makes me leary.

    Being tall puts a whole new twist on car shopping. Most car manufacturers do not design their vehicles for people of my stature (6'-7" tall and 225 lbs). I am not a professional ball player who can afford to custimize a car to fit his personal needs so I am relegated to having to choose from what is available on the market. That narrows the search to the expensive or the small (or in the case of the Aztek, the ugly). Not a very tough choice to make . . . so unless I win the Lottery, I have reduced my choices to the small SUV market in order to get a 4 door vehicle with seating for 5 and an AWD/4WD system.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Wow, that you fit says a lot about the space efficiency in the CR-V, Tribute, Santa Fe, and Forester.

    Now I recall the XL7's 3rd seat had basically no leg room. I though it may be OK for kids, but oh well.

    If you had an unreliable Taurus, just remember where the Trib's engine is coming from.

    In the VW, the V6 is rated "average" by Consumer Reports, but if you look at the breakdown it's about 15% worse than average. The 1.8T is much better. 4Motion is really Audi's Quattro (3 torsen diffs, basically), and is pretty well proven.

    So yours is a tough one. Toyota is coming out with a Matrix in the fall, which will offer AWD and 130 or 180hp. Pontiac will have its version too (Vibe).

    Others are pricey but include Audi, BMW, Volvo.

    Come to think of it, you ought to check out the Outback or its Legacy GT twin. They're pretty good all-weather cars, and address the rear seat issue you have with the Forester.

  • barresa11barresa11 Member Posts: 277
    I was looking at small SUV/cars w/awd. I was seriously considering the Forester but the back seat was indeed too small for my needs as well. I looked at the Outback (2000 model, not 99' and earlier) and was sold. I ended up getting the Ltd. I went w/an auto. because of the terrible traffic in Seattle but would have better acceleration w/the manual. I have a little over 10000 miles on the OB and love it. Once up to speed, the OB is great. I have plenty of power to accelerate from 60 mph to higher speeds. The handling is great especially considering the ground clearance of 7.3" and the ride is smooth and quiet w/just enough of the unique Subaru growl when accelerating. BTW, the RAV4 and CRV were not included on my short list because I wanted full-time AWD not part-time as theirs is. I looked at the Passat 4-motion but it was too expensive and not the value the OB is, especially the Ltd model. Reliability is legendary w/the Subaru and not so with VW's in general. Good luck on your search. You're right when you say the list is short for vehicles that will fit your need for space.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The 2000 Outbacks grew a lot. They're an inch and a half wider - and that translates into a nice back seat. Even the '99 was bigger than the Forester, so you may like that.

    That plus the kids would love the 2nd moonroof if you get the Limited. Very anti-claustrophobic.

    My dad has one and swears by it.

  • big_guybig_guy Member Posts: 372
    The Taurus I had was a 4 cylinder model. I understand that the 3.0L Duratec V6 is a pretty good engine. Most of the problems I had with the Taurus were AC compressor, brakes, and exhaust system.

    You can't get the 4-motion system in a VW Passat unless you get the V6 engine. Audi offers a 1.8T with quattro but I am not a big fan of Audi. My neighbor had an Audi and it was in the shop a lot and one of my co-workers had one as well and got rid of it after 8 months because of the high maintenance costs.

    I would love to see Mazda yank the Ford automatic tranny out of the V6 Tribute and put in a Mazda manual 5 speed transmission instead.

    I have taken a good long look at the Outback and it has found a place on my list and even though it is roomier than the Forester, it "feels" smaller. I think it has to do with the expansive glass in the Forester compared to the Outback. Subarus are very common around here and I could probably get a used Outback for a lot less money than a new Tribute or Sante Fe. The moonroofs are out due to the 1" to 1.5" reduction in head room that they "contribute" to the vehicle. If Mazda doesn't work out the bugs in the Tribute by the time I get ready to make a purchase, the Outback will be a top choice, however, I think the Sante Fe would be the first choice. The extended warranty, additional room, and lots of bells and whistles make the Sante Fe a tough competitor in the small SUV crowd. I like the split liftgate in the Sante Fe and I understand that the AWD in the Sante Fe is permanently engaged like the system in the Subarus. A brand new LX w/ AWD can be had for $23.3k. A comparably equipped new Outback would be roughly $3k more . . . but like I said, a used one could be found for significantly less. The drawback with a used vehicle is you never know exactly how the previous owner treated the vehicle and reliability of a used car can be a big question mark. The Sante Fe is untested and reliability is a question mark. I would like to see crash test ratings for the Sante Fe. The Tribute should do well in crash tests (based on other Mazda vehicles) and the Outback has already rated well in crash tests.

    I appreciate your input juice. It is nice to have someone respond that is trying to help instead of bashing the other vehicles in favor of the ones they own.
  • ultradrultradr Member Posts: 9
    being 6' 7" how do you find your right leg room? i felt it was very tight(i'm 6'6") and am in the same boat you are: want an awd compact suv because of price and value. i'm looking at the forester or santa fe. wife has a dodge dakota, it is a great vehicle i would love a dakota quadcab (it has an awd mode) but the gasmileage would eat a hole in my wallet. have heard nothing but good things about both forester and santa fe, just am leary about hyundai quality regardless of their 10yr 100,000 mile warranty.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    So, you had the rare MT-5 model, eh?

    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.


  • big_guybig_guy Member Posts: 372
    The leg room in the Forester is a bit better than in the Sante Fe. The center pod in the Sante Fe as well as the bulge in the door to accommodate all the window contols, doorlock controls, etc., restrict the side to side leg room in the Sante Fe. With long legs, I need to have that room on either side of the steering wheel. The Sante Fe, on the other hand, has much better rear seat leg room and the vehicle is wider which gives you more shoulder room. I have test driven both the Forester and the Sante Fe a few times. Each of those test drives was for a relatively short time. I usually don't notice too much leg discomfort unless I take a long drive.

    The Forester gets better fuel economy but does not come with a 6 cylinder engine. However, the V6 in the Sante Fe feels over taxed by the beefy weight of the AWD versions. Also, the Forester has a great AWD system and a near bulletproof engine. The reliability on the Subaru should be very good. The Hyundai reliability is unknown at this time. I have been following the Sante Fe and Forester boards here for quite a while and the owners of each vehicle are very pleased with the purchase they have made. I have marked the Forester off my list until they make a revision to increase the 2nd row leg room. The Sante Fe and Tribute are still up at the top of my list. The Sante Fe because it offers a lot for a relatively small price and provides the room that I need, and the V6 Tribute because it also provides the room that I need and is such a fun vehicle to drive.
  • sasquatch_2000sasquatch_2000 Member Posts: 800
    "The Sante Fe is untested and reliability is a question mark. I would like to see crash test ratings for the Sante Fe. The Tribute should do well in crash tests (based on other Mazda vehicles)"

    How is the Tribute any more tested than the Santa Fe?

    "The The Hyundai reliability is unknown at this time. ... The Sante Fe and Tribute are still up at the top of my list."

    same question again
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Keep something in mind - the Forester's engine is a 4 banger, but it's a big four - 2.5 liters. The V6 in the Santa Fe is small for a V6, just 2.7 liters. So the difference is smaller than you think, and the Hyundai is heavier.

    In terms of power-to-weight ratio, the Forester is burdened with about 19 pounds per horse, while the in the Santa Fe each horse actually carries about 2 pounds more.

    So the Soob is quicker, plus gets better gas mileage. The Hyundai can tow more with its torque, but it's not as quick.

    The Trib wins the power-to-weight battle, but can't match the Forester's fuel efficiency. Also, both the Ford and Hyundai do not offer manual transmissions with the V6, and I consider that mandatory.

  • ddeemoddeemo Member Posts: 8
    Here is a review that looked at these 3 (Escape instead of Tribute plus the RAV4 and CR-V), the Escape (Tribute) won by a large margin, with RAV4 2nd, Santa Fe 3rd, Forester 4th and CR-V last.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    First I've heard of Phil Bailey, though the article is interesting.

    Note that they pretty much rank the SUVs by age: newest best, down to the oldest last. They also don't take long-term reliability or safety tests into account, despite the mention of the Escape's recall problems.

    Two more things - they aren't paying for their own gas bills, so mileage doesn't seem to matter much to them (not even mentioned). That plus they compare retail prices, which aren't good indicators of real-world prices.

    The Forester gets a lot of flack for being car-like, but that's how they're used, and weren't they testing un-trucky SUVs?

  • big_guybig_guy Member Posts: 372
    If you look at the crash test history of Hyundai products versus Mazda products, the Mazda has performed better in those crash tests. Until recently, the Hyundai vehicles have rated ok for the driver but poorly for rear seat passengers. If you look at the most recent models for Mazda (like the 626), the crash test ratings are pretty good. If you look at the 2000 Hyundai Elantra in comparison, the driver would come out ok but the numbers don't look to good for a back seat passenger in a side impact crash.

    2nd question:
    The Tribute and the Sante Fe are at the top of my list because they fit the criteria I have set up.
    #1 - Enough head and leg room for driver and passengers
    #2 - Good cargo room for the size of vehicle
    #3 - Small exterior size compared to generous interior volume (easier to maneuver in town)
    #4 - Inexpensive
    #5 - Relatively good fuel economy (when compared to other SUV's and/or 4WD/AWD vehicles)
    #6 - Provide 4WD/AWD

    If Subaru made an SUV with comparable rear occupant dimensions, I would go for the Subaru . . . even with a 2.5L H4 as the power plant. This is because I have owned Subarus in the past and I know they are reliable. The rear seat leg room is where the Subarus fail the test.

    Rear Seat Leg Room Comparison
    Forester 33.4"
    Outback 34.3"
    Tribute 36.4"
    Sante Fe 36.8"

    That might not seem like a big difference but when you are tall it IS a big difference.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Actually, you should look at the Hyundai Sonata, which the Santa Fe is based on. Results are mixed, with a "marginal" rating in Australian crash tests and a few "acceptable" ratings as well.

    For the Tribute, look at the 626, and scores are also mixed. actually lists injuries as "poor", the worst score possible, and several other scores are only "acceptable".

    Keep in mind those are tests for the same platform, but the SUV equivalent could do slightly better (or worse). Usually vehicles that share a platform score similarly, though.

    So the Forester crushes both of them here. All scores are "good", with no exceptions.

    One important note about the leg room - the Forester is punished for having a lot of front seat travel (14", actually). We should actually look at total leg room, front and rear, not just minimum rear leg room:

    Vehicle Front max Rear min Total
    Forester 43" 33.4" 76.4"
    Outback 43.3" 34.3" 77.6"
    Santa Fe 41.6" 36.8" 78.4"
    Tribute 41.6" 36.4" 78"

    So the difference is smaller than you'd think. The Forester and Outback actually have more front leg room, so you could move the seats forward an inch or so to compensate.

    Another thing is - how big are the people sitting in the back? You may not even need that space.

    Just something to chew on. Bigger vehicles are also heavier, less nimble, and guzzle more gas. I think there is a right size for everyone, be it big or small.

  • sasquatch_2000sasquatch_2000 Member Posts: 800
    Hey, if you are looking for safety, go with a full ladder frame. Period.

    I agree with you on the size thing. I am 6'1", 235#, and my knees hit the steering wheel on the Cherokee, and my shoulder touches the B pillar/window on new Geo/Chevy Tracker. Bzzzt!! Those are out.

    Haven't sat in Escape yet, no Mazda dealers around, Subaru is ugly, and I haven't seen Hyundai yet, (but warranty sounds awesome!).

    I think I am leaning towards a used 98/99 Trooper. I WAS leaning towards same year S10 Blazer, but have heard lots of bad stories. Pathfinder nice, but tight inside, Rodeo doesn't appeal to me. Xterra nice, but pricey for what you get.

    Keep on truckin'!
  • sasquatch_2000sasquatch_2000 Member Posts: 800
    My little '92 Civic has room enough for 3 200+ pound, 6 foot guys in back with not a lot of complaining for 2/12 hour trip to the races. This is with 3 big coolers, plus 2 more up front. This little car was well designed, and most who sit back there EXCLAIM how roomy it is!

    Needless to say, a sport ute should do better than this. Trouble is, it won't match 41mpg highway. Oh yeah, that car has seen LOTS of off road action.

    I guess I would like a Trooper that gets 30mpg to be happy.

    P.S. My only concern for back seat is not legroom (assuming it is good), but whether it can fold down for dogs, guns, grocerys, recyclables, lumber, firewood, bikes, fishing gear, etc.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Actually, Subaru Forester outscores every truck you mentioned except the XTerra, which ties it:

    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 already accounts for that in their scores), it makes them less nimble and therefore unable to avoid some accidents that some cars could.


  • big_guybig_guy Member Posts: 372
    Purely on a head room leg room basis, the Xterra has the worst combination of the "mini-utes". The head room is about 1.5" worse and the rear seat room is worse than the Forester at 32.8". It also gets the worst gas mileage of the lot. Of course, it performs best off-road (or so I have been informed) so if you don't need the head and leg room and you like to guzzle gas and go off-road, then that would make the X-terra the best of the bunch.
  • big_guybig_guy Member Posts: 372
    You are right, the latest version of the Sonata did pretty well, and the 626 not as well. Mazda has started to include better safety devices in all their new vehicles. The 2000 MPV rated very well in crash tests. It will be interesting to see how the Tribute and Sante Fe fare in the tests since they are both new designs and should both include all the latest and greatest in safety cage design and occupant protection systems.
  • scnamescname Member Posts: 296
    Want lots of leg room, try one of those at your area Auto Show. I tried one out, huge amount of leg room, much more than Escape Tribute and I thought those were champs.

    Heard production has started and will show up at dealers in a month. Beautiful trucks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    If you get the chance, try to attend the next Edmunds Live event, whenever that is. They had a little dirt section for the SUVs, and it was a hoot.

    The Forester got through, no problem. Some primarily FWD SUVs didn't do as well, since the front wheels have to slip before the rear engage. That hurt the RAV4 and CR-V, both which also lack torque for it.

    The Santa Fe and Forester are full time AWD. The Escape can be locked, so it should do fine. The XTerra locks, and was awesome off road, but it was also the least nimble in the slalom - it's a truck after all.

    Let's keep an eye out for new safety tests.

    I saw the new Trailblazer at the Baltimore Show (excellent suggestion, BTW). Looked much improved over the current model, with the 3rd row seat and all. I don't like Chevy's interiors much, but the power looks good (270hp!).

    They also had the new Explorer, and I'm not a Ford guy at all but it looked much better than the Trailblazer, particularly inside. More room, better 3rd seat, better ergonomics and cabin.

    Still, both of these will approach $30k well equipped and probably return 16mpg in normal use.

  • kellyykellyy Member Posts: 4
    Have started to read this thread with great interest.
    We are being forced into the car market again (our '95 Windstar dies a bit more each day). I don't want another minivan and am intrigued by the small suv's. The SF looks very appealing, but, what is the seating capacity? I must have room for all my "carpool" kids and can't strap any on the roof!
  • big_guybig_guy Member Posts: 372
    The Sante Fe can seat 5 passengers max. 5 adults could fit but I wouldn't want to take an extended road trip with 3 large adults sitting in the back seat. The same would hold true for any of the small SUVs. The Sante Fe is wider than the Tribute and Forester so there is more room in the rear seat but not a lot. Three children should fit nicely in the rear seat even on long trips.

    How many "carpool" kids are you talking about? If you have need for more than 5 seats, the Suzuki XL7 is the only mini-ute that has seating for 7. I have test driven the XL7 and liked it quite a bit (I am the former owner of a '93 Sidekick JLX so I am a bit biaed toward Suzuki), but the XL7 does not have enough leg room for my needs so it is off my shopping list.
  • kellyykellyy Member Posts: 4
    Big Guy,
    The number of kids varies between 4 and 5. However, they are really "teens" and not young kids, in fact, one (mine) is nearly 6'3" and his dad is 6'4" so the amount of room is a real priority.
    The car pool length is pretty minor, but I'm concerned about just how comfortable my own family would be on extended road trips.
  • big_guybig_guy Member Posts: 372
    You have the same problems I do. I am 6'-7" and when I travel with my buddies I have large passengers (6'-4", 6'-3", and two at 6'-2"). My family is still young (oldest is 7) so transporting the family is not a big issue - yet. But since I plan on owning my next vehicle for 5 to 7 years, it will be an issue as my oldest hits the teens and the younger ones continue to grow. My wife has also stated her preference for a new vehicle with good rear seat head and leg room and adequate seating for 5 at the minimun. (She shot down the Forester and XL7 after we sat in them to check out interior dimensions).

    The suggestions from juice and scname to check out the revised Explorer as well as the Trailblazer and new Envoy have some merit. I prefer vehicles that get better fuel economy but size and fuel economy are usually at odds with each other. Mini-vans and some mid-size SUV's get into the 18 - 24 MPG arena (which isn't too bad for a large V6 vehicle) but most of the bigger SUV's are down into the 13-18 MPG range (or worse with some of the big V8 engines). I will have to check out the Trailblazer, Envoy, and new Explorer to see how I fit but the $$$ and fuel econmy on those vehicles will probably put them out of the running.

    I sat in a 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Limited at the local auto show and found it to be surprisingly roomy. I had enough head room in the drivers seat even with the moonroof. Unfortunately, the Montero Limited is around $34k and fuel economy is listed at 13-18 mpg . . . those numbers don't fit well into my budget.
  • texsubarutexsubaru Member Posts: 242
    I own a '98 Forester L and test drove a Mazda Tribute DX with V-6 last fall (so far, have only glanced in the window of a Santa Fe; it seemed to come pretty nicely equipped, though the fit and finish looked a bit cheap to me). Here's a slightly edited version of what I posted in the Subaru Crew last fall about my Forester/Tribute comparison:

    I'm not about to dump my Forester for the Tribute, but -- if the quality control concerns that have haunted its Escape twin could get resolved -- the Tribute I test drove could be a challenger in some areas.
    The two main things I liked about the Tribute were the engine power and the back seat room.
    On low-end acceleration -- 0 to 30 mph or so -- the Tribute's V-6 didn't seem significantly quicker at all than my Forester's H4, but in highway passing acceleration, say about 50 to 75 mph, the Tribute did feel noticeably brisker.
    The cabin roominess was more obvious. The legroom in the Trbute's back seat was vastly better than in my Forester (this really jumped out at my because, while I seldom have to ride back there -- and the Forester's front leg room is excellent -- I do consider the tight backseat legroom to be my Forester's biggest weakness). The front passenger area in the Tribute also felt a little wider than my Forester, though not spectacularly so. Just eye-balling it, the Tribute's rear cargo space, with the back seat up, appeared to be extremely similar to the Forester's, but larger than the Foresters if the rear seat is folded down.
    The Tribute's handling felt quite nice and crisp, but the body lean in tight turns was heavier enough than in my Forester that I felt uncomfortably conscious of the fact that the Tribute's center of gravity was higher. It's hard to get cornering as rock-solid as the Forester. Of course, you do get better ground clearance in the Tribute. If I were offroad dodging stumps, I might be happier with the Tribute's higher clearance, but on a tight, curvy mountain road I'd definitely feel more confident in the Forester.
    I also noticed the road/drivetrain noise in the Tribute. I'm not sure if it's really all that much louder than in my Forester, or if was just different in tone (perhaps higher pitched and squeally compared with the Subaru low growl). And there's the fact that I only test drove the low-end DX trim; the pricier Tribute LX or ES models might offer better soundproofing than the noisy DX.
    The DX interior trim left me with mixed feelings. The dash seemed generally well-laid, but was riddled with all sort of small, odd empty spaces, where I assume accessories on better-equipped models go. Only a few of them looked like logically designed spare storage spaces, though I'm sure a driver could find a way to use 'em. The DX also inconveniently had no center console. And there's the column-mounted shifter with automatic tranny, which strikes me as stylistically dorky as heck, but undoubtedly you'd get used to it pretty quickly in everyday use.
    One of the biggest flaws for me in the Tribute interior trims was that you apparently have to go up to an LX model to have a 60/40 split rear seat with rear passenger headrests (the DX just has a quite cheap-ish single-piece bench rear seat; folds but doesn't split so three passengers and big cargo are going to be a problem).
    I like the exterior styling of the Tribute quite a lot; I find it at least as nice as the Forester's and probably even a bit nicer. I also like the way you can open the Tribute's rear hatch window independently of the hatch itself. However, the way the window/hatch release handles are arranged right next to each other on the Tribute's tailgate, it seemed easy to me to accidentally pop open one when you really wanted the other.
    At first glance, the sticker prices on Tributes appeared quite competitive, but, after a closer look, I don't think the pricing actually works out that much to Mazda's advantage if you genuinely figure comparable equipment. The standard equipment on the Tribute DX just doesn't equal the Forester L; to roughly match the Forester L, you'd have to ante up for a Tribute LX V-6 with the AWD option, which bulks up the Mazda's pricetag an awful lot, putting it in pretty much the same ballpark as the Forester.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You have a tough choice, then. Given your current Ford hasn't been reliable, you may not feel comfortable in the new Explorer, or Escape/Tribute for that matter.

    If you carry 5 teens, though, that's 6 total passengers, and the sport/cutes don't even have that many seat belts.

    The XL7 is more of a mid-size, but it would work. There is minimal rear leg room, so check it out.

    Explorer or TrailBlazer would work, but neither scores particularly well in reliability. They also use more gas and cost more.

    You may want to stay with a minivan, but a reliable one. Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey are worth checking out. Maybe the new Dodge, too. I like the Mazda MPV's interior layout a lot, though reliability is unknown.

    Good luck on your search.

  • wawawaweenwawawaween Member Posts: 1

    Our '95 Windstar just died of terminal transmission failure... 84K miles. Several people said this was no surprise to them. Just wanted to give you the hint, maybe you want to trade yours in now.

    In the mean time, a question: what do you think of Santa Fe compared to Tribute? We also have 3 kids (they're a bit smaller) and the Tribute seems just about big enough for the whole family, but we're not sure... do you like the Santa Fe for a family of 5?

    Thanks for the laugh about the Windstar and the good advice!
  • billtungbilltung Member Posts: 255
    Can anyone tell me the reason why Subaru Forester can not match Hyundai's new car warranty (10 years & 100,000km), if they claim their engine is very reliable (Probably trouble free for over 10 years!)?

    Are there anyone who own a SUV that are trouble free for more than 10 years?

    Can u tell me how expensive to pay for a SUV's power-train repairs after the warranty period?

    I asked myself before I purchased my SF GLS 4WD.
    I consider my SF is a "smart man" Lexus rather than "Poor man" Lexus. I'm a fairly rich guy overall, (I mean I can afford much more expensive car if I think it is worth! I'm so smart that I wouldn't spent money on the car reputation & advertisment if I have choices! Lucky Hyundai's gave me this choice 3 month ago, otherwise I might buy Escape or Tribute. How about Subaru! Sorry, no way, I think Forester is a 4WD Sedan! I want a mid-size SUV! I already have a 5.9L '99 Durango.)
    I'm from BC, Canada. This morning see another 2 new SF on the road, there are more & more smart SF owners in this "most beautiful city of the world - Vancouver".
    "Sure, we are not alone! More SF will out into the city road!". I think a lot of people will buy this car eventually if other SUV makers not lower their SUV prices or follow Hyundai's warranty! The reason is very simple, lot of smart people on the market that they are gonna to purchase SUV but can only afford or willing to pay Santa Fe's price.
  • FrankMcFrankMc Member Posts: 228
    because their reputation for repairs was poor. They wanted to try and turn that image around and therefore they institute a long warrenty period. I'm sure that they will eventually (after their reputation has improved) go back to whatever is the industry standard. You notice no other company has been rushing to match their warrenty. However by reading these boards, it looks like their strategy is working for them! Good luck on your new purchase.
  • schragemschragem Member Posts: 16
    I think Juice makes a great point with the Forester's TOTAL seat room (front and back). My wife and I just test-drove an S-premium, and we're both pretty tall (I'm 6 feet, she's 5'9"). Neither of us needed the front seat back all the way, which left reasonable(though not gigantic) space in the back seat, and I feel many people may be in the same boat, or car, if you will. I won't let the back seat deter me from buying this great, well-made, safe, high-performance (esp. for its class), reasonably attractive (maybe more cute than slick), unique vehicle.
  • natescapenatescape Member Posts: 176
    I think unless you're regularly transporting lots of tall people or the driver or passenger is particularly tall, the Forester back seat is more than adequate. It's not as big as the Santa Fe or Tribute, but it's plenty big (IMO) for most buyers.

    I took 3 other people on a 2.5 hour round trip to a friend's place to watch the Tennessee v. Baltimore playoff game. We're all 5'9" to 6'1". I specifically asked them when we got home if there was enough room, and they all said yes.
  • tincup47tincup47 Member Posts: 1,508
    Hyundai was repoing too many cars with dead engines and transmissions with their old warranty. People were having cars on 5 yr finance that would have transmissions die at 45-50000 miles that would walk away instead of paying 2-3000 dollars for repairs. I worked at a Hyundai dealer and saw this myself.
  • oregonmanoregonman Member Posts: 60
    Wow - I'm amazed at all you tall people fitting into the Forester. This is just to let any short people reading this thread that the Forester is great for you too. My girlfriend bought a Forester because it gave her the best visibility of any car she tried. She is just barely 5 feet tall. She can't even see over the dashboard in my Outback.
  • texsubarutexsubaru Member Posts: 242
    As a Forester owner (a 5'10" tall one), I'd agree that for the typical driver -- one whose vehicle doesn't frequently ferry around more than two adults and two pre-teen kids -- the Forester's back seat is quite adequate. Not sure I can enthusiastically call the back seat more than adequate, though. If a car shopper likes the Forester, but truly needs to frequently transport three or four full-sized adults, I'd say he or she should also take a look at the Subaru Outback to see if its back seat might be a better fit.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    It's a good start, but it does NOT mean your SUV will be trouble-free and you won't have to visit the dealer for repairs. It only means they won't cost you anything, and even then only if they are powertrain related and not considered normal wear and tear.

    I think you got it backwards, Bill. Hyundai, as a manufacturer, was making the industry's lowest quality product (source: JD Power & Associates) and only recently started improving.

    I'll admit, the warranty is a bold move. But will the product hold up? We'll have to see. They do not do well at all in long-term surveys, though newer products seem to be improving somewhat.

    Subaru also has a longer than usual warranty (5/60 powertrain, for example). Honda's and Toyota's are the shortest, but would you argue their products are the least reliable? Of course not.

    Besides, Isuzu offers a 10/120 warranty, so Hyundai's is actually the 2nd longest. Are Rodeo's reliable? Nope. Terrible scores in Consumer Reports, worse than average every year since 1995.

    To me, trouble-free means not having to fix anything, period. In almost 35k miles, I can say mine has been. Yours? We'll see, but I would not bet on it.

    Hope I'm wrong. I like an underdog and hope Hyundai does well.

  • billtungbilltung Member Posts: 255
    Thks ateixeira for your opinions!
    I think there are a lot of Subaru, Toyata & Honda loyalists in the market. These auto makers really built a lot of great car in the past few decades. Those people they were so brave to try those first buy decades ago, really proud of their "Smart Decision" they made decades ago. All those famous brand name, all started from cheap, copying, poor quality to now all belong to one of the most recommended brandnames in the world. (I remember when I was a kid in Hong Kong,(I was 40 now) my father first 4 new cars within 10 years in the 70's, 2 were Honda's, 2 were Toyota's, the longest lasting one only last 3 years & then traded to dealer like a wreck price (no people want it in the used car market). Those day those cars qualities are even worst than Hyundai's!

    ATEIXEIRA! Do u believe "u paid what u get"?
    If yes, for a used car price, you get a brand new Hyundai's, how can u assume Hyundai's past product can last long & good performance in all aspects & also pls bear in mind that most Hyundai's owners in the past were from the lowest level, some don't even know car (they don't even changed oil in a regular basis (compare to the rich people they have their personal mechanics)!

    Do u think u can get a very "smart deal" with Subaru, Honda & Toyota or even Ford, after they have already gain so many loyal customers in these few decades?? They sure think u guys will go back to them, they are waiting, preparing to shake your body like your are a money tree (to pay their expensive Advertising & of course their huge profits). Because u are happy with these brandname, then u assume everything they make will be the best in the whole world. Do u think these kind of loyalty is smart? Certainly not right! that is called Conservative.
    The world always change, same like motor vehicles.
    There are more & more people choose to be a butterfly's customer rather than a loyal customer (They fly to whatever is good & best value, just fit what they want).
    I don't think anybody will take advantage from purchasing an already famous vehicle, U can get a very good car, but at the same time u paid lot of your hard earn $$$ right? This is not smart, everybody have $$$ can do it.

    For overall value, I still think Santa Fe is the best, If u don't believe, test drive it. Because of its popularity, we already have a club here, visit it & see how many positive comments there, I just saw a message send from a US F-16 crew pilot in Italy, he already bought his SF & waiting to ship it to Italy for his vacation. Why even he like Santa Fe??? Do u think he don't know engine??? or he is a cheap guy??? or he is not smart???
    I don't know? ask him.
    One think I'm for sure he is not a loyalist to the above mention auto makers.

    Good luck
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Past performance usually does indicate how well a new model measures up in quality. The rankings change very slowly, and though Hyundai is on the right path, it does not mean they match the best.

    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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