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Audi A4 Avant vs. Audi A3 vs. Subaru Outback



  • edwardsfedwardsf Posts: 190
    Yes, I am a bit confused at this thread, or perhaps just at the odd mix of cars being looked at. The Suburu GT - with a 250 HP turbo - is clearly the Suburu competitor to the A4 2.OT. The regular Suburu 4 cylinder is a nice piece of engineering but is only 168 HP. Further, the suspension of the GT is much tighter than that of the base Suburu. The GT and the A4 - if not loaded up with hi tech toys - are comparably priced (around $33K).

    I have driven the GT and the A4 and they are both fantastic driving cars. The Audi feels more solid and well, German and its mid range torque is super. The GT is faster and feels lighter and is a bit more nimble but does not quite feel like a luxury car. A big difference is gas mileage. The 2.0T is an amazing engine as it gets 22/31 (better without Quattro) - and as someone mentioned, does not have to be revved so may get even better real world numbers. The Suburu gets awful mileage - 18/25 - which is a real shame. Couldn't they just dial it down to 220 HP and get decent gas mileage? A nitpick on each car. The A4 has a throaty rumble when one accelerates. While many may like it, I prefer a quiet engine. The Suburu does not have a lot of headroom.

    The only other car that seems comparable is the RAV4 6 cylinder. Unlike all the SUVs discussed, it is nimble, quick and gets good gas mileage. It will not have the sports car feel of the GT and the A4 but it has more space. The RDX, CX-7, MDX and FX series are fast but somewhat lumbering due to their weight and height and girth, have little USABLE space (except the MDX) and all get horrible gas mileage. The MDX and FX are also way pricier.
  • hi,
    thanks for your response. I ended up buying a car... after test driving TEN different cars, and visiting showrooms to view numerous other cars, which I did not test drive. I have never shopped this hard for a car - I am normally much more sure about what I want and able to make a quick decision. Who knows, maybe I'm having a mid-life crisis... :confuse:

    In the end, we chose the Acura MDX. It is bigger than I ideally wanted, but it solved more problems than it created. Because we can tow a 4500 pound boat, we now have the option of getting rid of our BMW X5. We can go skiing with this car without putting a ski rack on the top. We have the third row of seats if we need it. AND we have a car with excellent reliability ratings that I don't think will give us any problems. We picked it up two days ago and so far I very much enjoy it. It has EXCELLENT visibility out the back (much better than the Sienna minivan that was stolen) and it feels very well appointed. On the negative side, it requires premium gas and the MPG is not great. What sealed the deal for us, was the price: we were able to get this car for what we would have had to pay for the RAV4 (had we been able to get the options we wanted).

    Had I been able to get a RAV4 with the options I wanted, I might have gone this route, however, Toyota isn't making or allowing people to order a Limited V6 with or without leather with a third tow of seats (at least not in New England)... I was led to believe that when optioned out this way, it was too much competition for the Highlander (which they are making very aggressive deals on... I would have considered it if I hadn't driven one for five years - was looking for a change of pace, despite the fact that it was an excellent car).

    Of all the cars I test drove I liked the way the RAV4 drove the best (with the exception of the SAAB 92X aero, however, this would not have worked out for us, as it was too small to put kids in and out of and also didn't have side airbags - a GREAT car - absolutely loved the way it drove, but too small and not a great family car).

    Here are the cars I test drove in case anyone is interested to know just how confused I was:

    Mercedes E320 4Matic wagon
    Toyota Tacoma Double Cab pickup
    Toyota RAV4 V6 and 4 cylinder
    Mazda CX-7
    Subaru Legacy GT
    Cadillac SRX
    Jaguar Xtype Sportwagon
    Subaru Tribeca
    Saab 92X Aero
    Acura MDX

    I also looked at (and sat in) but didn't test drive the following:

    Lexus RX350
    Infiniti FX35
    Subaru Outback
    Audi A4 Avant
    Audi A3
    BMW 3 series wagon
    Toyota Highlander

    It was good to finally make a decision. What made it so difficult is that the two major criteria I had were in opposition to each other (quick zippy fun driving VS. family friendly features and versatility). I also gave quite a bit of weight to a car's reliability... I read through what must have been thousands of posts on these boards of cars that I was interested in. I admit that I became scared off of the german cars (in particular Audi and Mercedes) because of what I read. I opted for a Japanese car for more than a couple of reasons, but one being its reliability...

    Thanks for all of your help! hopefully I'll hate the RDX when it comes out so that I don't have any buyer's remorse. I also have to bear in mind that if the RDX weren't coming out, I wouldn't have scored such a great deal on the MDX.

    Case closed!! :shades:
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 848
    "with the exception of the SAAB 92X aero, however, this would not have worked out for us, as it was too small to put kids in and out of and also didn't have side airbags - a GREAT car - absolutely loved the way it drove, but too small and not a great family car"

    You know that SAAB 92x is known as Saabaru as it is Subaru Impreza (Aero is WRX) with Saab front end.

    As far as I know it has 2 front air bags, 2 seat mounted side airbags and 2 curtains above the windows. So what airbags is it missing?


    PS Congratulations on your new purchase.
  • hi,
    it doesn't have the side curtain airbags. it does very well in crash tests though. I think if it were big enough it would definitely been on our list. My point about the airbags, though, is that I think this is a safer car for the people in the front seat than those in the back (and that is not to say that those in the bag aren't safe).

    I noticed on Edmunds that Saab is still offering a $5000 cash incentive on the 92x aero. I would be thrilled if my husband traded in his BMW X5 for the Saab, then I could drive it on the weekends. But we'd better make up our minds soon as there aren't many around anymore. Yes, I suppose, one could go for the Impreza, but I just thought the Saab had a little more panache in the looks department.
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 848
    Saabaru looks better than original and if transaction price is similar (or SAAB sometimes cheaper) then WRX wagon is second choice.
    I was under impresion that Impreza does have side curtain but I might be mistaken, neither first nor last time.

  • edwardsfedwardsf Posts: 190
    You: "quick zippy fun driving VS. family friendly features and versatility." Well, we know what won out there!

    To me, the MDX is one of the safest, versatile, roomy, sophisticated vehicles on the road. Its only weakness are gas mileage and that it is an SUV and therefore, a bigger polluter. I am amazed that you found a $50,000 MSRP car for the same price as a $31,000 MSRP car. Weird but those two car manufacturers DO make money so there was some method to their madness. Enjoy your car but try to leave it home on the commute....
  • hi, yes, I am quite happy with the MDX. We bought the base model which has an MSRP of $37K and change, but with discounts and dealer incentive cash our starting price (before taxes and fees) was under $31K... truly an amazing deal and a big part of why we went the MDX route.

    I think you are right, though, they still make money and they really want to move the MDX's, because for every MDX they sell they are allocated half an RDX (the new smaller SUV about to hit the showrooms by Acura).
  • s4audis4audi Posts: 4
    You started the thread with "Looking at something big enough for two car seats in the back, but tired of looking like every other soccer mom in a giant SUV. Went the minivan route already... liked all the function but not the form."
    ... and then you bought an MDX. Don't get me wrong, MDX is a great car and you will probably be happy with it. I was in a similar boat last month. Did not consider large SUVs at all. Choice was down to RAV4, Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback. We bought the Outback finally. It replaces our Dodge Caravan.
  • emsgemsg Posts: 2
    I'm stuck between the 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5XT manual and the 2007 Audi A3 2.0T DSG after having compared a number of vehicles to replace my aging 93 Acura GSR.

    Read many, many reviews. Read what Consumer Reports has to say about first model year and Audi reliability.

    Both are cool looking vehicles and I like hatchbacks.

    Audi is pretentious. Subaru isn't as much. I don't really need AWD. Getting lazy in my old age and would prefer an automatic for commuting. Love the sunroof on both. Really enjoy tearing down twisty mountain roads or the Pacific Coast Highway in a manual. Occasionally carry SCUBA gear, bikes or kayak. Occasionally sleep in my car on long road trips rather than get a hotel. Hate to sell/buy cars. Don't like SUVs.

    Both vehicles have competent points. The A3's performance and efficiency are stellar but its pricey and a bit of a squeeze for long road trips. Factory nav/stereo is a good option.

    The Outback is cool all around. The 2.5XT's mileage isn't so great. Not impressed with the radio or lack of nav on the manual.

    Assuming that premium gas will average $4.20 over the next 5 years, and adding a nice aftermarket stereo and nav system makes the 2.5XT cost as much as the A3 for my driving. The $4.20 estimate may be high or low - who knows.

    Reliability concerns on the A3 makes my skin itch.

    Both the Audi and Subaru local dealerships between home and work are rotten bastards. I expect the only way they are still in business is that Satan will not allow his own to be stymied in their coarse to doing evil. Don't like either option.

    The Subaru dealership in Santa Cruz, CA is extremely pleasant to deal with. I won't hesitate to buy from them if I decide on the 2.5XT. The other Audi Dealership near by just felt creepy rather than outright evil.

    Decisions... Decisions... Decisions...
  • how about the Saab 9-2

    if you can find one... there are still a few around my area. you can go them in the low $20's. i test drove one and loved it but it wasn't big enough for me, however, it is far bigger than the Audi A3 (particularly where headroom is concerned). I personally think this is a snazzier looking car than the Subaru Impreza which is supposed to be very similar.

    just a thought.

    also, to the previous poster about my decision to get the MDX... there was a lot that went into the decision. I think the Subaru you bought is a great car, but ultimately we went for the MDX because of its towing capacity (and that it also met all the other criteria we wanted). It is bigger than what I ideally wanted but it allows us to get rid of our BMW X5 which tows our boat. I have been really happy with the MDX.
  • emsgemsg Posts: 2
    The Impreza, Saab 9-2, the Mazda 3 are on-again/off-again members of my shopping list.

    Between the Outback Sport and the Mazda 3 (S Grand Touring), I think the Mazda wins. The Saab 9-2 corrects two of the three biggest gripes I've got with the Impreza: seats, handling too tight. Third, of course is gas mileage which is on par for AWD cars. The fully loaded Mazda has all the gadgets, space I want and meets my minimum performance spec.

    Re-tested the 2.5XT Limited, this time with automatic. Plenty of pickup. Comfortable. Was surprised how easy it was to get the back end to loose traction in a tight turn onto freeway on ramp. To be fair, my Acura GSR lost traction doing the same thing in the same place. I could have driven that 2.5XT home.

    The Subaru dealership was comfortable to deal with. Carlsen Subaru in Redwood City, CA. No problems going back there to buy a car. So far, only Audi dealers have shown themselves to be consistently malignant whereas the one ugly Subaru dealership seems an oddity.

    First big surprise for the day, test driving the Volvo V50 (both the 2.4i and the T5) was a blast.

    Tested the automatic. Comfortable, quiet, balanced, controls in the right places, easy to find a comfortable driving position, ride was well controlled. The 2.4i felt a little muted. The T5 gave me (almost) all the lovin I needed laying down rubber in a fast acceleration off the line at a light. Drive was reasonably good for an automatic, driver shifting seemed to make it responsive enough to make me happy. Steering was a little stiffer in the T5 but I didn't make it loose traction tightly cutting onto another freeway on ramp.

    Second big surprise of the day. I've been driving manuals for 20 years and I'm good at it. Double de clutching, heel/toeing, transmission only braking at speed in the Santa Cruz mountains - no problem. Neither automatic will do what I can do. There would be no remorse about going automatic and letting the car do its own thing during the mind numbing, spirit crushing chore of a daily commute. Either of 2.5XT or V50 automatics would still be fun driving the PCH.
  • Another couple of cars and a few comments. The Audi A4 is a bigger than the A3 and all but the XT and it is quieter and has better gas mileage. If you order it with sunroof and leather but without the premium package, I think it can be got for $33k. A RAV4 is sort of an SUV but not. It is car based and gets pretty good gas mileage. Same with the Ford Escape Hybrid. The XT is an ideal car except for that awful gas mileage. You would think they could do better. The gas mileage kept me from buying one.
  • wcc1968wcc1968 Posts: 17
    Man this confuses me even

    I too am going back and forth between an '07 Avant with 12k miles or a new '08 Outback XT.... this makes it harder.

    also looking at some SUVs as well. Im coming from an M3 btw, but need a practical vehicle for work and play.
  • What about the after sales service?

    How good is support for either model in your area?
  • I work around cars, but not for the dealers. I also love the Audi, cool cars, great style, AWD necessary where I live & play..but talking to owners and repairers, big $$ to maintain. Every time something breaks (and it does), at least $1,000 repair bill. Good car to get if you plan to dump after 36K and don't mind spending your time taking it to dealer (even for warranty repairs), getting alternate transportation, etc. The used Audi is probably back on the lot because the owner got tired of the "issues" :lemon: and traded on another for better luck of the draw. I bought the 08 Outback XT Limited (only trim now) with AT Sportshift, has 3-mode throttle map, very cool. It's a great car, the turbo doesn't lag, feels more like a V6 than a turbo (very transparent). Having owned another Subaru (00 OB auto), the only things that will usually go wrong, brakes (eventually). Change oil religiously every 3K with SF synthetic to keep from sludging and coking the turbo. If you have an M3 you probably already over-maintain your engine to keep it nice. I see the Audi as the exotic Porsche like AWD. The Subaru is the Toyota/Honda like AWD. If image is everything, buy the Audi. If you want to drive, enjoy (it's a kick to drive) and spend money on other things, buy the Subaru. BTW, getting 24MPG mostly rural/mountain driving on the XT. The Audi might get a little better with the 2.0T due to lower displacement. The 3.2 V6 would probably do the same or worse than the Subaru. We considered the Audi A3, but need AWD, so the 3.2 S-line is the only one, which runs $37K plus has lower ground clearance than the OB. The XT ran us about $32K loaded with all but NAV. The auto is about a $1K option. I would have been fine but wife drives most of the time and she hates the stick.
  • of Audi A4 Avant vs. Audi A3 vs. Subaru Outback:

    1. which can wear chains without destroying itself (I hear Subaru warns people not to use chains on theirs)

    2. which does well in snow with its original tires?

    reason is I may need to do driving through mountain passes from Oregon through Washington, or down through several passes in S. Calif., during the winter. My current Malibu maxx is pretty bad wrt traction control and cannot use chains.
  • exactly true... I have driven Audis for the past 10+ yrs. and IMO they are the best cars on the road when they work right, but unfortunately, they are not particularly reliable, and they are horrendously expensive to maintain and repair.

    I am about to unload my beloved '01 A6 Avant with less than 90k miles, meticulously maintained, because of catastrophic engine failure --- inexcusable in a car of this quality and mileage and maintenance history.

    I love Audis but I'm done owning them out of warranty.
  • surprise...I found an Oregon chain provider that makes low profile chains that work on any vehicle. They are called "Z-chains".

    so that solves __that__ problem.
  • I just bought Shur Grip Z chains (1 pair) for my 03 Outback. I am inclined to put them on the front wheels. What do you do? If rear, why? How long have you used them? Thanks.
  • I decided on Auto socks from Norway to round out the winter while trying to decide on future AWD replacement for my Maxx (which without traction aides proved miserable on icy roads - that GM traction control literally shut the engine down when the wheels started spinning).
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