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#1 ChileanSeaBass

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 08:50 AM

As some of you may have seen in the complaint thread, I got an 07 Hyundai Elantra back in October, and it was totaled when I was rear ended at a stoplight in December.  A few weeks back I got an 08 Honda Civic Hybrid, which after owning for two days, the hybrid battery crapped out on me.  The dealer agreed to take it back, and now I'm back to square one.

I've got about $13K to spend. I want to pay cash, no financing.  I drive 40 miles round trip for work, so something fuel efficient is a plus.  While it will mainly be just a commuter for me, I've got 3 kids with a 4th on the way in the fall, so something with decent room is also a plus (my wife has a van, so if we need to haul all the kids around, we'll use that).

Here's what I've been looking at, with a few thoughts on each.  I'm to the point with reading reviews on various websites that all cars invariably are flawed, and everyone has something to complain about.  Anyone on here have any experience with these models?

2012/2013 Ford Focus - not a big fan of the new auto transmission, plus I've heard of lots of problems with the computerized components.

2012/2013 Hyundai Elantra - I enjoyed my 07 for the short time I had it, but this is the redesigned version, and I'm not a huge fan of the look.

2012/2013 VW Passat - Easily the largest, roomiest, and most comfortable, but I worry about reliability.  I know early/mid 2000 VW's were notorious for electrical problems, plus if something does go wrong, they're not cheap to fix.  Supposedly the new VW's made in TN are much improved, and it was Motor Trend's 2012 COTY.  Any thoughts on VW reliability?

2012/2013 Mazda 3 - The most fun to drive, decent MPG.  I had an 04 (ex-wife took it), and she's at 100K on it now and it sounds like hell.  My Dad had two 626's and both had serious transmission issues between 120K and 150K.


Usually the logical choices in this class are the Corolla and Civic.  I rented a 2013 Corolla and I wasn't impressed, and a co-worker that has always had Civics got a new 2013, and doesn't it like it, plus I didn't care for the 08 Hybrid for the few days I owned it.  Any help is appreciated!

#2 FolignosJock

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 08:57 AM

Dude if I was you I would go after a used Nissan Altima. I love my 2008. It is easily the best car that myself or any of my family has owned. It looks like from the price point you listed you can get a 2008 or a 2009 with less than 40K miles on it.

Also the Altima has an incredibly warranty and with the CVT the trans is under warranty until 120k

Edited by FolignosJock, 04 February 2014 - 08:58 AM.


#3 bcardona

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 09:06 AM

2012 Focus SE here, 5 speed, 5 door, drives tight like a euro car, it's under powered but priced accordingly.  We've had 2 small probs - heated seat not working, and the a/c is weak.  The seat pad was replaced with a quick dealer visit.  The a/c is what it is I'm told.  Overall we really like it, but now she wants an ST! My inlaws have the same Focus model but auto trans and have had a lot of probs with it requiring many visits to dealer to get software updates. I think it's finally tolerable for them but yeah I'd avoid 2012 automatic.

Good luck!  Sounds like you are due for it.

#4 ChileanSeaBass

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 09:16 AM

View Postbcardona, on 04 February 2014 - 09:06 AM, said:

2012 Focus SE here, 5 speed, 5 door, drives tight like a euro car, it's under powered but priced accordingly.  We've had 2 small probs - heated seat not working, and the a/c is weak.  The seat pad was replaced with a quick dealer visit.  The a/c is what it is I'm told.  Overall we really like it, but now she wants an ST! My inlaws have the same Focus model but auto trans and have had a lot of probs with it requiring many visits to dealer to get software updates. I think it's finally tolerable for them but yeah I'd avoid 2012 automatic.

Good luck!  Sounds like you are due for it.

I wouldn't mind a manual transmission, but I need the auto in case my wife ever needs to drive it.  I like pretty much everything about the Focus, except the transmission issues I've heard about with the auto.  Thanks for the heads up!

#5 d4rksabre

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 10:16 AM

We had a thread on this quite a long time ago. Let me see if I can find and bump it.

http://forums.sabres...__1#entry288512

http://forums.sabres...age__hl__import

#6 FolignosJock

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 10:19 AM

View Postd4rksabre, on 04 February 2014 - 10:16 AM, said:

We had a thread on this quite a long time ago. Let me see if I can find and bump it.

http://forums.sabres...__1#entry288512

http://forums.sabres...age__hl__import

TOO OLD I like this one better

#7 d4rksabre

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 10:23 AM

View PostFolignosJock, on 04 February 2014 - 10:19 AM, said:

TOO OLD I like this one better

I think it's fun to see the representation. I wonder how much it's changed since then. Anyone from those threads driving something completely different these days. If I remember correctly, the top choices then were Ford and Toyota.

#8 MattPie

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 10:25 AM

View PostFolignosJock, on 04 February 2014 - 08:57 AM, said:

Dude if I was you I would go after a used Nissan Altima. I love my 2008. It is easily the best car that myself or any of my family has owned. It looks like from the price point you listed you can get a 2008 or a 2009 with less than 40K miles on it.

Also the Altima has an incredibly warranty and with the CVT the trans is under warranty until 120k

My ex-girlfriend bought one of those, it was a really nice car and I enjoyed driving it (I like cars as a mild hobby, FWIW). The only complaint I had about it was the 16" rims/tires didn't feel very tight if you hit a bump in a corner. But that's a pretty mild criticism.

View PostChileanSeaBass, on 04 February 2014 - 09:16 AM, said:

I wouldn't mind a manual transmission, but I need the auto in case my wife ever needs to drive it.  I like pretty much everything about the Focus, except the transmission issues I've heard about with the auto.  Thanks for the heads up!

Just teach her! :) I lucked out that my wife doesn't mind driving stick (oooh, errrr). It makes it a lot more reasonable to keep my Subaru WRX around. I've loved all my Subarus, I've owned 3 (and my wife had one before). Great cars, fantastic reliability, although my 2005 Outback (Buffalo car) hasn't dealt that well with the salt. My 2002 WRX never gave me any problems and so far my 2011 isn't either. The down-side is all but the newest models don't get great gas mileage, and being in NC you probably don't need AWD.

#9 IKnowPhysics

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 10:49 AM

Give in to 11mpg, and ride in style.


Edited by IKnowPhysics, 04 February 2014 - 10:49 AM.


#10 d4rksabre

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 10:52 AM

View PostIKnowPhysics, on 04 February 2014 - 10:49 AM, said:

Give in to 11mpg, and ride in style.



I have a buddy who has a Lincoln coupe of that vintage for sale. What a behemoth. Can't beat it for smoothness though.

#11 beerme1

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 11:27 AM

ChileanSeaBass Let me propose something I did for a winter car. Scour auto trader or local dealers and find a used 2012 Ford Fusion with about 20,000 miles on it and you still have original warranty on it and then add the premium ford extended warranty which will add another four years. These cars will be former rentals but you can find great deals and with the warranty your protected anyway.
I bought the warranty on line at a greatly reduced price that local dealers couldn't/wouldn't touch. I would be happy to provide you further info if you want.

#12 MattPie

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 11:39 AM

View Postbeerme1, on 04 February 2014 - 11:27 AM, said:

ChileanSeaBass Let me propose something I did for a winter car. Scour auto trader or local dealers and find a used 2012 Ford Fusion with about 20,000 miles on it and you still have original warranty on it and then add the premium ford extended warranty which will add another four years. These cars will be former rentals but you can find great deals and with the warranty your protected anyway.

I've thought about the plan before, but after seeing how some of my coworkers treat their rental cars, I get worried. :(

#13 Josie914

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:01 PM

I can speak for VW. My family has been diehard das auto fans for years. We've owned two passats and several jettas over the past decade or so. The 1999 Passat is still going strong. They're pretty reliable cars, but be warned- if something does go wrong, it can take forever to get it fixed because of parts... One time we had a problem and we had to wait weeks until The Tool to fix it could be shipped from Germany.

The Passat IS very roomy. Great for long trips and for families. We have the combi (no longer offered I believe) and it was just fantastic for cross country/moving. They are good in the winter, as well. As a 16 year old I drove a RWD mustang and my parents always made me drive the 99 Passat in the winter. Both handle very well in all weather/conditions in my experience. You can tell they're engineered for the autobahn. While in Germany, admittedly, we didn't drive a VW, we stuck to an Audi diesel combi, which was great too.

My sister has had a couple of Jettas. I can attest that they survive accidents well- she's gotten into some bad wrecks in them and came out physically unfazed. However, I've lost some faith in VW's newer work- the older models seem to stand the test of time better than the newer ones.

We've begun to shift over to Subaru because of my Impreza (my dad got one too, for his constant drive up to Detroit airport in all weather). My mum has a Honda Civic for her round the town errand running- it's good for the money. We've somewhat left the VW family because of the expense/difficulty of getting the damn things fixed if they break.

#14 dEnnis the Menace

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:02 PM

My sister just leased a KIA Optima.   Actually not a bad car, and decent fuel mileage from what I understand.  Me, I love my Subaru Legacy.  26-28 mpg city, 33mpg+ highway.

#15 PASabreFan

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:08 PM

View PostMattPie, on 04 February 2014 - 11:39 AM, said:

I've thought about the plan before, but after seeing how some of my coworkers treat their rental cars, I get worried. :(

I almost bought a former rental car a few years ago. IIRC my research indicated that the idea that people abuse rental cars is a myth — it might even be the opposite. And the cars are supposedly very well maintained. Mostly highway miles, too, you'd think.

#16 MattPie

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:12 PM

View PostPASabreFan, on 04 February 2014 - 12:08 PM, said:

I almost bought a former rental car a few years ago. IIRC my research indicated that the idea that people abuse rental cars is a myth — it might even be the opposite. And the cars are supposedly very well maintained. Mostly highway miles, too, you'd think.

I hope you didn't get that Impala that we drove up a rocky trail in AZ every morning to start a generator for a piece of gear, or the SUV in FL that my coworkers took mudding. :)

#17 weave

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:16 PM

My last 3 vehicles were former rentals.  I have a 70+ mile daily commute.  I drive em into the ground and throw them out.  Last 3 cars were a Ford and two Chevy's, all purchased with around 20K miles on them and ridden well into 130+K miles before dumping them off.  All 3 were reliable and didn't give me problems before they hit their natural end.

Edited by weave, 04 February 2014 - 12:17 PM.


#18 ChileanSeaBass

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:17 PM

View PostPASabreFan, on 04 February 2014 - 12:08 PM, said:

I almost bought a former rental car a few years ago. IIRC my research indicated that the idea that people abuse rental cars is a myth — it might even be the opposite. And the cars are supposedly very well maintained. Mostly highway miles, too, you'd think.

I've been looking at former rentals as well.  That's all my Dad will buy.  He's a die hard Hertz guy - rents them and buys them.  I know whenever I have a rental I baby it more than my own car since I don't want to pay extra for any damages, but I see where that "rental = abused" line of thinking comes from.

Edited by ChileanSeaBass, 04 February 2014 - 12:21 PM.


#19 d4rksabre

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 12:29 PM

Hopping on the rental bandwagon, my father began purchasing used minivans from Hertz a while back to use as his car and he's had good luck with them. Nothing wrong with buying a rental. They might have been driven a little hard, but probably only for a short period of time and they were maintained while doing so. Better than the average car owner in my opinion.

#20 nfreeman

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 01:15 PM

FWIW, I own a Mazda SUV (the CX9) with 72K on it and am really happy with it.  I've also driven the Mazda 3 version you're considering a number of times and like that one too.

One possibility to consider -- especially at this time of year since I think this is the slow period for car sales so the deals are good -- is shopping around for a cheapo lease deal on any of the Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte or Ford Fusion (all of which are highly-rated cars).  You may be able to find something like $170/month for 3 years with $0 up front.  At that price, it's probably a better economic deal than buying a used one.

#21 ChileanSeaBass

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 01:27 PM

View Postnfreeman, on 04 February 2014 - 01:15 PM, said:

FWIW, I own a Mazda SUV (the CX9) with 72K on it and am really happy with it.  I've also driven the Mazda 3 version you're considering a number of times and like that one too.

One possibility to consider -- especially at this time of year since I think this is the slow period for car sales so the deals are good -- is shopping around for a cheapo lease deal on any of the Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte or Ford Fusion (all of which are highly-rated cars).  You may be able to find something like $170/month for 3 years with $0 up front.  At that price, it's probably a better economic deal than buying a used one.

I've looked into leases before, but I easily put 20-25K miles a year on my car. With mileage limits being 12-15K, I always figured I'd get killed.

#22 Neuvirths Glove

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 01:36 PM

I have an Elantra as well, a 2005, and after nearly 100,000 carefree miles my son is now driving it.  If you're not crazy about the current Elantra styling, consider an Elantra Touring wagon.  They look so-so in pictures, but every time I see one in person, I'm impressed.  It looks like 2012 was the last year they were sold.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Edited by Doohickie, 04 February 2014 - 01:38 PM.


#23 beerme1

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 03:07 PM

View PostDoohickie, on 04 February 2014 - 01:36 PM, said:

I have an Elantra as well, a 2005, and after nearly 100,000 carefree miles my son is now driving it.  If you're not crazy about the current Elantra styling, consider an Elantra Touring wagon.  They look so-so in pictures, but every time I see one in person, I'm impressed.  It looks like 2012 was the last year they were sold.

Posted Image

Posted Image

C'MON! you look at that and you're impressed? Everyone's entitled to their own opinion but man C'MON!!
Lol

#24 ubkev

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 04:48 PM

VW alllll day! Learned how to drive stick on a '92 Fox. That car was impossible to kill. Owned a Jetta for a few years. I beat the hell out of my cars and the VWs take it like a champ.
I only drive German and Japanese and am currently on an Infinity kick. But you can't go wrong with a VW.

Edit: my lady is currently in the market also and she is of the terrible credit no financing all cash variety (although she's getting close to joining the awful credit but we'll finance you with an incredibly high APR club). She's got a Camry all picked out and needs her W2 and tax return back so she can be sure to get it before the owner finds another buyer.

Edited by ubkev, 04 February 2014 - 05:00 PM.


#25 biodork

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Posted 04 February 2014 - 11:35 PM

View Postubkev, on 04 February 2014 - 04:48 PM, said:

VW alllll day! Learned how to drive stick on a '92 Fox. That car was impossible to kill. Owned a Jetta for a few years. I beat the hell out of my cars and the VWs take it like a champ.
I only drive German and Japanese and am currently on an Infinity kick. But you can't go wrong with a VW.

Edit: my lady is currently in the market also and she is of the terrible credit no financing all cash variety (although she's getting close to joining the awful credit but we'll finance you with an incredibly high APR club). She's got a Camry all picked out and needs her W2 and tax return back so she can be sure to get it before the owner finds another buyer.

Loved my Camry.  I had an '02 LE that I finally traded in over the summer around 176,000 miles.  Still a little sad I didn't get to take it over 200,000 myself, but it was well-maintained and probably made a great starter vehicle for someone else.  My dad is still driving his 1995 Camry XLE!

#26 Heimdall

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 07:42 AM

Toyota Auris 2008

This is what I am driving at the moment, bought the car from my parents, 5 yrs old, except for the usual maintenance that will come with cars hitting 6yrs, i never had any issues.
Seeing my height being 1.94 meters i need a bit of room.  This car has suprisingly alot of space for being a smaller model.

The car has just enough punch to make it fun driving to, makes you feel like you are driving on a cloud to :D

Edit, also had a small accident with it after 5 months because i was blinded by the sun and hit another car in the flank, my bumper was a bit scraped, but it came out ok.
Can't really say that of the other car though.


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Edited by Heimdall, 05 February 2014 - 07:46 AM.


#27 ROC_EMT

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 07:58 AM

Gotta say I love my '10 Subaru Outback.  Just hit 40k with no issues.  Original brakes and tires (although tires will need changing by next season).  Full-time AWD and I get between 25-29mpg depending on Winter/Summer.  Super safety ratings (peace of mind with the wife/children in the car) and roomy.

Stylish?  Not so much.  Practical?  In this weather?  Absolutely!

#28 ChileanSeaBass

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 08:30 AM

While scouring the net last night, I found this guy, who's local, who buys (mostly) VW's that have been totaled, fixes them up, and sells them.

http://www.southendauto.net/

I'm sure the re-sale value on a a salvage titled car is next to nil, but if I'm just going to drive it into the ground, what difference is there? Anyone have an experience with these sort of "rebuilt" vehicles?

#29 Neuvirths Glove

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:26 AM

View Postbeerme1, on 04 February 2014 - 03:07 PM, said:

C'MON! you look at that and you're impressed? Everyone's entitled to their own opinion but man C'MON!!
Lol

Yes I am.  Like I said, it looks better in person.  I mean, it's a wagon.  If you want a sporty wagon, go for a Mazda3, but I'm not sure I buy into the concept of a sports wagon.

#30 d4rksabre

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 09:38 AM

View PostHeimdall, on 05 February 2014 - 07:42 AM, said:

Toyota Auris 2008

This is what I am driving at the moment, bought the car from my parents, 5 yrs old, except for the usual maintenance that will come with cars hitting 6yrs, i never had any issues.
Seeing my height being 1.94 meters i need a bit of room.  This car has suprisingly alot of space for being a smaller model.

The car has just enough punch to make it fun driving to, makes you feel like you are driving on a cloud to :D

Edit, also had a small accident with it after 5 months because i was blinded by the sun and hit another car in the flank, my bumper was a bit scraped, but it came out ok.
Can't really say that of the other car though.


Posted Image

Get outta here you crazy foreigner and your European models we don't get here. :P

#31 weave

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 10:06 AM

View PostChileanSeaBass, on 05 February 2014 - 08:30 AM, said:

While scouring the net last night, I found this guy, who's local, who buys (mostly) VW's that have been totaled, fixes them up, and sells them.

http://www.southendauto.net/

I'm sure the re-sale value on a a salvage titled car is next to nil, but if I'm just going to drive it into the ground, what difference is there? Anyone have an experience with these sort of "rebuilt" vehicles?

I've bought a few in my time.  Had one with ongoing problems, two others that were great cars.  It is really dependent on what the damage was and how good the repair is.  This is the ultimate buyer beware scenario.  I'd say pass unless you know what you are looking for.  I had the advantage of a FIL who was in the auto body repair biz and helped me choose good vehicles.

I'll add this, do NOT buy fire damaged or flood damaged vehicles.  Their problems take a good bit of time to surface, examples being corrosion on structural parts and even corrosion on electrical connections.  Look at the title and verify that the vehicle has not seen flood or fire.

#32 ChileanSeaBass

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Posted 05 February 2014 - 10:08 AM

View Postweave, on 05 February 2014 - 10:06 AM, said:

I've bought a few in my time.  Had one with ongoing problems, two others that were great cars.  It is really dependent on what the damage was and how good the repair is.  This is the ultimate buyer beware scenario.  I'd say pass unless you know what you are looking for.  I had the advantage of a FIL who was in the auto body repair biz and helped me choose good vehicles.

I'll add this, do NOT buy fire damaged or flood damaged vehicles.  Their problems take a good bit of time to surface, examples being corrosion on structural parts and even corrosion on electrical connections.  Look at the title and verify that the vehicle has not seen flood or fire.

Sounds like good advice to me.  Thanks.

#33 ubkev

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 03:39 PM

View Postd4rksabre, on 05 February 2014 - 09:38 AM, said:



Get outta here you crazy foreigner and your European models we don't get here. :P

Yeah! And take your 1.94 meters with ya!  Damn commie metric system!

#34 Sabres Fan In NS

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 02:50 PM

Toyota, or Nissan.

Can't (well, rarely) go wrong.

#35 LGR4GM

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 01:39 PM

Okay, my 04 Impala is about ready to give up on life. I want a small SUV/Crossover... I like the 2014 - Forester, Escape and Sportage but am not sure what way to go. Each has something I like with the forester being the front runner.  Anyone have any thoughts on Subaru, Ford, and Kia?

#36 IKnowPhysics

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 01:50 PM

I would probably prefer the Subaru, based on performance and reliability.  Motor Trend called the '14 Forrester the SUV of the year, FWIW.  My cousins drive Ford Escapes, and it seems to work pretty well for them.  I generally avoid Kia like the plague.  Motor Trend crossover comparisons (including the Forrester and Escape) from 2013: http://www.motortren...on/viewall.html

#37 dEnnis the Menace

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 02:05 PM

Again, I love my Subaru Legacy.  it's a 2011, I got it new, only one issue, and that was a freak manufacturing defect that was taken care of.  My friends have the Outback, and my coworker just got a 2013 Forester.  Never have heard a complaint.  Just my $0.02

#38 LGR4GM

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 02:34 PM

So it sounds like the Forester 2.0 XT is my best bet.  Thanks.

#39 IKnowPhysics

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 02:37 PM

View PostLGR4GM, on 18 April 2014 - 02:34 PM, said:

So it sounds like the Forester 2.0 XT is my best bet.  Thanks.

If that and the Escape were equally priced, I think it'd be a no-brainer for me, pending test drive, but for that amount of change, I'd definitely do the homework.

#40 Knightrider

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 02:42 PM

View PostKnightrider, on 11 May 2011 - 06:15 PM, said:

2001 Audi A6 2.7T
2004 Toyota Siena AWD
2003 Kubota L3130
2006 Polaris Sportsman 700EFI

We have a 600 foot driveway.  ;-)

The boys just got a Suzuki JR50 and a Honda XR50...

Now:

2004 Toyota Sienna AWD  (~185k, expect we can pull 250-300k out of it)
2003 Kubota L3130  (love this thing)
2006 Polaris Sportsman  (Love it when its running good, but the engine heat tends to vapor lock the fuel line - annoying)
2004 JR50 is awaiting the two year old
2002 Honda XR50 is still used by one of the twins, but he should be transitioning off it this year
2001 Honda XR70 - Both Hondas are fantastic
2004 Yamaha TTR90 - New to us

Also picked up 4 Ski-Doos - 2000 and 2002 MXZ 700s, 2001 Formula Deluxe 700, and a 2006 MXZ 800

2006 Toyota Tundra Double Cab  (to pull the sleds to WNY or Northern Maine)

The A6 met an untimely demise due to Mass emission standards.  It ran great, had 145k, but needed catalytic convertors (~$2k a piece).  Hopefully someone in another state is enjoying it.