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  1. #1
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    Shopping for new bike-friendly vehicle, help

    I'm considering:

    The Honda Element (soon to be discontinued)
    Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagon (not TDI)
    Honda CRV
    Subaru Outback
    Toyota Rav 4

    Leaning toward Jetta because of gas mileage. I drove the Jetta TDI and really liked it but think it will end up being too expensive.

    Don't really need all-wheel or 4-wheel drive but it would be a bonus.
    germs, needles, milk, death, snakes, mushrooms, heights, crowds, elevators

  2. #2
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    The Outback 4 cyl with CVT says 29 MPG highway but actually gets closer to 32 for most people. You're really not giving up much fuel economy. and the Outback has far better interior room. Actually as far as fuel economy, I'd have thought the Jetta gets better than what it does (not talking TDI, mind you).

    Also maybe consider the Subaru Forester since you listed CRV and RAV-4.

    If you do go towards Jetta, make sure you get yourself one of the 2010's or 2011's because after that the wagon will likely go onto the new, cheapened piece of crap platform.

    With that said, all of the Japanese stuff you listed are fine vehicles, some better in some areas but all fine nonetheless, so you wouldn't be making a bad decision either way.

  3. #3
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    I would go outback or jetta wagon. Make sure you get a jetta before they change the wagon to the new horrible chassis though.

  4. #4
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    I went with the Forester over the Outback due to the larger tailgate opening and better rear cargo space (taller). Also, the roof rails on the Outback are a joke, if you were to ever consider putting anything on top.

  5. #5
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    Element. It can do anything. Swiss Army Knife. Cheap to operate as well.
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    NIner.

  6. #6
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    Oh, the more important thing I didn't touch upon, is all will hold bikes fine, but is that your number one priority? Like, as far as driving dynamics go, I would prefer them personally in this order:

    1. Jetta
    2. Outback
    3. CR-V
    4. RAV
    5. Element

    In other words, the Element would be best as far as biking goes, but I would not want to drive one on a daily basis (personal preference, they are a fine vehicle)

  7. #7
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    Not sure what price range you are looking for, but the new Acura TSX Sport Wagon is very nice.

  8. #8
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    The Jetta will be the nicest to drive, but the worst to own. Smallest, too. Check out the Prius vs Jetta thread.

    RAV4>>CRV. The RAV, due to it's external spare, has a cavernous cargo area. Very tall- taller than the Highlander cargo area, and almost minivan tall. No problem to put in bikes upright with the front wheel off and seats all the way up. If you have a really big bike, just pull up the floor well (where the 3rd row seat hides if you select that option). Then there's TONS of vertical space- about 4'. The V6 has a TON of power, and only gets 1mpg less than the 4-banger. 2011 or 2012 will be the last year for this bodystyle though, so we should see better mpg and crash ratings soon. Interior is so-so.


    The Element is a great bike hauler, but side-impact crash ratings aren't great, and mpg isn't great for a little 4-cyl either.

    Outback is huge and gets fantastic mpg, and has the best AWD system. 2nd best interior after the Jetta, too. Weak engine though, and the cargo bay isn't that tall. Also, look into the "steering wheel shimmy" problem.

    I hear the Honda Fit is a good little bike hauler, too. You can put in bikes upright.
    Last edited by @dam; 03-21-2011 at 08:57 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by @dam
    Outback is huge and gets fantastic mpg, and has the best AWD system. 2nd best interior after the Jetta, too. Weak engine though, and the cargo bay isn't that tall. Also, look into the "steering wheel shimmy" problem.
    The engine is actually no worse in performance than the 4 (or 5 cylinder) offerings in the other vehicles.

    The steering wheel shimmy issue has finally been rectified, but aside from that it happens to a very small minority- that was a classic case of "massively overblown hype due to forum users". Subaru enthusiasts of the Outback and Forester variety tend to be really OCD when it comes to that stuff, lol.

  10. #10
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    They've releases numerous TSB's that have improved the problem, but not always fixed it. Some develop the problem later in life. Also, people are still finding recently produced shakers sitting on the lots.

    The fact is, nobody knows what the root cause is or how many will eventually be affected. I like Subaru, but I personally wouldn't buy an Outback until this is solved.

    0-60 in the Outback 4-cyl is about as slow as you can find these days. With a couple of exceptions (e.g. Smart Car), the slowest cars Consumer Reports tested this year do 0-60 in 11.6 seconds. The Outback is 10.7, so right up there.

    If you live somewhere with a 65 mph limit, you'll probably never notice the steering wheel shake. If you're not that attentive, you probably won't notice either. It'd drive me crazy. It's not the first subie suspension problem. The last gen had an issue known as "ghost walking", which was also never solved. An mtb-bud of mine had a ghost-walking outback, and it was very disconcerting.

  11. #11
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    The root problem is: the steering column is now mounted to a subframe or something that shares a mounting point with the engine mounts, or something. In the last generation, the steering column was mounted to a crossmember, where it was not picking up vibrations from the engine.

    Nationwide (and this is per a warranty rep from Subaru that was examining an example at our dealership), there are only a few hundred identified examples. It just depends on how much harmonic resonance is transmitted through each individual car. So some cars get new bushings, others get roadforce tire balancing, others get a weight on the steering column.

    But more to the point, this is again nitpicking a small issue that was blown out of proportion, and I can likely find TSB's on any of the other cars listed that would be no less severe.

    /fanboy

  12. #12
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    I need 4WD & fit bike inside with both wheels on

    My 1995 Previa All-Trac has little life left - what a fantastic trip it has been - fits 2 bikes with both wheels on inside, great gas mileage - I bought it new and now must find something, probably used - I really prefer to put bikes in with both wheels, so another minivan I suppose is what I'm looking at. I would be ok if I could only fit one bike with both wheels on, and another with front off. I need 4WD & decent gas mileage - any and all ideas gratefully accepted. thanks!

  13. #13
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    A road force balance won't make the steering rack un-mount for a shaking part. There have been cars with all TSBs that still aren't fixed. If they identified the problem and fixed it, that'd be fine, but that isn't what's happening.

    Most cars that have a TSB just swap out a defective part for a redesigned one. This is just throwing stuff at the problem and hoping it gets fixed. I'd be reluctant to get a car with a potentially unfixable problem.- especially if the problem can develop with wear....out of warranty.

  14. #14
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    i drive a 2005 Element and i couldnt be happier with it. theyre ridiculously roomy, extremely practical, and i dont have to use a bike rack! the floor where the forks are sitting is a sturdy cover over the spare tire (you can see the flush-set handle) and i just ordered two fork mounts to bolt there so it'll be lock-n-go. as it is, there are multiple attachment points on the floor and walls of the interior so the bungee cords i am using actually work pefectly well. also, my element has ~80k and has never been in the shop for anything other than routine maintenance. it drives as well as it did new and is currently sitting at about 50% resale value after six years. its just hard to be a Honda....




  15. #15
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    Is that the FIT?

    Quote Originally Posted by @dam

    I hear the Honda Fit is a good little bike hauler, too. You can put in bikes upright.
    My wife is thinking the Fit would be a good commuter. We may be buying two vehicles and I like to have things that are an easy transition back-and-forth if we switch. Right now we have a GTI and a Jetta that we are ready to turn in or buy (lease ending). Neither of these is great for bikes but the GTI is OK.

    I would like to get a new Jetta sportwagen and a new GTI or a new Beetle (Beetle for her)

    My wife is thinking we could get by with the Hondas. I feel like if the Element is underpowered the Fit would really be underpowered (and small)
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by @dam
    A road force balance won't make the steering rack un-mount for a shaking part. There have been cars with all TSBs that still aren't fixed. If they identified the problem and fixed it, that'd be fine, but that isn't what's happening.

    Most cars that have a TSB just swap out a defective part for a redesigned one. This is just throwing stuff at the problem and hoping it gets fixed. I'd be reluctant to get a car with a potentially unfixable problem.- especially if the problem can develop with wear....out of warranty.
    I totally get where you're coming from. But I've sold a metric crapton of 2010-11 Outbacks and Legacies and I've personally had 2 people with this issue. That is not a massive problem.

  17. #17
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    I kinda figured you had a horse in this race. Have you driven all of them? There are a lot of dumb people out there, and if the problem doesn't smack them in the face they won't complain. They might also think it's a tire issue. Or, maybe they don't do enough high-speed road trips to notice. Sometimes it takes wear for this problem to show, too. Nobody knows how much, or what is wearing and tearing. Time will tell- I just don't want to be a test-case. Tell me: did they ever solve the ghost-walking issue? Hopefully they FOR REAL find the root-cause and redesign it for the mid-cycle update (next year?). They're putting a new motor out then, so that'd be a good time.

    I'm a subie fan, too. I stay a member of IMBA half way to get their discount next time I'm ready. I'm ready now- but this isn't the time.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by gthcarolina
    My wife is thinking the Fit would be a good commuter. We may be buying two vehicles and I like to have things that are an easy transition back-and-forth if we switch. Right now we have a GTI and a Jetta that we are ready to turn in or buy (lease ending). Neither of these is great for bikes but the GTI is OK.

    I would like to get a new Jetta sportwagen and a new GTI or a new Beetle (Beetle for her)

    My wife is thinking we could get by with the Hondas. I feel like if the Element is underpowered the Fit would really be underpowered (and small)
    if i could change any one thing about my Element it would be to have a six-cylinder engine. the four-banger in there is fine and i havent found it lacking for anything i have done, but the light towing capacity limits its useage. i think not having a six-cylinder option was a big swing-n-a-miss by Honda.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by @dam
    I kinda figured you had a horse in this race. Have you driven all of them? There are a lot of dumb people out there, and if the problem doesn't smack them in the face they won't complain. They might also think it's a tire issue. Or, maybe they don't do enough high-speed road trips to notice. Sometimes it takes wear for this problem to show, too. Nobody knows how much, or what is wearing and tearing. Time will tell- I just don't want to be a test-case. Tell me: did they ever solve the ghost-walking issue? Hopefully they FOR REAL find the root-cause and redesign it for the mid-cycle update (next year?). They're putting a new motor out then, so that'd be a good time.

    I'm a subie fan, too. I stay a member of IMBA half way to get their discount next time I'm ready. I'm ready now- but this isn't the time.

    Haha, no I haven't driven all of them. I will say that they are patching the problem instead of fixing it. And that bugs me. But regardless, I am buying an Outback around November or so of this year, even knowing about this issue.

    As far as the ghostwalking thing, the first I've heard of it is when you mentioned it, so I'm rather taken aback. I see now there's a big ol' thread on subaruoutback.org, and mentions elsewhere, but I have never heard of it in "real life", and I know tons of coworkers and customers that own 05-09 Outbacks that have never mentioned such a thing. Hmmm.

  20. #20
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    My friend isn't a forum hound. It would happen every time we went skiing, and was really scary. I searched the forums and discovered "ghost walking". We weren't looking for a problem- it was obvious, and then I found out others had the same problem. By coincidence, I also discovered the steering wheel shimmy issue on the '10+ outbacks at the same time, which was nice, because I was about to buy one. My skiing friend replaced his ghost-walking outback with a new Outback and is happy so far.

    Anyway, I'm a subie fan, but am put off by these unfixable issues.

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