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  1. #1
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    Subaru Outback questions...and other models

    I'm looking to get a commuter car and had really only been looking at 4dr sedans but while looking at car ads, I found a really good deal on a '98 Outback and wanted to get peoples opinion of this car.

    How do the subarus compare to Accords and Camrys of roughly the same year in reliabilty? I've driven a v6 camry and think it's a great commuter car with some decent acceleration. The thing that really impresses me about the camry is that the AC takes very little time to cool the car down given ambient temps in the mid-hi 80's. Is the outback's AC as strong?

    We've all heard that toyotas/hondas can go forever and its mostly true. I've been researching both cars and have found problems with both. I haven't done much researching on the subarus since this wasn't a car I had looked at previously. So my question for people that own subaru's is; how dependable has your car been? any out of the ordinary service needed? any out of the ordinary service that needed to be done around 60k miles? Timing belt/water pump is considered normal. How's fuel economy?

    thanks,

    -Sp

  2. #2
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    I have a 2000 Outback and love it. It has just over 89,000 miles and so far I haven't had any mechanical issues yet. I only have a four cylinder so it's slightly under powered but I didn't get it to go fast. I love the all wheel drive in the snow. Plus it's great for hauling bikes, just got a roof rack this year and with the factory rack it was simple to put on.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by SinglePivot
    I'm looking to get a commuter car and had really only been looking at 4dr sedans but while looking at car ads, I found a really good deal on a '98 Outback and wanted to get peoples opinion of this car.

    How do the subarus compare to Accords and Camrys of roughly the same year in reliabilty? I've driven a v6 camry and think it's a great commuter car with some decent acceleration. The thing that really impresses me about the camry is that the AC takes very little time to cool the car down given ambient temps in the mid-hi 80's. Is the outback's AC as strong?

    We've all heard that toyotas/hondas can go forever and its mostly true. I've been researching both cars and have found problems with both. I haven't done much researching on the subarus since this wasn't a car I had looked at previously. So my question for people that own subaru's is; how dependable has your car been? any out of the ordinary service needed? any out of the ordinary service that needed to be done around 60k miles? Timing belt/water pump is considered normal. How's fuel economy?

    thanks,

    -Sp
    Good vehicle. We have a '97 Outback Limited with close to 70K miles and no big mechanical issues. At 60k we spent about $300 for scheduled service. We get about 25mpg last time I checked. One thing I've noticed in many Outbacks and Legacies from the late '90's is that the driver's seat gets sacked out, as if the springs were too weak. If you live in a cold climate, the heated seats in the Limited is a very nice touch. It seems as if every other house in my city (Bend, OR) has a Subaru, so it's a bit trendy, but it's such a practical car.

    We've also owned a Honda and a Nissan, and have had no problems with them either. It's a far cry from back when I had a Ford Bronco and a Jeep CJ7, and somehing was always broken.

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    2005 Suabru

    Agree on the Subaru responses. I have an 05 Outback 2.5 wagon. Did not get the limited with turbo option, leather sets, etc. becasue mainly its a 'utility' vehicle for hauling bikes, going into the woods and getting around in the winter. Its a little under powered, but as another poster said, I didn't get it to go fast (have a Bavarian import that does that quite nicely in that area...).

    Has heated seats, cargo rack, Yak fork mount carriers, cargo liner so you can throw all the muddy stuff in back and not give the carpet a worry, and a 1.25" receiver hitch for the trailer. Also got the rubber floor mats, take 'em out and hose them off.

    Gets about 25 to the gallon right now on average. EPA rates its at 28 on the highway, but the cargo basket and fairing cut the mileage down.

    Have not had a problem yet, due for the first service soon (will cost around 28.00 dollars I am told, not bad).

  5. #5
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    Nothing beats a Honda or Toyota for value or

    Quote Originally Posted by SinglePivot
    I'm looking to get a commuter car and had really only been looking at 4dr sedans but while looking at car ads, I found a really good deal on a '98 Outback and wanted to get peoples opinion of this car.

    How do the subarus compare to Accords and Camrys of roughly the same year in reliabilty? I've driven a v6 camry and think it's a great commuter car with some decent acceleration. The thing that really impresses me about the camry is that the AC takes very little time to cool the car down given ambient temps in the mid-hi 80's. Is the outback's AC as strong?

    We've all heard that toyotas/hondas can go forever and its mostly true. I've been researching both cars and have found problems with both. I haven't done much researching on the subarus since this wasn't a car I had looked at previously. So my question for people that own subaru's is; how dependable has your car been? any out of the ordinary service needed? any out of the ordinary service that needed to be done around 60k miles? Timing belt/water pump is considered normal. How's fuel economy?

    thanks,

    -Sp
    reliability but I must say Subaru has some outstanding commercials.

  6. #6
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    Since your name is "singlepivot", you might want the camry or honda, since there are many more parts and things to go wrong on a subaru with AWD...

    They are great cars (except for the forester that handles like a$$ ), but there are a lot more parts....
    I know in my heart that Ellsworth bikes are more durable by as much as double. AND they are all lighter...Tony Ellsworth

  7. #7
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    I have a 98 Outback and its been trouble free. Its the utility vehicle of our family and my daily driver. As one poster mentioned the driver's seat seems to be "sacking out" but other than that I really like it. The only money I've put in it is for oil, gas, some new tires this year and the regular tune ups.
    The Camry and Honda will get better gas milage since they don't have the extra weight penalty of AWD goodies but then they can't travel as well up fireroads, thru rain, sleet, snow etc.
    As for AC, it works. I wouldn't call it spectacular but it does the job. People in the back seats won't do too well though.
    They're also quite safe if I remember accident reports too. My wife has a WRX and got rear ended at a stop sign last month. The car almost was folded to the rear seats and she (luckily) only has a stiff neck.


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  8. #8
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    well, i think hondas and toyotas are great cars (have a honda too) but my experience with subarus has been fantastic...right now we have a 02 legacy wagon, great car, no problems yet with 20k, while it is not fast it moves very well (in 2000 and newer they have the 2.5 liter 4 cylinder), even climbs mountain passes in here in colorado as fast as you wanna go...

    i had a 94 legacy wagon as well, it was great and i did not think it was under powered with the 2.2 liter motor... i had it until 125k and only had to do cv joints...

    the 94 got better gas mileage, 28/34, the 02 get 23/30 ish...

    i also had a 82 that went to 160k and sold it to a friend...

    just depends if you want AWD in my opinion, it sure is nice in the snow and glad to sacrifice a few mpg's for the safety of my family....good luck
    BBZ

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    Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for the input. I think i'm going to stay with the v6 camry/accord search as originally planned.

    thanks,

    -Sp


    Quote Originally Posted by billybobzia
    well, i think hondas and toyotas are great cars (have a honda too) but my experience with subarus has been fantastic...right now we have a 02 legacy wagon, great car, no problems yet with 20k, while it is not fast it moves very well (in 2000 and newer they have the 2.5 liter 4 cylinder), even climbs mountain passes in here in colorado as fast as you wanna go...

    i had a 94 legacy wagon as well, it was great and i did not think it was under powered with the 2.2 liter motor... i had it until 125k and only had to do cv joints...

    the 94 got better gas mileage, 28/34, the 02 get 23/30 ish...

    i also had a 82 that went to 160k and sold it to a friend...

    just depends if you want AWD in my opinion, it sure is nice in the snow and glad to sacrifice a few mpg's for the safety of my family....good luck

  10. #10
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    Don't forget to check insurance rates

    I was looking at the same models recently. The Accord was at the top of my list, but that changed when I got insurance quotes. My insurance company told me that the Honda Accord (especially the 6 cyls) are now considered 'performance' vehicles, and the rates were substantially higher as a result. By substantially, I mean ~$120 more every six months over the Camry, Legacy or Altima. Worth checking.

    In the end, I went with the Legacy. Have owned two previously and put > 150k miles on both with no issues to speak of.

    Rollo

  11. #11
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    Camry wagons thru 1996

    I could have written your post. I was hot on a subaru until I tried some Camrys. I wanted an older commuter type veh that I could relax with as far as parking or transporting muddy bikes or sloppy passengers (my kids). I didn't want to get married to a 4 year loan or least, either.
    I found a 1996 Camry wagon 150K LE 4 cyl. I'm sure that the V6 would be stronger, but the 4cyl rides fine at 85-90, 3K rpm. Climbs mts in Vt, hauls full of passengers adequately. Thats nice, but here's the strenght. Everything works. Period.
    I would add another to the family fleet when the 210K 90 Honda tires. I would hunt for someone's creampuff lo mile V6. I bot the 4cyl for 3,650 and the market for a V6 is about 5500-6K.
    Depends on what you want or need. Great cheap utility means hauling 7 passengers or my bike with wheels on, or brush to the compost facility. I didn't need 4wd in New England snow, nor will I go 4 wheeling thru rivers like on commercials.
    MCM # 57

  12. #12
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    I own a 2002 Impreza RS 2.5 with 54k miles on it. Havn't had a single problem with it. Only oil and tire changes. I'm getting about 26-27mpg with a Thule roof rack w/fairing. I've driven plenty of civics and camry's but honestly I'm glad I got this car. Their handling feels downright awful when compared to the Impreza.

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    I drive an '83 BRAT as my commuter car. I took the seats out of the back since the dogs never used them. Umm, what was the question?...

  14. #14
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    Power on the Impreza?

    How's the power your 2.5 Impreza? I was thinking about the WRX where the power will be plenty but milage will suck for a little car.
    Question to a custom frame builder..."So what makes your bikes climb better?"....his answer, "Uh, your legs?"

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    Last month I bought a 2001 Outback LL Bean Edition (6-cylinder, leather, power, dual sunroof, etc). I absolutely LOVE it. I had lusted after one for a long time. Already taken it on a couple long road-trips. Rides very smooth, good mileage (compared to an SUV). I opted for a hitch-mount bike rack though.

  16. #16
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    Lousy gas mileage...

    Unless you live in snow country, there's no reason to have a Subaru. I live in Wyoming and thank God I own a Subaru. Actually, that's mostly because my wife didn't grow up driving on snow like I did, and can really use the AWD feature. One of the true pleasures in life is driving a little Honda Civic past boat-like SUVs stuck in the ditch on the way to a fresh powder day at Steamboat...

    But if I still lived in the SF Bay Area, I'd own a car that does better with gas. You can easily find cars with the same features (excluding the AWD thing) that will get 30% better mileage -- worth it the way gas prices have been.

  17. #17
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    Honda, Toyota, Subaru...

    Quote Originally Posted by SinglePivot
    I'm looking to get a commuter car and had really only been looking at 4dr sedans but while looking at car ads, I found a really good deal on a '98 Outback and wanted to get peoples opinion of this car.

    How do the subarus compare to Accords and Camrys of roughly the same year in reliabilty? I've driven a v6 camry and think it's a great commuter car with some decent acceleration. The thing that really impresses me about the camry is that the AC takes very little time to cool the car down given ambient temps in the mid-hi 80's. Is the outback's AC as strong?

    We've all heard that toyotas/hondas can go forever and its mostly true. I've been researching both cars and have found problems with both. I haven't done much researching on the subarus since this wasn't a car I had looked at previously. So my question for people that own subaru's is; how dependable has your car been? any out of the ordinary service needed? any out of the ordinary service that needed to be done around 60k miles? Timing belt/water pump is considered normal. How's fuel economy?

    thanks,

    -Sp
    I've owned three Toyotas ('86 Camry, '86 Celica, '98 4 Runner), two Hondas ('92 Civic and a '93 Accord), and three Subarus ('91 Loyale, '90 Legacy, and my current ride, an '02 Outback). (We won't get into my addiction to change cars every couple of years.) The Toyotas were BY FAR the most reliable, followed closely by the Hondas. Subarus are a good full step down from the other two makes in terms of reliability. In fact, my '91 Loyale was by far the least reliable of the 12 cars I've owned since I turned 16. My '02 Outback just was in the shop for the 3rd time for some mystery engine issue causing it to cough, sputter and nearly quit...and it only has 34,000 miles on it. The Outback is also way underpowered, and even when it's in tune I get major predetonation of the cylinders - also known as engine knock. Both my other Subies did the same thing. Also, Subarus leak oil like sieves after about 70,000 miles - that's what you get with a boxter engine. For the same price as you're looking at for the '98 Outback, you can get a much more reliable car.

  18. #18
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    I have a 96 outback,
    I recently put a timing belt on it at 100k ,other then general maintenance the car has been trouble free.
    Yes,it did start to leak oil at 70k but not enough to add between changes.
    It is unstoppable in inclimate weather and has surprisingly good power (stick shift).
    My reason for buying this car is simple,my aunt who has carried mail for 31yrs with hours of stop and go driving claims the subaru has held up better than any vehicle she has driven.
    I also have and prefer the hitch mount for hauling bikes.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earthpig
    I've owned three Toyotas ('86 Camry, '86 Celica, '98 4 Runner), two Hondas ('92 Civic and a '93 Accord), and three Subarus ('91 Loyale, '90 Legacy, and my current ride, an '02 Outback). (We won't get into my addiction to change cars every couple of years.) The Toyotas were BY FAR the most reliable, followed closely by the Hondas. Subarus are a good full step down from the other two makes in terms of reliability. In fact, my '91 Loyale was by far the least reliable of the 12 cars I've owned since I turned 16. My '02 Outback just was in the shop for the 3rd time for some mystery engine issue causing it to cough, sputter and nearly quit...and it only has 34,000 miles on it. The Outback is also way underpowered, and even when it's in tune I get major predetonation of the cylinders - also known as engine knock. Both my other Subies did the same thing. Also, Subarus leak oil like sieves after about 70,000 miles - that's what you get with a boxter engine. For the same price as you're looking at for the '98 Outback, you can get a much more reliable car.
    for the record the Loyales were terrible cars, why i don't know, but specifically 90, 91 and 92....bummer about your Outback, i know so many people with subarus and have never heard of anyone being dissatisfied, hope it gets worked out...
    BBZ

    Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy - Benjamin Franklin

  20. #20
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    Yep, sounds like fella got a dud one, or is running low octane fuel or laboring in high gears or something. The engine management on the Scooby has never produced knock for me. My '97 Outback has done 90k miles, and it's just starting to get tired now (thinkin' of a 2.5 turbo replacement motor...). Superb car, safe and reliable. I'd never go back to 2WD.

  21. #21
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    I was just looking at cars of that vintage for a second car or 4x4 replacement, and reports and owners I know said the Subarus are basically good. I recall a range of years where some of the consumer info stated head gasket problems, and one person I talked with said they had the problem, and I think theirs is a '99. My brother has a Subaru and says it's good, but not as polished as the Toyota they had and Honda they have, but also less expensive. Owners I talked with said they are not particularly frugal for a 4cyl, but good compared to a truck-type 4x4. Our fwd car we sold had snow tires and it was tremendous in snow so a fwd car with snow tires could be a more frugal way to commute.

    You said "good deal" so if it's a good car that could negate any fuel costs due to the AWD.

    Good luck.

  22. #22
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    Yup

    Quote Originally Posted by No I'm Spartacus
    Yep, sounds like fella got a dud one, or is running low octane fuel or laboring in high gears or something. The engine management on the Scooby has never produced knock for me. My '97 Outback has done 90k miles, and it's just starting to get tired now (thinkin' of a 2.5 turbo replacement motor...). Superb car, safe and reliable. I'd never go back to 2WD.
    Not sure yet if it's a true lemon or not. It's still under warranty (2000 more warranty miles!!), so we'll see how it goes after 36K. So far, the dealer has replaced the front o2 sensor and the catalytic converter, and they reprogrammed the computer. The engine knock comes and goes (and is definitely BAD with anything less than 89 octane fuel). Wish I'd gotten the 5 speed manual - that 2.5L 165 hp boxer doesn't have much get up and go with the auto. It was an OK deal at $22K new, so I guess I got what I paid for. (Wish I'd gotten the $22K Honda Element instead, though!!!) Hopefully, I can move up to something like the XC70 or the Allroad in 5 years or so.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earthpig
    Not sure yet if it's a true lemon or not. It's still under warranty (2000 more warranty miles!!), so we'll see how it goes after 36K. So far, the dealer has replaced the front o2 sensor and the catalytic converter, and they reprogrammed the computer. The engine knock comes and goes (and is definitely BAD with anything less than 89 octane fuel).
    To be honest, that sounds a bit sus. I'm not sure why they'd think a new cat would fix anything, and reprogramming sounds ominous too. I wonder if it's running lean and also retarding the ignition for your fuel, and then resulting in high exhaust gas temperatures. This could damage the cat and O2 sensor, but replacing them won't fix the problem... Remapping the computer to richen things up might help manage whatever's wrong, but I'd be looking elsewhere for the cause...

    FWIW, I've got an auto too, and it goes ok for what it is. It's also quite likely it doesn't like the low grade fuel... I don't put less that 91 in mine, and usually run 96 (maybe country fuel differences there)

  24. #24
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    If you are a member of IMBA for at least 6 months, you can buy most, maybe all Subaru cars at invoice.

    The Outback is now available in two additional models that will silence any gripes about power. Both are 250hp, the Outback 2.5 XT being a forced-induction flat-4 and the Outback 3.0 R being a natually-aspirated flat-6.

    The Legacy/Outback has been completely redesigned this year to target upmarket cars. One thing that Subaru engineers made clear is that in the JDM, the new Legacy is aimed squarely at the BMW 5-series. While this is not the case in the North American market (V8 variants of the 5-series are more the rule than the exception), a Legacy GT sedan (forced-induction flat-4) that can do 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds for only 24.5K (invoice, assuming IMBA membership) is nothing to sneer at.

    There are reviews/comparos of the new Legacy in Car & Driver, Road & Track, and Sports Car International on the newsstands as we speak. While I don't think it wins outright in any comparo, you might want to note what it's being compared against, and done so in a dry-road context. When conditions turn bad there is no question that the Legacy will show its full hand.

    In case anybody missed the obvious, the Outback is a raised and body-cladded version of the Legacy that's as good (if not better) for the "off roading" (which is really only dirt-roading) that people who drive SUVs believe justifies their desire for a heavy, tippy, and gas-guzzling vehicle.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by DtEW
    If you are a member of IMBA for at least 6 months, you can buy most, maybe all Subaru cars at invoice.

    The Outback is now available in two additional models that will silence any gripes about power. Both are 250hp, the Outback 2.5 XT being a forced-induction flat-4 and the Outback 3.0 R being a natually-aspirated flat-6.

    The Legacy/Outback has been completely redesigned this year to target upmarket cars. One thing that Subaru engineers made clear is that in the JDM, the new Legacy is aimed squarely at the BMW 5-series. While this is not the case in the North American market (V8 variants of the 5-series are more the rule than the exception), a Legacy GT sedan (forced-induction flat-4) that can do 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds for only 24.5K (invoice, assuming IMBA membership) is nothing to sneer at.

    There are reviews/comparos of the new Legacy in Car & Driver, Road & Track, and Sports Car International on the newsstands as we speak. While I don't think it wins outright in any comparo, you might want to note what it's being compared against, and done so in a dry-road context. When conditions turn bad there is no question that the Legacy will show its full hand.

    In case anybody missed the obvious, the Outback is a raised and body-cladded version of the Legacy that's as good (if not better) for the "off roading" (which is really only dirt-roading) that people who drive SUVs believe justifies their desire for a heavy, tippy, and gas-guzzling vehicle.

    I test drove an 05 Legacy this past weekend. First of all, the red GT wagon in the showroom is sweet, and over 30k. The base model we test drove is nothing like a BMW 5 series wagon. But does cost less. The base model was just OK, in my opinion. Sort of a wannabe nice car. Just OK.
    And the IMBA thing gives you invoice. We are going to get a Passat Wagon for below invoice. The IMBA deal gives you about what some normal bargaining would give you.
    Only boring people get bored.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by HTail
    How's the power your 2.5 Impreza? I was thinking about the WRX where the power will be plenty but milage will suck for a little car.
    I have the manual and find the power is quite acceptable and overall pretty good. The 2.5L engine might be a bit too little for the heavier outbacks but for a lighter car like the Impreza its very different. I find it very comparable to the a 93 VW Corrado SLC and 96 Jetta GLX (both 2.8L V6) with the difference that handling is unquestionably better and it doesn't spend 3 months out of the year in the repair shop. Torque is really good and the car responds very well.

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