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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking to get a new SUV soon and I've had my eye on the OB since the 2010 came out. My wife loves the OB as well but with our 70 pound dog in the mix we are now concerned we'll not have enough room throughout the entire lifespan of the vehicle. As in I'm not going to buy a new 2013 and trade it in 2 or 3 years for something bigger.

Here's the worst case scenario for a road trip:

  • 2 adults
  • 2 car seats
  • 1 twenty pound dog
  • 1 seventy pound dog
  • requisite luggage for all 4 for a week or so
  • 2 compact strollers or 1 compact dual
  • 2 adult bicycles
  • tent
  • cooler
  • misc camping tote
95% of the use will be daily commute of less than 30 miles round trip. We live in Western, MI so AWD is important. Trailer towing capability while nice is not a must have so the smaller tow rating of a H4 OB is adequate for 99% of my potential future needs. As in, I'm not going to go buy a boat. At most I might tow a small utility trailer or small enclosed unit.

So can any current owners speak to their experience with an OB and traveling with some combination of roof box, roof bike, hitch bike, and hitch box? The only other vehicles on our shopping list would be a Traverse, Accadia, Pilot, or Highlander. I'm not convinced that a 3 row will be all that much more roomy, just different. Also at the moment we currently do no have any kids. Fuel economy wise the OB wins hands down with a good 4-6 MPG average spread between it and the rest in AWD/4WD configurations.
 

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Unless your pulling a trailer an Outback isn't going to fill all that at once.
+1

I owned a 2010 OB and currently own a Veracruz with 3 row seating. A 3 row CUV, as you noted, won't actually be much better and will still require exterior storage of some type. My Veracruz has crap for room behind the 3rd row seat.

So, no, what you listed shouldn't push you into a 3 row CUV if you want the OB as it has enough seats for human occupants. The dogs can fit in the back no problem. Just need to find room for the luggage, bikes, etc. A small utility trailer would probably do just fine. Although I'd want the 3.6R if pulling a trailer and full load of people/dogs.

Since you currently have no kids, I wouldn't go out of your way to plan around having them. It will be several years after you have kids before you're likely to go on vacations requiring that much stuff anyways. Worst case is you have to buy a bigger SUV in several years. No sense buying a bigger gas guzzler for needs that don't/won't exist for quite a while.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
As I was writing this the more I started thinking a small trailer might be the better option and still cheaper in the long run than a 3 row.
 

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I have a Coleman Versa Trailer that I picked up last year and it can hold about 950lbs. Metal box, fiber glass hood that is removable. Light enough where I get a few neighbors and we lift it over the fence into the side of my yard. Good little trailer and hard to come by. Here are a few pics of the Coleman Versa Trailer, the first 2 pics being my actual trailer (one hooked up to my old Navigator) and the 2nd 2 ones I found pictures of online. Also have an 18sq. ft cargo box.
 

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This is our set up for road trips when the dog goes. 75lb doberman

Two adults - 3yr old and 7month old and in some cases a grand parent.

#1 roof box has been in use since our 2001 Subaru Legacy though we could only fit two in the back seat - be it the dog and grand parent or - kid and grand parent etc.

Roof box gets - soft stuff and first to go in is the packnplay. All the other stuff are small duffel bags of kid stuff - diapers - clothes shoes - dog food etc.

Trunk packing
We take the Phil and teds which has the rear rumble seat - this folds and sits on its side standing on its side - bungee from floor hook to the latch hook in the roof. Driver side trunk. This leaves about 85% of the floor open. We can pack the tent across the back of the seat forward most area of the trunk floor - the old coleman metal ice box "with Drain" fits perfect drain out passenger side of the trunk. We then put two to three medium duffel bags on the floor between the stroller and the ice box. The dogs bed goes ontop of the duffel bags. We can usually pack a few more small items across the front of the dogs bed against the back seat. No tent we can fill that with something else etc. The dog wears a harness and gets hooked to a rear tie down. He is still below the top edge of the rear seat when sleeping in his bed. This is our standard road trip set up when going to visit family.

Foot well under the kids car seats is also used for diaper bag and we have a soft sided ice chest that sits center on the hump and accessible to the front seats/ under the rear facing kids seat etc.

When we do camping - we haul more gear and take the trailer
Photo - - dog did not go on this trip so rear hatch was packed differently - almost all the gear in the back of the car can go on the trailer if needed.

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If we are Hauling more than two adults two kids + dog for more than an hour or two ie taking a grand parent or two grand parents more than 2+hrs - we take the Sequoia which is more or less identical to a mini van regarding seating and space. We leave half the 3rd row out which gives us plenty of space for gear and dog with the roof box on the lid.

Last summer we did a trip 4 adults 2 kids 1 dog - roof box packed - rear 3rd row half seat with my 3yr old - floor space packed with dog wedged in ontop of the gear beside and behind the 3yr old. 16 foot canoe riding next to the box - we ran the 66inch long bars for that trip. 18mpg for the trip.

No way the subaru would have done that.
 

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At one point we were in a similar situation. We only had one dog though (80 lbs) I ended up getting a Subaru roof top box:

http://www.scoobymods.com/showthread.php/roof-top-cargo-carrier-oem-894.html

We did some creative packing too. The thing is while it seems like forever, there are only a few years you need the requisite kids crap with you. The things that take up a lot of space like strollers, portable cribs etc. Those things were light and we put them topside along with clothes. You'll most likely have the car a lot longer. If you don't think you could get away with only a rooftop box, I like the idea of a small trailer.

You give a worse case, how often do you expect to be in that situation? For us it was only a few times a year. At the time it didn't justify a larger vehicle.

Having said that we eventually went and traded in the OB Wagon for a Tribeca. When the kids got older and my mom moved locally we had to have the capacity for 6 or 7 seat belted people around town. That did help on long trips though since with the third row of seats down, we had enough extra room to not need to roof-top box. We are now in a situation were we will only need the third row a few more years. Both my kids will be driving. We can both go back to fun cars :)

The current Outback seems a lot larger inside than our 02' but you are asking a lot. Possibly a roof top box and hitch for an outside bike rack would work for you?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One thing I've seen on other vehicles but I'm not sure about with the factory crossbar is to have a slim long roofbox, then a bike or two beside it. Thule also makes a hitch box that could be added to this combo and probably leave more than enough space in the back for both dogs. Shorter trips the 20 pound dog would probably lap it.

Realistically I can only see the 'worst case scenario' happening once or twice a year and for longer trips (Michigan to Montana) the dogs may not always go. Also on the longer trips a lot of the camping gear would not go as well in most cases.
 

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SOLUTION:

And room for growth when the kids start riding bikes.

Kids in the back seat, dogs in the rear, the rest in the trailer.

Now that I think of it, I may be able to extend my trailer and add a bike rack.
 

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One thing I've seen on other vehicles but I'm not sure about with the factory crossbar is to have a slim long roofbox, then a bike or two beside it. Thule also makes a hitch box that could be added to this combo and probably leave more than enough space in the back for both dogs. Shorter trips the 20 pound dog would probably lap it.

Realistically I can only see the 'worst case scenario' happening once or twice a year and for longer trips (Michigan to Montana) the dogs may not always go. Also on the longer trips a lot of the camping gear would not go as well in most cases.
I have a 30inch wide - Thule box which will fit a pair of 190- snow ski's its probably longer than the new boxes I see around today which look to be nearly as wide as they are long.

When we haul the bikes I run 54inch wide bars which gives me just enough room for the 30inch wide box and two bikes. I use my old rail grabs on the stock OB bars in the stowed position. Works fine I've done countless trips with this set up. I have also run 66inch wide bars to haul my 12ft 135lb racing sailboat on the roof rack also.
 

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SOLUTION:

And room for growth when the kids start riding bikes.

Kids in the back seat, dogs in the rear, the rest in the trailer.

Now that I think of it, I may be able to extend my trailer and add a bike rack.
This was one of the ideas I had for our 12foot long tent trailer rig - add about 2ft to the tongue and set of rack which would hold the bikes across the front of the trailer width wise. Would also make the trailer tow a little nicer longer run between the hitch and the axle on the trailer.
 

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We have two kids, a large sky box on top, and a hitch mounted bike rack to haul everything camping. But we don't have any dogs, and we couldn't fit them if we wanted to.

Our next car will mostly likely be a minivan. Sad, I know. But for the space plus the ability to bring friends around (there is no way to even get three car seats in the back seat) we are forced that way, although the Pilot and Hylander are also of interest.

We got our outback 1 year before our first son was born, a daughter 2.5 years later, and we expect to outgrow the outback in 3 more years (10 years of ownership). The only complaint thus far is the inability to bring friends with us, but otherwise we've never not been able to fit. But we don't have the dogs...

Tom
 

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We have two kids, a large sky box on top, and a hitch mounted bike rack to haul everything camping. But we don't have any dogs, and we couldn't fit them if we wanted to.

Our next car will mostly likely be a minivan. Sad, I know. But for the space plus the ability to bring friends around (there is no way to even get three car seats in the back seat) we are forced that way, although the Pilot and Hylander are also of interest.

We got our outback 1 year before our first son was born, a daughter 2.5 years later, and we expect to outgrow the outback in 3 more years (10 years of ownership). The only complaint thus far is the inability to bring friends with us, but otherwise we've never not been able to fit. But we don't have the dogs...

Tom
Check out the 07 through 09 Sequoia - I'm not kidding when I say the seats are nearly identical to the toyota sienna. Daycare buddy just bought the new Sienna about a month after I picked up the 07 Sequoia. He paid just shy of 50K - I paid 22K for a cherry single owner all records v8 powered Sequoia with the same seating it had 64,000 miles on it.

We run about 18mpg on road trips packed to the gills roof box + 16foot canoe etc. My buddy did a similar trip with a similar load he got 19mpg in the mini van. He didn't have the very nice 4.7L V8 though nor did he have 4x4 if he ever needed it.

The second row doors on the Sequoia are big very wide. I can lift my 3yr old into her car seat sitting in the 3rd row from the 2nd row door. Something I can't do in my Father inlaws 3rd row Suburban given the second row door is about half as wide as the door on the Sequoia.
 

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Thanks, I'll add it to the list. I always buy used, although usually looking for lower mileage if I can. I only have 3 years to look :)
 

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I still wish the '06 Sequoia I found with less than 60k miles I found for $16k didn't sell so quickly.... The Veracruz is much nicer inside and handles better, but doesn't get much better mileage than than the Toyota and lacks the V8 grunt. A big vehicle with 3 rows of seating is great to have if you have an extra car to drive when you don't need it. If you're trying to get one car that serves all purposes, you're going to pay at the gas pump whether it's a minivan or SUV.
 

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I still wish the '06 Sequoia I found with less than 60k miles I found for $16k didn't sell so quickly.... The Veracruz is much nicer inside and handles better, but doesn't get much better mileage than than the Toyota and lacks the V8 grunt. A big vehicle with 3 rows of seating is great to have if you have an extra car to drive when you don't need it. If you're trying to get one car that serves all purposes, you're going to pay at the gas pump whether it's a minivan or SUV.
Yes we have the Subaru OB which is our primary every day family car - wife has the old VW she uses during the week for work - weekends if she needs to haul kids and I'm going some place I either take the VW or the Sequoia. We have had three cars one being large since 2004. The larger car sees about 4000-8000 miles a year pending road trips with added family members.

99.9% of the longer road trips are just wife + 2 kids the dog is 14yrs old now and Grandpa is 2 minutes away so the old Guys often hang out when we leave town in the Subaru.

Paid $8000 for a 93 Land Cruiser in 2004 - sold it this past April for $7000 - bought the Sequoia needed more space ie proper 3rd row for 22K. Similar 07's first year for the full head air bags were selling for around 26K at the dealers if you could find one. Limited 4x4 trim
 

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I'd say your best bet is to go with a trailer to haul all that extra gear. Don't make the exception the rule otherwise you'll end up with a vehicle too large and thirsty for your day to day activities.

If you're anything like me, you start hitting the delete key when it's time to pack up the car for a trip. As much as I'd like to take everything I'd rather have the least amount of stuff to deal with.

Any costs Kenneling the dog would probably be less than fuel and operating costs for a land barge.

Plenty to consider.
 

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By the way rough numbers for you regarding my towing experience with the 2.5

Our 4x6 trailer in the photo we run between 21mpg in the hills 60-65mph speeds limited to the roads not the cars ability - flat ground hauling we run 23-26mpg 65-70mph.

The 21ft 1700lb boat I ran between 16-21mpg pending wind - car speeds etc. Sticking with a 5ft wide type trailer and having it low behind the car will keep the mileage pretty good for the long trips.
 
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