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2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
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2,893 Posts
Any 2009 and earlier models legacy or outback your not going to be hauling 5 dudes for very far. The bi-chy dude gets the hump seat in the back ha ha. All the Mt bike trips and ski trips done with the guys the subaru always had 4 and all of those guy trips were with my legacy GT. My new 2010 OB hauls two kids - two parents and occasionally a grand parent it is FAR FAR wider and roomier than the 09 and earlier gen models regarding width and rear seat room.

With the legacy we could pack 4 Mt bikes off set facing front and rear on 54 inch bars and we always bungi the front tires on the frames given we were a dirty motley bunch doing Downyville in CA and Tahoe etc. We could pack the old school Coleman ice box of beer - and some basics in the trunk we stacked the helmets across the back window they take up a pile of space.

We all had small one man or two man back packing tents we just strapped them between the bikes on the yakima rack bars. Worked just fine and the legacy GT did the logging road trip to all the trail heads just fine had to go around a few bolders and slow down for a few creek bed crossings the OB really would not have been any different.
Agreed. Four is fine in my 2004 unless any are on the heavy/tall side. Couldn't imagine making a trip of any distance with five, though. Even two short and skinny girls and a smaller guy in the back seat was a very crowded situation for a ten minute drive.
 

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2013 OB Premium with a 2.5L engine and a M/T
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15 Posts
I forgot to mention in my last post about the OBXT I traded in for a 2013 OB, is that I only had two problems with the OBXT in 8 ½ years of ownership:
1) In the first year the car would track across road crowns, which made freeway driving a real pain. The Dealer finally rectified the tracking issue after I lodged a formal complaint to Subaru (SOA). Unfortunately, SOA or the Dealer never said how the pulling issue was fixed but I suspect they toed the rear wheels in slightly to compensate for the positive rear camber.
2) After 7 years both the front inside half shaft (i.e. CV Joint) boots split throwing CV joint grease all over the exhaust pipes, the turbo and the engine compartment. The Dealer replaced both boots for $450.00 but did not clean the grease off the exhaust pipes and turbo charger. The engine compartment smoked for 6 months after the repair until all the oil in the CV grease flashed off. I spend many weekends cleaning spent CV grease from the engine compartment but unfortunately lots of grease worked its way under the exhaust pipe, turbo and catalytic converter heat shields. What a nasty smell to live with for months. If you buy a used Subaru, make sure the CV joint boots are in good shape otherwise you will not be a happy camper. Note; the inside half shaft boots are located next to the exhaust pipes that plumb into the exhaust manifolds. The heat that radiates off the pipes (especially the exhaust pipe on the passenger side) dry out the boot rubber, which causes it to prematurely crack or split open. The turbo charger exasperates the deterioration of all the rubber and plastic component under the bonnet due to the extra heat it generates.
 

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'07 OBXT Ltd. 5EAT, Charcoal Gray; '70 Chevy K10 4X4, 396c.i., lifted; '63 Pontiac Tempest, 326c.i.
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115 Posts
Cyclist, you'll love the OBXT so get it. You can find everything you want in this car, but be prepared to wait until you find the right one. I searched for over a year for mine because I'm just as picky as you. Here's the key: it sounds like you have a keen eye when it comes to the quality of previous ownership.

I may have waited a long time, and people in the past have laughed at me, but I'm confident I found the cleanest '07 OBXT at 85K miles. It was PERFECT. No dings or dents, (including door dings), complete service records, spotless checkups by 2 different reputable sources...I don't have any of the issues I've read about on this thread by other owners. And, I somewhat baby my car. Again, buy a clean car and you'll be happy. As with any car, there are trade-offs with different options.

The turbo on the OBXT is a godsend with a car full of people and gear in the mountains. My old OB was slow and unassured in this situation. The only major downfall with the XT, in my opinion, is the handling. But $300 for a set of sway bars will correct this problem. Budget that up front. But all of this aside, the one reason the turbo option is great is because there is a huge aftermarket following. I'd argue to say that these are the cheapest cars for dollar to horsepower gain ratio. For an added $1500, you can turn your car into a real sleeper. Everyone starts by saying they don't care abot modding, that they only want the stock XT. But then they see how cheap it is to get some serious power out of the vehicle. It's at this point you go from liking your car, to LOVING your car.

As for the LGT, it simply doesn't have the clearance. My buddy that I lived with for years had one and my OBXT's extra clearance made a noticeable difference in several situations (off-road, snow, etc.) This is one of the trade-offs: handling vs. clearance. But again, add some sways and you can *partially* take away some of the disadvantage of having extra clearance. It sounds like your main concern with handling vs clearance is the wheel travel. I'd stick with the OBXT. (Not dissing on the LGT, I love those cars. It doesn't sound like the best option for you though)

As for the height issue, I'm a measly, punk-ass 5'10" 165 lbs. I have really wide shoulders, and find the leather seats VERY comfortable, comparable to our '06 Lexus GS 430, if not better. I have the sunroof and haven't noticed a problem myself, but when my 6'3" brother drove, he had to lower the seat. After that, he didn't have an issue.

Last issue - mine is the 5eat, so I'm not privy to the 5MT, but the only gripe I have with the automatic is that it is nowhere close to being as smooth as the newer OB's trannys. Otherwise, you can put it in manual mode for when you need to control the RPM's, what I call "fun mode." Also, not sure if the 5MT's have SI-Drive, but I love being able to put it into "grandma mode" (or Intelligent Drive mode). I agree with other people, don't overlook the Automatic. But if you test it out and don't like it, you can easily find a 5MT OBXT.

Good luck on your search! Don't be afraid to look far and wide - It may be worth it to look across the country. That's what I did...
 

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2005 Outback XT
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55 Posts
I'm 6'6" and I have plenty of head room, even with the sun roof. Leg room is another story, but it's about average for anyone this height. I drive from Denver to the mountains every weekend with either bikes, kayaks, or snowboards. I had a 98 OB before this, and the XT engine is a huge improvement for driving in the mountains, especially with people and gear. I wouldn't trade the MT for driving in the mountains for anything, although I did replace the clutch at 70k (stupid dual mass flywheel in the 05 was horrible anyway).

I've gotten 24 mpg average over the last 10k miles. I don't commute to work, but I do often have something on the roof. I don't stick my foot in it at every green light anymore (like I did when I first got it), but I do on freeway entrances and overtaking. Regardless, it's still pretty low, and takes the premium fuel, so it's a big cost any way you slice it.

From what you've described, I think you'd be happier with the XT, but the normal engine would get you just about anywhere you want to go. Just won't be as fun getting there.
 

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2005 Outback XT Limited, 2002 Turbo Miata
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30 Posts
I have an '05 OBXT for pretty much the same reasons you want one. I bought it used a year ago from a dealer who replaced the clutch, fluids, and some other stuff and said it was owned by "an older lady" (yeah right). It was spotless beyond 3 or 4 small rock chips.

I have had zero mechanical problems, and my two other problems are/were a rattle in the dash, and the seat heater. I agree that the handling isn't great, but I have a miata for that and it's a lot better than most vehicles with 8.5" of clearance.

The gas mileage has been beaten to death, so I'll just say I average just over 22mpg for the last 10k miles, and I do not "take it easy".

I had the same rules as you on the manual transmission, which is why I bought the OB instead of a legacy wagon. The manual is not the best transmission I have driven, but it is pretty good. There seems to be a little lag when I step on the gas, so I tend to stall a lot if I've been driving the miata for a while, but I get used to it in a day or two. I have also heard that can be tuned out pretty easily, though I haven't tried yet. Take some time to get used to the clutch so you're not wearing it a lot. It's really easy to slip the crap out of the clutch if you're not careful. I can see why so many people burn through them in <100k miles.

There is plenty of room for four people and ski stuff as long as you put the skis on the roof and the people in the back seat are less than 6 feet tall (or you don't like them too much). I haven't really sat in the back seat of mine for very long, but leg room doesn't seem spectacular. Cargo space, though, is fantastic. A ski rack, bike rack, and roof box (not at the same time, obviously) should get you anywhere you want with everybody.

Summary: Buy it, you will like it, take it easy on the clutch, and don't worry about the fuel economy.
 

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2005 Outback XT
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55 Posts
For the handling, I'd suggest swapping in a bigger rear sway bar. Makes a noticeable difference (still isn't going to handle like a sports car though).

@skidude, did you solve your behind the dash rattle? I've had one for years as well but I'm afraid of creating a worse rattle trying to take things off to fix the current rattle.
 

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2006 Outback Wagon 2.5i 5spd MT Atlantic Blue Pearl
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261 Posts
You might have to give a little on the fuel economy, especially if you want people + gear + mountains. Even on the flatlands of New Hampshire, I can feel when I have 3-4 people in the car (versus just myself). Once you get into the "mountains" (read: hills) of NH, you can feel it even more, but if you're talking real mountains (Sierra Nevadas, Rockies...where the low-elevation towns are above 6000 feet...none of this "highest point in New England is 6200ft" crap), you'll probably want the extra power (I know I would). I, like you, require a manual transmission, so at least I can tap into the power whenever/however I please. It's a solid tranny...nothing too special about it. Driven better, but also driven worse. Don't expect a super solid short throw paired with a light clutch and high point of engagement. Almost a cross between a sedan and a minitruck (like a 70s Datsun).

As for what led me to my OB, I wanted similar stuff. AWD (or 4WD) with ground clearance for the snow, cargo room for weekend trips, ~25mpg (I average 24 around town, but hit 30 going from Maryland to NYC), and a manual transmission. I looked at the Volvo XC70, Nissan Xterra, and the Honda CRV, but Subaru's AWD system was better, the OB was more easily available with a stick, and it was cheaper/easier to work on. Against the Nissan, I liked that the AWD was constant (I notice lots of patchy snow on the roads here), and much better mpg. Plus, it still drives like a normal car, and not like a giant boat. A very good jack of all trades car.

My timing belt job was about $700. I had a local shop do it with all the bells and whistles. She's relatively cheap to maintain, although not as cheap as my 95 Civic was (I'm not counting when my Civic snapped her timing belt with no more than 50k miles on it). Could be better, but could be much worse. Granted, I have the 2.5i, not the XT, so there are some things that I don't have to deal with, but I wouldn't expect it to be much worse.
 

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2005 Outback XT Limited, 2002 Turbo Miata
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30 Posts
@skidude, did you solve your behind the dash rattle? I've had one for years as well but I'm afraid of creating a worse rattle trying to take things off to fix the current rattle.
No. I just started driving the outback a little more now that it's getting cold out so I'm re-investigating the dash rattle. There seem to be a number of temporary fixes but in order to "do it right" it looks like the whole dash must come out.
 

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7 Posts
Discussion Starter #29
sounds like it's worth driving a 2.5 to see if I can live with the power, because I would rather spend money on bikes and skis than on gas and shop bills.
 
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