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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm debating between the Crosstrek and the Outback. I plan on driving for a year around South America (from California).

First and foremost, I need a car that I can sleep in, meaning no bump after folding the rear seats down (or at least a way to compensate for it). I'm only 5'5" and I currently sleep in a Honda Fit full time and it's totally fine, even with all my gear for traveling.

Since I'll be driving a long way, it needs to be fuel efficient.

And reliable, obviously.

I like the look of the Crosstrek much, much more. I've always wanted basically an AWD version of my hatchback Fit. The Fit has a cavernous 60 CuFt of storage space and is perfect for sleeping in, it's fuel efficient, and the magic seats are amazing. The Crosstrek is much more capable on different types of terrain but I'm worried about the ability to sleep in it.

Any input?

For more background check out this thread:

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2305166
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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'11 outback 2.5i premium '12 impreza sport limited
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I have both an '11 outback and a '12 impreza (which is an XV with shorter struts). i'm 6'2" but even at your height, I couldn't imagine using the XV for anything more than like a weekend trip or something like that. its amazing that my outback, which I call a living room on wheels in comparison to her dinky little impreza, anyway the impreza gets only 5mpg more. the XV is rated at 33mpg highway while the 2.5 outback is rated at 30mpg. youll probably only see a difference of 2 or 3 mpg. there is a reason the impreza is so much lighter in this gen. there's almost no sound deadening. drive the two. the impreza is like a little Hyundai for a college girl. the outback is like a luxury car in comparison. I agree the XV/impreza looks better but overall the outback is a much better car. the seats in the outback are 100x better, Id be afraid to ride in the impreza more than 2 hours. oh wait, I did once, I could barely walk afterwords.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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you might check out a Forester.
 

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2014 Legacy 2.5i 6M
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Go to a dealer and crawl in the back...


-Tim

^^This!!

I just went with a buddy of mine to the Subaru dealership to buy a 2012 OBW. At 6'3" tall, I was able to comfortably lay down in the cargo area with the back seats folded. At 5'5", it should be cavernously comfortable for your and road trip. The XV, as nice as it is, feels cramped to me.
 

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Get the 2.5i 6spd outback. I hav it and get 33mpg highway! Same as the crosstreck. Lol just bigger and faster with more ground clearance for the same price
 

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Consider WHERE you will be going along with what you're going to be driving. The Crosstrek is smaller but that's not necessarily a bad thing especially when you factor in the extra safety features and (slightly) better fuel economy. The latter saves you money over the duration of your trip BUT the fuel tank is also smaller so your range isn't going to be as good as it would be in the Outback.

You're pretty much picking out a house so you need to factor in storage space as well as living space.

I'd probably go with the Crosstrek just because of the smaller dimensions which I think would be to my benefit in countries where the average vehicles are on the smaller side. You'll have a much easier time finding a parking spot.
 

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AND don't forgot how it will feel while you are DRIVING all those miles, not just sleeping! When I was test driving the 2012 OB vs Forester I found the OB much more comfortable even though it is a bigger car than the Forester & I am under 5'5''.
That was a surprise to me. (But I like how the Forester looks better than the OB)

Take the models you are interested in on very long test drives.
 

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This would be my choice

For a few reasons. #1 Far more capable and livable. It will carry spares without loosing the ability to deal with bad roads.

I love Subarus I think they are great cars but for an expedition where your in many cases on your own the ability to carry stuff even basics is important. If your viewing the XV as a 4wheeled motorcycle and your going to depend heavily on the locals to find water - food and fix tires etc then it works. Given thats how you will need to operate on that trip with that vehicle.

Also something to consider is having a vehicle that doesn't stick out like a sore thumb and draw attention can make the difference between a good trip and one that you wish you hadn't started. The XV will attract lots of attention for sure.

Another toyota Pick- up not so much LOL.

Good luck post back with your blog for the trip if you do it!
 

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I would use an Outback but it would be an older one for a few reasons.


1. driving a brand new car, XV or outback, in those areas is not the best idea.
2. fuel is not always the highest quality (to say the least) in areas down there and I wouldnt want mess up a brand new 20-30,000 car with bad gas.
3. If you saw the Top Gear africa special it gives you a good idea of how tight the crosstrek would be from Hammond's WRX the outback will have much more space.
4. less money on the car = more money in mods, a bit more ground clearance, offroad tires, spare parts, etc.


However if you're going to get a new car I would go with the Outback you'll have a bit more range and with the crosstrek being new granted it is an Impreza there are always a few problems with the first year. Also the 2.0 liter is a little underpowered which could cause problems on the less maintained back roads.
 

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I agree that it's a little crazy to buy a new car for a trip such as this. You're asking to be targeted by thieves. I suggest an older Outback, very low miles with a solid maintenance history, and a small covered utility trailer (with a hard lockable lid). You may feel that you can carry enough stuff and still be able to sleep in just the car, but eventually you will get fed up with the lack of room.

You can carry all your extra gear and supplies, including a good amount of water, and a minimum of 10 gallons of gas, in the trailer, and keep your personal items and clothing in the car.

Add a 12 volt fridge and a soft cooler to use as a pantry, stored in the OB, and you are set.

This is probably a little extreme, but you really should look at this thread: ..... http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/63-gallery/46768-expedition-outback-build.html

OTH I also agree with subiesailor - for your intended use a compact 4wd pickup with a lightweight self contained camper would be fantastic. Again, buy used. Don't look for pretty; instead look for bland, discrete, and forgettable.

You really need to do some reading at Expedition Portal, and ask your questions there. It is THE resource for this kind of travel, though you won't get any help about Subarus there. It simply is not an ideal choice .... Expedition Portal Forum

Good luck and please keep us posted about the trip. It sounds like a hoot. Be safe.

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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AutoTrader.com[TOYOTA[TACOMA[]][]]&doorCodes=2&modelCode1=TACOMA&driveCode=4WD|AWD&showcaseOwnerId=555577&startYear=1981&makeCode1=TOYOTA&engineCodes=4CLDR&searchRadius=0&listingId=341769300&listingIndex=22&Log=0

This rig would be ideal. Sell the nice plastic bed cap - pick up a used cap
Pop-top pickup camper

Cheap but I wouldn't get crazy on price
Slide in Pop up Truck Camper

Fuel for a trip like that is more along the lines of having the ability to carry jerry jugs in a secure manner for the sections of the trip where fuel might be difficult to find or costly so having the ability to extend your range when needed is a good option.

Also keep in mind that your speeds are not going to be North American speeds so even the 4cylinder Toyota pickup will be plenty and return decent mileage even with a camper on the back.

My surfer buddies who do Mexico all prefer beat up looking older Toyota trucks with basic metal shells over the bed which they can keep things secure and out of sight. They rig up a platform to sleep on and they are in pretty good shape. All of them seem to take two spares on cheap metal wheels - and they like to run BFG tires on the rig which are about as durable and resistant to road damage as you can find regarding tires.
 

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My other concern about the Subaru would be just having really strong well built tires for that type of trip. The subaru really doesn't fit tires built to the level you can find for the small pickups.
 

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Here - add your beer and your good to go all for $18,000
AutoTrader.com[TOYOTA[TACOMA[]][]]&doorCodes=2&modelCode1=TACOMA&driveCode=4WD|AWD&showcaseOwnerId=555577&startYear=1981&makeCode1=TOYOTA&engineCodes=4CLDR&firstRecord=51&searchRadius=0&listingId=339104857&listingIndex=19&Log=0
 

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^ shoot they just pulled that one off the site - was a nice very clean 4cylinder 5spd mt - Tacoma with 60,000 miles on it with a clean nice looking pop top camper on it all for 18K

I would have been all over that for your type of trip. Camper was basically free
 

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Go for an older OBXT ('05-'09). Somewhere between the XV and new OB in size, good power, reliable, and a bit easier to manuever than the 4th gen model.
 

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This rig would be ideal. Sell the nice plastic bed cap - pick up a used cap
Pop-top pickup camper
Whoa! Nice camper! Hallmarks are made in Colorado and are considered to be among the very best lightweight "off-road rated" slide in campers at the normal consumer price level (there are some extreme campers that are double the price of the most expensive Hallmark). It's important to know that the vast majority of campers are very lightly built junk with shoddy construction, intended for light use in three seasons, and they will self destruct when taken onto Third World back roads. You really don't want your home to be shedding parts along a washboard road as you travel in the wilds of Ecuador...... Plus the Hallmark is one of the few winter capable campers with heavy insulation.

If I were to buy such a camper, it would definitely be a Hallmark - here is a descriptive page from their website: .... hallmark Mfg. Inc.- The only option for hallmark pop-up truck campers. Authorized dealer of Okanagan hardside campers. : Why Hallmark

Their base models are pretty affordable, but if you start to add lots of fancy options, the price skyrockets.

If you want to consider a pickup/ camper as a travel option, let me know and I can go inspect that Spokane Hallmark camper for you. It's in my own home town. I've owned boats and rvs and know what to look for..... Here is the Hallmark page for that model: .... hallmark Mfg. Inc.- The only option for hallmark pop-up truck campers. Authorized dealer of Okanagan hardside campers. : FAQs

I'm sorry if we seem to be taking charge of your thread. If you want to travel South America in a car and live like a bug in a sock, go for it. ;) Just understand that there are significantly better (as in more reliable/ tougher/ roomier/ easier to service) options for you to consider than a compact AWD car.....

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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Whoa! Nice camper! Hallmarks are made in Colorado and are considered to be among the very best lightweight "off-road rated" slide in campers at the normal consumer price level (there are some extreme campers that are double the price of the most expensive Hallmark). It's important to know that the vast majority of campers are very lightly built junk with shoddy construction, intended for light use in three seasons, and they will self destruct when taken onto Third World back roads. You really don't want your home to be shedding parts along a washboard road as you travel in the wilds of Ecuador...... Plus the Hallmark is one of the few winter capable campers with heavy insulation.

If I were to buy such a camper, it would definitely be a Hallmark - here is a descriptive page from their website: .... hallmark Mfg. Inc.- The only option for hallmark pop-up truck campers. Authorized dealer of Okanagan hardside campers. : Why Hallmark



Their base models are pretty affordable, but if you start to add lots of fancy options, the price skyrockets.

If you want to consider a pickup/ camper as a travel option, let me know and I can go inspect that Spokane Hallmark camper for you. It's in my own home town. I've owned boats and rvs and know what to look for..... Here is the Hallmark page for that model: .... hallmark Mfg. Inc.- The only option for hallmark pop-up truck campers. Authorized dealer of Okanagan hardside campers. : FAQs

I'm sorry if we seem to be taking charge of your thread. If you want to travel South America in a car and live like a bug in a sock, go for it. ;) Just understand that there are significantly better (as in more reliable/ tougher/ roomier/ easier to service) options for you to consider than a compact AWD car.....

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
FWC is about an hour 10 min from my location in Woodland CA. They make the Artic kit which makes their pop tops full season rigs also. I've seen them on Craigs list for as low as $7000 new very basic zero fancy options I think they are about 14K.

If you take your time and are not afraid to travel to get your gear in order you should easily be able to have a very affordable tacoma and nice pop top camper for the price of a new XV. The end result will be a far far more capable rig that will run tough tires and offer really livable secure space in places where you really want it.
 
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