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Discussion Starter #1
At 37, I've been a bicycle commuter my entire life; but I'm now being forced to buy a car due to being hit by a motorist while commuting (the pain ramps up after 5mi on the bike, and I'm having to ride one handed in the Winter due to how the cold effects the scar tissue, nerve damage, etc.). Since I'm having to buy a car pretty much just for Winter commuting, I definitely want something (eg. a Subaru Outback!) that I can use the other three seasons to get the **** out of Dodge. For the most part, during the Winter, the car will only see freeway miles; but during the other three seasons the car will only be seeing the service roads (and the freeway to get me there) in the local foothills, mountains and deserts in order to go camping.

I'm a bit torn between a) the Gen3 and Gen4 Outbacks and b) the 2.5 and 3.x and c) automatic and CVT. As for the Gen3 and Gen4, I'm torn between the size and aesthetic of the Gen3 but the added power and fuel economy of the Gen4; as for the 2.5/3.x, I like the idea of the added power of the 3.x but, from what I understand, the 2.5 is cheaper to work on; as for automatic or CVT, I've never driven a CVT so I'm at a loss as to how it would change things for me.

Any thoughts/advice?

Some things to keep in mind: I've never wanted to own a car, so since I'm having to buy one I'm wanting one that will get the job done but, that also will last (I don't plan on buying another car) and not cost an arm and a leg to maintain. Despite having never owned a car, I'm the best driver my friends know however, I like to know where my corners are and I hate blind spots (which is why the Gen4 turns me off a bit); granted, I haven't test driven either yet.
 

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the problem is, the older you go, the MORE likely you will have maintenance/repairs. maybe some initial, then, normal stuff as the car continues to age. (assuming the previous owners didn't neglct the car or hide something serious.)

that is true for ALL cars. even cars with poor model reliability - they can sometime get better over time as problems are worked through - such that, a 10 year old Honda 'could' be more expensive to keep than a 10 year old Fiat.

I'd think it would be wise to post your city so, someone here might be able to suggest a good mechanic - that way, you will have a place to take any used car for a pre-purchase inspection. Soobs are just odd enough that it would help, even if you have a shade-tree mechanic's knowledge of cars in general - and it takes emotion out of the evaluation process.

Even without the physical issues you may have from your injury, I am kinda sensitive to seating positions and 'ergonomics' in cars (recently had reasons to drive a coupla of loaners and today am in a 2013 Ford Escape - i doubt I'd ever buy one just because of pedal arrangement and seating position - horrible), so, if possible, try to drive, borrow, rent (unlikely) as many cars as possible. It will be a compromise in the end. maybe you have to sacrifie a little visibility to get the seats you want, or, you may need some more expensive roof-mount luggage box to drive a sedan or Impreza-sized car/w'ever.

hope you feel better.
 

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the problem is, the older you go, the MORE likely you will have maintenance/repairs. maybe some initial, then, normal stuff as the car continues to age. (assuming the previous owners didn't neglct the car or hide something serious.)

that is true for ALL cars. even cars with poor model reliability - they can sometime get better over time as problems are worked through - such that, a 10 year old Honda 'could' be more expensive to keep than a 10 year old Fiat.

I'd think it would be wise to post your city so, someone here might be able to suggest a good mechanic - that way, you will have a place to take any used car for a pre-purchase inspection. Soobs are just odd enough that it would help, even if you have a shade-tree mechanic's knowledge of cars in general - and it takes emotion out of the evaluation process.

Even without the physical issues you may have from your injury, I am kinda sensitive to seating positions and 'ergonomics' in cars (recently had reasons to drive a coupla of loaners and today am in a 2013 Ford Escape - i doubt I'd ever buy one just because of pedal arrangement and seating position - horrible), so, if possible, try to drive, borrow, rent (unlikely) as many cars as possible. It will be a compromise in the end. maybe you have to sacrifie a little visibility to get the seats you want, or, you may need some more expensive roof-mount luggage box to drive a sedan or Impreza-sized car/w'ever.

hope you feel better.
I'm not planning on going older than '09 (the last year of the Gen3), my main concern with maintenance cost is whether the Gen3 or Gen4 costs more to work on, and whether the 2.5 or 3.x costs more to work on.

I'm in Sacramento, and I already have a good mechanic (who is a bit obsessed with Subarus).

When I was out on disability I did go and check out both Gen3 and Gen4 at the local dealer but, while I was unable to test drive them (a bit hard with pins sticking out of ones hands), they were both quite comfortable and everything felt laid out well for me.
 

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Welcome fellow River Cityer. Sorry to hear about your accident. I cycle a bit (mostly on the bike path/trails) and walk/jog a lot around midtown and it never ceases to amaze me how crappy the drivers are in Sac. You would think with all the bike lanes around people would be more aware.

I love the look and style of the GenIII but if budget allows I would go with Gen IV. Much better ride and more space in the back seat and rear.

I have taken my 2.5i/CVT up the hill to Donner/Tahoe many times in all seasons to both north and south shore with no issues. With four adults and a weeks worth of gear you'll never have to look for the slow lane or feel unsafe for lack of HP. The CVT is matched very well with the 2.5i. You can easily get up and back with a bit of running around on less than 1/2 tank of gas.

If you don't mind who is your mechanic. I'm still under warranty but am always looking for a good one. Thanks
 

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For Gen3 I would go with the 3.0 5speed automatic as I the old 4speed automatic in the 2.5. is not that good. For Gen4 this has changed, as the CVT has improfed milage and performance and is up to date technology.
 

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From some anecdotal stories, it seems best to buy the most recent year of the generation you're looking at, which would be 2013. I hear they get a lot of the kinks ironed out as the model years go on. This being an Outback board, we're certainly going to advocate for Outbacks, but Foresters also sound like they fit your bill.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Welcome fellow River Cityer. Sorry to hear about your accident. I cycle a bit (mostly on the bike path/trails) and walk/jog a lot around midtown and it never ceases to amaze me how crappy the drivers are in Sac. You would think with all the bike lanes around people would be more aware.

I love the look and style of the GenIII but if budget allows I would go with Gen IV. Much better ride and more space in the back seat and rear.

I have taken my 2.5i/CVT up the hill to Donner/Tahoe many times in all seasons to both north and south shore with no issues. With four adults and a weeks worth of gear you'll never have to look for the slow lane or feel unsafe for lack of HP. The CVT is matched very well with the 2.5i. You can easily get up and back with a bit of running around on less than 1/2 tank of gas.

If you don't mind who is your mechanic. I'm still under warranty but am always looking for a good one. Thanks
Howdy neighbor ... yeah, the drivers here are idiots. Let me put it this way, in my 30+ years of commuting by bike in major cities across the Nation, it was a Sacramento cyclist driving a Prius with a bike rack on the back that took me out; no other accidents in my life, ever. If you can't trust a cyclist to check the bike lane, who can you trust?

Money isn't really an issue (I'm awaiting a settlement) but I'd opt for what is going to cost less as far as maintenance goes. Have you owned both a Gen3 and Gen4? Any noticeable differences in visability, knowing where the corners are, etc.?

The mechanic I've found (by having to track one down for friends who don't know how to tell a good mechanic from a hole in the wall) is Black Rock Auto down on 13th and C. I've sent several people to them and all have left happy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
From some anecdotal stories, it seems best to buy the most recent year of the generation you're looking at, which would be 2013. I hear they get a lot of the kinks ironed out as the model years go on. This being an Outback board, we're certainly going to advocate for Outbacks, but Foresters also sound like they fit your bill.
Yeah, I'm opting between the '09 (last of the Gen3) and whatever version of the Gen4 is most recent when I get my settlement. If I end up with a Gen4, I may chose to get the most recent "certified used" as opposed to the actual most recent version in order to save a bit of money; granted, I can get into the VIP program via my work to save a bit on a new one.
 

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IF you're going Gen 4, go new. Especially with the VIP program. Used cars are at an all time high, so you really won't save much considering what all you are getting with the 2013.

The biggest difference between the two is size and transmission. But IMO, if price isn't the deciding factor and your getting an automatic. I'd cross shop the XV and the new OB. Both have CVT, both get great mileage, and both sit up high. The XV is pretty close in size to the Gen 3 OB. As mentioned the 4EAT is horrid to drive. It's a tried and true transmission, but the CVT outperforms it hands down with the 2.5.

All Subaru engines will be solid if maintained right. However Subaru has had GREAT luck with a 2.0 boxer, which is what is in the XV. The 2.5 was prone to HG problems, but that should be resolved on any 2.5 (gen 3 or 4) you get. But the new 2.5 in the '13 is probably the best of the 2.5s.

If maintenence is your biggest concern, buy new. Then you will know the history and have the full warranty.
 

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Howdy neighbor ... yeah, the drivers here are idiots. Let me put it this way, in my 30+ years of commuting by bike in major cities across the Nation, it was a Sacramento cyclist driving a Prius with a bike rack on the back that took me out; no other accidents in my life, ever. If you can't trust a cyclist to check the bike lane, who can you trust?.
The irony is perfect.;)

The mechanic I've found (by having to track one down for friends who don't know how to tell a good mechanic from a hole in the wall) is Black Rock Auto down on 13th and C. I've sent several people to them and all have left happy.
Thanks for the tip. I get within 4-5 blocks of there every day. I'll stop in and say hi.

Oh, and what he said below on the Gen3/Gen4. The XV is pretty spiffy, it might fit the bill.

IF you're going Gen 4, go new. Especially with the VIP program. Used cars are at an all time high, so you really won't save much considering what all you are getting with the 2013.

The biggest difference between the two is size and transmission. But IMO, if price isn't the deciding factor and your getting an automatic. I'd cross shop the XV and the new OB. Both have CVT, both get great mileage, and both sit up high. The XV is pretty close in size to the Gen 3 OB. As mentioned the 4EAT is horrid to drive. It's a tried and true transmission, but the CVT outperforms it hands down with the 2.5.

All Subaru engines will be solid if maintained right. However Subaru has had GREAT luck with a 2.0 boxer, which is what is in the XV. The 2.5 was prone to HG problems, but that should be resolved on any 2.5 (gen 3 or 4) you get. But the new 2.5 in the '13 is probably the best of the 2.5s.

If maintenence is your biggest concern, buy new. Then you will know the history and have the full warranty.
 

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Get a new one. Engine is warranteed. New suspension should make for a better drive if that is important to you.

Or save the money if the drive and engine are not important.

Whatever you do give the car a thorough going over down to the fluid levels.

Pick a winner!
 

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My suggestion is a 2013 with CVT if you can afford it but they're all great cars.

Superior space and fuel economy are my first reasons in support of that suggestion. The space is great whether it's hauling people or stuff.

If you can afford new and want to keep it a long time that means you can break it in well, care for it from the start, and choose just what you want in terms of color and features.

Consider white or silver if you want to keep it a long time. They're cool in summer, don't show dirt and don't show scratches like others.

Put a hitch and 1 Up USA rack in the budget if you will still be a biker. I've had Thule, Yakima, Saris and 1 Up racks. Friends only let friends buy 1 Up racks and Saris are superb if you can't afford the 1 Up.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Okay so, I'm definitely going with a new '13 with CVT; just bouncing around between trims and add-on's as I'm a tad bit picky about tech (eg. their Nav sucks, so I'll be getting the non-nav audio system using my phone/tablet, etc.) and durability (eg. AWP, seat back protectors, mats, etc.).

Any thoughts on accessories?

Body Side Molding and Rear Bumper Corner Moldings worth the money?

Front and Rear Bumper Underguard and Hood Protector actually do anything, or are they mostly cosmetic?

As for racks, I get about 80% off Thule from my work so I'll be going that route as opposed to whatever Subaru installs.
 
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