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Bought a 2018 Outback Limited 2.5i 50th Anniversary Special Edition, 2/17/2018
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Discussion Starter #1
I had 2 daily drivers until 12/15 when I wrecked my (rwd) 2003 530i (5-series dodn't get x-drive until 2004) on black ice, no other cars or injuries, just a curb at 20mph. Insurance totaled it. Which leaves me with my '05 Passat 4Motion GLX V6, which is the lesser reliable of the two. Only reason I was even driving the BMW (with 80% worn tires) that day was because the POS VW was misfiring cylinders (CEL flashing) as often happens.

I have been wanting an Outback for years. Looked at some 2015-2016 CPO ones, but they all were full of scratches & dings. Been looking at 2018 Limited, Crimson Red, black leather with Eyesight package. I really want the heated steering wheel but don't want the brown leather (which is mandatory in the Touring). Ironically the Forester Touring (w/ heated wheel) can be spec'ed with black leather. But I am not crazy about the Forester, prefer a wagon over an upright CUV. And the Forester interior feels cheaper to me. Local dealers are offering $4500 off on the Limited and Subaru has 0% financing for 63 months right now.

Here is my dilemma. My good friend and car enthusiast, has multiple Toyota hybrids including a Highlander Limited Platinum (all new Highlander and RAV4 hybrids are AWD). Can anyone talk me out of the Highlander. It is bigger and gets great mpg. Is the AWD as good (rear wheels powered only by a motor)? They are a bit pricier, and the only one I could possibly afford is the XLE, which is equipped similar to the Outback Limited (leather, moonroof, nav). But it also does not have the heated steering wheel. So for the same features, I would be paying about $4-5K more for the Toyota. But it is bigger. Other selling points according to my friend are: no engine belts, everything is electric (presumably more reliable, less maintenance), AC and heat work even with the gas engine off, 8year/96K mile warranty on the hybrid components (motors, batteries, trans-axle).

They both have excellent resale value (which makes a used one less of a bargain). Both are pretty safe with good crash test ratings, and all the latest autonomous braking and adaptive cruise control.

I am already active in the heated wheel thread. but if I could get either a Subaru or Toyota dealer to install a heated steering wheel for me that coudl sway my opinion. So far zero luck with Subie dealers. Their mechanics are apparently afraid to work on airbags, and one dealer even told me it would void the warranty. Subaru.com says the parts are compatible with the 2018 Limited. I asked how using genuine Subaru parts installed by a Subaru-certified mechanic would void the warranty --> deafening silence! Was contemplating waiting until June to see if hte 2019 Outback Limited has a heated steering wheel. Most dealers are pessimistic as it is the last year for this gen (of course they want me to buy a car, ANY car, NOW!).

Someone talk me off the Toyota ledge! HELP!!!
 

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2013 O.B. and 2018 O.B.
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100 Posts
I've owned 2 Subaru O.B.s and have never owned a Toyota but I can tell you, living in the PNW, Subaru's are everywhere here and driving mine in snow, a real beast, and even better than my Wife's much more expensive 2015.5 AWD Volvo.
 

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2020 OB Limited XT
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334 Posts
Timbjsk67:

I understand your dilemma as I also wanted a heated steering wheel (had one in my '97 BMW 540) as it is one of the best options a person could ever enjoy. Like you I don't like the brown interior in the Touring so the Subaru Limited is your only real choice. Subaru might well offer the heated steering wheel in the Limited for the 2019 model but the problem is that there is a good chance Subaru won't offer the 6 cylinder engine next year as the new Ascent has only a 4 cyl with turbo available. We just won't know until Subaru issues their 2019 info in May or June. And you need to remember that Subaru won't possibly offer 0% financing next year as interest rates continue to climb.

My 2018 3.6R Limited has everything you could ever want except for the heated steering wheel and for the money is the best car I have ever owned in the past 50 years. My suggestion is that you find the 3.6R Limited you want today, take the 63 month 0% money and never look back. YOU WON'T REGRET IT. My dealer is Fitzgerald on Rockville Pike and they have also been the best new car dealer I have ever dealt with. I could not be happier.

My $0.02. YMMV

Fred Meloan:smile2:

PS: No dealer will take the risk of installing a heated steering wheel as they couldn't charge you enough to make it worth their while.
 

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Bought a 2018 Outback Limited 2.5i 50th Anniversary Special Edition, 2/17/2018
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29 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks! I live in Laurel. Have been to 5+ Subaru dealers in MD and VA. Primarily dealing with Herb Gordon in Silver Spring, which is closest to home and likely where I would go for routine service.

The parts cost <$500. Looks pretty easy, but I wouldn't do it myself (though I could do it) because that would void warranty on those parts. It should only take 2-3 hours for a decent mechanic to do.

I have seen some of the YouTube videos of Subarus (Outback/Forester) vs. CRV, Rogue, RAV4, etc., and it crushed them ALL on a snowy hill climb. Haven't looked for any videos of the Highlander Hybrid (different AWD system from the non-hybrid RAV4).
 

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2018 Touring 3.6R
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I'm so sick of hearing about heated steering wheels! Going through the same thing with my wife right now...she's ready for a new car and that's on her "need" list. It's not a problem with the OB because the Touring model is what she would buy. Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring is a pretty decent and affordable vehicle that has the heated wheel.

Highlander is a fine vehicle although I'm not sure the hybrid model will ever pay for itself. Maybe if you mainly do city driving. The $3,400 premium up front would take 100k miles to break even, and that's assuming it will be worth a grand or two more than a non-hybrid. If you do a lot of highway driving, it would take much longer than 100k. The AWD system is not as sophisticated as the OB but let's be honest, most people would never know the difference in the real world. Also, it certainly has engine belts on the gas motor. It doesn't have a timing belt that requires expensive maintenance, but neither does 95% of cars these days including the OB.

FWIW my DD has a heated steering wheel and I don't like it at all. By the time it warms up my hands are already warmed up and then I don't like the heat on my hands at all. But I'm warmed blooded and don't drive around with the seat heaters on in the summer like my wife.
 

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2015 Outback Limited, 2.5i, 2021 Touring XT in White
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345 Posts
We just added a 2018 Subaru Crosstrek to join our fleet with our 2015 Outback limited. I do believe the Subaru's have the best AWD system on the market.

I would be a little careful about hybrids. We traded a 2012 Toyota Prius on the Crosstrek. The additional cost has a very long break even time, maybe never. The hybrids are very sensitive to maintain the MPG. Changes in fuel by season and tires are a big factor. We replaced the Prius tires with the very same make and model as OEM equipment and the MPG went from 50 to 45.

We had to find a Subaru dealership that also sold Toyota to get a decent trade. Other dealers just looked at the auction selling prices and deducted their cost to determine trade value. The Prius was a good car, but only people that drive a hybrid look to buy a hybrid.
 

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Bmw vs icy roads is like taking art supplies to a plumbing job. Especially if you never put winter tires in the car.

Touring edition of the OB has heated steering wheel. Your coming from a BMW the Touring trim is targeted at those coming from a lux brand or the buyer who wants lux stuff without the lux brand price
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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just buy the toyota highlander hybrid. and some rubber traffic cones to put around it so no one dents or scratches it.
 
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2015 Outback 2.5 limited
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Like someone else said, the Highlander will have belts and hoses and all the normal stuff on the gas engine. There will be additional service for the hybrid system. So the maintenance costs on the Highlander will be more than the Subaru, not less.

I have no idea how well the Highlander's awd system works. I suppose it depends what kind of conditions you expect it to work in. Regular flat occasionally icy streets -- probably as good as anything else. More intense use, who knows. I know that years ago we went up to a ski cabin with some friends, which included several miles of 'private' road (read: unpaved and not terribly well plowed) in a couple inches of snow and all of that. One family had a CR-V, we had a Durango and the other couple a Jeep Cherokee. The CR-V had full time awd, but it got stopped before I had even put the Durango in 4wd. Not sure what the problem was -- I think it was getting confused by none of the wheels having solid traction -- but they had to park at the bottom and we drove them up. This was years ago (probably an '05 CR-V). But it goes to show that not all awd is created equal.

I do know that up at the ski are parking lots here in Utah, where we're driving up and down steep canyons that are snowy or icy a lot of the time, Subaru is by far the most common awd in the parking lot.
 

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2017 Outback Limited 2.5, Twilight Blue/Ivory, Eyesight. Also 1995 BMW 525i with 240,000 miles
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Compare to Audi, Volvo, Buick touring-X vehicles.

BTW, I do not see how installing factory heated wheel parts by dealer mechanics would void ANY part of the warranty. Assuming the change did affect your warranty, it cannot void ALL the warranty, only the parts directly affected by the changeover. I believe there a law to that effect.
 
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Toyota products as long as you dont have a failure are low cost and actually not very high tech. They easily do 300+,000 miles with general maintenance.

The only big issue Ive seen with all brands is improper maint and damage done during servicing etc.

Hybrids are the no1 choice for taxi operators today. The non Ice aspect of the cars outlast the gas engines easily.

I find it a bit odd a BMW owner has concerns about quality and costs. BMW parts quality is pretty low, take your door card off. Quality of wiring components, materials used etc are not at the same quality found on Toyotas, Subarus, Fords etc. its fairly average quality stuff. Anyone who does work on various brands will tell you the same.

If you want the best AWD road holding ability?

Audi
mercedes
subaru
mazda

All have really good highly active awd systems

Toyota
Ford
GM
Nissan
Honda

All have AWD systems that work but are not as responsive as the above list and in many cases are not active at higher speeds and have limited ability to push enough power to a single wheel to move the car on an incline.
 

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2018 Outback 2.5i Limited, Crimson Red Pearl
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Tim - I have the Crimson Red OB, black interior w/Eyesight and love it. Heated steering wheel; well, I just wear gloves until the interior warms up. That wasn't a deal breaker for me. However, wife loves the heated seats.

I purchased mine at Fitzgerald in Rockville.
 
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2001 VDC Wagon - White pearl - 302,000 km
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. Most dealers are pessimistic as it is the last year for this gen (of course they want me to buy a car, ANY car, NOW!).
Generally, the last year of a model run tends to be the best. Subaru has been fairly true to their customers in changing the model every 5 years, but even as much as I love my Subaru, I would be hesitant to buy a first year of a new model. In other words, don't wait for the 2019. You do know that you can buy heated driving gloves, that make every item in your car a heated component when you touch it lol.
 

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My two early 2010’s have been zero issues vs the 14-15 had numerous issues.

The first yr offering thing use to be a good argument when auto makers do new ground up
Cars engines and transmissions all in one go.

Subaru is too small to risk that they don’t do ground up all new offerings very few makers do that today. The Ascent will be all new everything but the Legacy wont be.
 

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Generally, the last year of a model run tends to be the best. Subaru has been fairly true to their customers in changing the model every 5 years, but even as much as I love my Subaru, I would be hesitant to buy a first year of a new model. In other words, don't wait for the 2019. You do know that you can buy heated driving gloves, that make every item in your car a heated component when you touch it lol.
I think 2019 will be the last year of Gen5 OB. 2020 should be the first year of Gen6.
 

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Bought a 2018 Outback Limited 2.5i 50th Anniversary Special Edition, 2/17/2018
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Discussion Starter #18
I never drove the rwd BMW in the snow/ice because I would always opt to take the 4WD VW (always replace the rites early on that one because it is/was my bad-weather car). Except in this case when the VW decides for just that ONE day not to run argh. And the ice storm came while at work. Didn't realize the freaking county had salted all the other roads except the one my office building is on (this was 5 hours after they announced that schools were closing early). And there are like 20 office buildings on that road, so it isn't some little side street. Salt truck finally came during my 3 hour wait for AAA tow truck! [National Business Parkway/Guilford Rd, Annapolis Junction, MD]



I would gladly pay for the OB Touring if I could freaking get any other seat color besides "dog poo" (no offense to those that like the brown, but it is an "acquired taste" (reference "Pink Flamings by John Waters!)! LOL.

The cheaper Forester comes with brown OR black leather in the Touring trim. Why doesn't the Outback???
 

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Bought a 2018 Outback Limited 2.5i 50th Anniversary Special Edition, 2/17/2018
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Discussion Starter #19
Former BMW owner. Bought that one used. Great car overall (acceleration even with only the 6-cylinder, handling, braking, comfort, luxury, even mpg was good 30+ on the highway), but repairs and maintenance will put you in a poor house! Which is where I am. At first I was super pissed when I wrecked the car ( I was only going about 20mph on a road that iss usually traveled at 40-45), then thought, gee how much money did that just save me if I replace it with a more reliable/durable car. Love German car performance, but probably won't buy one again (at least not anytime soon!). The VW build quality (Passat B5.5 gen) is better than the BMW, but engine electronics are a POS. We had a 3-series BMW (also 2003), and in one year the repairs were $8K!!! on a car that was only worth $3500 at the time. Needless to say it was sold a few months later!
 

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Bought a 2018 Outback Limited 2.5i 50th Anniversary Special Edition, 2/17/2018
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Discussion Starter #20
The additional cost has a very long break even time, maybe never.

We had to find a Subaru dealership that also sold Toyota to get a decent trade.
If the regular Highlander V6 AWD gets 22mpg overall, and the hybrid gets 28 mpg overall (few people do all city or all highway driving), then each year you would save ~27% on fuel costs. At 15K/year, $2.75/gal, it would take ~ 7 years to recoup a $3400 "surcharge" for the hybrid system. I haven't checked the delta in MSRP for the hybrid vs non-hybrid. Only way I am getting something that big is if it is a hybrid. Don't want any vehicle that only gets 18-19 mpg city.

As for trade-in value, Toyota, Honda & Subaru are supposed to be tops. Almost not worth buying a 2-year old car, they want almost as much for it as a new one.

Toyota dealer won't install a heated steering wheel (tried 2 dealers), so if I can't get that feature, then I would probably go with the Outback 2.5 Limited with Eyesight: lower cost, better AWD, and 0% financing, all else being equal (if a bit slower and less cargo room), but it should meet me needs ok. :wink2:
 
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