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New Member - Considering 2008-2013 Outback

403 Views 21 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Duncan Heinz
Hello All!

I'm brand new to this forum, but not new to forums in general, having been a part of the Mazdaspeed community and then also was active on a Ford Edge forum.

We sold our 2013 Ford Edge Sport in October and my wife and I have been sharing "her" 2021 Mazda CX-5. We sold the Edge (which I primarily drove) to eliminate a car payment - and I also kind of wanted to get back into a manual (though she was slightly opposed). Initially, I had hoped to find a Mazdaspeed6, Legacy GT or WRX with the cash left over from the sale of the Edge. This seemed feasible with a budget of ~$9k. However, I've been unable to find any of those - with low(ish) miles, stock and in good working order - near me (N. Idaho). I was close to buying a Speed6 in Seattle but the seller was flaky.

She's preparing to return to work full-time, so we're coming up to crunch-time to find a 2nd car. Around the New Year, my wife proposed that we look at a Forester and I can just drive the CX-5. At first I was opposed to this - we bought the non-turbo Carbon Edition because it was going to be primarily for her and she felt the turbo was unnecessary. I don't mind the CX-5, but it's not what I would have purchased if I knew I'd be the primary driver. That's a lot of back story as to how we got here . . .

After looking for Foresters nearby, she also started to consider the Outback. We actually test drove two 2013 Outbacks (both 2.5i Limited) this weekend at a lot that specializes in salvage titles. We had no intention to buy either, but I wanted her to drive one before she sent me off to wherever (Seattle, Portland, Boise, Salt Lake City). The first one we drove was awful (and it actually had a clean title). Rough ride, engine felt awful and it hesitated and nearly felt like it was going to die at most stops. We told the dealer and asked if there was another we could drive to compare. The second one was much smoother and had the upgraded head-unit w/Nav - and the oil light came on during the drive. She's now deep dived into finding an Outback, scouring everywhere within ~750 miles.

My wife will be using this car to drive to and from work (about 10-15 minutes each way), for errands around town with our (2) younger girls (8 and 5), and occasionally to take the girls and our dogs (3.5 year old golden retriever and a husky puppy) on hikes (again, probably no more than an hour travel time except on rare occasions).
  • From what I have gathered so far, any Outback with the 2.5 before the 2013 models has a timing belt and likely should have been replaced by now? (the ones in our budget are going to have 120k miles or more)
  • That doesn't apply to the 3.6 as it has a timing chain, correct?
  • Head gaskets were a common issue but that was apparently resolved beginning in 2010?
  • Anything else that jumps out?
  • Is the 3rd gen big enough for 4 adults and 2 dogs to comfortable take a 30-60 minute trip? The 4th gen looks / feels bigger, but I've never driven the 3rd Gen (the closest thing would have been an '05 Legacy GT).
  • Would a low mileage 3rd gen be better than a 4th gen with high mileage (assuming price points are similar and timing belts have been replaced)?

She's found a 2008 Limited in Portland with only 126k miles and a clean title that she and her dad think we should pursue. There are other 4th gens locally that have 150k-170k miles that are within our price range. For the pre-2013 ones we're asking if the timing belt / water pump / head gaskets (where applicable) have been replaced.
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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Rarely would I recommend a Gen 4 over a Gen 3, but in your case with the family size plus two dogs, I am going to have to do so. The back seats are where most of the interior differences are.

And you are correct on most of the bullet points - although the H6 EZ3.0R engine is a 3.0 litre displacement used through 2009 and requires premium fuel, whereas the EZ3.6R used afterward was 3.6 litres and needed only regular fuel. And don’t take anyone’s word on maintence for any of it, insist on documentation and get a pre-purchase inspection - especially for something as important as a timing belt on the H4 EJ253 engine.

More model information and photos is at www.cars101.com.
 

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2020 Onyx
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A 2005 Legacy GT is the basis for a Gen 3 2005-2009 Outback - the front and rear passenger space is the same, and the cargo is the same if the Legacy GT was a wagon, the Outback version was just with added cladding and ground clearance.

I had a 2005 Legacy GT 5 speed wagon and loved it - could fit 4 comfortably but the two dogs in the back, probably not a growing husky and a golden retriever. Bear in mind that the Forester cargo area is slightly taller, so depending on the height of your dogs they might prefer the Forester's vertical space. Like the Outback, Foresters have grown in size over time.
 
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TBD - Likely 4th Gen Outback
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Rarely would I recommend a Gen 4 over a Gen 3, but in your case with the family size plus two dogs, I am going to have to do so. The back seats are where most of the interior differences are.

And you are correct on most of the bullet points - although the H6 EZ3.0R engine is a 3.0 litre displacement used through 2009 and requires premium fuel, whereas the EZ3.6R used afterward was 3.6 litres andneeded only regular fuel. And don’t take anyone’s word on maintence for any of it, insist on documentation and get a pre-purchase inspection - especially for something as important as a timing belt on the H4 EJ253 engine.

More model information and photos is at www.cars101.com.

Thanks for the response. The research I did on the specs shows a fairly minimal difference - with the exception of ~4” of rear leg room. That’s not a huge deal to me since I won’t really ever be in the back seat, haha. But I am fairly tall, so the passenger behind me could be kind of squished.

I have been asking everyone for maintenance records and I think they’reannoyed by it. But I don’t want to pay book value for a car and then have to spend $3k on repairs . . .

Also, here the link for that ‘08 in Portland
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
A 2005 Legacy GT is the basis for a Gen 3 2005-2009 Outback - the front and rear passenger space is the same, and the cargo is the same if the Legacy GT was a wagon, the Outback version was just with added cladding and ground clearance.

I had a 2005 Legacy GT 5 speed wagon and loved it - could fit 4 comfortably but the two dogs in the back, probably not a growing husky and a golden retriever. Bear in mind that the Forester cargo area is slightly taller, so depending on the height of your dogs they might prefer the Forester's vertical space. Like the Outback, Foresters have grown in size over time.
I was trying to explain that the 2008 was the same as a Legacy from that time (alas, a bit smaller) but that comparison didn’t help. Then I tried to remind her of the time she went with me to test drive a Legacy GT and she didn’t recall.

When we test drove those Outback’s they had a couple of Foresters and they do look smaller. I imagine the cubic feet of cargo space is similar between the two it’s just that they are used different (height vs length)
 

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If you're going to end up with the CX5 and you don't really want it, and the budget from the Edge makes it difficult to find the right car for your wife, is it out of the question to sell the CX-5 in addition to selling the Edge and buy two new cars?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If you're going to end up with the CX5 and you don't really want it, and the budget from the Edge makes it difficult to find the right car for your wife, is it out of the question to sell the CX-5 in addition to selling the Edge and buy two new cars?
We’ve only had the CX-5 about a year. We put $5k down, but bought close to the peak of the market. It was at MSRP, but taxes and a stupid dealer protection package I couldn’t avoid ate up a chunk of that, so the trade in value and our loan payoff are probably about equal.

I suppose it’s technically an option, but maybe not a smart move financially. Though I could probably get a 2015-ish WRX for the same monthly payment with essentially zero trade in / down payment, haha.

Or, maybe more to your point, we could potentially put $3-4k down on two different $16-20k cars so the total of the two car payments is equal to the single payment we currently have. That shifts the game a bit - instead of trying to find one “really great” deal we would just need to find two “pretty good” deals.
 

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A used 2019 Ascent has the 2.4 turbo and enough room for passengers and two large dogs. Even an Outback would be marginal for large dogs in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A used 2019 Ascent has the 2.4 turbo and enough room for passengers and two large dogs. Even an Outback would be marginal for large dogs in my opinion.
A very brief search shows 2 Ascents listed near me under $25k, both with 110k+ miles. There’s a 3rd at $26k with a salvage title.

With essentially zero down, payments on either of those would be $430 over 72 months - which is close to the CX-5 payment. 100k miles on a 3-year old vehicle is a lot . . . . We’d still have to find a car for me too - which maybe isn’t a big deal. I could just buy something cheap to drive for a year or two until we buy a house . . .
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Faulty piston rings, faulty valve bodies, slow as a dog, and ugly as hell.
Good to know. I’ll continue to seek around that year with documentation for timing belt / water pump replacenemy.

Regarding the slow bit - how slow are we talking? I was a bit concerned the 2.5 might feel underpowered with 4 people and 2 dogs . . . But it’s primary use will be getting my wife to and from work and then errands with out littles - she probably won’t notice the lack of power like I would . . .
 

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4 people and 2 dogs would be cramped in an Outback and all that weight would exacerbate the lack of power even more so. N/A 4 cylinder Subaru motors are generally uninspiring and just don't put out enough power. But yeah, maybe you're wife won't care.
 

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Timing belt went away in 2012 2.5.
If you can find a low-mileage 2014, that is likely the sweet-spot for a gen4. The oil-consumption issue seems to circle around the 2012-2013 models.
The later Gen4 has a few improvements and new features over the early ones, but no real game-changers unless you're wanting nanny features (1st gen Eyesight system).
The Gen4 has oodles more back seat room than the Gen3. We tried both before buying the 2010.
If you crate your large dogs to transport, be aware only one "large" crate will fit in the cargo area with the rear seat up. If this is critical in your decision process, double check the dimensions before signing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Timing belt went away in 2012 2.5.
If you can find a low-mileage 2014, that is likely the sweet-spot for a gen4. The oil-consumption issue seems to circle around the 2012-2013 models.
The later Gen4 has a few improvements and new features over the early ones, but no real game-changers unless you're wanting nanny features (1st gen Eyesight system).
The Gen4 has oodles more back seat room than the Gen3. We tried both before buying the 2010.
If you crate your large dogs to transport, be aware only one "large" crate will fit in the cargo area with the rear seat up. If this is critical in your decision process, double check the dimensions before signing.
I think a low mileage 2014 will be over budget. Given my region, it seems like anything low mileage or medium-high mileage with an excellent maintenance history is over budget. I look at some of these listings with no maintenance records, 160k miles and they are asking $10k still. Or maybe I'm just too cheap?

We actually had one on budget with a great maintenance record pop up Monday night. Craigslist said posted 3 hours ago when I inquired. After a bit of back and forth the lady told me she already had someone test drive it and was expecting an offer the next morning :oops:
 
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