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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. Small novel approaching...

I will be moving to the foothills of Colorado in the coming days. I need a vehicle to do the following:

A) Daily driver. Must get me to work in all weather conditions. Work is a 20 mile commute, 5 days a week. Some invariably unpaved suburban side streets, but nothing too mountainous/treacherous. Gas mileage matters.

B) Tow a 3k pound boat ( very liberal estimate including trailer, all equipment, full tank of gas etc) to various Colorado lakes, most at high elevation.

Contenders:

2013 Ford Escape SE AWD w/ 2.0 Ecoboost. Tow rating 3500 pounds.

2013 Outback 3.6R. Tow rating 3500 pounds.

The only option I will add on each vehicle is a tow package and studded tires.

Thoughts thus far:

-A turbocharged ecoboost mated to a 6 speed tranny will give me a significant towing advantage versus the 3.6 OB at elevation. But will the longer wheelbase of the Outback mitigate this powertrain advantage when towing? Thoughts?

- MPG better in Ford (18/25 vs. 21/28).

- Any experience with Ford's "AWD but not rly" AWD system? Will it do OK in the snow w/ good tires, or will I wish I had the Subaru come winter?

-Interior quality edge to Outback. Materials just feel better.

- MSRP within 500 bucks, but Ford is cheaper by about 2K with student discount, rebates.

Any comments or musings would be very much appreciated here folks. I'm having trouble with this decision as I'm unfamiliar with Colorado terrain.
 

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I heard good reviews on the new Escape. It's a first year re-design though so there could be some bugs. If the Escape was available when I bought my OB I would have considered one.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I heard good reviews on the new Escape. It's a first year re-design though so there could be some bugs. If the Escape was available when I bought my OB I would have considered one.
Thanks! First model year issues didn't even cross my mind...I do believe in Ford's Ecoboost tech, but beyond that?

Thanks for bringing that up!
 

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I thought the 3.6R was rated at 3k lbs. towing? EDIT: Subaru.com confirms the 3k lb. limit.

Regardless, I'd probably go with the OB. The Escape seems to be having some teething issues.

Having said that, neither would be my choice to tow 3,000 lbs. That's a pretty good load for a compact crossover. I've never had much luck towing at a vehicles weight limit. Tail always seems to wag the dog.
 

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I have a rule:

Never buy version 1.0. The Ford is a ground up redesign and while on paper there seems to be some cool features in those vehicles there are always hidden (albeit warranty) issues. If I were seriously think Ford I'd come back for the '14 models (personally). Not to mention Ford has had tons of issues with their "mysync" that they had to hire Microsoft to fix it. That is a very scary thought. Their new engines are some what unproven too.

But then I'm biased, I bought an OB. Go to the Ford forum and they'll tell you subies suck.

Sounds like it's time to test drive. Pros to turbo are high altitude but compared to the OB I think hp gains/losses will be the same but I'll let the CO crowd weigh in on that one.

0-60 OB is 7.1
0-60 Ford Titanium is 6.8

The Ford wins on Torque 270 vs 247 and at 3k instead of 6k. I suspect the Ford will feel sportier. Understand though the Ford has yet to make a successful low maintenance direct injection turbo engine. The 2.0 in particular has had many issues. GDI problems still to work out Don't get me wrong when EPA mandated emissions control systems engines had to change and there were many problems (most 80's cars and sludge problems) but most engines today don't have any of those issues.

Towing would come down to suspension bigger than weight in the end. Consider what you are towing and how often carefully.

I do not believe the mpg figures or even the price is lower for the FORD. Make sure you can do an extended test drive to see if you can verify them. A heavier car with a smaller engine and a turbo normally does not get better gas mileage than a light car with similar hp/torque. Maybe the smaller displacement and outer design (less wind resistance, tires) make up for it but I suspect the numbers are optimistic and there is a catch somewhere. I don't know about "eco boost" yet I guess.

How you plan to use your AWD would determine the answer to that question. The simple answer is most people who get AWD never actually need it and pay extra for piece of mind. Unless you live in the country where plows are scarce or there is big hills AWD is not needed and good pair of studs can get you anywhere. I did quite well in a 77 RWD nova for 12 years even in 18" of snow I had no issues.

Still I love my AWD, it allows me to do even more. :loveawd:

By the way did you see how ugly the Ford is? :16:
 

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I am working on a loose assumption here... but most current fords have that new touchscreen control system. This seems to be a very polarizing feature. Make sure you're comfortable with it and the potential effects on resale value.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I thought the 3.6R was rated at 3k lbs. towing? EDIT: Subaru.com confirms the 3k lb. limit.

Regardless, I'd probably go with the OB. The Escape seems to be having some teething issues.

Having said that, neither would be my choice to tow 3,000 lbs. That's a pretty good load for a compact crossover. I've never had much luck towing at a vehicles weight limit. Tail always seems to wag the dog.
Thanks! I agree that both are suboptimal towing vehicles, but I can't swing two vehicles so it is what it is. I'll take it slow. The more I read the more it seems the Escape has a few too many bugs for comfort.

I've had pretty bad experiences trying to get dealers to work on warranty issues (they just pretend problems don't exist), so I take little comfort in Ford's warranty. Discouraging...
I have a rule:

Never buy version 1.0. The Ford is a ground up redesign and while on paper there seems to be some cool features in those vehicles there are always hidden (albeit warranty) issues. If I were seriously think Ford I'd come back for the '14 models (personally). Not to mention Ford has had tons of issues with their "mysync" that they had to hire Microsoft to fix it. That is a very scary thought. Their new engines are some what unproven too.
Your golden rule seems logical enough. I should probably follow it. But will I? Heh.

Sync is a disaster in the Fords. I'm confident in the drive train though. I have some experience w/ other Ecoboost models. They aren't very "eco" but they are torquey and fun at elevation and, thus far, reliable IMO.
But then I'm biased, I bought an OB. Go to the Ford forum and they'll tell you subies suck.

Sounds like it's time to test drive. Pros to turbo are high altitude but compared to the OB I think hp gains/losses will be the same but I'll let the CO crowd weigh in on that one.

0-60 OB is 7.1
0-60 Ford Titanium is 6.8

The Ford is heavier than the OB by about 500lbs which theoretically would make it the better tow vehicle (more planted), however... that would come down to suspension bigger than weight in the end.

I do not believe the mpg figures or even the price is lower. Make sure you can do an extended test drive to see if you can verify them. A heavier car with a smaller engine and a turbo normally does not get better gas mileage than a light car with similar hp/torque. Maybe the smaller displacement and outer design (less wind resistance, tires) make up for it but I suspect the numbers are optimistic and there is a catch somewhere. I don't know about "eco boost" yet I guess.

How you plan to use your AWD would determine the answer to that question. The simple answer is most people who get AWD never actually need it and pay extra for piece of mind. Unless you live in the country where plows are scarce or there is big hills AWD is not needed and good pair of studs can get you anywhere. I did quite well in a 77 RWD nova for 12 years even in 18" of snow I had no issues.

Still I love my AWD, it allows me to do even more. :loveawd:

By the way did you see how ugly the Ford is? :16:
Thanks a lot for all that! This place is a valuable resource to say the least.

A lot of your observations rely on info I know little about (researching my heart out on another browser). A few thoughts on some of your points..

- the price is a bit lower only because the Ford allows consumers to purchase AWD w/ a 2.0 in a lower trim (SE), I'm eligible for a 500 student discount and they have 2K in rebates ATM.

- Ecoboost MPG are notoriously way off from EPA estimates. I should probably amend that as a consideration; mpg will probably be a wash.

- I'll be in the foothills. I won't go out of my way looking for trouble (off roading etc) but CO is notorious for doing great work plowing the highways and never really getting around to the side streets. My snow issues will be more soccer mom than adventure enthusiast in scope.

- While I very well may end up owning an Outback in the coming days, IMO it is the mother, father and holy spirit of all things ugly. Heh. I just don't care that much.

Thanks again everyone, still digesting and researching..
 

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Yeah, an Outback owner (or a Kia Soul owner like myself) calling another car ugly is the definition of a glass house resident. :)

If I lived somewhere it snowed often, I'd get the Subaru anyday. Note that I'm a relative novice in the white stuff, so I need all the help I can get. More seasoned vets of winter driving could probably get by with a light tailed 2WD pickup :)
 

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Thanks again everyone, still digesting and researching..
Haha you're quick, I had to amend my post and added a link for potential GDI engine issues. You must have been lucky with the ECOboost because I can name 8/8 vehicles that have had nothing but problems past 60k.

The MAIN reason I bought Subaru was I'm a gear head and the simplistic design is very easy to work on. Otherwise I was very impressed by Kia and almost bought a Sorento (with GDI).
 

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We currently have a new Escape as a rental. I don't know what the powertrain is (a badge on the rear hatch says "Ecoboost 4WD"), but the thing sure has lots of bells and whistles -- even programmable electric seats.

The touchscreen system seems like something you'd get used to fairly quickly. We haven't tried the Sync voice control and probably won't, so I can't speak to that.

It handles quite well, although it has a very touchy throttle pedal, designed to give you the impression of immediate power but is really just hair trigger, and the steering is, for me, too twitchy, although I'd probably get used to that over time.

And although it's touted as "4WD", it's really FWD unless the computer decides to send power to the rear wheels. (One of the instrument cluster modes appears to show what wheels are getting power, interestingly enough.)

Having lived in Colorado with AWD vehicles (Audis, Subarus), this alone would be a deal-killer for me. I want real AWD or a switchable setup as in Wranglers. HPH
 

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I see the escape as a FWD cute-ute with a transfer case slapped onto it. I'm sure it'll do the job in the snow in most cases, but for peace of mind I'd get the Subaru. I didn't even cross-shop the two vehicles when I bought my Outback.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks guys. I'm reading this thread with intensity, hehe.

Apparently I wayyy miscalculated the reality of towing an 18' aluminum boat with an Outback/Escape, even if it's well within the tow capacity range. Almost everyone I talk to thinks I'm an idiot for even thinking about it.

That changes things.

I can't do my own mechanical work so buying a DD and a cheap tow-specific truck with inevitable problems won't work.

I have a lot of thinking to do, it seems. I don't think I want a new 4x4 pick up truck (never driven one, hear they suck in the snow, MPG for daily commute sucks) or expensive big SUV.

Thanks again, still reading this...
 

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How about a one year old, used Explorer with the 3.5? It's bigger, more stable and is rated to 5000 lbs. Gas mileage isn't much worse than a H6 Outback. Can probably find a CPO for about the same price as the Escape, if not a bit cheaper.
 

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If you will be doing ALOT of towing, I think fatabbot might have the best suggestion. Or maybe look at a CPO Tribeca, I belive they offer more towing. As far as looks go, I saw a new Escape today for the first time and it just looked awkward. It seemed too big for the style they were trying to pull off (if that makes sense). Nonetheless, my glass house looks good to me ;)

I've seen a part time automatice 4WD systems in work and none of them seem as good as a full time AWD. Period. BUT if all you need it for is adverse road conditions, it will kick in and most likely get you going again. However I like the AWD in my Subaru for full time control in all weather.

Of course you are going to get some one-sided answers here, and I'm sure mine is a bit. However I drive a Hyundai Elantra as my DD and never had any trouble getting to work last winter with all season tires. I drove a little slower and more cautiously than I would in my Subaru, but then again, the false sense of security in AWD cars gets lots of people in trouble.

My parents live in the rural hills of WV out a country ridge, they got their first FWD car 15 years after they moved, and never missed a day of work... However they both have Foresters now and wouldn't go back. I think that's true of a lot of things.. my flip phone did everything I wanted it to 10 years ago, but I wouldn't do with out my iPhone now...

GL with your decision.
 

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Ford consistently ranks best in initial overall quality. They look neat and have lots of nice bells and whistles, but my experience is the stuff starts to break down pretty quickly. You might try comparing service bulletins between the Ford and Subaru to get an impression of overall quality and craftsmanship.

I'd certainly shy away from the first model year. I "beta tested" the Ford Contour when it first come out and the thing nearly disintegrated in my driveway. Lots of squeaks and technical problems while driving. I'd give them a year or so to work the bugs out.

Also, the Subaru AWD drive train is unique in comparison to anything else out there. Here is a YouTube video showing comparisons between the way the Subaru AWD is built and its competitors.
 

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If you max out the towing capacity of the outback @ 3,000 lbs or the 3,500 claimed for the 2.0 ecoboost for the Ford you will be fine on flat land, but once you encounter hills you may have some issues. The Ford Flex has a 4500 lb rating which I have heard is a wonderful towing vehicle. I am partial to the Outback, and I currently have one with a 2.5i and 2700 lb towing capacity, but even with teh 3.6r is not the optimal vehicle to tow that much weight. You will be fine if its always within 30 miles from home, but if you want to go cross country you may go with something used as your towing vehicle like a used Ford F150 or Older Jeep Grand Cherokee (make sure it has the straight 6!!) both have 5,000 lb capacity or more
 

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The issue with the fords today is there pricing! They are pretty expensive these days! However i have seen a few very clean low mile limited flex for 20k. Far superior than the new high priced exploder regarding towing and driving enjoyment. If your towing 3000+lbs on a regular basis you want a vehicle with 4500-5000 lb capacity for hot weather climb ability.
The new escape is a focus with a cuv body not even close to the right class of vehicle.

If buying used and cheap is in the cards get a pathfinder or 4runner thats 5yrs or so old they havent changed much in the past ten yrs. They do fine in foul weather with good tires. The older gen exploder does well also and can be found for cheap with low miles.
 

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By the way the ford edge is the closest product ford has the the subaru outback. Also the closest to the old generation explorer regarding width and seating room. I only know because my dad was trying to find a replacement for his 99 explorer. 220,000 miles on it. In the end he kept it and bought a g35x.
 

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I recently traded off my 05 ford freestyle AWD because the AWD unit was going out. I spent $1500 on repairs for it, and the AWD malfunction light came back on within 200 miles. I don't know if the escape uses the same system, but this soured me on ford's awd car based vehicles. The freestyle worked well in snow and ice, but certainly no better than the 04 outback I'd traded for it. I've gone back to a Subaru now, and really enjoy it.

There's always trade-offs involved when looking for a tow vehicle that will also be your only vehicle. You can't get great mileage and great towing ability all wrapped into one vehicle. The two requirements are just fundamentally incompatible. I'd be tempted to look for a slightly older, much cheaper medium sized suv in good condition with either a small v-8 or larger six. Many of these available with relatively low miles for good prices. The money you save could help offset the lower mileage. Good luck...
 

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Wasn't there just a recall on something like 400,000 of the new escapes? Also, bought my outback at a mega store with subies, fords, and about 3 other brands. 7 year extended warranty for the outback was $800, for the same coverage on a new ford was $3200. That should tell you something.
 
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