New vehicle suggestions

All right, I know this subject is batted about frequently but here goes.

We are looking to pick up an all wheel drive type car and the logical thing is to trade in the boat hauler. The present boat hauler is one of my favorite cars of all time (Buick Roadmaster Wagon). I love this car but the wife type unit (significant other) is needing a little more traction than just the front wheel drive car she has.

We are planning on keeping the three vehicles with the best mileage (mpg) and that means the wagon has to go.

I need something that can carry two boats (Tsunamis or one Tsunami and one sea kayak), it has to have the aforementioned all wheen drive, be reliable, and fuel mileage is an important factor as we both drive 100 miles or so a day.

We want a low roofline and something unintimidating for her. No SUVs or Trucks.

Thanks for the suggestions.


A Subaru Outback wagon is an SUV
Actually, Subaru calls it a “truck.” (My husband has one and gets a laugh out of this classification.) Honda calls part of their vehicle lineup (including the CRV and Element) “trucks.”

Forget the names when evaluating, because marketing gets in the way. Had enough already, well how about this one: Many models that are being advertised as “4WD” or “all-wheel drive” are NEITHER, because both axles are never simultaneously engaged.

Having said that, this post is meant only as warning about marketing lies. The Subaru is a good, useful vehicle with REAL all-wheel-drive and good balance among the driving wheels. The stick shift with 2-ltr 4-banger gets 28 mpg mixed driving (30 mpg highway), which is excellent for an AWD wagon. It is no truck. But you don’t want one anyway.

We can vouch for this vehicle’s snow-worthiness because we live in a winter h3llhole. Unpaved roads with grades in the high teens %, driveways even steeper. Subarus have become VERY popular in this neighborhood, esp. since gas prices made commuting in bigger, heavier vehicles less attractive.

Be very wary when reading the advertisements. Dig deeper to find out if the car really has AWD or some faker system.

Outback or Forrester.
We have Sube’s on the list. I spent 20 years in the automotive business including a stint at the Subie dealer so I am familiar with the marketing. When I was refering to SUVs I was talking about the common sense description. There are lots of cross over vehicle that are being marketed as “small SUVs” these days. I was under the impression that Subaru wagons only got in the low 20’s mpg wise. Your experience has caught my eye.


Second that motion
I’ve been driving an '05 Forester X for over 3 years now, before that an '03 Saturn Vue. Absolutely no comparison between the two vehicles! The Vue’s “AWD” is similar to the GM Versatrac system, which relies on the drive wheels to slip to activate the awd. I believe the CRV has a similar system. I never had the feeling of security I have with the Subie. The Forester is just rock-solid.

As for gas mileage, my vehicle is just the basic X, 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual, and I’ve gotten 32 mpg, on a trip, with canoe. Usual gas mileage is around 28. It has enough pep that I’ve never felt the need for the XT (turbo) version. Best gas mileage I ever got with the Vue was 26, no canoe. The Vue was a 6 cylinder, awd, automatic. No manual option avaliable in awd. My family cheered when I traded it in.

Hope this helps.


Bought a used …
(99) Outback a few years ago after driving real(big) SUVs for 20 years before that. Basic 2.4 4cyl. gets very good mileage if you keep it under 80mph. It’s still a tight nice driving car and I will shed a tear when it finally dies.

What about an AMC Eagle?
4WD Taurus?

Just kidding. I live in popular Subaru country so I should be able to pick up one of these things used. I will miss the space, comfort, and power of my “real wagon” though.


It may have more volume than you think
Before I bought mine some friends had one and the said they measured the interior space and the Outback had more room than their Grand Cherokee.

back seat room is good too
A friend was looking for a car a few years back, it became pretty obvious that the Subaru outback had more usable interior space than most midsized SUVs.

the roadmaster must go??
this is sad. Just curious what your mileage was on the highway?

Doubt you will get anything from
a dealer on the wagon. May be better off selling privately or just keeping it.

MPG depends on lots of things
The Outback with the 6cyl engine gets lower mpg, not surprisingly. Automatics get lower mpg, ditto.

My husband was pleasantly surprised to consistently get 28 mpg for commuting and around-town use. I think the EPA rating gave this model 28 mpg highway (he gets 30 mpg highway). And all this with lots of climbing and descending.

And sticks are more fun!

Oh, yeah…don’t trust the Outback’s computed mpg. It’s consistently wrong. Just calculate manually for real results.

I get about 5000 rods to the hoghead.

Roadmaster gets 18 mpg on the highway loaded or unloaded. I will probably sell it overseas if I do indeed sell it. The problm is we already have four vehicles and I am starting to run out of garage space. The other vehicles aren’t really candidates for trade or sale for various reasons. If the town actually plowed the road we live on in a timely fashion this wouldn’t be an issue at all but we don’t usually see a plow until after the snow stops.


Downside of Subaru Outback
You can’t beat it for low roofline and lots of useable and flexible interior space. But their reliability ratings are just okay, and my 97 Outback has been the most expensive car I’ve ever owned, in terms of maintenance and repair. You’ll get higher reliability ratings, and cheaper maintenance and repair, with something made by Honda or Toyota.

if AWD wasn’t a priority a used Toyota Camry would be the ticket. I wish they still made a wagon.

Swedish Alternative
The Roadmaster’s relatively low, wide roof is something you’re gonna miss when loading boats on your next vehicle. I’ve been driving Taurus/ Sable wagons in central Mass. since '86 and have never gotten stuck. Of course, I’ve never expected a lot from these cars and, as a result, I’ve never felt disappointed. They really are nothing more than a middle-market station wagon. I would have LOVED a Volvo V90 (last of the big rear-wheel drive wagons) but, at the time, I could literally have gotten two well equipped Tauri for the same price with change left over! As a true frugal Yankee(read: cheap), I couldn’t justify it. My wife now drives an '07 Outback 2.5i and gets 23-24 accurately calculated, and she’s no leadfoot. I much prefer loading the Taurus to the Subie, as it seems that I can get twice the stuff in there and still see out the back. The roof of the Ford is much lower and wider than the OB. My wife’s car IS surefooted in snow, and Im glad she’s got it, but I grew up around here and you either know how to drive in snow or not. Sure, all-wheel drive helps, but it can also help get too many idiots out on the road when conditions are marginal.

All wheel drive available, technology by Mazda and updated Roadmaster body styling.

I might be best served by …
letting her drive the truck on snow days and just put studded snows on the Roadmaster. It would be cheaper.

The sad thing is her car (02 Park Ave) is front wheel drive and we never thought that it would be a winter problem. It is a great car to driv, hasn’t given us any trouble but it doesn’t like snow at all and when its wet its not thrilled about staying on the road either. Its got to be the low wide tires on the thing. Maybe a set of studded snow for the Park Ave would be the way to go.

As you can tell I really don’t want to give up the wagon I have. There is no substitute for this car, it harkens back to an early age complete with “wood” decals.



Fair comment puddlefish
That has been my experience over the years with Subaru, especially after about 150k miles. My wifes Subaru (current) is likewise.

Still, a good combination of attributes at a fair price.

my dream car
a modern Roadmaster with a 2.7liter five cylinder turbo charged diesel. 0-60 in 12 seconds and the ability to tow 5000lbs. And get 30+mpg on the highway. It’s all perfectly doable.

Or a lighter smaller station wagon like the Honda Accord turbodiesel available in Europe that would get 45mpg on the freeway.

Ask and you shall receive …
If you like Toyota dependability and resale value, and like the idea of a compact wagon with a fairly low roof height, look at the upcoming 2009 Matrix, available with AWD:

I love my 2007 Matrix, and easily haul two boats and passengers with camping gear, getting 30mpg on the highway; 31-33 when unladen.

Though I’ve done a bit of rough dirt-roading, the Matrix certainly lacks the ground clearance and power of an Outback or Forester, but the AWD version may be better in that respect. The 2009 has more power, but at the cost of some fuel economy.

My FWD with stock tires is mediocre in the snow, but I suspect better and narrower tires will rectify that. I’ve never gotten stuck.