Subaru Outback alternative?

They’re baaack! Storm damaged cars retur
Krousmon, you bet right. See this article:

They’re baaack! Storm damaged cars return

Scam artists are try to unload vehicles damaged by Gulf Coast hurricanes in auctions elsewhere.

January 27, 2006; Posted: 1:53 p.m. EST (1853 GMT)

NEW YORK ( - Call it “Return of the Soggy Sedan” or “The Night of Waterlogged Wheels”, but unlike a zombie flick, the horror of flooded vehicles returning to the used car market seems to be very real.

Over four months after hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast, scam artists are already trying to pawn off flooded vehicles as your standard secondhand car, according to industry experts.

“Consumers need to be aware that these cars will be hitting the market,” said Chris Basso, a spokesperson for Carfax, a vehicle history tracking firm. “They could pop up anywhere.”

Recently, swindlers tired to pawn off 14 flood-damaged cars at an auto auction in the Los Angeles, Carfax said.

And with the National Auto Dealers Association estimating that over 571,000 vehicles were damaged from Hurricane Katrina alone, similarly damaged goods are expected to start popping up in regions of the country where buyers aren’t used to looking for flood damage.

While cleaning up flood-damaged cars and reselling them is by no means a new scam – damaged cars were unloaded after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Floyd in 1999 – Basso said that in most cases hucksters will buy vehicles that should have been scrapped or sold for parts, cleaning them up and shipping them to another part of the country where they can alter the title and pass them off to unsuspecting buyers.

Such cars may look fine at first glance, but in many cases the safety and electronic systems can be compromised.

To avoid buying one of these nightmares, Carfax recommends looking for standing water in the spare tire wheel well or rust around the engine compartment as well as having a mechanic look it over and, of course, ordering a report of the vehicle’s history. That can let you know if the car was titled as “salvage” in another state, even though the current title may not indicate that.

For more tips on how to make sure you aren’t buying a water damaged car, (go to:)

Do you carry the kayaks underneath the Hummer?

I have been wondering about the XR7. Aside from the Jeep Liberty, it is the only small 4wd I have seen with a transfer case. My 2001 Subaru Legacy wagon has less than 40,000 miles and it is starting to have problems and the closest dealer is 150 miles away.

stick with subaru
Stick with subaru, but pick a reliable one and things will be much different! I have a 96 outback with 210k on it and it has been the best car I have owned. Go to and do some research before you pick again. Sounds like you just a bad one like you would find any any make. Pick the right one, you will be happier.


Another small car with a transfer case:
The Kia Sportage. Not sure if they still make them, and I’ve heard highly varied reports regarding their reliability (some last forever, but apparently some tend to have nitpicky problems), but they are nearly alone in the extra-small SUV department because they have an honest truck-like frame and “true” four-wheel drive (none of the all-wheel drive garbage) with a regular, old-fashioned transfer case. I once considered getting one when my old 1600cc Subaru finally rusted out, but ended up with something in the mid-size range.

Honda Element
I couldn’t be happier with mine. Honda’s reliability, great for outdoor activities, and AWD. The only con for throwing yaks on it is its height. Its tall.

Ford Focus Wagon
If you don’t need the 4 wheel drive I’d get on of these. I had the sedan and loved it.

Honda Element ~ ~
Got mine in November and it is set up well for Yakima racks systems. While I would like the spread to be a bit further apart it works fine. I use Malone J-stackers with a Yakima rack. It is a well performing car and I have 4K miles on it already. I travel up to Truckee a lot from the SF Bay area and it handles the grades just fine and gas mileage is way better that my F150 Supercrew. I have a few pictures of my Element set up with the Yakima racks and Malone J-stackers at my site in the “Kayaks Arrive” photo album at:

Thought that at first
But I’ve noticed a curious thing. Every subaru owner I talk to LOVES their car, but scratch below the surface and get them talking about repairs, and most start rattling off a list of pretty costly ones they’ve had done.

Plus, the headgasket problem does not appear to be a fluke. I’ve talked to lots of people who’ve had this (and done internet research), and the most common response is to trade the thing in for a new Subaru. The dealers then sell these cars at auction, where they end up in the used car market, resold to the unsuspecting.

As much as I like its features, I can’t afford the repair bills.

Glad you’ve had no problems with yours.

I notice you didn’t mention gas Mileage… really get a Suburban… TONs of Space for 4 adults & BIG dogs and all kinds of gear… also the 4x4 versions have really nice sturdy roof racks with built in roller rack in the back. and its a long rack so carrying LONG boats is not a problem… BTW the Gas mileage isn’t that bad for a big truck, 20 highway. Not much worst then the outback, and better then a Jeep liberty. Also GM parts are Cheap for the DIY person… It can also haul a seriously big trailer should the need arise. Its also got AWD,4x4 and a LOW range… Now for a commuter vehicle its big and pointless but for a vacation vehicle its awesome. When I mean it can Haul 4 adults I mean 4 real sized adults, in the BACK seat as well and the gear four 4 adults INSIDE… also it has a 3rd row seat that’s removable for more cargo. Basically the new Suburbans are Hummers with better sheet-metal… You can find used subs for bargain basement prices now days… somebody always says “But they are soooo tall” well they have really nice built in Nurf bars on the sides of them that have built in steps so you can load and unload stuff on the roof rack easily. get a sub for vacations, and a cheap motorcycle, or small car for commuting. Probably still cheaper then the outback…

I believe there’s a recall for that
I know for sure that the 98 Outbacks were recalled for head gasket problems (2 months after we sold ours rather than pay to have it fixed). If your car’s year is included in that recall, you might be able to get reimbursed for your repair. Usually, recalls apply to all owners - not just the first.

Subaru Outback alternative…
An interesting thread…have to say I am surprised.

We have had many Outbacks over the years with absolutley no problems. We now have a Honda CRV which is great…higher roof however.

I am in the process of purchasing an 03 Forester as we speak.


Subaru repairs are expensive, but…
generally infrequent. And not any more expensive than repairs I’ve had to make on Toyotas and Nissans. Can’t speak to Hondas, could never afford to buy one. Been driving Subarus for a long time and am generally satisfied. Some things I’m not happy with but then in the 42 years I’ve owned vehicles, there has not been one that was perfect. My son still drives my old ‘93 Loyale with 170K+. The body will give up before the engine and drive train.

Lots of good makes and models available, just got to find the one that suits your needs, style and budget.

Happy Paddlin’ (& drivin")

I have no experience with this vehicle, but by the looks of the Pontiac Vibe AWD, it seems to be aiming at the “Outback market”. Might be worth a look.

Subarus offer a great “do many things at a reasonable price” package. If cared for they have good longevity relative to their cost. Buddy is a rep who replaces them before 150k, and they’ve been good. My mechanic would say that Toyota products can take more neglect in terms of maintenance than either Honda or Subaru, and that has been my experience. If you can afford it think about BMW X3. I love BMW, have had great luck with them over many miles, and found cost of ownership long term to be favorable. Wife is nostalgic over her Subaru…

Lemons occur in all makes… Good luck with your search.

a year ago. Actually thought the Subaru was ‘the one’ -but outback was high, as was Forester, and Legacy with a 4 was mush in the engine dept. The engines with go needed premium…

Our mecahnics nixed Subies, despite their popularity -the love of their owners despite their repair shortcomings -because they had higher rates of repair, and the repairs tended to cost more.

So after casting around & about, we ended up with a Mazda6S SportWagon. It’s drawback is that it doesn’t make more than 24-25 mpg (at least the way we, er, I, drive…;->). The upside is that it’s a, uh, ‘spirited performer’? yeah, that’s the euphemism, er, phrase… And not only is it a good driver, it’s a good cruiser -we just got back after putting 4000 miles on it over Christmas, and it really travels well.

And I ain’t laffin’ no more when I tell people we have heated seats -they really worked mighty fine for us in Iowa…! Course, I turned it on on the passenger’s seat down here last month, and about 3-4 minutes later my bro-in-law exlaims “My butt’s burning up!!!”

It’s worth a look -and a year and a day to the date we took delivery, it’s still going strong, minus the new windsheild we had replaced after an errant truck threw a shoe and cracked it during the trip…

The nice thing for us paddlers is that it’s has nice low rails to mount a rack to mount the boats on. Makes that part of kayaking much easier, especially solo loading, when I/we hit the road to


-Frank in Miami

Suzuki Aerio SX AWD
I love my 05’ SX!

Here is a pic:

Its a little speedster. 2.4 (actually 2.39) liter 155 HP in a little package. Front and side airbags.

Good luck with your search.

Volvo Cross Country Turbo Wagon

If You Like The Car
You could consider putting in a new engine. Rebuilt long blocks are available from a variety of sources and a lot of local shops will do the install for not a great deal of money.

I did this myself for a friend with a Toyota something about a year ago. The cost of that long block and a few misc extras was less than 1200.


Chrysler mini-van with a 3.3 v6 engine!
This engine has plenty of power to do everything you want it to do, and still gets good gas mileage. Front wheel drive for good traction. Should last 200,000+ miles. Plenty of room with comfort. A roof rack will hold anything you can put on it. Good steel in the body. Can also do some light to medium hauling. This is a winner!