OK, So I wanted ONE car to replace my three: MR2, Miata, & F250 4x4... Was looking at many options in the Small SUV market including the Forester [like driving in a fish bowl and under powered w/o Turbo] and with a very limited budget [darned economy] I was very lucky to find mine [priced low because it had 169k miles on the clock] 1. The power is 'very adequate' even surprising at times. The trade-off is a few MPG and having to buy Premium fuel, but annually for me this only amounts to $150, and no Timing Belt worries or Head Gasket problems with the H6! 2. It handles better than an SUV, but no MR2. 3. I've moved a ton of bricks [with trailer] about as much as the F250 could w/ trailer.
Great Power, when needed, reasonable fuel economy with careful driving. Surprising hauling, towing capacity with great brakes and decent handling. LL Bean offers plenty of amenities and overall for me a great compromise between sports car and heavy hauler.
Passenger Side Sun Visor dislodges inside rear view mirror. Stupid cup holders I understand improved in newer models. Heated seat switches too easily, accidentally turned "On" A manual 5 or 6 speed transmission would be nice.
I also had the head gaskets problem. Only when I bought my car in (at 102K) the dealership did not want to repair them on their cost because they would only do so for cars below 100K. This while my car had been in the dealership at 97K and they found nothing. I find it a bit fishy they only found it after the 100K had passed. For me no Subaru anymore, although they drive great, don't expect to get much further above 100K without significant repairs.
2001 Subaru Outback Limited AWD 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
My '01 Legacy Outback Sedan was just diagnosed with leaking head gaskets when I had the oil changed. The car has 87k miles and is almost 9 yrs old. So I took it to my Subaru dealer in San Rafael, CA. They confirmed the head gasket problem, called Subaru headquarters, who agreed to a 100% parts and labor to install new head gaskets!! While they had the engine out they installed a timing belt ($84) and 2 drive belts ($35). I am ecstatic that they would warranty my 9-year old Subaru. Way to go! And it only took 3-1/2 days to fix.
This is my second Subaru. I purchased this one at 112K miles, currently over 160K and other than front brakes & tires, I haven't spent a dime!! Every tank of fuel exceeds 25 MPG, it has yet to burn one drop of oil, and even they are shocked!!! Subaru's have outstanding reliability and economy. They don't take abuse well. For example if someone is a rookie at driving a clutch, could you wear one out at 88K? Yes, easily. That's not a knock on Subaru, that's the driver. Buy a Subaru, you won't regret it.
Purchased this 6 cyl. used at 60,000 miles; it now has 125,000. The engine is so much better- smoother - than in my previous 4 cyl Outback. I had hoped to run it to 150,000 or so-- it depends on how much ongoing repairs cost. An ongoing maintenance issue is that the brake discs- esp. front- have worn out fast and the rotors warp -- somewhere I heard that they were undersized for the weight/size of the engine. This year I have to replace the muffler and a rusted out rear suspension piece - pricey repairs that I hope keep it on the road another year or two. I've been able to go almost anywhere, in any weather, on rough roads or the highway-- it's been a fine car.
Engine, AWD, 8+" road clearance, just- right sizing.