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Well guys, I'm getting close to the age for retiring... maybe in a year or two. When it happens the wife is wanting to move closer to her family out near Phoenix. She has chosen Heber AZ. (no, its not all that close to Phoenix LOL). I told her that before we moved to Heber (elevation 6,500ft) we had to get (and have paid for) a car to replace her Tbird as her daily driver. Said car needed to get good gas mileage (for her drives into phoenix) and had to have AWD/4WD (to get her through the snow at 6,500ft). My first thoughts were a Subaru Outback, or a Ford Escape. Any thoughts, opinions, experiences with either of these vehicles?

I'm not real anxious to get rid of the Tbird. I'm hoping we can keep the bird so it will be designated "toy" and we can just get her the AWD for her daily driver.
 

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My 1983 Subaru got better fuel economy than my 2005 CRV. Go figure....

Anyway, Subaru's are great if you can fit inside them comfortably. I am too big and tall for a lot of fuel efficient vehicles. I would go for 4wd over awd for the added fuel economy. Awd always seems to use more fuel. The driver just needs to be a chicken and put it in 4wd before it's really slippery to be safe. 50 mph is real safe/stable driving compared to 60-75 mph too.

There's nothing wrong with the Escape. My experience with them was limited to a an early hybrid used at work that worked fine. Oher than fuel economy requirements, I'd pick for price and utility.
I'm not sure which has better rust resistance.
 

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Good thinking on the AWD vs. 4WD... The Escape is available with Automatic 4WD similar to the Explorer isn't it? Just want it to be as simple as possible for the wife. A Switch on the dash would be great. I got rid of the AWD on my explorer and put in a 4WD Transfer Case. I don't know if she can use the clunky mechanical shifter to get from 2WD to 4WD. I know the Subaru has a very good AWD system that routes power wherever it will do the most good. I'm just not hyped about a hybrid. I know great mileage etc. etc.... But I've just never liked them.
 

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If gas mileage is a concern, then any SUV is pretty well out. You can't get around the fact that they are just a big brick going down the road, and even with a 4-cyl escape, you will be lucky to break 20mpg. My reccomendation would be the Subaru Legacy. The Impreza would fit the bill, but I find they feel like a cheap compact car, whereas the Legacy is larger and more refined, which will be much more appreciated after being used to the tbird.
 

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OK, we all know what opinions are like. I'll throw my two cents in.

Toyota reliability is proven. The whole acceleration thing aside (which I can't quite figure out), they have the best track record.

We have a 2015 Toyota Highlander. It's AWD and it gets 24MPG highway and it has plenty of room. It's a pretty nice ride and it has a front wheel bias. We drove ours from Ohio to Georgia last summer and we got just under 25MPG.

The Toyota RAV4 gets better gas mileage (29MPG) but it's a smaller SUV.

A hybrid is really only going to save you if you do more city driving than country driving.

I've owned 7 GM vehicles, 3 Fords, 1 Eagle, 1 Lexus and 3 Toyotas. The Toyotas have been the best of all of them. In fact, between the Lexus and the 3 Toyotas I've never had to have a single thing done to any of them. I've put a total of about 140,000 miles on those vehicles (to be fair I just got the Highlander at the beginning of summer and the Lexus just before spring).

As long as you don't plan to keep this new vehicle for very long then I don't think it really matters which one you get. If you plan to keep it a long time then it's certainly something to consider.
 

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Subaru quality is top notch, and their AWD systems are pretty much unmatched...except for maybe Audi's Quattro systems. Can't go wrong with a Suby in the winter.
 

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If gas mileage is a concern, then any SUV is pretty well out. You can't get around the fact that they are just a big brick going down the road, and even with a 4-cyl escape, you will be lucky to break 20mpg. My reccomendation would be the Subaru Legacy. The Impreza would fit the bill, but I find they feel like a cheap compact car, whereas the Legacy is larger and more refined, which will be much more appreciated after being used to the tbird.
A friend of mine just picked up a new Forester today; her alternative was a Subaru XV Crosstrek. My friend was coming from a 2000 Toyota 4Runner so she preferred the higher seating position and the 5" longer size of the Forester vs the Crosstrek. Also, Crosstreks (Impreza based Suv-let) are more in demand in the Bay Area for their smaller size so she was actually able to find more inventory to choose from the Foresters -- this was worth the few extra MPG she would see with the Crosstrek (which has a newer, smaller displacement engine).

I've had quite a few friends who've owned Subarus for the past few years and had quite good luck with them; my mother in law has had a Crosstrek for 2 years or so and has had zero problems with it (it replaced her 2004 Forester which also had no problems other than needing a CV boot replaced (easier to swap axles) and an O2 sensor going out at ~100K mi.

I expect we will buy a Subaru for my wife when we finally put the old S4 down. I do wish they had the WRX wagon still though...

-g
PS. If you do buy a new car, check with Costco (if you are a member) and your local credit unions car buying service. Both methods will give you access to the fleet manager who is compensated on volume vs. margin per unit and therefore you will be able to get a price that is often hard to beat since you are no longer having to pay a sales monkey's commission.
Ex: I bought a Prius for $1K under invoice 2 years ago via my CU. My friend bought her Forester for $500 under invoice via Costco.
 

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I expect we will buy a Subaru for my wife when we finally put the old S4 down. I do wish they had the WRX wagon still though...
Fun note...I expect similar to the wagons...the 08-14 STi hatches are considered station wagons by insurance companies and are pretty cheap on insurance.i
 

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My parents have a '03 Forester XT Turbo Automatic. A very fun car to drive, but like every car, they have their quirks, some oddball things over the years that have needed attention spread over 136k miles.

It doesn't get great gas mileage, 18/24, and according to my parents, it's not outstanding in the snow as you would expect. They do run all season tires, so changing to a dedicated snow tire could make all the difference in the world. Their car doesn't have traction control, so that could help also.

Al
 

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My wife drives a 2007 Forester auto. Its been a decent car so far. We have owned it about a year now, and other than general maintenance is has only needed a vacuum solendoid.

Gas milage is 24/26 real life so far. I haven't had snow since owning it so I cannot attest to its capabilities in snow, however in mud and dirt seems to go just about anywhere.
 

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A good friend of mine has an 4wd Escape and im wanting to say the barely brake 20 mpg in it, i believe its a 2006.
 

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Good thinking on the AWD vs. 4WD... The Escape is available with Automatic 4WD similar to the Explorer isn't it? Just want it to be as simple as possible for the wife. A Switch on the dash would be great. I got rid of the AWD on my explorer and put in a 4WD Transfer Case. I don't know if she can use the clunky mechanical shifter to get from 2WD to 4WD. I know the Subaru has a very good AWD system that routes power wherever it will do the most good. I'm just not hyped about a hybrid. I know great mileage etc. etc.... But I've just never liked them.
My wife and I just bought a 2016 Escape SE with the 2.0 Ecoboost and 4wd (it constantly varies traction to the wheels that need it).

Haven't used it in snow yet, but it drives very nice. When we met she had a 2008 Escape and it was capable in the snow as well. It's all about the tires really. Living here in Minnesota, we have tons of snow and I only ever used the 4wd when trying to get the vehicles out of the alley behind the house when it's snowed in.

We had a 2013 CRV, but the "eco" mode on the motor made it a pain to drive, took it two to three seconds to respond to throttle input, and driving in "normal" hurt the mileage a lot.

Regarding mileage, if you live in the mountains, overall mileage will be poor due to the constant climb. I live in hilly areas and get horrible around town mileage due to having to climb the hill every day. But, the downhill takes far less gas, so it could wash out.
 

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For as little snow as they get there, they also do get a fair amount rain, I think for the money and intended purpose the Crosstrek would be a great vehicle. Decent highway mileage, but the Impreza is ~5k cheaper and gets at least 5mpg better though.

I agree with it is all about the tires. If you need to for 2 months put on some snows, otherwise some all seasons that handle wet weather should be fine.

If your gonna be using it for mild offroading (like...going camping slightly off the paved roads) then something a little more rugged might be called for, or your going to live in a rural setting with poor roads or driveway.

The new Escapes are pretty nice too, I haven't driven a new round one (just the first gen and the teardrop headlight Mariner), but my parents have and think they will be getting one.
 

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Your not going to have to drive every day, and if it snows you want to be able to move around if need be, but it won't be like no matter what the weather, you have to go to work, right? I think an AWD sedan that is not performance based would be a good compromise. I would be curious as to what the prevalent vehicles are, other than trucks. Been awhile since I have been there.

My parents are retired, and they live way off the beaten path. At least 5 miles of dirt road. When it rains, those roads become the rivers. They have an AWD Expedition if they need to get out, or back in, but 99% of the time they just stay in and let it pass. The number of people out by them that have older cars ONLY is amazing. It is in the low land desert around Phoenix and not snow, but 2 feet of water washing down and out a road is probably as daunting of a driving experience as snow is.

I grew up in a city on Colorado that averaged 40 inches of snow in January and 45 inches in December (about 180 inches overall a year, only 2 months of the year with zero snow, July and August) and chains and snow tires with walnut shells mixed into the tread on a 79 Granada and an 81 Fairmont is what I drove. We didn't have snow days, we could get 3 foot drifts from the 30 mph breezes we constantly had. I also lived in a rural area with a 1/2 mile uphill curving driveway.
 

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My parents have a '03 Forester XT Turbo Automatic. A very fun car to drive, but like every car, they have their quirks, some oddball things over the years that have needed attention spread over 136k miles.

It doesn't get great gas mileage, 18/24, and according to my parents, it's not outstanding in the snow as you would expect. They do run all season tires, so changing to a dedicated snow tire could make all the difference in the world. Their car doesn't have traction control, so that could help also.

Al
I'm impressed that your parents had that car. THAT Forester had an engine that was similar to the STI of the same vintage (2.5L vs 2L but with a smaller turbo and tuned for torque.

I always liked that box but for my personal situation, it wasn't worth taking the bloodbath that selling the S4 would have netted me to get that Scooby at the time it was new.


One more comment: if you are going to cross shop to other vehicles, compare the ground clearance. I was impressed at the Subarus (8.7" for the Crosstrek, 8.9" for the Forester, but only 5.7" on the Impreza). Compare this to 8" for the Highlander and 7.9" for the Escape.

-g
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, this post is old, but I have in fact retired and moved to AZ. Didn't get to Heber but am in the Chandler area. And we did get an AWD vehicle, though not any of the ones I thought we would get.

Got a 2005 Mercedes Benz C240

Only 95,000 miles... :)
 

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