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Old 12-14-2011   #11
pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 14
i have been shopping for a subaru wagon also and by reading reviews found the subarus between 97-99 with a 2.5L engine end up in the shop more often then the 2.2L of the same years. something to keep in mind. good luck!

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Old 12-14-2011   #12
San Juan Islands, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 217
I have a '91 with 375,000 miles that's never had any problems towing my trailer over the passes in third gear either.
They're great cars without any problems other than the head gaskets. The 2.2 engines don't have as many head gasket problems as the 2.5 engines but they will fail sometime after 200,000 miles. the 2.5 engines will need head gaskets before 175,000 but sometimes fail much earlier. the first 2.5 gaskets leaked internaly and when they began to fail the engine would loose coolant but show no signs of leaking (eventually they would produce white smoke and drop a cylinder or two). The second series of 2.5 engines leak externally (around the top corner of the head and drip down torwards the exhaust) and a sweet smell and a few drops of coolant on the ground are sure signs of a bak head gasket. Subaru quietly offered to pay for most head gasket jobs but that was only for cars up to '99 and had to be done before 2009. Most cars will have had the head gaskets done by now and the new gaskets no longer leak internaly or externaly and should outlast the car.
It's a fairly expensive job with parts in the area of $500 (you should replace the head bolts) and labor about 10 hour for a single cam engine and about 13 for a twin cam.
pressure test the cooling system of any car you look at, it will show a bad head gasket in seconds.

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Old 12-14-2011   #13
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
My subaru spent more time in the shop than any car I have ever had. And this was mostly in the first 10k miles. I have never had a major problem with a Honda or Toyota. Thats my experience so base your review of my comments with that in mind. Subaru is a
compromise vehicle that simply does nothing good. Weak gas mileage, overly expensive.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 12-14-2011   #14
Up High, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 31

I will always own a Toyota. Best trucks made however my suby drives circles around my tacoma and 4runner on the pavement in the snow and its harder to park them on the roof if you do start to slide. The full time symmetrical AWD rocks and gets a higher MPG that the my Toyotas in 2wd. In 4wd my Toyota gets about 12 MPG. They are a high performance and $$ to maintain but surely serve a purpose.
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Old 12-16-2011   #15
John_in_Loveland's Avatar
Loveland, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 149
We always drive Subaru's - I find them bomb proof in the snow and actually quite reliable if you take care of them. They fixed the problem with Boots and CV joints in the 90's so these are no longer the perpetual problem they were. I had a 90 Legacy wagon, 5 speed that I put 150K miles on - could load 4 kayaks on top and still cruise well. More recently I had a 98 Legacy wagon 5 speed that I put 210K miles and only had the nornal maintenance one would expect with that milage - clutch, Water pump, timing belt, misc glitches. My wife has had three Subarus - a hatchback from the 80's, an Impreza and now a Forester 5 speed. The Forester is a bit weak on the "ummph" going up hill, but 4th gear makes up for it. We came back from the Salmon loaded to the gills with gear and a kayak on top - We were able to run 90 MPH across Wyoming with no probles.
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Old 12-17-2011   #16
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 405
If you think subarus don't get good gas mileage, you must be comparing it to a 2wd car. It is an AWD vehicle that is awesome in the snow, so of course it can't beat the gas mileage of a civic or tercel. With decent snow tires, I don't think you could find a better vehicle for the winter. If you never have to deal with snow, then there are far better options for gas mileage - don't get AWD. I have 119,000 on my 2000 Outback, and the only problem I've ever had was the air conditioner. I also have a 4runner, and I must have gotten a lemon because I can't imagine ever owning such a worthless heap of mechanical and electrical failure all bundled into one package!!! And wow, if it isn't in 4WD getting 4 mpg, it looks like an olympic figure skater spinning around on the winter roads (although not so pretty and graceful). Fortunately for my faithful Subie, the Toyota can remain more of a lawn decoration.
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Old 12-17-2011   #17
mass, confusion
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 12
I have never owned that generation Subie. There are known head gasket issues, but that should be easily identified.

I do have a 2004 with 240,000 miles on it. Original everything except shocks, tires and brakes. I changed the shocks / struts at 150,000 because I thought there was no way the OEM's could still be good. Car handled no differently after I replaced them. Probably a waste of money. I am thinking about putting a new drivers seat in it. My be money well spent.
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Old 12-18-2011   #18
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,404
On roads, 4 wheel drive or all wheel drive is overrated. A good front drive with blizzaks will beat any subaru I have driven with all seasons and yes of course I was comparing gas mileage to a 2 wheel drive car as the OP asked. We spend 99% of our time driving on dry pavement and yet pay for it year round if we buy a 4 wheel drive. My two wheel drive with blizzaks saves me money which is what I care about. Every highway I am on year round I get over 40mpg.
"Yesterday I was clever and tried to change the world. Today I am wise and try to change myself." -Rumi
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Old 12-18-2011   #19
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 405
GH - I don't spend 99% of my time driving on dry roads. I live at 9,000 ft and get 400 inches of snow a year, and have snow in my driveway from September through May. I had a housemate with a 2wd SAAB and brand new blizzaks and his vehicle couldn't even get out of the driveway half the time. My Subaru was never even challenged. He got even better gas mileage since I was pulling him out of the drive and out of the ditch all the time with my Subaru, until he decided to just walk a mile to the bus stop every day and give up on his 2wd car with Blizzaks. And my 4 cyl Outback averages 28 mpg with regular gasoline so I ain't going broke here. Like I said before - different strokes for different folks - it depends where you live!
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Old 12-18-2011   #20
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
I'm on my 3rd Outback over 18 years. I didn't have your target model, but I never had a mechanical issue with any of them.

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