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Subaru Outback AWD vs 4WD models - Tiguan, EX35, IS250, Juke, Murano, CRV

Updated on November 11, 2014
My original, underpowered '01 Subaru -         I really loved the look!
My original, underpowered '01 Subaru - I really loved the look!
The new, practical & fun  '12 Subaru - still love the look!
The new, practical & fun '12 Subaru - still love the look!

A few years ago I moved to an area in which it often snows. I didn't think much about how I would get around in the winter. My trusty VW Golf was really all I needed to get around because I worked from home. When it snowed I simply stayed put. I had use of an older Toyota 4 wheel drive pickup if it was absolutely necessary to go out. Recently, however, I got a great job and I actually have to work in the office. My commute is about 25 miles, traversing a high elevation, down and back up.

As much as I loved my VW, it was time to think about getting a car that could best handle my needs. Those of you who have read any of my previous hubs know what came next! The spreadsheet. I knew that I would give up mileage and possibly longevity when I moved from my wonderful 45 MPG average diesel VW to a gasoline propelled all wheel drive vehicle. There were four main considerations when I began shopping: reliability, vehicle size, fuel economy and power.

Living in the hills, I definitely need a vehicle that can get up the hill without struggling too much. Logging trucks lumber slowly along my way to work, and there are only a few spots to safely pass. I wanted to make sure I would have the oomph to get by without putting myself and others in danger. Power usually means a tradeoff in fuel economy. I wanted to find that happy medium - just enough power but still cheap to drive. The vehicle also had to be large enough for four adults ranging from just over 5' to over 6' tall. Comfort and a nice drive were part of the size consideration. Lastly, I have a deathly fear of breaking down! I absolutely hate the thought of being stuck. It happened once and that was enough!

I spent many hours on forums at Edmunds and Googling reviews of my final models. When I began, I was looking at smaller SUV/Crossovers, station wagons and sedans. I'm getting a little older and I wanted a "grown up" car. I initially looked at the Volvo V50 wagon, Audi A4 wagon and sedan, Infiniti EX35, Lexus IS250, Volskwagen Tiguan, Nissan Juke & Murano, Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Impreza, Subaru Legacy and Subaru Outback.

Some vehicles I looked at were out of my target price range including the Infiniti EX35, Volvo V50, Audi A4, Nissan Murano and Lexus IS250. These would have required me to purchase a used model with 40-60,000 miles. My spreadsheet compared size, efficiency and options on the various vehicles. I was able to rule a few out based on the weight to hp/torque ratio because I figured they would not feel as powerful as the others. I decided to test drive the Nissan Juke, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Legacy and Outback, and Honda CRV.

When I did a test drive, there were specific aspects that I tested - acceleration, stopping, handling, road feel, noise level and the stereo. My beloved VW had the upgraded Monsoon stereo and I was very spoiled. Each model I tested had an upgraded stereo, and I took that into account in the pricing of the models. Almost instantly I ruled the Honda CRV. It felt too light and tinny, and the road noise was (to me) excessive. I liked the Nissan Juke, but being a little shorter I could not see over the side mirrors. I loved the drive in the Volkswagen Tiguan. I have loved the look of it since it came out. And surprisingly, I also enjoyed the Subaru.

My final choice came down to two cars I have previously owned - one I hated and one I loved. I had a Subaru Outback wagon that was extremely underpowered. So the Subaru had to overcome that obstacle. I really wanted to love, love, love the Tiguan. Note to VW: if it was available in diesel I would have bought it in a minute!!! One of the main reasons I chose the Subaru Outback wagon over the Tiguan was fuel economy and the other was price. I was able to find a closeout model of the Subaru for $3k under invoice, meaning the price was about $7K less than the Tiguan with similar options.

Because I filed bankruptcy last year, I was very worried about whether I qualified for a loan or not. One of the reasons I went with a new car was the potential to improve my credit rating further and more quickly with an auto loan. I was able to get a reasonable rate and good terms. Once the final paperwork arrived from the finance company, I was pleasantly surprised to find the interest rate was more than a percent lower than had been quoted.

I have been driving the Subaru for a couple of months now. Even though it was more a choice of practicality than love at first sight, the car has grown on me. I enjoy my heated seats and automatic headlights. We took a road trip with FIVE adults and no one was uncomfortable. We were able to take advantage of a sale on pellets at the local hardware store. I will do a full review after a few snowstorms. HA - two years later and I've only had to drive in one snowstorm! The review is coming soon.

Don't worry about the trusty VW son has her now and he is loving his daily drive!


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    • eden71 profile image

      eden71 5 years ago from united kingdom

      thanks for this great information .the article was extremely informative and i look forward to reading more soon.thanks again.