Car question

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shawcroft
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Car question

Post by shawcroft » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:39 pm

I realize this is off-topic. However, I noticed a nice question and answer thread recently on new versus used cars and also on rental car insurance.
I live in the Northeast-we get snow and I have been thinking about getting an all-wheel drive or four wheel drive vehicle for my wife. We've never had one but I drove a friend's Ford Explorer during the last winter and it worked very nicely. However, a huge vehicle and it ate gas like a demon
We currently have a front wheel drive 2002 Nissan Maxima..wife wants a "station wagon"....not too many of those made...she doesn't quite know what a "crossover " is and seems unimpressed by the concept....
Might any of my colleagues have a thought/experience with Subaru Outbacks or Volkswagen Passat wagons...these seem to be the choices currently available. Oh, and I should add we have usually ridden our cars into the ground once acquired- 1971 Toyota had 116,000 when the floor boards fell out..and our 1981 Diesel Rabbit had 180,000 when the rust finally overwhelmed it.
If someone does have good experience and a recommendation for an all-wheel/four wheel drive crossover that isn't too price, I would love to learn....might be able to convince the adorable bride of the wisdom of that vehicle
Thanks...I will try not to post many of these Off-topic questions...alas, my Boglehead colleagues are a treasure trove of knowledge.
Shawcroft

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Kenkat
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Post by Kenkat » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:09 pm

You could also save a lot of money by putting dedicated snow tires such as Bridgestone Blizzak on your Maxima. You can buy the tires mounted on rims so you can just have them easily switched out each season.

Just a thought.

Ken

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Midpack
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Post by Midpack » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:11 pm

Look at the reliability ratings in Consumer Reports (at the library) before you buy. I think Subaru's fare OK but many VW's are awful. I own a Honda Element and I have driven the Outback. It was nice, but Subaru's are not as mpg efficient as they should be for their size/weight - but world's better than an Explorer. I'd go with a small Honda or Toyota SUV, but your wife has her heart set on a wagon.
You only live once...

shawcroft
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Snow tires

Post by shawcroft » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:17 pm

Ken- good thought. Thanks. I'll try to discuss this with the "woman who can do no wrong and must be obeyed at all times". Don't hold your breath!!
Shawcroft

tibbitts
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few thoughts

Post by tibbitts » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:19 pm

1. I'm renting a crossover this week - not that impressed with the concept either. I have rented them before. The fuel economy of ones I have rented has been unimpressive.

2. I know people who used to own subaru and VW, and liked them. People I know who own more recent models of those makes dislike them.

3. I lived in the NE and found that overall, traction for starting was not that much of a problem. Traction for stopping was the main issue. I'm not sure if 4wd would help with stopping. Maybe others can comment.

4. 2wd has fewer parts to break.

Paul

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fishnskiguy
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Post by fishnskiguy » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:38 pm

Hi Shawcroft,

We live in the mountains of Colorado and see our fair share of snow. In fact it is snowing as we speak. We have a 2007 Subaru Outback turbo and a 2008 Audi A-3 turbo front wheel drive. The Subby gets 25 mpg and the Audi gets 28 mpg.

Both cars have snow tires and both are unstoppable in snow on paved roads and interstate travel. That said, when we head to work on snowing mornings, we use the Subby just for peace of mind. We love both cars and have zero problems with either, but the AWD gives added comfort.

Contrary to what other posters said, I would NOT recommend you buy snow tires on their own rims. If you get your tires at Costco, they charge $20 to mount and balance all four of them. Getting your tires balanced twice a year really provides a nice ride and much longer tire life.

Chris
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tomd37
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Post by tomd37 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:51 pm

I think you can forget about a 4-motion (as VW calls it) station wagon in a 2008 version. I just bought a 2008 Passat Wagon, Lux version with a 2.0 Turbo engine and leather interior. I replaced my 2001.5 V-6 Passat wagon with this new one. When I inquired about a new V-6 I was told the V-6 wagon now only comes with 4-motion at a price at $39,000. I was also told it is not available in the US yet.

My 2001.5 only had 43,000 miles on it so my daughter got a great car with 3.5 more years or 57,000 more miles on the extended warranty. I did not have any problems with it. The new 4-cylinder 2.0T has 200hp (10 more than the old one) and drives a lot better with much improved mileage in local driving. Many better options/gadgets in the past seven years.

Do you really need AWD? I like the FWD attributes.
Tom D.

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White Coat Investor
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Post by White Coat Investor » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:52 pm

I drove through many Alaskan winters. A front wheel drive Sedan was just fine 95% of the time. The rest of the time a Subaru wagon seemed to fit the bill pretty well. It was funny that every year on the first big snow there were a dozen SUVs in the ditch on the main highway through town owned by people who had just moved to Alaska and bought a 4WD SUV to "handle the conditions." 4WD might get you going faster, but it certainly doesn't stop any faster, which is the usual problem on icy roads!
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course

tjwolf
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car question

Post by tjwolf » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:34 pm

Have a Chrysler T&C mini van with AWD (no longer made) and love it. Gets a few less MPG than a front wheel drive unit at about 20-22MPG. Also have a Suzuki Grand Vitara AWD (also used as motor home toad) that gets about 24MPG. Plus, a full size Ford conversion van that is nearly useless in any heavy snow, even with aggressive snow tires.

Live in Minnesota with over 1/2 mile of up-hill driveway and off of any main roads. We therefore consider it necessary to have a 4W/AWD vehicle of some sort, plus a survival pack in each car.

Maintenance has not been a problem with the vehicles and the cost of fuel is minimal when compared to the safety/utility factors.

As others have said, "you don't stop any faster" and you probably get stuck deeper than with a 2 wheel drive unit.

Tom
Tom

Sotol
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replacement for Toyota Camry wagon??

Post by Sotol » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:34 pm

I have a similar problem. I have a 94 Toyota Camry wagon with 204,000 miles, no problems with the engine or transmission though the body could use some minor work. But after having to replace the automatic window drive for the third time, I'm thinking of getting something else (in a while, once I find something else). Any ideas? Should I wait until 300,000 miles, doing <$1K repairs each year?

baldeagle
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Post by baldeagle » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:52 pm

Sotol,

In my book I'd ask myself: Why spend 25K now when I could wait five years at $1K/yr and buy a plug-in hybrid station wagon?!

Kinda what I'm doing with my 3 oldies, one of which is an '88 Camry wagon still in great condition throughout.

funnymoney
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Post by funnymoney » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:15 am

Shawcroft --
We had a 2003 Passat 4Motion station wagon bought new, the beautiful car to take me into and nearly thru retirement, I thought. A huge decision, as we had always compromised on smaller, cheaper cars and this was my first indulgence. Lovely car, beautiful ride. We traded it this summer as we were no longer willing to put up with unreliability, electrical problems and perfectly awful mileage far below what was on the sticker. A wonderful car to drive, an awful car to own, in our experience.

The last straw was last summer when I left it parked for a few hours in the sun. On getting in, I opened the moonroof, which then continued to open, close, open, close, open, close which is pretty disconcerting on the freeway. After the car cooled down a little, it stopped. Not the first or worst electrical problem, but definitely the oddest. :roll:

Now have a used Honda car, which has been just great.

waitforit
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Post by waitforit » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:33 am

My 1997 Saturn is unstoppable in the snow! At least for 'urban' driving anyway. Never underestimate a lightweight FWD car in the snow.. especially one you wouldn't be upset about if you wrecked it :)

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Kenkat
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Post by Kenkat » Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:37 am

fishnskiguy wrote:Contrary to what other posters said, I would NOT recommend you buy snow tires on their own rims. If you get your tires at Costco, they charge $20 to mount and balance all four of them.
Wow, that's a really good deal. However, since you are swapping out a full set of tires vs. just unmounting and rebalancing the ones on the car, you still have the issue of getting 4 unmounted snow tires to Costco along with your car every fall and then repeating every spring. I know 4 17"/18" tires won't fit in a Maxima; but, if you've got and SUV or van or pickup, you're covered and could definitely save some coin.

Ken

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gunn_show
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Re: Snow tires

Post by gunn_show » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:32 pm

shawcroft wrote:Ken- good thought. Thanks. I'll try to discuss this with the "woman who can do no wrong and must be obeyed at all times". Don't hold your breath!!
Shawcroft
Well, I think that is your first issue, good luck with that.

Second, I would go for a Subaru Outback or WRX. Consumer Reports rates them very high, and probably the best 4wd bang for the buck.

GL
"The best life hack of all is to just put the work in and never give up." Bas Rutten

shawcroft
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Great comments

Post by shawcroft » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:24 pm

Tommy:
Yes, I suspect your observation is close to the mark. Fortunately, she has no interest in the Boglehead Forum and ( I hope) would never see my posting!! (the prase "domestic tranquility" containing mutually exclusive words!!) HA! (just kidding, dear)
Shawcroft)

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White Coat Investor
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Re: car question

Post by White Coat Investor » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:07 pm

tjwolf wrote:with over 1/2 mile of up-hill driveway and off of any main roads. We therefore consider it necessary to have a 4W/AWD vehicle of some sort, plus a survival pack in each car.
A 1/2 mile driveway! Maybe you could just have the servants push the car up the hill! Just kidding, I've seen a lot of homes out there with 1/2 mile driveway/private road between them and the pavement.
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course

SamB
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Subaru

Post by SamB » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:26 pm

*****
Last edited by SamB on Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

snowbound
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Post by snowbound » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:00 pm

Get your wife a Rav4. It looks good and drives very well. I got mine almost a year ago and would buy the same vehicle tomorrow. 23.9 mpg around town and 30 mpg on highway.

I know something about snow.

Snowbound
"When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure"

shawcroft
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The eternal car question

Post by shawcroft » Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:19 pm

Snowbound:
Might I ask where you live/ Upper Midwest, Northeast, Alaska?
Shawcroft

tjwolf
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Post by tjwolf » Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:14 pm

Emergdoc

Just finished plowing the drive. A half mile driveway does not sound to great at this time. The only servants are the 43 hp Kubota tractor and a few other "toys". We just had about 11" of wet heavy snow. With the ground already thawed it is a real mess because the blade will remove the roadway (gravel) if you try to shave the surface to closely. One of the few draw-backs of country living.

Tom
Tom

ataloss
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Post by ataloss » Sat Apr 12, 2008 4:09 am

We are seriously looking at Honda CRV and Toyota Rav 4. Wouldn't consider VW for reasons stated above. Subaru seems to be intermediate in terms of reliability.

Alternatively a front wheel drive vehicle. One of the advantages of separate tire/rims for winter is the ability to have higher profile tire/smeller rim. Bad potholes where I live in the rust belt.

I wonder if twice a year tire mounting and balancing is cost effective. That is it might prolong tire life but is that worth $40 or more per year?

SteveB3005
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Post by SteveB3005 » Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:40 am

Honda CRV EX

The wife's car is a 2008 we bought 5 months ago , their mid-level offering in this model @ 23K. Base model LX in all-wheel drive about $1500 less. This is our second CRV, the first was a 2003 that is loaned to a niece in college that has 100 thousand miles on it with only routine maintenance.

Is allways rated high in safety and I think it's been "Top Safety Pick" in class 3 years running. My wifes 78 year old mother had one totaled two years ago from a hit on the front driver quarter and hopped out with no injuries to chew out the other driver for going to fast.

I give it high marks for about everything except road noise and not sure you can get around that in a small SUV. In this class are the Subaru Forrester and Toyota RAV which are fine too.

Norton750
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Consider a Toyota Matrix AWD

Post by Norton750 » Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:28 am

We live in the Northeast and my wife insists on owning an AWD. But she finds even small SUVs such as the Toyota RAV4 or Honda CRV to be more vehicle than she wants.

She owns a Subaru Forester which has been so-so mechanically and now needs lots of work at 130K miles. What's up with wheel bearing replacement - do any other brands regularly require these to be replaced? And lots of nit-picky stuff with fuel system. I don't buy that AWD has to mean more maintenance. We owned an AWD Civic wagon that happily went to 230K miles with *minimal* maintenance - wish they still made them!

So she's just purchased a 2009 Toyota Matrix AWD - sort of a Corolla wagon or hatchback, but with the Camry 4-cylinder engine. A good price is $20K with traction control & cruise. Basically, just what she wanted and hopefully it comes complete with the type of dependability I've had with my current Toyota Camry.

As a bonus, I really like that these engines come with a timing chain that is supposed to last the lifetime of the engine. I detest the idea of a timing belt that is expensive to replace and can destroy the engine if it fails at speed.

Good luck,
Nick

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Post by Alex Frakt » Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:19 am

AWD only helps when accelerating. Dedicated snow tires help in accelerating, braking and turning. If you don't regularly encounter heavy snow, or unplowed roads and steep hills, you don't need AWD. Note that Scandinavians only used FWD (and snow tires) on their cars until quite recently. And even today, Volvo and Saab offer AWD only on a few models - and that is due to marketing rather than driving considerations.

If you do need to get AWD to make your wife happy, get a car rather than a SUV or CUV. The lower center of gravity makes it more likely you'll stay on the road and if you do go off, you are more likely to spin rather than roll. Avoid the Passat, they cost a fortune and are too delicate. The expensive components of Subarus - body, engines, transmissions, major suspension parts - are, if anything, overbuilt and will last forever. English farmers love them :-) However this means they are heavy for their size, so mileage is relatively poor and minor parts wear out faster, increasing maintenance costs over their Japanese and Korean peers. Still, your AWD wagon choices are severely limited, so Subies deserve a look. The Impreza/Outback Sport is the most cost efficient if it's big enough - I had one and liked it except for the mileage. I'd also seriously consider the new (2009) Toyota Matrix.

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