I went and drove the 2006 Subaru 3.0 VDC Outback today, as well as several other cars (2008 Outback, 2013 VW CC sedan which is a great fucking car but a gas hog, too small, AND A SHITLOAD OF FUN TO DRIVE), and I think I am pulling the trigger on the VDC. It drove like a Subaru wagon, but it didn’t, if that makes sense. It handled far better than my old wagon, is fully loaded with a leather interior, and the engine just screams. I was doing 85 up a steep hill talking to the rep and I looked down and noticed how fast I was going and the tach was only at 3kish. Entering the highway was a dream. This dickhead wouldn’t get over into the left lane, so I gunned it and the engine just purred and the transmission is so god damned smooth I felt like I was in an Audi or Mercedes and I was at 70 in 1/3 the time it would have taken my 97 Subaru.
It also handles extremely well- Shawn was in the backseat and I was hitting 25 mile an hour curves on the back roads at 45-50, and probably could have gone faster, and the low center of gravity and weight of the car and the ability to power out of curves was just awesome, and Shawn wasn’t sliding around the back seat, the car handled so well. Just a really nice ride. This is not your mother’s Subaru.
The only two drawbacks for me are the mileage (19/25) and that the windshield is at a more acute angle than my old Subie, and I had driven my mother’s upright Forester down to look at the car, so the acute angle stood out and I only have a couple inches of headroom (easily 1-2 less than my old car). I figure I will get used to that, what was more important to me was the seat comfort and legroom and how my shoulders felt while driving- some cars, because of my messed up shoulders, have a steering wheel that just causes me pain after a few hours of driving. I plan to go down and drive it again on Wednesday and then check out the maintenance records and bang around all the other stuff a bit to check it out. Today I just wanted to get the driving feel, and I liked it a lot.
Guy wanted me to make an offer, but I told him I will call him tomorrow because I don’t want to do anything rash. Maybe make him want to sell me the car as much as I want to buy it.
BTW- The new Subaru Crosstrek is a beautiful looking vehicle (the rims are a bit much), but it is just too small for me and for some reason they only have a 2.0 engine in it even though it is a pretty damned heavy vehicle for its size. If I were a woman or a smaller man who wanted a nice crossover but wasn’t concerned about having a really powerful engine, I would very seriously consider this car. They are just really good looking.
Get a grip. Just buy a car.
@ulee: I buy things to last. I am still using my 1991 Adcom Amp and Pre-Amp to power my stereo. Back off.
Go for it John! Buy the one you want. Subies are great cars, you won’t regret it.
Get an independent buyers check that you pay for and make sure they do a compression test.
@John Cole: I too wear things out until they dont work and they don’t fix themselves. I’m just saying, give yourself a break. Buy a car and move on.
You have been talking about getting another car since about forever. That is the antithesis of “rash.” Rash is seeing a cool car on the sales lot out of the corner of your eye, and trading in the perfectly good paid-off car you are sitting in for it twenty minutes later.
Did you ever get the old Outback out of the farmer’s field?
If gas mileage is a concern, then why not a hybrid? BTW I like Subarus, my first car was a white Subaru wagon.
In West Virginia, a car left in a field for more than three months is automatically considered an official state heritage site, so now it’s there permanently.
I think I possibly made a mistake about 18 months ago, when I was car-shopping. I was interested in Subarus (had never owned, nor even driven one). I went to the Subaru dealer to check out Foresters and Outbacks, but the sales staff were all so … I dunno,condescending, distant, just plain not interested in me* … that I went to the same GMC dealership that had been servicing my old Saturn for a decade or more, and bought a Terrain on the spot. It’s fine. It’s big. It’s going to serve me for the next decade and a half, I expect. But in the wee dark hours of night, I think I might have preferred a Subaru. How do you get past the horrible sales staff in order to get the vehicle you want?
*ETA: I wonder if I should have told them that I was prepared to pay cash on the spot. Which is what I did at the GMC dealership, where they have always treated me like royalty.
Gin & Tonic
@Mary G: Didja ever notice that however many times he’s asked directly, he never answers the question about the car in the field?
@SiubhanDuinne: You can do most of the buying online at many dealerships.
I use USAA for much of my banking and they offer a car buying service.
@SiubhanDuinne: Well I posted a brilliant solution but Cole’s blog put it in time out. Buy it online.
“Do you cringe at the thought of visiting a car dealership to buy a car? Most dealerships now have an “Internet sales department” with its own sales manager, so you can research and negotiate buying a car from your sofa smarter and faster than ever before.
Read more: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/auto/guide-buying-car-online.aspx#ixzz2wvwJfFUz
Follow us: @Bankrate on Twitter | Bankrate on Facebook”
@Gin & Tonic: Ask directly, don’t shoot from the field.
@Gin & Tonic: Ask directly, don’t shoot from the field.
Gin & Tonic
@SiubhanDuinne: Are they the only Subaru dealer in reasonable driving distance? Here in New England, you don’t often have to drive very far to find another dealership. I think there’s four Subaru dealerships in RI, maybe 5?
whoops. double post. sorry about that.
Do you cringe at the thought of visiting a car dealership to buy a car? Most dealerships now have an “Internet sales department” with its own sales manager, so you can research and negotiate buying a car from your sofa smarter and faster than ever before.
Just One More Canuck
“I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up.” – Mark Twain
In your case, maybe a bit more than a week
@Gin & Tonic: The mustard too is still in the car sitting in the field.
No, the car is no longer in a field. A guy bought it from me and signed the title, I gave the farmer a couple hundred for his inconvenience and fence repair, and the car has been towed away. I have no idea where it is now.
Black interiors, which is all Subaru offers at least in their new vehicles, is a deal breaker to me.
My car is 13 years old, and I’ve been looking around casually for a while now, and I’m of the opinion that spending thousands of dollars SHOULD be considered very carefully, and I too have been scanning the small SUV market. The leader in the clubhouse for me is the new Ford Escape, which comes with a little turbo 4 that does power and fuel efficiency pretty well.
That being said, John, it sure sounds like you like that Outback 3.0. And you will get used to the headroom. I’m a tall guy, so it’s an issue for me, too.
@Gin & Tonic:
Truth is, there are probably others (or at least, ANother) but the 14-y-o Saturn was dying before my very eyes and I felt pressured. Pressure I put on myself, but there you are. Anyhow, it’s done, I’ve been driving the GMC since mid-October 2012, and, you know, it’s fine. Just not the car of my dreams.
ETA: I guess I should add, I am nearly 72 years old and I’ve bought only three cars in my life. So I’m not very adept at going in and negotiating. I tend to drive them (and keep them well maintained) for a very long time. The Saturn had about 247,000 miles on it when it finally told me it was done here. I just want it to be easy, and if it ends up costing me something then I guess it’s a price I’m willing to pay.
@John Cole: Have your watched your Stephen King? That car knows exactly where you are and what you are doing and in addition, she’s pissed off. Good luck.
@John O: Yea, because they haven’t invented aftermarket seat covers yet!
Just can’t stand getting into a black interior in the summer, and seat covers only partially mitigate the problem. It is perhaps a strange affectation, but we all have ’em, no? :-)
Thanks, Raven. Kind of a moot point now, as I am no longer in the market, and don’t expect to be again until I’m about 87 years old or so. But I appreciate the info.
I got a 04 WRX wagon in October, and the space is similar to the Outback with a bit more oomph. The insurance is a bit high though.
@SiubhanDuinne: If it makes you feel better I did look at the Subarus, test drove an Outback. Liked it until I hit 70 on the freeway where there was a noticeable front end shimmy. I asked the sales guy about it and he actually admitted it to be a problem they couldn’t solve. I looked it up when I got home, yep a lot of complaints about that problem and seemingly unfixable for quite a few people.
I did something I thought I’d never do, buy a car model in it’s first year. I bought a redesigned Acura RDX, beautiful car, so far 2 years later it’s absolutely perfect.
I had never heard of USAA until a few months ago when I started helping my widowed cousin with her paperwork after her husband (who had been in the Foreign Service) died. I have loved all my dealings with them, but unfortunately I am not eligible myself. A shame, they seem really nice and professional.
@John O: Got it
We have a farm in the Shenandoah Valley, house dating from the 19th century so our Subaru Forester occasionally hauls a trailer to deal with stuff for the Victorian house and outbuildings and all the renovations we are doing. It’s a 2012 and while it doesn’t do really great mileage it is a reliable work horse. We also have VW Golf diesel stick shift, which gets 55-60 MPH for urban runabouts. It has the pick up of a fast car but that’s partly because of the feel of the manual transmission. But during the week we mostly walk, bike and do the DC Metro to work because that’s how we roll.
@John Cole: I’m with you. My TVs have picture tubes. The 27-year-old one just died; 25-year-old one is still going strong.
Within the last 10 years I have become even more motivated to shop carefully and keep things a long time because so much new stuff is junk.
Careful John, if you enjoy driving this car too much you’ll end up like me and Omnes when it comes to driving…
Seems like shitty gas mileage. My old beater 01 Chevy Impala has 170k on it & still averages around 27 mpg. Drove out to NY a couple years ago & did 32+ on the highway. Plenty of power from the v6 & very comfortable. Why people insist on these overpriced station wagons is beyond me, sorry.
@SiubhanDuinne: I didn’t realize it but they switched back to military only last year. For a few years it was open. I actually posted the other info more for some of the dunderheads that read this blog.
You know, I vaguely remember seeing something about that on some of the review sites (contrary to what youall may be thinking, I actually did do some homework before heading for the dealerships). I tend to be a fairly conservative (small-c) driver, so it may not have been much of an issue for me, but I recall that a lot of people were peeved.
When did West Virginia get left lanes?
We use USAA for everything. They’re wonderful. One of the better things I inherited from my (2Lt) grandmother.
Direct your M1IPs to victory!
South of the border
Down Mexico way
The fist car I bought myself was a Justy-stripped down, bare bones little put-put car. I didn’t know how to drive it (stick shift) when I bought it but learned over the weekend and drove it to work on Monday. I did take the long way round for a while to avoid an intersection on an incline. Moved to Colorado and drove it from Norwood to Telluride every day and never had to use chains once, just swapped studded tires for winter driving. It finally died in my dad’s driveway right after I arrived here with almost 200k miles on it. I loved that little car.
Cole, I am telling you for the last time: My sister drives that exact car, because my BIL bought it for the same reasons you’re into it. Reliably 17.5mpg in town, 21 highway. She curses that hog every time she fills it up.
Have you driven a new Chevy Spark yet? Drove mine in freezing rain/snow last month and it handled like a go-cart. Just fun. 39 in town, 41 highway.
But do what you want…
@John Cole: No, the car is no longer in a field. A guy bought it from me and signed the title
Bet he thought it was a steal.
I was doing 85 up a steep hill talking to the rep and I looked down and noticed how fast I was going and the tach was only at 3kish. Entering the highway was a dream
Well, yeah. Design a car that gets around well enough with a four-banger and stick an H6 in it and it will go. Saw the same thing with the Hyundai – a four cylinder is adequate, but stick a six cylinder in it and woo, zippy.
Given the relative blue book, I’m surprised you’re not going for the 2.5i, which would fix some of the gas mileage issues.
[‘Whatever. Buy a goddamn car already.’]
How many miles did the Subie have on it as a 2006? I’d love to have another Outback but to get into my price range, I was looking at 10 year old cars with well over 100,000 miles on ’em. Damn, I miss my Outback.
@? Martin: My ex had a student walk right into her path as she drove down the street. His head went through the windshield and he flipped over the back. She went to the hospital that night and, while beat up badly, he lived. We turned it over to USAA and we never heard another word.
I remember having one quite complicated conversation with a very nice call center person, and I abruptly asked whether I could set up insurance, other services with them just because they were all so nice and helpful. Was very disappointed when I was told (ever so nicely) that I didn’t qualify. Not military at all, and my 25-year foreign service experience was with a foreign government.
This does not sound like a case of a safe driver on the road.
@SiubhanDuinne: xin loi
Sigh. Yeah, pretty sure you’re right.
@PhoenixRising: Are you serious? A Chevy Spark? I’m not going to tell you how fat I am, but at 6’1″ and my weight the words nosetackle or offensive guard come to mind. Maybe I could rip the front seat out ala Police Academy.
When we drive in Shawn’s Tiberon, we have to open the moon roof interior cover so I have headroom.
Get an electric bicycle.
Thanks. It’s really not a big deal, but thanks.
@John Cole: Yes. The Chevy Spark. You cannot be larger than the salesman who test drove us around in it–kid had just finished his 4th year as a D1 left tackle and was using his NCAA education selling cars. The drivers seat goes all the way into the backseat area.
My dad was 6’4″, 230. Drove a ’76 CVCC hatchback quite comfortably. Small cars can be just as comfortable for large people IF they are designed properly.
James E. Powell
Bought a 2011 Prius on Saturday. The entire process, from the decision to buy another car through the shopping for it to the consummation of the purchase, took seven days. Total time spent shopping for the car was eight hours. While I was sitting with that guy that has all the paperwork I thought of John Cole and paused for a moment to have a laugh at his expense. I also hate shopping for and buying cars. My solution is to get it over with as quickly as possible and never look back.
Seatbelts, John! Seatbelts!
Gin & Tonic
@SiubhanDuinne: ETA: I guess I should add, I am nearly 72 years old and I’ve bought only three cars in my life. So I’m not very adept at going in and negotiating. I tend to drive them (and keep them well maintained) for a very long time.
Well, the thing about cars is if you don’t like the one you have, you can sell it and get a new one without hiring a lawyer.
The 19/25 mileage is basically what I get on my 2001 Forester. Which has 50K miles on it because I never drive. (That 50K includes one cross country trip.) Recall you saying, John, that you never drive either. Just want to reassure you that having rare fill-ups makes it possible to stay in denial about the mileage factor, and enjoy your Subaru.
I certainly love my Forester. Can’t imagine another car. Especially in snowy climates. So, if you love the jazzy engine Outback, go for it and be happy.
IIRC, the Crosstrek is similar to the Toyota RAV-4 in that it’s a small SUV built on a car chassis (in this case, the Impreza chassis) so it’s much more stable (less likely to tip) than an SUV built on a truck chassis.
Also, you can’t judge how well you’ll fit in a car by the outside. I had a friend in college who was 6’11” (not a typo — he was an NCAA high jumper) and his perfect car was a Honda del Sol. And, no, he didn’t have to stick his head out the top.
Gin & Tonic
@efgoldman: Well, the almighty Google tells me there are six Subaru dealers in Georgia.
Wait, Georgia is a little bigger than RI, right?
I had several options when I finally bought a new car last September (it was time, my beloved RAV-4 was 15 years old). I looked into a couple of car buying services, including Costco’s and the one through my credit union, but I ended up buying from a specific dealership that the Giant Evil Corporation has a relationship with (buys their fleet vehicles from them) so I got a really good deal without a lot of pressure since I was a “VIP.”
Though I do still seem to be on various call lists from sales dudes I took test drives with. Oh well.
The CC will give you WAY better mileage than 19/25
Snohomish county now saying 176 missing and 14 confirmed dead. No more expected to be found alive.
John, you’ll adjust quickly to the vdc. The 2005 and newer outbacks are just
like the older ones, but more awesomer. Mileage really won’t be much worse, about the same on the highway. Don’t bother with a compression test, it’s not an issue on horizontally opposed engines. The 3.0 is a magnificent beast, and requires only basic maintainence and the occasional idler pulley. Pay about 10.5 for the ar if you can, and enjoy. Avoid the vw at all costs.
I just took my dogs around the block. They are good puppies. I tell them they are wolf decesdents. I tell them I am living with wolves.
@Sebastian: The CC would be lovely if it never snows and his brother is a foreign car mechanic. Volkswagens, particularly Audi-like Volkswagens, are not reliable cars. Electric parking brake motors and whatnot. I like vws, always have, but damned if I’ll own one anytime soon. I’ve worked on too many.
@Gin & Tonic:
That is an excellent point.
@MikeJ: Damn. That’s just horrible.
Did you test drive the VW Jetta Sportwagon TDI? I love mine, and would definitely recommend you at least take one for a spin. The engine should give you 250k easily. And the superb construction saved my wife’s life in a potentially ugly accident with a downed tree in a windstorm.
@PhoenixRising: My Honda Element has about 14 feet of headroom in the front and about 11 feet of footroom in the back. Give or take a couple of inches, of course.
@Mnemosyne: Remember the movie Diner? The very large background character who ate the left side of the diner’s menu one night and drove a 3 wheeled car? He was so large and the car so small it looked like a diver’s pressure suit more than a car.
That’s good thinking, John.
I have bought and sold dozens of cars over the years and, because I was in the nightclub/restaurant industry for many years, have a number of friends in the car biz, including dealers and wholesalers.
Here’s the skinny on the 2006 Subaru you’re looking at–and, btw, I used the actual VIN # for the vehicle you’re looking at through the Black Book reports (which is the Bible for auto dealers, even though they will tell you it isn’t and refer to NADA, Blue Book, etc.) –as well as researching that year and model on about a dozen auto dealer sites and other resources.
The Wheeling dealer is asking $12,995 for the car. In all probability they have somewhere between $9500-$10,500 in the car and, depending on a lot of factors I won’t bore you with, it’s probably closer to $9500 than $10,500.
IMHO, you should be able to buy the car for between $10,500-$11,500, and you should not go over $12k unless you really love the car, the service records are detailed and complete, and it hasn’t had multiple owners–especially in the last 4 or 5 years.
The dealer should also be 100% willing to provide you with the Carfax and service records. And the main thing you will want to look at in the service records is whether the timing belt and ALL the attendant parts have been replaced (timing belt tensioner, timing belt idlers, water pump, and cam and crank seals).
The recommended timing belt replacement for a Subaru Outback is at 105,000 miles and if it hasn’t been done, you’re looking at around $900-$1000.
If it’s not replaced and goes bad–you’re forked.
Do your best to get a good deal, Cole. I know it’s a pain in the ass, and most people hate having to bargain with the dealer, but it’s a lot more painful to walk away having paid full retail and then get hit in the head with a huge repair bill.
There is another thing to consider about that 3.0 engine. Premium unleaded fuel is recommended and you really should use it. It adds another 10% to the fuel cost. (That’s one reason I got rid of my 2011 Legacy GT.)
cars101 . com has everything you ever want to know about Subarus.
Minority opinion on the headroom here. I am 6’5″ so headroom is often (oddly, not always) a problem for me. I have owned one subaru and driven many others (lifetime spent in snowy, mountainous regions) and the headroom issue drove me to sell the subaru I had.
An experiment: drive up to an overhead stoplight with your car right at the crosswalk. Do you have to crouch down to see the light? That will get on your nerves eventually, and you will find yourself crouching at a lot more than stoplights. Toyotas are really good for headroom.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
You wouldn’t even be buying a new car if it wasn’t for Snowden.
@cbear: The 3.0 engine uses a timing chain, not a belt, and does not require service. Absolutely right otherwise, especially on price.
My best friend loves her diesel Jetta but, sadly, it suddenly decided to start stalling out on the freeway during heavy traffic. Last I heard, she was still hoping to get it fixed because it’s tough to give up that 50+ miles per gallon she gets with diesel fuel, but — surprise surprise — the electrical system was going buggy.
That is awful.
Have we heard from Yatsuno? I’m not sure where he lives in WA state, I hope nowhere near the disaster (nor his family).
Not sure what other Juicers live in the area or have friends or family there, but I hope everyone is out of harm’s way.
@cbear: It has had only one owner. A man in his 60’s bought it from them new and had all the maintenance done there. Also, we have bought multiple vehicles from them. I will make sure I ask them about the timing belt and everything.
@Mnemosyne: The diesel vws are great fun to drive, and some do get ~50mpg, but they are very fussy about maintainence, even the type of oil used. The high pressure fuel pump, when it goes, and it will, is many many dollars. I’m impressed with the cars from a driver’s perspective, my brother owns the jetta tdi wagon, but I won’t own one, when the civic offers 40 mpg with zero issues and good resale even at 200k miles. Civic for my wife, Outback or Forester for me. I drag logs out of the woods with my Subie, among other things.
@John Cole: John- the drivers seat on the outback is height adjustable. You can drop it and inch or two for more headroom. And lower center of gravity. I kid.
What is the Black Book for vehicles? Google is giving me odd results for it. Do you have a link?
And btw, you could happily do without vdc on another 3.0 outback. But vdc in the snow will blow your damn mind. It’s as close to an M1A1 as you can get in civilian life. You will no bs think it has tracks when you’re on snow. Do a donut in it. If you can. You can’t. You just drive in a circle, faster and faster, until you’re dizzy. Traction that will make you laugh out loud with joy. Like your 97 but times 3.
Subaru wagons owned:
(Missed 90’s altogether)
I now drive an 04 Forester with 90k. I bought it at Carmax, and love the car.
Buy the wagon and be sure and put a Steal Your Face on the back window.
That’s great news.
Re: the timing belt–as Bill points out, the 3.0 has a timing chain rather than the belt and the same concerns don’t apply.
However, the pricing and sales numbers are specifically for the 3.0 you are considering.
@Bill: Good catch. Since timing belts are the #1 concern on used vehicles, when I researched the Subaru Outback repair schedule I didn’t specify the 3.0.
@Lolis: You won’t find the Black Book results as it is a subscription based service for dealers.
However, you can go to this site:
Enter the VIN# and year for results.
Long time lurker first time poster. Can’t believe nobody has called you out on this.
JC, I love you man, but come on, when you are entering the highway it is not the dickhead’s job to move over for you! It is your job to merge with the traffic that is already there! There is a dickhead in the situation, but it is not that guy.
It took a perfectly pushed button (and just the right amount of scotch) to get me to come out of lurk mode, but anyway thanks for putting your awesome blog on my internets.
Funny you should say that about the Crosstrek, John.
I am a 5’4″ woman and I got the Crosstrek last May. Absolutely love to drive it.
It’s a perfect car for me. Very cute and zippy looking but it handles the road well and with the winter from hell we have had here in the east, it’s been a blessing. Can’t say enough good words about Subaru.
Assuming there is room to his left the dickhead could make everyones life a lot easier and less stressful my merely moving into the left lane. I do it all the time. If traffic prohibits that then you have a different situation but around these parts there are a large number of people who like to speed up, even on with open lanes, so you have to slow down to merge and then end up going around them anyway. I’d like to think they are just stupid but probably a number of them are dickheads
Except it is my mother’s Subaru. Sedan version rather than wagon, she bought hers new back in 2004 and it’s still going strong. Only about 60000 little-old-lady miles on it, but it’s been sound and trouble-free for a decade.
GHayduke (formerly lojasmo)
In all seriousness, though. the 3.0 is absolutely solid. I wouldn’t drive an automatic, though, and especially not a VDC, though they are smooth as butter.
I have a crosstrek, and you wouldn’t think the engine was underpowered, it drives and handles like a dream. I get it that the size is not right for you, but for me and my family it’s a great car…..it’s my first Subaru (mostly Toyota’s in the past, and one 76′ Dodge colt…loved that car) and I’m pretty impressed with their product.
@mclaren: Wimp. Why not electric unicycle?
@reef: In WV, people move over if they can. I know it isn’t that way in other places, but it is here so the guy should have moved over.
I agree the Volkswagen CC is FUN TO DRIVE. As a commuter car, gas mileage is not too bad. I average 34 mi/gal on my daily commute in my 2012 CC, which includes about 60% highway driving with no stop and go. My personal best was acheiving 37 mi/gal by following the posted speed limits.
But “city” mileage aveages a sucky 24 mi/gal. The other drawback is VW turbos require premium fuel. However, in my cost/benefit analysis the FUN outwieghed costs. Plus the salesman threw in free rubber mats to seal the deal!