DD/BOV advice.

Discussions about the devices that supply a means for movement of people and goods.

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DD/BOV advice.

Post by Readphnx » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:02 am

I'm going to be in the market for a new or used car soon and I'm looking for some advice/reviews. Right now I own a 2007 Toyota FJ and I love it. I bought it in 2009 with 40K miles on it and I'm just now rolling over to 156k miles. I do on the road sales and it's worked great for that, with one downside. It has to have 89 octane or higher gas and It gets 18 to 20 mpg.

I'm looking for a vehicle that gets 27 mpg or better, has some off pavement ability, and can pull a small enclosed trailer. I would also like to have AWD or 4WD. Right now I'm looking at the Subaru Forester and the Outback. Can anyone suggest some other vehicles or does anyone have experience with this two?
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by Tater Raider » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:26 am

FWIW I think you've picked a couple good vehicles with a strong cult following on here (second only to the Jeep crowd but you wouldn't like our flavor of 15-19mpg Kool-Aid). I've never seen anyone not like theirs.

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by GSHX2 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:34 am

I test drove the crosstrek and wasn't impressed with the CVT transmission, just felt like driving a car with a slipping clutch. I also test drove the 2.5 6 speed manual outback and although it seemed to have enough for the mountain passes I drive it was just too big for what I really wanted in a BOV.

I have about 360 miles on my new forester and it gave 32 mpg on highway driving through mountain passes at 6000ft carrying about 560 pounds worth of driver and passengers. It is the non-turbo 5 speed manual. I went with a non-turbo because of budget and I figure if I have to use stored gasoline in an emergency I wouldn't always be able to get premium unleaded quality.

It isn't fast by any means but capable and nimble, about the "Goldie Locks" of the line up if you ask me. They have a 6 cylinder outback model but since it was out of my budget I didn't even bother and even though it takes regular I don't think you will be getting stellar gas mileage out of it.
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by MaconCJ7 » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:46 am

I am sorry to say that a mixture of EPA and consumer demand have screwed you out of what you are looking for. You can have either mpg, or something that can tow. I think you are already getting the best you can expect out of a vehicle + trailer. Yeah, throw the trailer you're talking about behind my truck and you'll get the same, but I'm on diesel, so it will cost you more. I got 20mpg loaded with a 48 year old truck, you won't get that now. Fuel injection is cool , but the EP will screw you. Case in point, my buddy had to detune his truck because he didn't put out enough fumes. You must vary between 'b' an 'c'. 'A' will land you in jail.
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by ZombieSoldier01 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:15 pm

realistically i dont think you will find the optimal vehicle that will suit all your needs.

honestly take a step back and asess what you need vs. what you want. 27+mpg?, pull a trailer? off roading prowess? i dont honestly think you will find what you need.

get that subbie and hook up a 2500 pound trailer, trust me a small enclosed trailer wont take much to hit that, and you will no longer be looking at 27mpg. not only are you going to significantly decrease fuel milage but also your reliability will drop as that subbie wasnt designed to be a tow vehicle. now take said subby, and take her on the trail. will she do it? yes, will she be happy, no. again, reasess what you need vs what you want.

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DD/BOV advice.

Post by Readphnx » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:54 pm

In not looking for the car to get 27mpgs while towing. I know the mpg's are going to take a big hit with a trailer behind it. I'm basically looking for a vehicle that will get that kind of mileage during daily driving. Can fit my products that I deliver, has awd or part time 4wd and allows me to tow when I have to. As it stands now I might hook a trailer on once or twice a year and the longest I've had to pull it was 40 miles.

The only reason I really added the towing was because I plan to build a INCH trailer. I'm looking at using a 4'x6 or a 5'x8 trailer.

The forester and the outback seem to fit the bill but I was curious if I'm over looking other vehicle that might be as good or better.
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by MaconCJ7 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:10 pm

While not awd, a newer car should fit your needs. Fwd is great off road, and as small of a trailer you're thinking of... Obvious clearance issues, but if you put on a lot of miles DD, a car could save you more money in the long run.
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by vawilderness » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:21 pm

I just bought a 2013 outback. It's my first Subaru and I love it... with one gripe. The automatic transmission feels weird, it's one of those new gearless jobs and it does deliver good gas mileage. It's just weird not to feel it run through the gears.

I traded up in october from a 2000 jeep xj with 4.5 inches of lift and 33 inch tires... so maybe I'm just not used to newer model vehicle.
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by Stercutus » Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:26 pm

I will warn you that the Subaru Forrester has very limited off road capability especially when compared to the FJ. Actually there is no comparison. I have owned both and while the FJ is quite competent off road in most situations the Subaru is more of a bad weather on road type vehicle. I managed to get it stuck twice. Once in about six inches of snow and once in soft ground near a lake. The FJ has never been stuck and I am certain would not have been in either of these situations (bottoming out was part of the problem).

That said the Forrester is an awesome car if a bit on the small side. With as much driving as you do I would look for whatever gave you the best mileage and still met your needs.
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by williaty » Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:53 am

Blacksmith wrote:I will warn you that the Subaru Forrester has very limited off road capability especially when compared to the FJ. Actually there is no comparison. I have owned both and while the FJ is quite competent off road in most situations the Subaru is more of a bad weather on road type vehicle. I managed to get it stuck twice. Once in about six inches of snow and once in soft ground near a lake. The FJ has never been stuck and I am certain would not have been in either of these situations (bottoming out was part of the problem).
How the hell did you manage that?

No joke, I've used my Subaru station wagon to pull an upside down FJ back onto its feet and then up the hill to the road in 8" of snow during a race when it shot off the road when it couldn't make the turn and then didn't have the traction to get back up the hill without a little bit of a pull. I came from an '89 4Runner (last year they were real 4x4 and not yuppie bimbo boxes) with 3 lockers and a dual range transfer straight to the Suby. I've been incredibly surprised what it'll drive over, across, and through even though it's "just a car". I've tackled stuff people in modded Jeeps and whatnot were sure I couldn't do just by applying some logic. It's inches closer to the ground with different driving dynamics. You have to drive it the way something that small needs driven, not like it's a miniature Tonka truck. To me, the only advantage the 4Runner had in terms of low traction environments was the incredibly low range gearing in L4 and 1st in the tranny. It made it easier to really just barely creep if you were floating on the edge of traction. In all other situations, the positive advantages of the design have massively outweighed the lack of L4 and the loss of a couple of inches of ground clearance.

Anyway, to the OP, I work on Subarus for a living and turn them into racecars. Can you give me some specifics on exactly what age range and trim level of Fozzy and Outback you're considering? The reason I'm asking such specifics is that there have been some BIG BIG changes in drivetrain and suspension design over relatively short time ranges in the Subaru lineup over the last 10 years. However, I will say this, either should get you to your fuel economy goals with the non-turbo motor. The manual will get slightly better gas mileage, the automatic will be slightly better at getting you out of deep mud or snow (VERY different AWD systems in the 5MT and 4EAT trannys), the manual will also drive a little better if you like curvy roads. Anything more than that and I need to know exactly what you're looking for

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by Readphnx » Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:24 am

Oh I know it's not going to handle what my FJ does. With the A-Track and the rear dif. locker on the FJ I can get out of most anything. I'm mainly talking about making the half mile drive down the dirt and gravel road to our hunting property if it's been raining all week. I don't plan on trying to take a Subaru wheeling.

I'm looking at something in the 2009 to 2013 range. I was looking at the manual trans. just because I miss driving a stick shift.
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:28 am

Williaty, what years/trim would you recommend for general BOV use, without hardcore offroad being a priority?
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DD/BOV advice.

Post by benja455 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:59 am

Doc Torr wrote:Williaty, what years/trim would you recommend for general BOV use, without hardcore offroad being a priority?
+ 1

Definitely interested in this answer.

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by williaty » Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:04 am

Doc Torr wrote:Williaty, what years/trim would you recommend for general BOV use, without hardcore offroad being a priority?
That hugely depends on your personal price-to-suffering ratio. For me, since I fix everything myself and get parts wholesale, I want to go with the oldest car I can find without rust because it'll be the cheapest to buy and if shit breaks it's cheap for me to fix. For someone paying a mechanic, it's probably worth moving a few years newer than that. I can throw out some guidelines for what to look for and what to avoid, but there's some details that just have to be dug into when you're looking at the exact car you're thinking about purchasing. However, in general...


Don't ever buy an Outback that looks like this:
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Those are the 2005-2009 Outbacks and they have a severe handling problem that I am absolutely shocked hasn't lead to NHTSA forcing them to do a safety recall. Note that the Outbacks and Legacys from that age range look almost identical. The Legacys are fine, no handling problem at all. The Outback is, literally, a Legacy on stilts. Something in the way those stilts were designed ruined the car.

In my opinion, you probably don't want to buy a Forrester that looks like this:
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Some of the ones that look like that have a new engine that I'm not 100% sold on in terms of reliability. The rollout of the new engine was phased, so unless you know what you're looking for, it's difficult to know which engine you're getting in any particular vehicle.

In terms of what I would buy, the 2002-2007 Impreza line is pretty good if you're ok with a car that small. The wagons from 2002-2004 came with drum rear brakes, which I think is total BS, but then again I'm more demanding than average. The Forrester lineup pre-2011 is good as well, though they're actually as small as the Impreza wagons. The fact that they're that small means no rear seat legroom. However, the fact that they're boxy means you have MUCH more usable cargo space in them. The Outbacks up until 2004 are fine as well and they're considerably bigger. I hate the new 2010+ Outbacks. The Legacy platform has remained nice pretty much from the turn of the millenium up to 2009, if you want a slightly larger car than the Impreza with a slightly nicer interior. The Tribeca is an abomination unto Colin and we don't speak of it.

Over the whole age range, if reliability and fuel economy are priorities, I would want to get one of the 2.5L SOHC (single overhead cam) non-turbo engines. There's some weird things that go wrong with Subarus since they use a boxer engine. Interestingly, Porsche has the same problems since they use a boxer engine too. Anyway, the non-turbo SOHC engines are a little more reliable and a little cheaper to work on than the non-turbo DOHC engines. This is one you can determine yourself on the car lot by looking under the hood.

This is a DOHC:
Image
See how the black plastic thing on the front gets wider towards the edges and kind of has two blobs on each side? That's a DOHC.

This is an SOHC:
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See how the black plastic thing on the front is roughly the same size all the way across and only has one blob on each side? That's a SOHC.

You can easily see enough of the black plastic to figure out which is which just by popping the hood and looking.



Transmission wise, that's a personal call. In almost all years, the 4EAT is actually the more advanced 4WD system. In a lot of the years, the tranny is capable of sending nearly 100% of the power to a single wheel, meaning that if you have even a single wheel with traction, the car will claw its way out. On the other hand, the 4EATs aren't quite as fuel efficient and they are heavier, which makes the whole thing not drive quite as well. The manuals can vary tremendously by year and by how hard the previous owner beat on them. The base model 5MTs had a viscous-coupled limited slip center differential, an open front diff, and an open rear diff. This combo drives really well in terms of handling, but isn't that great at pulling itself out (compared to other 4WD vehicles, still better than 2WD). The next-step-up from base will come with a viscous coupled limited slip rear diff as well. This drives just as well but has a meaningful advantage in pulling itself out of snow. The badging on the one-step-up models changed frequently. Sometimes L indicated a base model, sometimes L was the one step up, etc. Do your homework for that year. Now, the problem with the VC LSDs is that if you abuse them, the VC unit will fail and it'll turn into an open diff. Sadly, a lot of older Subarus get bought for young kids who have played too much Need for Speed and think that all turns should be done with the handbrake pulled up hard. This will pop the VC units. Additionally, if you have any turbo Subaru with a 5MT in it, assume the previous owner destroyed the tranny and plan on replacing/rebuilding it.

Actually, for that matter, any of the turbo Subarus, assume a total idiot owned it before you and plan on replacing the engine unless you are able to have both a compression and a leakdown test before you buy. Hell, make sure they allow you to change the oil in the engine and transmission first. That's really good advice for any used car purchase. I've seen about a dozen cars now where the previous owner put in super-thick oil to mask a death rattle the car was making just to get it sold.

For any Subaru purchase, securing the maintenace records is a huge bonus. Every 30,000mi (so 30k, 60k, 90k, ... 150k, etc), it should have had all its fluids changed plus spark plugs. This is actually important. At 105,000 (and therefore also 210,000, 315,000 etc) the timing belt and timing system need replaced. Just the belt is not good enough. The timing belt, timing belt tensioner, all the timing belt idlers, the water pump, and the thermostat must be replaced. Most shops try to cut corners and do only the belt itself. Use ONLY OEM water pumps and thermostats. 100% of aftermarket thermostats and water pumps I've seen installed have failed. For the idlers and tensioners, use only OEM or NGK (who makes the OEM ones). For the belts, OEM or Gates is fine.

For the 5MT trannys, use ONLY Motul Gear 300 75w90 or Subaru G-O Extra S 75w90 gear oils. The Subaru tranny is voodoo in that the synchros and the hypoid gear in the front diff share the same oil bath. I shit you not, if you use any other option you will kill the tranny over the long run. The nice thing is that both of those oils are really easy to mail order.

Another thing to look for during a pre-buy inspection is the situation with the head gaskets. HGs just fail on boxer engines. There's no way around it. If a top-notch shop repairs them, the repair will be good for 150-200k miles. If a cheap shop or dealer does them, they can last 40-90k miles. Interview your mechanics. Make sure the engine is being removed from the car. Ask what machine shop they'll be using to flatten the heads. Make sure they're using OEM and only OEM headgaskets. Anyway, you can check this yourself. Get the car up on ramps and remove the black plastic undertray if it's still there. It's pretty common for them to suffer tactical removal via an ablative technique while offroading. Get your head under the engine roughly under the oil pan. Look up and to each side. You'll see the motor mounts to each side of the oil pan. About 3/4" outside of the motor mount is a seam running from the front of the engine all the way to the back. That seam is the headgasket. If you see any evidence of crap in this area, assume the headgaskets are bad and in need of immediate replacement. HGs are not something you put off for later on a Subaru.



So, that sounds like a lot of gloom and doom, but really that 99% of what goes wrong with a Subaru from a guy who's living it is to deal with that crap every day. The plus side is that you get a very, very safe car that handles much better than your average compact or midsize. With work, they can handle (not kidding, in the Impreza platform at least) up into Porsche/Lotus/Ferrari territory when driving on a real road, not a racetrack. Handle, not accelerate, mind you, at least with the non-turbo models. Then they can also deal with offroad and bad weather crap that no sportscar, and few SUVs could actually tackle. Again, you have to think smart and drive them like they need driven when you get truly off road or into deep mud/snow. It's different than driving a 4-wheeler under those conditions.
Last edited by williaty on Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by williaty » Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:12 am

Oh, and the Outback and Outback Sport are completely different cars. The Outback is a Legacy on stilts. The Outback Sport is an Impreza in drag.

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by ZombieSoldier01 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:36 am

thats a lot of information to digest there, but good information.


my wife kind of has a thing for the new VX Crosstrek 2.0 Limited. what is your knowledge about them? she obviously wont go offroading in it, but it will be just a daily driver with occasional trips down a dirt road that connects our development with one of the main roads she takes.

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by Stercutus » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:32 am

How the hell did you manage that?
Strangely I asked that exact question both times.
I've used my Subaru station wagon to pull an upside down FJ back onto its feet and then up the hill to the road in 8" of snow during a race when it shot off the road when it couldn't make the turn and then didn't have the traction to get back up the hill without a little bit of a pull.
I've never owned the station wagon. Just two Foresters and an older GL hatchback. Great little cars but none of them could have done a feat anywhere close to what you are describing. I doubt my FJ could pull an FJ up a hill in eight inches of snow.
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by GSHX2 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:43 pm

Williaty, just got a '13 forester 5 sp manual. Where do I look on the thing to ID the engine? You said they were phasing new and old engines that is why I ask.

Since you work on them for a living I would like to ask a question about a past practice of mine as it applies to this vehicle. I have pretty much always bought new and held on to my vehicles for 8-10 years. After the first 1K of break in I have always changed oil and filters to include diffs and transmissions then continued the normal maintenance routine. Any harm or help in this practice?
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by williaty » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:16 pm

GSHX2 wrote:Williaty, just got a '13 forester 5 sp manual. Where do I look on the thing to ID the engine? You said they were phasing new and old engines that is why I ask.
1) Does it have the oil filter upside down on top of the engine?
2) Does it request 0w20 synthetic engine oil?
Since you work on them for a living I would like to ask a question about a past practice of mine as it applies to this vehicle. I have pretty much always bought new and held on to my vehicles for 8-10 years. After the first 1K of break in I have always changed oil and filters to include diffs and transmissions then continued the normal maintenance routine. Any harm or help in this practice?
No harm, possible help. At worst, that doesn't do anything but waste your money, at best, if you had a machining error in the powertrain somewhere, changing the oils like that helps you clean out the swarf before it can do any harm. 99% of them are just fine but I've had 2 now have oil come out of the driveline somewhere looking like silver paint at the first change. If that happens, it'll take 3-5 short 200mi rinses before the oil will come out clean, then it'll usually stay clean over the normal service interval of the car after that.
Blacksmith wrote:I've never owned the station wagon. Just two Foresters and an older GL hatchback. Great little cars but none of them could have done a feat anywhere close to what you are describing. I doubt my FJ could pull an FJ up a hill in eight inches of snow.
I will admit that tire choice is everything. Since we were racing, I had real-assed-snow-tires made by Scandinavians who do nothing but design snow tires and headbutt moose all year. They'd actually lock up the seatbelts when stopping in deep snow they had so much grip. Those tires made me totally recalibrate what I could expect from the car. I honestly never believed that kind of grip was possible until I actually bought a set to go racing. With just normal all seasons, I might have been able to pull the FJ back onto its feet (that's actually not hard) but there's no way I would have made it back to the road myself, let alone been able to give the guy a little extra help getting up there.

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by ZombieSoldier01 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:35 pm

honestly been doing some research on the subbies.. i have to say i do like the new Legacy 2.5I Limited... I think i could possibly see one in my wifes future (pearl white satin of course)

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by GSHX2 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:23 pm

Top side inverted filter and 0W-20 synthetic. Guessing it is the newer engine.
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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by williaty » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:57 pm

GSHX2 wrote:Top side inverted filter and 0W-20 synthetic. Guessing it is the newer engine.
Yup, it's the newer one. My advice would be that you need to run absolutely the best synthetic oil that can be bought in the US. Mobil1, Pennzoil Platinum, Castrol SynTec, etc are NOT synthetic oils, no matter what the damned bottle claims.

The only easy-to-buy oil I'd recommend for your car is the Redline 0w20. There's probably something in the high-dollar line from AMSOIL as well, but I'm not as familiar with their offerings and not everyone has a nearby dealer for them anyway. Once your initial warranty period is up, I'd switch to the 5w20 Redline at least, if not the 5w30. The spec you want to compare is the HTHS of the oil. You'll see that the HTHS is by far lowest in the 0w20 (2.7) and even the 5w20 is a BIG improvement (3.3). I have a feeling they're specing the 0w20 in order to boost the fuel economy numbers at the expense of screwing the owner that has the car at 100k miles. Anything cheaper than Redline and you're going to see the 0w20 with an HTHS of around 2.0, which is in no way suitable for any car engine.

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by ZombieSoldier01 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:07 pm

williaty wrote: I will admit that tire choice is everything. Since we were racing, I had real-assed-snow-tires made by Scandinavians who do nothing but design snow tires and headbutt moose all year. They'd actually lock up the seatbelts when stopping in deep snow they had so much grip. Those tires made me totally recalibrate what I could expect from the car. I honestly never believed that kind of grip was possible until I actually bought a set to go racing. With just normal all seasons, I might have been able to pull the FJ back onto its feet (that's actually not hard) but there's no way I would have made it back to the road myself, let alone been able to give the guy a little extra help getting up there.

were those the Vredstein tires?

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Re: DD/BOV advice.

Post by We'reWolf » Sun Nov 11, 2012 10:25 pm

i think for what you are wanting you should look for a jeep liberty diesel they made from 05-06 ...
maybe a diesel truck as well.... although i hear the escapes are okay.. personally i would steer away from things that aren't common, for me i would stick to ford/chevy/toyota/nissan and maybe jeep (i would stay away from Chrysler/Subaru/European stuff, just because of the cost to fix it and my ability to work on cars but if you aren't worried about that than go for what your heart desires :awesome: )
The ringing in your ears is the sound of your own destruction.

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