Why we chose the 2011 Subaru Outback

Our search for a car was a long one.  We had specific criteria we wanted met in order to ensure this very large purchase was a good one.  After considering  may CUVs and wagons our choice came down to the Honda CR-V, Subaru Outbacks, Toyota Venza, Volkswagen Golf Wagon and the Hyundai Touring.  The Touring was not going to meet our cargo capacity requirements so we  considered the other four vehicles with a price range between $28,000 to $35,000.  We next eliminated the VW due to reliability issues and the Venza as it was the highest price car and while the Venza has not been recalled by Toyota, the manufacturer has had too many issues of late for us to trust in their product.  We almost purchased the CR-V EX but quickly changed our minds upon learning about how easy it is to import a vehicle from the US.  In addition, the fact we could save over $9300 buying the top end Outback for the same price as the CR-V EX, the choice became a no brainer.

Why we liked Subaru Outbacks

We liked the Outback as it is highly regarded vehicle and the new 2010 model was ranked as the #1 affordable full size wagon.  As we plan to start a family someday, good safety ratings were also important to us.

In accordance to our desire to leave a smaller foot print on the earth we were also attracted to the Outback as it is a PZEV.

PZEV stands for “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle”. In order to earn this certification, a vehicle must meet the Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) tailpipe standard, have zero evaporative emissions and post a 15-year/100,000-kilometer warranty on emission control components.
How does a PZEV work?
All vehicles certified as PZEV feature these four advancements:

* First, the air intake system must use a charcoal canister to eliminate unburned gas fumes during the combustion process;
* Second, the fuel injectors are more finely tuned and they close tighter to prevent evaporative emissions from fuel leakage;
* Third, the exhaust system incorporates a more effective catalytic converter to reduce noxious particulates like nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other volatile compounds;
* And fourth, the engine control unit (ECU) must be reprogrammed to make the engine very hot upon starting, thus improving the performance of the catalytic converter.

As a result of all this, a PZEV is 90-percent cleaner than the average new automobile sold just four years ago. From now on, as Canada emulates the Californian regulation, every passenger vehicle sold in the country will have to meet this standard — which isn’t the case in all U.S. states, however.

We knew our next vehicle would have higher fuel consumption than did our 2002 Hyundai Accent.   Our criteria for fuel consumption was that it must use less than 10L/100 km city and less than 8L/100 km on the highway.  The new Subaru Outbacks have made great strides toward improving its fuel consumption.  The OB achieves city: 22 mpg, 9.5 L/100 km and highway: 29 mpg, 7.4 L / 100 km.  Criteria exceeded – we would save gas compared to many other CUVs under consideration!

As mentioned, we wanted a reliable vehicle.  Subarus are known for their reliability but we did have some concerns after visiting the forums at subaruoutback.org. Some OBs have had a rather violent steering wheel shake issue.  The dealership team informed us that they had not had a single “shaker” to date so we decided that the percentage of “shakers” was so low we would take the risk on the purchase as the savings were fantastic and the car highly regarded.  We did have one recall notice, but it was not a big deal at all.  The programming for the PZEV was updated (improved!) so we had to take our car into the local dealership to get this fixed.  I was a bit worried about how I would be received at a Canadian dealership but my concerns were for naught as the experience was pleasant and the service fast.

We realized we needed storage space for our giant breed dog and down the line a growing family.  The Outback has 34.3 cubic feet of cargo volume with all seats in use and 71.3 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded down.  The following chart shows a that the CR-V has a tiny bit more space but this advantage was not nearly enough for us to choose that vehicle.

Cargo Room Compared
Cargo room behind second row (cu. ft.)Cargo w/seats down (cu. ft.)
2011 Honda CR-V35.772.9
2011 Toyota RAV436.473
2011 Chevrolet Equinox31.463.7
2011 Subaru Outback34.371.3
2010 Toyota Venza34.470.1
2011 Ford Edge32.268.9
2010 Nissan Murano31.664
2010 Honda Accord Crosstour25.751.3

Resale value of the vehicle was mildly important to us.  I say mildly because we will drive this car into the ground before we sell it.  We love our OB and it meets so many of our needs we do not foresee needing a different vehicle.  Subarus do resale at a high value and have recently been identified as the best brand for resale value.  The fact remains, buying a new car is usually a taboo PF topic.  Bah, I say – do what works for your plan.

We do our best to buy local, buy Ontario, buy Canada.  We really do, but not to the tune of over $9300 or 23% savings.  The difference in price south of the border is criminal.  I feel bad for Canadian dealerships who can’t sell cars at their true value.  We decided we would use our massive savings from our imported subaru to buy local/Ontario/Canada.  We recently used some of that money to purchase a couch and love seat made In Canada.  At least the Outback is built in Indiana so North America benefited from our purchase.

>A big benefit to buying a car from the United States is that we got to configure how we wanted the car in the US.  In Canada the trim levels are pre-configured and a buyer gets what they are presented with.  The Limited trim in Canada automatically comes with navigation and a moon roof.  We already own a GPS so the navigation was not valuable to us.  We liked the idea of the moon roof but it was a nice-to-have not a must-have.  By choosing to not select these options we saved $1658!  We really like some of the standard features in the Limited trim.  The leather seats mean that when we start a family spills are quick and easy to clean up.  Also, while many Outback owners dislike this features, we love the integrated roof rack.  Basically the roof rails pop out of the roof rails to create an instant roof rack system in 2 minutes or less.

Lastly, we do fit the Subaru buyer demographic as university educated, middle class, nature loving outdoors people.  That we write this blog on Sustainable Personal Finance I think says enough.

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