By on October 26, 2011

 

 

Peter writes:

When my wife and I drove across the country, we found that our cars really weren’t right for Orange County. My Rav4’s payment spiked considerably due to a ridiculous monthly car tax out here on leases. I forbid my wife to drive the 2004 Corolla 40 miles a day in traffic on the 5. We had some cash left over from the move and decided to exchange our cars. We did very well in negotiating with the dealer. My wife got a brand new Legacy 2011 Limited with all the bells and whistles. I decided on using the 500 rebate towards a new Outback. The trade in deals we got were superb. We just got very lucky I guess. Well..

Her Legacy turned out to be a great car. She gets great gas mileage and we’re both happy with the car. It has fantastic soft leather seats. Fantastic piece of engineering. Love it.

Then there’s my Outback. I am in such pain from this car. It’s been dead reliable, great in terms of the way it drives and handles, zippy, and fits my lifestyle. Unfortunately the car’s seats are the absolute worst ever put into a car. I’ve tried two trips to an upholstery shop to get the seats altered. The dealer has performed numerous “fixes” to the seat. The problem only has gotten worse. I can barely sit in the car for 10 minutes without getting a headache and back pain. I finally sat down with my wife and told her the car must go. We’ve spent too much money on the problem and it’s not worth it.

My car is supposed to be a trip car : A car that can hold our dog, future child, and perhaps future second dog on trips to the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. It’s also supposed to be good for pulling up to a beach and providing a nice hatch for me to sit down and put on my wetsuit. It’s supposed to be the “Dog” car. I cannot buy a car without a Hatch after finding how essential they are!

Here’s our situation: We’re paying off debt, and getting ready to buy a house. My wife and I have high incomes. The payoff on the Subaru Outback is $28K. It has 6000 miles on it. I’m guessing I can get about 24 for it. Our lease payment is around 420. The cars we’re entertaining are the Hyundai Tuscon GLS, Elantra Touring SE, Mazda CX7 “i model” and perhaps the Mazda5. I can put 2K-4K down and would not want a higher payment than 420. I need a comfortable car. It also must be safe. Gas mileage is essential. I don’t care if it’s a base model, but it seems the next level up from base is quite economical on these two cars.

I really have been starting to see that almost every car out there is superior to what I have for the simple reason that I can’t really sit in my car. This is the one vehicle that has made me miss every single previous car I’ve ever owned, except the Rav4.

BTW: I refuse at this point to purchase a GM vehicle, or a Chrysler for my own personal reasons that I will never get over. I have not taken Lincoln off the table, or any Ford. However their prices seem to be in another galaxy for what the cars offer.

I need to do this very soon, as my work is suffering due to the condition I’m in when I arrive. I am open to other options entirely. My wife and I discussed the possibility of an older car for a few years and then something else. That adds some risk, though. We’ve already spent too much on a car that was supposed to be under warranty.

Steve answers:

Am I missing something here?

If you are comfortable with one vehicle but not the other… then just drive the one that works for you.

You don’t need to blow a financial hole out of your posterior. Switch cars. Save your money (for once), and try to free yourself of this affluenza addiction.

You can also go visit a Subaru dealership if the mood strikes you. Sit on a bunch of other vehicles and test drive them. Once you find a seat that works, see if you can get the it installed on your vehicle by an independent shop. Just go to car-part.com or Ebay and get yourself a nice comfortable throne for a few hundred.

That should beat becoming yet another one of the Joneses in California. Good luck!

Sajeev answers:

Honestly, given your housing plans and the debt-income ratio that always comes with getting a home loan, you need to get a car that will support your back without making you “bend over” when the home mortgage people come a-ringing. My advice is to look at new sedans around 20k, the Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus are high on my list there. There are even some hatchbacks at that price. Or…

Wood bead seat covers. I know they look awful, but they work for a lot of people. You owe it to yourself (and your wife, future mortgage note, etc) to give your Outback a chance via massaging seat covers. And while there are plenty of them on the market, the old school wood beads are honestly the best shot you have at seat comfort and a less painful route to home ownership.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to [email protected] , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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121 Comments on “New or Used: Out-Backing the Outback?...”


  • avatar
    enicideme

    This whole post is a joke, right? ‘Future second dog’ lol. And I like the part about ‘the seats give me headaches and back pains.’

    FYI I love my 2011 Outback. . .this is our family car, we have a 2010 911 Targa 4S as our fun car. FWIW, the Outback is an impressive car. Great stereo, lots of room, decent pickup, good interior, tons of cool tech features, very comfy.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    You like everything about the car, except the seat, right? Why not change the seat? Find out what seat would be comfortable for you. Maybe get a Volvo seat from a junkyard or something. Recaros are supossedly very ergonomic, I think it’ll be a lot less expensive than getting another car. There are also aftermarket seat for 18 wheelers, given how long those guys have to sit in the seat, I would guess that they ought to be pretty comfortable. Then find a mechanic or metal shop or something that can jury-rig the rails so it can be mounted in your Subaru. Plus if you find something you really like, you can keep it with you when you change cars in the future! Keep the original seat, and swap it back when you’re ready to sell the Outback!

    • 0 avatar

      If you like the seats in the Legacy, then you already know which seats you want; a set of leather Legacy seats from the dealer or a junkyard will likely bolt-in directly… the Outback is basically a Legacy station wagon, no? Unless you’re talking about an Outback Sport (Impreza). Might still work…

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Seems like the best KISS idea. But we need more info here. Does his Outback have cloth or leather? Since the Outback payoff is $28K, it seems like it would be leather. If it is leather, I am at a complete loss as to why his wife’s Legacy is more comfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      He probably needs to stick to a late model Subaru seat to:

      1) Keep the wiring harness compatible, including air-bag sensor, seat belt sensor and power seat functions (if the seat harnesses are compatible across Subarus, a lot of things are).

      2) Keep the side impact airbags that are built into the seat.

      But that should still be a lot of selection, including wrecked WRX’s, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      RedStapler

      The best OEM seat I’ve ever used in resided in a VN670 semi tractor. There is no way in heck you’re going to fit a standard semi seat into a car. Even if you could somehow kludge it in you would still have to install an air compressor and tank to operate it.

      All the males in my family have chronic back issues. Best bet is to go to a performance shops (Summit, Jegs, etc) retail showroom and try sitting in the chairs.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    Before you trade your vehicle in, I have some advice that may work. I have some significant lower back issues, and require really good lumbar support. The daily driver is usually a first gen S-Blazer. Needless to say, the front seats caused me pain and stress, until I decided to use a pillow. I’m not sure if this might work, considering all you have done so far, but you never know. In addition, it may be possible to at least put two front seats from a different model in, but I’m not too sure about that nor do I know if it would affect the warranty. Although I have not driven these vehicles, you might look at the Hyundai Accent and Elantra hatch as well as the Kia Forte hatch. Also consider the Nissan Versa hatch. Check out some of the reviews here, they are very informative. I wish you Good Luck and an end to your pain.

    I think MrWhopee just might have your answer :-)

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      I wouldn’t touch a Forte if you want reliability. One of a multitude of problems I had with mine was the seats – first a (common) squeak that couldn’t be fixed, then the cushioning started to wear off.

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    Swap the seat! Swaaaaap it! I’m willing to bet that the ones from the Legacy will bolt on with minimal persuasion. Ask around at independent shops. Read some forums. Maybe even try to find a set from a low-mileage totaled car! You can solve this problem for under $1000, it will just require a little bit of your time and effort.

    Failing that, buy a used something or other (05-09 Legacy wagon? Much more handsome than the current generation) and spend your huge pile of monthly leftover money on a house.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, swap the seats. For another $1000 or so, just find Subie seats you like (the Legacy’s for example) and order them from the dealer. Dead simple, dead easy, and still way cheaper than getting a new car.

  • avatar
    robdaemon

    My husband drives a 2011 Outback 3.6R Limited, and was in the same exact boat.

    He had to adjust the seat mercilessly and he’s finally comfortable in it. I do suggest the car swap with your wife if you can’t make it work out. We were planning to do the same, but he hates the seats in my 2008 Maxima. He hated my BMW also… Common denominator here? His back. He’s now seeing a physical therapist and pain management specialist. After the first few sessions, his back is much better and he’s not fidgeting with the seat controls in the Outback every time he drives it. If you have back problems to begin with, maybe you should consult a physician?

    Are you more comfortable in the passenger seat in the Outback? If so, get used to it for your road trips. :) If you’re saving for a house, the bath you’re going to take getting rid of the Outback just isn’t worth it.

    I don’t understand all the complaints – I think the Outback is a wonderful car!

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Good call on the back, if you have back issues, have it looked at. I know as I have minor issues of my own caused by an injury in the 4th grade whereby I went airborne in a toboggan and partially condensed I think a vertebrae (or 2) in my lower back and had muscle spasms in the 7th/8th grade while I was still growing.

      To this day, my lower back gets stiff and I have to bend back to relieve it and it occasionally cracks and the lower back gets tired if I stand too long sometimes.

      Can’t sit in a car with the seat ram-rod straight, have to pull the seat up and kick the back rest 2 or 3 clicks, depending on car back to get comfortable, which was one of the reasons I disliked bench seats as they weren’t adjustable in the back rest area.

      Also, by angling the back, I found the lumbar support if present shifts and can be “adjusted” to where it should be, more or less.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Once again, let me state this fact:

    Most car seats are designed by Car Seat Designers.

    The seats in a Volvo are designed by an Orthopedic Surgeon.

    Buy a Volvo, or the seat out of one.

    (But I have a question. You say the seats hurt you after 10 minutes. Did you not test drive the car longer than 10 minutes??)

  • avatar
    Manic

    Good seats make huge difference.
    They sell Recaro seats in US, right? Check out these:
    http://www.recaro-automotive.com/en/product-areas/aftermarket-seats.html
    Or find an crashed Audi with seats like exact these, also by Recaro IIRC. I had these in my car and couple of people (some of them Lexus, MB owners) commented during 3 years that they have never been in better seats:
    http://images.thecarconnection.com/lrg/2008-audi-a3-4-door-hb-auto-dsg-fronttrak-front-seats_100283714_l.jpg

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I hate to sound like a Recaro salesman but like everyone else is saying seats are easily swappable and Recaro makes a really good ergonomic seat line-the Ergomed line. And you don’t really have to sacrifice crash test safety either since you can purchase it with a seat side impact airbag as well (though I suppose it’s slightly less optimal since it’s not actually crash tested with your car). The downside is that they’re quite pricey and the used ones you pull from other cars are probably a bit trickier to get working side airbags with.
    Nonetheless I think it’d probably be a bit cheaper than dumping your car and paying sales tax on a brand new car just because you hate the seat.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I’ve always heard Subarus are like legos in how easy it is to interchange parts from other models. You like the seats in your wife’s Legacy? If you can find a used pair they probably fit in your Outback without modification.

    Call the dealer to verify – they should be able to see all applications for a part number. There are several sites that let you do this for BMW parts, maybe Subaru has similar resources?

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    Maybe a silly question, but how much have you played with the seat adjustments in the Outback? I can’t say I’m particular about seats, but from memory the ones in an early-00’s RAV4 and Corolla have the same adequate, foamy, firmish feeling as most contemporary Japanese cars (like the Outback).

    Wonder if some trial and error with the seat-wheels-pedal relationships (changing the angle you’re holding your back, arms and shoulders, etc) would solve your $30K dilemma for free…

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    The Recaro brochure does not list an adapter for a Subaru Outback….

  • avatar
    dasko

    Swap the seat for one from a Volvo or a Saab. Or just swap the whole car if you really want to!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Like the top photo, get the seat beads then get one of those huge gold plastic king’s crown air fresheners and you should be just fine!

    Seriously, though, when I had back trouble, I drove a Ford Ranger – the seat in that thing aggravated it all the more. Had I been a member of the B&B and a reader of TTAC back then, I may have accepted the advice and check out new seats.

    Sitting on the 5, 101, 405 or any other of SoCal’s “freeways” during or anywhere near rush hours is no picnic. I know.

    Investigate the advice and see what replacement seats will work for your vehicle if your wife doesn’t want to permanently switch vehicles with you.

    Happy motoring!

    PS: Why did you get rid of the Corolla and get an Outback? You just doubled your gasoline costs, at least for one vehicle. As much as I personally hate the Corolla, you can’t beat what they do in the longevity department, not to mention fuel economy.

  • avatar
    dts187

    I’m going to echo what everyone else says. . .

    If you like the vehicle and you like your payment then look at spending a little bit of cash on a replacement seat. Whether it’s a swap from another vehicle or an aftermarket piece I’m sure you can find something you like and will be able to find someone who can make it work for you. A co-worker recently got a new Forester and I liked those seats quite a bit. Keep in mind I don’t have any back issues (yet). I don’t know if they’re the same as the Outback or not, though.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    One warning for the seat swappers: if the Outback has any airbags or weight sensors in the seat itself, changing it out for something else will make the SRS computer go nuts. You can pretty much forget about having the dealer or any shop do the swap for you if that’s the case.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    I’m with Zackman. Why did you get rid of an ’04 Corolla? It was just getting broken in. My ’06 Corolla is about as much fun as driving a toaster, but it gets great mileage and is very reliable. In 6 years of ownership, I’ve only had to replace four tires, one battery, one serpentine belt, and fluid and filter changes.

    BTW, the seats on my Corolla were uncomfortable as hell, especially on 8 hour road trips. I just used the cheap seat covers from Walmart and readjusted the seat. And I agree with the others, changing a seat is much cheaper than buying a whole new vehicle. Don’t get into more debt just to impress strangers or coworkers.

    • 0 avatar
      misterpeter

      This is actually an easy question to answer. The 06 has safety features that are far superior to the 04. The 04 was named the Forbes 2007 least safe car. My wife’s 04 was also modified by the previous owner in ways that made me wonder about its safety. Let’s just say it had a few screws loose! I couldn’t trust it holding up in an accident on the 5.

      Trust me, I don’t care how the car looks, nor do I try to impress coworkers.

      • 0 avatar
        dastanley

        Fair enough sir. And you can’t argue with or put a price tag on safety. Whenever my wife and daughter go anywhere, I usually encourage them to take the Tucson which has many airbags and AWD, ABS, etc. while I’ll just putter away in the Corolla.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Well, I suppose this is another reason why the Legacy wagon should be (but isn’t any longer) offered in the U.S.; we’re on our second one, a 5-speed ’03, which replaced an automatic ’90 hand-me-down, both with excellent manually adjustable cloth seats. The last Legacy wagons made at the Indiana factory were the ’07 models, although I gather some ’08s and ’09s were made there for Canada.

    I’m surprised to hear that the seats of the current Legacy and Outback are so different (assuming, of course, that you’re not talking about the Impreza 5-door in Outback Sport trim). Are your Outback’s seats cloth or leather? I’d have thought the latter if this was to be a “dog car.” In any case I wish Subaru would reverse itself, perhaps with the next generation; the Legacy wagon currently offered in the rest of the world is certainly better-looking than the Outback equivalent and, of course, a little lower to the ground.

  • avatar
    timlange

    I don’t understand, did you not drive the car before buying it? You drove it less than ten minutes? Before buying I test drive the vehicle for several hours in the types of driving I will be doing with it. The dealers around here will even let me keep it overnight. I would not even think about buying a car I could not test for hours on end.

  • avatar
    slance66

    We got rid of a dead reliable Tribeca for similar reasons. The seats were ok, but the scooped out interior left no armrest on either side. That resulted in fatigue in the neck and shoulders. Meanwhile the front passenger seat had no legroom to speak of.

    My suggestion, find a used Volvo V70 or if you think you need AWD, XC70. The Volvo seats will make you never want to get out of the car. Since you have a Legacy for any snowy mountain trips, the V70 should do the trick in OC and return better mileage. Also, very safe on SoCal freeways. If it’s big enough for you, a V50 could do the trick and return better mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      misterpeter

      Good advice. This is what I really wanted to do. I hear you on the Tribeca.

      I wanted a used V70 but I couldn’t find one! They are totally MIA around where I live. I couldn’t find a Volvo dealer that was decently close by. They all seem to be closing up shop (there’s a vestige of one down the street from me). If I were back on the East coast this would be my choice for sure.

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    Good grief. This is clearly an example of someone having more money than sense. To seriously consider trading in a car with only 6000 miles and taking a $4,000 loss (Owes $28K, thinks it’s worth $24K) instead of shopping the J.C. Whitney catalog or one of the bazillion SoCal custom auto shops for new seats is bizarre.

    Or just trade cars with the spouse. Jeez.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      +1 – also why if fuel economy is so important did Peter get an Outback in the first place. I have an 06 Legacy wagon and know that it isn`t the greatest for fuel economy (AWD and 4 speed transmission doesn`t help).

      • 0 avatar
        cfclark

        +1.1 – This may be a function of my posterior having shaped the seats to its dimensions over the years, but my ’03 Outback (Legacy platform) has very comfortable seats, and I drive 28 miles in LA traffic each way, every day. (As someone pointed out, no, I don’t need AWD, but I moved the car here from out of state.)

        I don’t get the “forbidding” anyone to drive a 2004 Corolla 40 miles a day on the 5, but hey, I live in LA County, maybe there’s something I’m missing. ;)

      • 0 avatar
        robdaemon

        For what the Outback is, it is pretty fuel efficient. Granted, in my case, we went from a 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 with the Hemi to the Outback. The Outback’s mileage is almost double the Ram.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      +2, my thoughts exactly.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Let’s see…

    Self-described “high income” earner but concerned about gas mileage so he can save $500/year (driving an Outback vs a minivan which would serve his needs much better)
    “Forbids” wife from driving one of the most popular cars in CA
    Trades perfectly good Corolla on two new over-rated Subarus
    Lives in Orange County
    Rants about taxes and government bailout of the auto biz (from up high in his clean, “new economy” office no doubt)
    Actually has plans for a second dog and child (wonder which has priority?)
    New to CA but already has a wetsuit
    Actually considering buying a house in one of the biggest bubblicious markets in the country (is he obtuse?)!!!

    This guy is a perfectionist and a control freak. Recaros or no, he’ll never be happy.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      LOL… yeah, I prety much agree on all points. Buying two brand news cars at once was the first financial mistake, selling one immediately afterwards would be 2 wrongs. This guy’s gonna be working till he croaks.

      I would swap the seats, and save the money for some books:
      “The Millionaire Next Door”
      “Smart Couples Finish Rich”
      “The Millionaire Mind”

      I am not saying this guy needs to hard-keel his life on a new course, but hopefully he’ll walk away knowing just how much these transactions have cost him.

      Not that I’m against blowing money on cars! I just like to be fully aware of what they cost me.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      hahahahahaha

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        I think you guys are obtuse. Why dislike someone (who you know absolutely nothing about) for making themselves happy? Judging strangers on the internet FTL.

      • 0 avatar
        ChevyIIfan

        I’ll agree with tresmonos…. ridiculing others whom you know nothing about, other than his description of his problem, smacks of jealousy. Sounds like you’re quite jealous that maybe, just maybe, he can afford to do this swap (after trying lots of options to solve the problem!) and you are wishing you could afford even one new car? Not your business to worry about his financial choices.

        That said, I agree he should probably try to swap seats first. But I’m not going to sit here and ridicule him :)

    • 0 avatar
      misterpeter

      I’m a control freak? I have plans for a second dog and a child but you aren’t sure which has priority? Wow, you really have issues yourself. I find this incredibly and deeply offensive. I’m personally allowed to have opinions on the Auto Bailout and have a right to make a decision that I don’t want a bailout car. I love my wife and my dog and want the best for them. It’s not your concern what priority I would give to another dog and our first child. It isn’t even close to the question that was asked.

      Unlike you have assumed, I am buying a house in a “bubalicious” market to live in, not to treat as a wall street style gamble. I promised my wife a place for our first kid, and I promised my dog she would have a back yard again.

      I forbid my wife to drive a Corolla because it was the 2004 model, which has serious safety concerns. It’s considered Forbes least safe car (see the list they put out in 2007). No it wasn’t perfectly good, either. If she were in an accident and hurt, I would be inconsolable. Perhaps it’s wrong to love my wife?

      I’m not sure why it’s bad to live in orange county. OC has just about every kind of person from every walk of life. Please explain,

      I own a $100 wetsuit because I like to swim. I’ve been working hard at it but still learning. I’m not sure why this makes me a perfectionist and a control freak? I didn’t have access to an ocean before. I guess it’s wrong to try something new?

      I could certainly get a minivan, but they are very expensive and poor on gas. That’s about the one thing you’ve mentioned above that wasn’t a jealous prick comment.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Bullseye. There’s an alarming level of financial irresponsibility on display here and the whole post reeks of someone who is never going to be satisfied.

      I love that he mentions that he and his wife have “high incomes,” yet they’re working on “paying off debts.” He probably rolled that Rav4 lease into his Outback payment he’s upside down on, which he’ll probably roll into another, even more bloated new car payment. He’ll also likely make the absolute minimum downpayment for a maxed-out mortgage on some ludicrously overpriced, 2 bed/1 bath California shack. Mind you, this is all before he starts having kids; I guarantee this guy doesn’t save 10 cents of his “high income”…good luck paying off those credit cards and student loans.

      And to all the people saying “Oh you’re just jealous of people who can afford these things:” Get out. I can afford them, too. In fact, I was all caught up in for awhile. I had a brand new Mustang GT and I sold it after a year. Why? Because I realized that it was silly, it didn’t impress anybody who mattered and didn’t come close to living up to my expectations. What it did do was tie up too much of my income in a depreciating asset in the middle of an awful economy. Fortunately, unlike this knucklehead, I didn’t take out a loan for more than the car was worth, so Carmax cut me a fat check when I unloaded it. I’m not any less happy driving my $3500 econobox now, but my financial future is a lot brighter.

      This guy’s fickle, insatiable consumerism is what sunk this country into the situation it’s currently in. Remember that commercial from 7-8 years ago with the guy showing off his nice house, new SUV and golf club membership, stating “How do I do it? I’m in debt up to my eyeballs!” Well, that’s going on all over the country, because people prioritize things like having a vehicle that’s perfect for carrying their stupid dog and wetsuit around. And the “It’s his money, let him do what he wants” attitude here, combined with those idiot “99%-ers” protesting on Wall St. right now, blaming everyone but themselves, demonstrates that we’re going to keep digging this hole even deeper.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t think the 99-percenters are “idiots” — they have legitimate concerns that corporate America and the U.S. government seems to have a hard time hearing or understanding.

        But back to the cars…the guy should really try swapping out seats first before spending more money on yet another new car.

      • 0 avatar
        misterpeter

        Wow. again, how does this have anything to do with the question I asked at the time? You are incredibly judgmental. I didn’t realize I asked for help from an accountant.

        Let me set some of your assumptions straight.

        I’m not trying to flaunt. People have different levels of income. If I were looking for a $2000 piece of crap I would have said so. I’m not. I have had too many issues with $2000 pieces of crap to want one again.

        No I’m not buying cars to show off. I’m not buying a car to keep up with the Joneses. If I were doing that, I’d buy the standard issue C300 everyone around here drives. In fact, I think there are more S500s. Not interested in that.

        Yes I did roll the Rav4 lease leftover into the Ouback. However I did it based on the idea of saving some dough over the Rav4. It actually worked. I got a great trade in, and a huge rebate from the Legacy, and ended up with a lower monthly payment. This was my only option at the moment for getting rid of the Rav4, as going after a “cheap” car would have forced a much worse trade in value. The ownership cost of the Rav4 was going to balloon. If I just decided to sell it and go for an econobox, I would have been in worse shape. I spent lots of time in Excel and actually figured out that overall I would spend less.

        Unlike the way you have stated, I actually do have quite a financial plan in place. First it involved lowering the payments of everything I was regularly paying for on a monthly basis. Then paying off a major debt once a month. I am now down to 40% of what i used to owe when I initially asked this question. Getting the Outback freed up a little income, as did the Legacy, as did several other choices I made. No I won’t be buying a house as you mention- nor did I ever plan on it. Im not sure why you are even assuming my plans for buying a house are “wrong” and judging them as such. In fact, I will be 100% debt free (other than a mortgage) by the time I unlock the front door to my new house.

        Now about that absolute minimum comment. Most people these days put 3.5% down for the sake of handling the issues with the house immediately. The current houses that interest me may require some serious work when I move in, and thus I would rather have cash in hand after buying and thus will probably go for 3.5-5%. My friends have done this, and I don’t think they are in much trouble.

        Now here it comes. How did I get into this debt? You are assuming I am just this terrible fickle idiot that spends his money all over the place. My wife and I both have most of our debts from issues beyond our control. The car debt is a small amount of it all, and doesn’t really matter. I’m actually totally on track right now.

        Now here’s my judgement of you. I think you are judging everyone else because they have too much. You made so many assumptions about me that are all wrong. Yes perhaps I had some contradictions in my first post, but that’s why I was asking a question in the first place. You, rather than helping, went out of your way to throw a punch.

      • 0 avatar
        robdaemon

        Do you feel better now that you’ve gotten that load off your shoulders?

        I don’t think I’ve seen such a pointless rant since high school.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        How does it fee to be bitter about life, fromabuick6? Jesus Christ, get happy. The credit market has shrunk so fortunately for you, it’s tougher to be a 99%-er.

        If you want to help someone, do it in a constructive, uplifting manner.

        I own a daily driver that’s worth 1/3 of your daily driver. My company car is a new luxo barge and my project car is a diesel continental. I can guarantee that I have dumped more money in that conti than you throw at your 401(k) in 2 years. And guess what? It doesn’t apply at all to anything in this entire thread, but my life kicks so much ass.

      • 0 avatar
        steeringwithmyknees

        I just love how so many people think the way they live/spend money/carry debt is THE ONLY way to live and everyone else is just stupid, lazy, evil, selfish, irresponsible, or “not happy” and that the person who does things differently from you (as you perceive it) is “screwing it up for the rest of us.”

        Grow up and get a clue:

        1. You are not special in any way, shape or form (regardless of what you have or how you want to get it).

        2. If you think #1 somehow doesnt apply to you, you are also delusional.

        3. It is not “US vs. THEM” This fallacy of false dichotomy is getting so prevalent and it is so destructive. Dem v Repub; Saver v Spender; Lib v Con; Rich v Poor; Jesus v Anything Else; Minivan v CUV; Manual v Auto… It’s really pretty ridiculous – the world we live in is neither simple nor static. Things change, perspectives do matter (but not more than compassion), and there exists a whole spectrum of color (while true black or white are really only theoretical).

        Dont believe the hype – buying into the us/them mentality only serves to keep you in your place which is consuming things in your box, paying taxes, and not questioning your “civic participation” when you cast (or don’t) a single, almost meaningless vote for the Red Idiot over the Blue Idiot.

        Humans are social animals. That means we need each other in a way that can’t be underestimated. Bees and dogs are social creatures as well and neither of those will live very long (let alone thrive) without connection to others. When people start getting truly disconnected/lonely, they break down. Hormone levels become unbalanced, immune system function crashes, organs cant operate efficiently or without damaging themselves or other bodily systems, and basic brain processes become altered which creates new neural pathways which perpetuates everything above.

        Somehow we keep finding new ways to grow further apart from each other and we need to end this rapidly accelerating downward spiral.

        The only way I see to reverse this is through tolerance and recognizing the nature of us as social animals.

        /rant

        thanks for reading

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’m with the rest of the B&B in saying a new seat or a ride swap (with your wife) makes the most sense. If you’ve got to go new and you said your open to Ford find a gently used 08-09 Ford Taurus that has been hit with the depreciation stick pretty hard. You’ll get the upgraded 3.5V6 the current model gets with the 6-speed auto (no CVT here) an airy cabin and plenty of room for long trips. Try it out.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Dan,

      Nice idea but he’s wanting a hatchback, or rather, insists upon one and I don’t think the current Tauri or it’s slightly older models came in anything other than as a 4 door sedan.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    I have never heard anybody gripe about the leather seats in the ’11 Outback. The cloth seats on the other hand, well they aren’t nearly as comfortable as the cowhides in the car that Peter is bemoaning.

    What is it about the seats that don’t suit your posterior? Headaches from your seats? Really?

    Maybe it’s not the seats and instead is new car smell, or something like that.

    Just how would seats not being comfortable enough be covered under warranty?

    Peter, you’re not making a whole lot of sense here. Sorry.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      I remember when we were looking at Accords – in the 1989 generation at least, the leather seats were actually shaped differently than the cloth ones. This may be the case for the Subies too.

      Back pain? Hmm, maybe a trip to a good chiropractor may be in order. Ymmv but this has helped both my wife and me.

    • 0 avatar
      misterpeter

      My neck and back used to hurt so bad after driving in it, it would give me a headache. No I didn’t have the leather, I had the cloth. The doctor said this is called a “mechanical headache” and showed me ways of relieving it.

      The seats actually had a defect, and they were worked on under warranty. After being “fixed” they were giving me great issues. This was not some minor ache, this was serious pain. I felt like a cripple some days after driving to work. I appreciated the help the dealer gave me, btw.

      I am not an expert enough to say exactly what was wrong with them, but I tried every adjustment and just was in a lot of pain.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The seats actually had a defect, and they were worked on under warranty. After being “fixed” they were giving me great issues.

        I don’t know about the rules in CA, but if the seats are actually straight-up defective, would you have any recourse under a Lemon Law?

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Regarding the SRS wizardry, the guys in SoCal have long figured out how to trick the SRS systems. By putting a resistor here, a jumper there, a good custom shop knows exactly how to jumble the interior yet keeps the airbags safe and active (or not active, if you prefer).

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    I have noticed the cloth seats in the new Outbacks are terrible, another step backward for the Outback/Legacy line. I never have back problems and after sitting in my a friends Outback for as little as 5 minutes my lower back begins to ache. I have no complaints with our 2006 Legacy’s cloth seats, other than the lack of foot room on the passenger side.

  • avatar
    vvk

    SAAB or Volvo if you want best seats in the world.

    • 0 avatar
      DrSandman

      ^^^ This.

      My 6’8″ frame fits nicely in a SAAB 9-5. Get the used wagon for about $20k, and you’ll upgrade everything about a Subie. Better gas mileage, better handling, more reliable.

      It’s Orange County, CA. You NEVER need AWD, so it’s a waste.

      And to all you haters out there criticizing someone for buying a new car or two, buying a new house: Jealous much? Geesh! Enough of the 15-minutes of hate. Can’t you be happy for someone who has a new (well-paying) job and is buying things?

      • 0 avatar
        missinginvlissingen

        Yeah, I found myself disliking this guy too, and wondered if I was jealous of his conspicuous consumption. It’s not that. It’s stuff like this:

        “I forbid my wife to drive the 2004 Corolla 40 miles a day in traffic on the 5.”
        That’s not only insulting to his wife, but also insulting to the thousands of people who manage to drive Corollas every day without lamenting their terrible misfortune. The guy is a snob.

        And his “problem” is one that the internet can’t solve. He is cripplingly uncomfortable in a brand-new car seat that is perfectly fine for the vast majority of people. Work harder, internet! Find this suffering man a comfortable seat!

        Or he could, you know, go sit in some cars and see what he thinks is comfortable.

      • 0 avatar
        aspade

        I’m always happy for people buying nice things.

        This dummy isn’t buying anything. He’s in debt, he’s renting a house and two expensive cars, and the tone of the question reeks of how important his toys – dogs, wetsuit, vacations, wife who can’t be permitted to drive a commoner’s car – are as he prepares to rent a third expensive car because there’s a pea in the upholstery of the first one.

        Financially retarded needs a kick in the ass, not a pat on the back.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        “…SAAB 9-5. Get the used wagon for about $20k, and you’ll upgrade everything about a Subie. Better gas mileage, better handling, more reliable.”

        Last time I checked, the most economical, best handling, most reliable Saab ever sold was a rebadged WRX.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    Make sure your dog ownership fantasy is compatible with the outdoor places you wish to go. Dogs aren’t allowed in many national parks, particularly in the most beautiful and desirable outdoor activity areas. If this is the case, don’t buy a car based on the dog fantasy.

    And, if the dog is a “practice child” stand-in, big mistake. So many people I know have had to get rid of their practice child dogs when the real child arrives, since there is a limit to the amount of time people can spend caring for other beings that demand attention and care on their own schedule.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Yet another example of why you need to take a long, thorough test drive and pay attention to the seats and driving position. Been there, done that, regretted that.

    1) Swap rides with your wife if it doesn’t create domestic hell and if you can live with sitting in the passenger seat of the Outback during road trips. If that ain’t gonna work & you’ve run out of seat modification options,

    2) Go used with your next car. You jumped the gun on the Outback and are in the financial quagmire of trying to lose a ton of $ selling a nearly new car. That sucks, but it is of your own making.

    The Honda CRV has supportive front seats that are much better than the RAV4. The Volvo wagons are SUPER comfortable but are expensive, even used, and the XC70 is a gas hog. A 3-4 year old CPO CRV should hit all the important marks: good seats, mileage in the upper 20s, large hatchback, reliable, safe. Unless you disliked the RAV4 for reasons other than the seats, in which case the CRV will just be a slightly different flavor of what you didn’t like.

  • avatar
    jtk

    Instead of “modifications” you could probably have the seat reupholstered completely. I can’t guarantee it would fix it though.

    I had the bottom cushion in my driver’s seat “worked” on last year when one side of the cushion collapsed. It’s better because I’m no longer leaning towards the middle of my car like a baller, but they put the new cushioning on top of the old which makes me sit up higher than I like, and they also did it without any contour (ie, flat) so sometimes I feel like I’m sliding out of the seat. It’s also a little soft for my tastes (it was before, too). If I keep the car (2001 Buick Regal, btw) I’ll probably end up having the seat completely reupholstered at some point.

    • 0 avatar
      misterpeter

      This is interesting advice because I actually did this as a last ditch effort. I learned a great lesson about how to choose an independent shop to work on your car. Next time I ever try such a thing I would go through a referral rather than choosing one myself. I ended up getting swindled.

      It would have been a great move, if the shop was honest! I just couldn’t take another chance blowing money on another attempt. I had the seat returned to stock and got rid of it.

  • avatar
    srogers

    Might I suggest the seats from a Buick Reatta? I know where you can get them.

  • avatar
    OldScribe

    Had a ’97 Outback that we drove on a couple of cross country road trips. Good car (for the first 60,000 miles), the most uncomfortable seats I’ve ever experienced, surprised they haven’t yet cracked this. I looked into putting Recaros in it, but that was 2k installed on a vehicle worth 13k that was beginning to have ominous engine problems. Sold it on to Colorado where I’m sure it’s torturing humans and coddling dogs up one hill and down another.

    In my experience, when long distance seat comfort is a priority the European and American manufacturers do it better — Lexus being a notable exception. Lease a Lexus RX — comfortable, reliable, inexplicably ugly. But if you’re driving a current Outback you can’t possibly be concerned with looks.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Swap the seat out and when the car is break even paid off go get that German SUV (X5, Q7, Toureg) you always wanted.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    If you have a high income, you just drop the car off at a customizer or trade it in. If those seem financially troubling to you, you don’t have a high income.

  • avatar

    Question: how do you know your new car is going to be better? If you didn’t figure it out in the Outback, how will you with a new car? Especially since NONE of the cars your mentioned come from manufacturers known for particularly great seats.

    This seems like an incredibly poor solution to a problem with many cheaper options.

    As others have said, if you are stuck on buying a new car, at least get something known for good seats. A SAAB 9-5 with the Aero seats or almost anything Volvo. But seriously, don’t.

  • avatar
    Madroc

    I certainly hope that his $28K Outback has leather seats, although I suspect that he financed a bunch of negative equity from his last car and is now looking for an excuse to do so again. My wife has a 2010 Premium (cloth seats) (I forbid her to open the sunroof), and FWIW I find the seats plenty comfortable. In fact, while I have driven a Mazda5 and found it quite enjoyable (our correspondent has to be the first person to call a current-gen Outback ‘zippy’), I thought the Outback had better, higher-quality seats. Asking the Internet which car has more comfortable seats is like asking which dog you’ll like more.

    Look, you’ve already mentioned that your work is beginning to suffer. Think of your next car as an investment! Find out how much you can afford — 72-month terms will give you the lowest payment, but don’t overlook a lease. Then, with that budget, sit in lots of cars and get the one that feels best. A prestigious brand will probably be the most comfortable, but you already know that. Do it for your future.

  • avatar
    Canandovq

    HI,

    You say both have high incomes, get once again to a proven brand, buy a hybrid Toyota Highlander, you’ll get fuel economy, reliability. Nice car and good size.
    You already had Toyota and you know what to expect.

    Good luck on your decision.

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    I take pity on this guy, even if he has more money to spend on this problem than he should. It’s his money and he can do whatever he wants with it.

    As for the problem, it sounds like he has gone as far as he cares to with the Outback. I would recommend looking into a CPO Volvo wagon — I know folks have mentioned it earlier. I’m driving a 15 year old 850R wagon (so, while I take pity on him, I certainly don’t feel sorry for him.) The seats, even with years of use, are just great. Volvo seats are very well designed and, frankly, that’s what he cares about. He also has the money to throw at a car, so why not get the most for it by looking at something that will let him ride in some level of comfort. I would look at the XC60, as well as the XC70, V70 and V50. Alternatively, I would look at the VW Tiguan — VW almost always makes decent seats, it rides and handles well, has a hatch and could be driven FWD or 4WD.

    Finally, perhaps see if you can rent or get a loaner to live with for a few days just to try it out before buying.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I would agree with a seat swap. I have a 2011 Outback and I find the seats to be just fine as does anyone who rides with me.

    It is the Forester’s seats I cannot stand.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Before you plunk down any money to purchase or lease a new car you need to get some real seat time in one like it. So once you’ve narrowed it down hit the rental counters and possibly friends, family and co-workers. Personally we haven’t bought something we haven’t had before with out renting one for at least a couple of days and racking up at least one 4-6 hours driving in it on one day in years. Not only will it tell you if you can handle more than the 10-15 minutes of a test drive in that seat, you also get a feel for how well the rest of it works for you.

    Sure you might rack up a few hundred in rental fees but isn’t that better than taking a loss on another car that was fine for 15 min but turns out to be a real pain in the back living with every day?

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Another vote for seat swapping here.

    But also start working out your back. Most people ignore their back muscles, but there’s a lot you can do to strengthen them for just a few minutes every evening.

    • 0 avatar
      misterpeter

      Good advice. I did actually. I bought some books on the Mckenzie method and have been following it to a tee. Great improvement. I highly recommend that guy’s work. You are right, sir. It takes me just a few mins.

      The CX-7 seats, even in base model trim really helped too.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    To pile on the snobbish anti-Corolla comment, am I the only one that thinks 40 miles per day isn’t that far?

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      40 miles a day on the 5 through LA is probably plenty far.

      I’m not fan of Corollas and would hesitate to even rent one for myself, but I sure wouldn’t “forbid” my girlfriend from commuting in one as long as she was happy with it. She’s the one driving the thing, it’s not my problem.

      I’d be interested to hear what’s behind the Forbidden Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Let’s cut Pete some slack on the Corolla issue. At 40 miles a day that’s about 10,000 miles per year, over the course of a few years there’s a greater than insignificant chance that she’ll be involved in a collision. I think it’s safe to assume that most new cars are safer than the Corolla in question, so I can’t get too worked up over Peter’s desire to put her in something more crash-worthy, assuming that’s his motivation. Not something I’d lose sleep over, but it’s his money, and there’s worse ways to spend it.

      As for the Outback, replace the seats and give your wallet a rest.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        I drive 50 miles a day on the highway in traffic in an ’02 Civic. I’ve also driven that little grind box through Chicago and Atlanta at rush hour. I fail to see the problem here.

        The ’03+ Corolla and ’01+ Civic were some of the first compacts to score “Top Picks” in the IIHS tests and could be had with side airbags (which really aren’t that important in the kind of accident you’d have on an interstate). They’re perfectly safe.

        I respect a guy wanting to put his wife in the newest, safest car, even when it’s not necessary. If I had a wife, I’d likely do the same. However, since he replaced her lowly Corolla with a loaded up AWD (in SoCal, really?), I think Keeping Up with the Joneses was the deciding factor here, not safety.

      • 0 avatar
        cfclark

        Given the volume of traffic, chances are that any rush-hour collision on the 5 will be a rear-ender at about 15 mph by a driver texting on his or her cell phone (I’ve had a couple of these happen to me, one in the rental I picked up while having my own car repaired from the previous rear-ender.) I tend to agree with FromaBuick6.

      • 0 avatar
        misterpeter

        I have to reply to this. I bought the Legacy because it’s safe. It’s safe by modern standards. An 02 civic in my opinion is NOT a safe enough car for my wife. I love how this conversation has gone from “Let’s figure out the best car for peter” to “Oh, let’s figure out if he’s worthy and if he’s a snob or not”

        If your line of argument is that you think everyone should be “safe enough” with an 02 Civic it’s already invalid.

        The car happens to be AWD. Who cares if I “need it” or not? Audis are AWD, people drive them everywhere. Does this mean everyone with an Audi is somehow trying to be so far above the norm to be unacceptable to you? I picked the Legacy because it was considered the safest car at the time. No other car had equal ratings except a particular Volvo. You people are such judgmental snobs.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        I’ve been driving my ’88 Merkur Scorpio for the last 3 weeks and feel perfectly safe in it. The car has a strong structure and ABS brakes. Sure, it doesn’t have airbags, but let’s not forget that airbags are intended as supplemental restraints – the seatbelts (which I use) are your primary line of defense. Considering it’s a car that launched in Europe in 1985, the crash test videos I could find were pretty impressive to me – very little deformation of the passenger compartment structure – the front end module performs as designed and absorbs the majority of the forces. Heck, it’s at least better than most of the modern Chinese vehicles that we’ve seen crash test videos for that fold up like cheap suits!

        Anyway, the point of this is that a 2004 Corolla is undoubtedly light years ahead of my 80’s car and probably quite safe.

        From a big picture perspective, I wish this country would put more focus on driver training – it’s a hot potato that no one wants to address, but a well trained, alert/attentive driver is the #1 safety device you can have. Stop tacking questionable stuff onto automobiles like “tire pressure monitoring”, which an attentive driver/vehicle owner will tend to on a regular basis.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        @ Peter: The fact that your wife’s old car had been modified wasn’t evident in your original post. That’s a different story. And, as I said, if I had a wife, I’d likely do the same.

  • avatar
    wsn

    1) Buy a house before you spend another extra buck on cars. By then you will know exact how much spare money to spend on cars, which is zero.

    2) This sounds more like a back problem. From my own experience with back problem, do execise!

    If you follow my two cents, you will live in a better house and healthier.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Seconded for exercise. I had pretty bad back pain years ago, started doing gymnastics and aerobics and have had over 10 years pain free. There’s worse places to be than a room full of fit, sweaty women.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Too bad that the OP gave us so little detail about what’s wrong with his car’s seats. I wonder if his complaint isn’t really with the headrests. I find almost every current car model in the USA is a torture chamber. Headrests have been inching forwards over the years to the point that I can’t hold my head in a normal upright position. New federal anti-whiplash regs are part of the cause, but I’ve read evidence that carmakers are pushing headrests ever farther than necessary to please the IIHS rating system.

    Headrests are designed and rated according to a single “normal body type,” but what’s normal these days? A lanky basketballer with a seven-foot arm span who sets his setback to the gansta lean? A 5-foot Asian woman? Grandma, who leans forward in her seat until her chin is in line with the steering wheel? People come in all shapes and sizes, but now progress has given us non-adjustable headrests designed for crashing, not driving. This, I believe, is a hidden issue that’s spoiling every new car for me and a substantial number of folks who have similar build and posture.

    No matter how good the seat itself, these tip-forward headrests are deal-breakers for me. I was interested in a Volvo V50 until I sat in one. With my head on the headrest and my back straight, there was about three inches of space behind my shoulder blades and the seat back.

    I wish seats were easily interchangeable between makes and models, like tires. I’d buy a pair of seats I like and move them into my next car, then the next. But as seats have become wired into the SRS systems, I doubt that seat-swapping is simple as it used to be. It’s also hard to know what the final result will be. I recently replaced my worn-out leather seats with cloth ones from a newer New Beetle. Now I sit two inches higher, even at the lowest setting…

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Why don’t you just bend the headrest mounts to wherever you want them to be? Aren’t they typically mounted by two steel pieces that are maybe 5/16″ in diameter?

      Modifying them should take about 5 minutes from start to finish with a solid vice and a piece of pipe.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        I was reluctant to risk bending an unknown piece of metal, worried about crimping it or weakening it. It may come to that, though. Used headrests from older cars are possible if I stick within one brand; I’m using an ’88 Quantum Syncro headrest in place of the original doughnut headrest of my Beetle right now.. But the latest VW seats don’t release their headrests without a secret handshake that the dealer wouldn’t, or couldn’t, divulge. And the Volvo headrests appeared tone permanently mounted, not even adjustable for height.

  • avatar
    misterpeter

    Wow. Jealous much? You guys are pretty harsh. I didn’t ask the question to be judged on my income, and how much of it is disposable. I forbid my wife to drive a 2004 corolla because it’s an incredibly unsafe car. I’m not sure how you all feel about your wives, but I happen to love mine. That’s why I got her a Legacy. It’s certainly a tank and I trust that if she’s in an accident she’d be far more protected than the tin can she had prior.
    This question was asked quite a long time ago. Since then, I have ended up trading in the Outback for nearly what I owed on it, and bought a new 2011 CX-7 base model. The seats are much more comfortable. Yes, I did need to do some physical therapy. I still have trouble sitting in my wife’s Legacy and thus have a special lumbar pillow for it. My payment on the CX-7 is far lower than on the Outback. I also own the CX-7 instead of leasing it, as I was doing with the Outback.

    Those of you who could put aside your judgments had some good advice. Yes I did end up with an extended test drive of the car (more than 2 days before buying). The sales staff at the Mazda dealer understood my predicament and had a buyer lined up for my Outback already. My back has since improved dramatically. The seat swap would have been a really good idea, but with all the safety systems I’d be afraid of being in an accident with swapped seats. If this were an older car, I would certainly love to have some Volvo seats plopped in. Since there are weight sensors and airbags that have their own special hookups I wouldn’t want to risk it. I think the insurance company would be very happy either.

    I’m still not sure how i’m a “snob” for owning a $100 wetsuit and working out, or wanting a safe car for my wife. I work my rear end off, grew up in rough circumstances, and have not been given any special opportunities that others don’t have.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Not one person here is jealous of you, your debt, your “high income”, and especially not your back problems. Its comical that you cant even understand why people have commented the way they have to you, since you are still using the same tone and phrases that make you come off like a elitist douchebag.

      I am not knocking your choice of cars at all, the Legacy is a fine car and obviously wasnt chosen for snob appeal, just as you said, safely, comfort, roominess, etc. I also happen to like the Outback, I even like the cheaper Outback Sport better. Sucks that you are unhappy with it, especially for such an arbitrary problem like seat comfort. Thats a very difficult problem to explain, since they sell thousands of them, and relatively few people complain about it. I dont happen to like the seats in our CRV as much as my GTI, but it doesnt ruin my life to drive it to work.

      Here’s the thing… owning a wetsuit, wanting a safe car for your wife, leasing 2 brand new cars at the same time, wanting a second dog… none of those things makes you a snob. What makes you a snob is bringing it up in your post like it matters. You throw out the statement that “you FORBID your wife from driving an 04 Corolla on a freeway, because Forbes said its the most unsafe car on the road that year”. Forbes is a financial mag, they know crap about cars. The 04 Corolla got 4 and 5 star ratings, the only bad rating it got was for side impacts. And just telling us how you read Forbes sounds douchie. Making people feel inferior because they drive a less safe car sounds douchie. Forbidding your wife anything sounds douchie and controlling. My wife drives an MR2 Spyder because she loves it, and if I forbid her to do anything not only would she do it just to spite me, she would throw a frying pan at me before she did it.

      Plus, your OP is so full of conflicting statements. You want a low payment and good gas mileage, but you are willing to throw away $4k to get it?? You have high incomes, but your paying off debt, but not so much that you dont care to waste $4k?? You want a comfortable car, but you have a list of cars that are definitely not known for comfort?? No one gives a crap if you bought a Legacy with every option, no one cares how much money you make or what hobbies you have, or even where you live. Not to mention, its been my experience, and I think a lot of others will agree with me here, but when people say they have high incomes, they usually dont have high incomes. And when people talk about how others are jealous of them, they are usually insecure, and also in debt.

      But I digress, I just couldnt resist answering your comments, explaining why you got the reaction you got, even though your basic points IMO were valid. You should have just kept it simple: “Hey guys, I just leased a new Outback, and even though I test drove the heck out of it, my back injuries are acting up and the seats are literally killing me. I decided to take a bath in trading it in, I know thats stupid but its worth it to me because swapping seats on a 2011 car is going to reduce the safety and thats really important to me. Does anyone have any suggestions on what cars I should consider that have amazing seats? Oh, and I need a hatchback or wagon or SUV, because this car needs to pull triple duty as the dog and toy hauler, and we take road trips in it.”

      See how I did that, and didnt come across looking like a snobby elitist douche??

      Not like it matters now, since you already got a CX-7, but no one’s opinion was going to matter in the slightest. You should have saved the time writing in, because your issue is deeply personal. Thousands of people can drive your car without writhing in pain, so you needed to just drive everything until you found the perfect seats FOR YOU, and then make the deal. Hope you remain happy with the Mazda, I have never even sat in one so I cant say what the seats are like. My Protege5 seats sucked, but the RX8 and Miata seats are very good though, so maybe there is hope.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Look, we’re just a bunch of random internet guys responding to a question posed by another random internet guy. We’re a cranky bunch, and if you put yourself out there, there’s a good chance you’re gonna get burned. Try not to take it too personally.

      The biggest problem with the “New or Used” feature on TTAC is that questions don’t get answered until months after they get asked. And, unlike you, most people don’t follow up, so we have very little to go on when responding. Personally, I can’t stand this feature. In recent months, the questions have gotten more and more absurd, and we hear the same nonsense responses about Crown Victorias and diesel station wagons with manual transmissions. From an advice standpoint, it’s next to useless. Factor in the general financial irresponsibility surrounding most new car purchases (and house purchases, and everything else that’s bankrupting us), and it triggers a couple of extra-cranky posts from me.

      After reading your additional responses, I realize my generalizations were off-base.

      I’m not jealous. I don’t do jealous, it’s a waste of energy. If you work hard, pulled yourself up and are now able to reap the rewards of success, well then you’re my kind of person. If you can afford it, go for it. The problem is, most people can’t and end up mortgaging their futures on things they don’t need. I just wish that a website that calls itself the “Truth about Cars” would stand for reasoned, fiscally sound advice when it comes to vehicle purchases and stop all this crap about Panthers and sport wagons. Or at least answer your questions in a more timely, relevant fashion.

      For what it’s worth, I’m glad you were able to find a solution to your situation, and it sounds like both your back and your pocketbook are much better off. Congrats. And thanks for coming back and defending yourself.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I was gonna comment, but then I figured everyone already said what was worth saying.

    But wow, just imagine what its like to be this guys wife!!?? LOL

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    With all the judgemental comments, I think the ‘Best and Brightest’ just lost it’s luster.

    I wouldn’t swap out a seat on a vehicle if you’re concerned about safety systems.

    Buy the beads, add some padding and if that doesn’t work, trade her in.

    • 0 avatar
      misterpeter

      Thanks Tresmonos. I have to agree. I had such confidence that everyone would understand my Corolla comment as one regarding safety. Instead I got a bunch of judgmental crap as an answer.

      I think a lot of these answers have centered around “It’s good enough for us, you should suffer too.” Sorry, folks, this is not the USSR. People have choice and choose accordingly. I wanted the most safe car for my wife and this upsets you?
      I chose my own car wrong and asked for your help. Instead you judged me for not wanting my wife to perish in an accident with her Corolla, for not liking an outback (gasp!) and for choosing all wheel drive in CA (Double gasp!) Someone actually even commented on my dog!

      I can almost hear the “Comment of the day!” shouts coming to this site. I know a guy that can help you do the graphics for the daily top 10 lists if you want.

      • 0 avatar
        ChevyIIfan

        Eh, the longer you hang out here, the more you’ll see the majority of the posters on here all drive $2000 ***itboxes and think everyone else should do the same and cannot see why you would EVER want anything else. I usually just read comments and have noticed this whenever they sense someone might want to spend more than that.

      • 0 avatar
        newcarscostalot

        Eh, don’t worry too much. We all do this to each other at one point or another on this site lol. @ChevyIIfan I’m pretty sure I’m that guy, since I am a cheap bastard lol. On a serious note, I hope everything works out, and again, Good Luck.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    ALWAYS ask the dealer to take the car out for the day, or overnight, before you buy. It’s the only way to make sure the car really fits your needs.

    Problems like the one mentioned in this thread – seats that are comfy at first but wear on you, ergonomics that don’t work well, annoying road noise, etc – usually don’t manifest themselves when you’re on a 20 minute test drive. You’re too focused on how nice the car drives compared to what you’re getting rid of. But they sure surface once you’ve pulled out of the lot with temporary tags on the car, and as you live with the car day-in, day-out, they can become deal killers. Problem is, unless you’re in a Ferrari or something else with zero depreciation, returning the car or trading it in isn’t an option – you take a huge bath financially.

    Dealers will usually go along with you taking the car home overnight as long as you show insurance, have credit approval, and promise not to go on a road trip. They should be especially receptive to this in the current economy. Take advantage of it – you’d rather be truly happy with the car, and they’d rather have a car with 100 miles on the clock than a pissed off customer whose problems literally can’t be solved.

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    Far too many potential safety issues to swap seats from a Volvo, Saab, Recaro’s etc. Fine on on old car, not a brand new one.

    You really want to a chance that the side air bags will not go off when you need them or that the front air bag will be off kilter and really hurt you when you need them to save you? Neverthe mind seat belt sensor issues etc.

    The car isn’t working for you. Either drive your wifes or get a Saab or Volvo — amazing seats & safety (since those are clear concerns).

  • avatar
    meefer

    Are the seats in a Legacy that much different compared to an Outback? I was under the impression that Outback = Legacy wagon. On the website they look exactly the same.

    Buy a Ford Escape Hybrid or wait for a Prius V. Or just buy one of those foam mini-seats with massage and heat you can get almost anywhere.

  • avatar
    cc-rider

    What did Peter honestly think the B&B would say here? You asked a question on a website that has regular features on people who endurance race $500 jalopies on the weekends (sounds dangerous) and have a large contingent of people with unwavering affection for body on frame Ford panthers (not putting my lady friend in one of those). If the Peter really wanted to make his wife safer behind the wheel, he would pony up the money to enroll in a Bob Bondurant/Skip Barber/defensive driving school.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    Steve answers:

    Am I missing something here?

    If you are comfortable with one vehicle but not the other… then just drive the one that works for you.

    You don’t need to blow a financial hole out of your posterior. Switch cars. Save your money (for once), and try to free yourself of this affluenza addiction.

    You can also go visit a Subaru dealership if the mood strikes you. Sit on a bunch of other vehicles and test drive them. Once you find a seat that works, see if you can get the it installed on your vehicle by an independent shop. Just go to car-part.com or Ebay and get yourself a nice comfortable throne for a few hundred.

    Five letters:
    VOLVO
    Another choice
    MBZ
    Another choice
    LS4xx
    dont know about width issues and the console, but a custom shop will rig some seat rails…they might even get the power seats and the heaters to work…oh wait you live in California – the power seats would be nice!

  • avatar
    ajla

    As long as you lease, maybe check out the Jetta SportWagen TDI or MINI Countryman?

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    OK, having read some of the OP’s responses here, one thing came clear here.

    A lot of information now has come to light that was NOT apart of the Original post, like he bought the 04 Corolla second hand and discovered, probably after the fact that it had its safety ratings compromised by the original owner. That tells me he didn’t properly check the car out before buying it.

    Also, relying of Forbes for safety ratings.

    Now I know Consumer Reports isn’t the final say all be all here but just quick glance tells me that an ’03 Toyota did very well in the safety ratings in both the frontal crash tests. The side impact tests came back as either 5 star for frontal crash tests or 4 star for the side impact and 2003 was the first year for the redesign that would involve the 2004 Corolla so that’s incorrect as far as his assertions are concerned on the Toyota’s crash ratings. This is from both Consumer Reports (I know it’s not the end all, be all but they DO report the findings from IIHS), also, Cars.com gave the car good marks for crash safety, including rollovers and I bet those results were from IIHS as well.

    So with the suspected issues with the Corolla, I don’t blame him for not letting his wife drive the car to and from work on those issues alone, but again, a careful inspection by an independent mechanic would have most likely uncovered this and he’d have rejected the car in the first place. Bad move on his or his wife’s part.

    Secondly, not having properly checked out the seats of the Outback and how they might be on longer drives is also suspect as if he’d had, he’d have known there might be a problem here and have rejected the Outback before buying it.

    So to that, it is easy to judge him like we did simply by how the letter was presented to Steve and Sajeeve so in this regard, I don’t blame the B&B for their comments though some of them could’ve been worded better but in the end, we were left with what we had to go on and as a result, the comments left are what they are.

    Ultimately, either sell the car and take the loss and hopefully learn to really check out your next expensive purchase to be sure you have what you need in a car and secondly, as I said in a reply to another B&B commenter, try angling the seat backs and it might help with the headrests or whatever is causing your headaches.

    And if you actually have back issues, time to have it checked out by your primary physician so he can recommend a chiropractor if necessary to help you with your back pain.

    I was going to a chiropractor for a while but temping and no insurance nixed that but I still have the exercise ball I got as a result of his recommendations to help straighten my spine. I just need to use it more though.

    In the end, I think it has less to do with jealousy rather than poor decision making on the OP’s part in some areas and appearing to wanting to “keep up with the Joneses”.

    • 0 avatar
      misterpeter

      I appreciate your attempt to moderate, but I still fail to see where all this judgmental crap is coming from.

      1. You judged my wife on her choice of car. Sorry she’s not an expert. She had no idea at the time. It wasn’t until I had to get inside her car to fix it that I found there were more than a few issues.
      2. You are also judging me on my motivations for buying a car.

      No sir, I am not trying to keep up with the Joneses. If I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t be driving a base model CX-7. I actually don’t tend to judge people on if they are “joneses-keeper-uppers” or not. If someone wants a nice car, or nice stuff, go for it! Why is that so bad? I don’t personally want to show off, but if I did- why would that be so bad? People love cars for different reasons. A friend has a nice S class, which he certainly uses to show off that he “keeps up with the Joneses”. He needs to for his job. He went into lots of debt for it. Was it worth it? Certainly! What a car! People he works with judge him (like you are judging me- based on very little info) much better thanks to his ride and he needs to maintain that sort of appearance. I say all the best to him!

      You are also considering that I am somehow relying only on Forbes for ratings. Sorry, but they had cited sources, and I looked into multiple other ratings. I judged that car as way too unsafe for her commute. That’s my call, not yours. It’s not the subject of the OP.

      I’ve learned some valuable lessons from this predicament:
      1. Yes, I agree. An extended test drive is the ONLY way to go. I did that, and I benefited from it. I drove lots of cars and took a 2 day drive of the CX-7.
      2. Attempting to go to an upholstery shop to re-do a modern seat is a bad idea. It’s too difficult to get it right.
      3. Find a good dealership. The Mazda dealer that helped me really really tried to help me. The salesman had a similar situation before and went to bat for me, big time. Sometimes people really are nice. I have ended up way on top.
      4. If you are going to ask a question of Sajeev and Steve, make sure you sound like a broke, humble, panther-driving hobo. Try not to use words greater than 5 letters long. Make yourself out to be a despot at every opportunity.

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        No sir, we DID NOT judge your wife on her choice of car; that was not mentioned in your original post. We all judged you on your choice of WHAT YOU WOULD NOT CONSIDER. We all picked up on your anti-bailout supremacy, in addition to buying, no wait, LEASING, two new cars, how they fit “your (new California) lifestyle,” and now looking into getting a house.

        The whole tone of that letter, just screamed “GIMMIE-GIMMIE-GIMMIE, I WANT-I WANT IT-I WANT IT NOW! I’VE ‘MADE IT’ AND NOW AM *ENTITLED* TO IT.”

        That did not bode well with the most of us who are all, seemingly, in the same boat of trying to reduce debt, MAINTAIN income, all while trying to increase savings.

        Your original post had no mention of safety. If that was such a priority in your purchase decision, it would have been mentioned in your letter. Since you mentioned your lifestyle, that seemed like the reason you purchased the car, and if you know the B&B, A LIFESTYLE CAR DOES NOT GET DRIVEN EVERY DAY. The B&B who drives a “$2000 S-Box” likely has a “lifestyle car” in the garage that gets driven only on weekends.

        The fact that you “forbade your wife” of driving a certain car just screams “control freak.” Anyone who forbids their spouse of anything, no matter how well-meaning, has issues. You should have chosen a different way to express it like “the previous modifications of said Toyota made it an unwise long-term commuter.”

        So you have a wetsuit and “workout?” If this is the case, then why do you have back problems in the first place? See? I (we) could go on-and-on ad nauseum.

        About me? I’ve lived in San Diego, CA my whole life. I worked as a Finance Director in the car business. I’ve seen plenty of big spenders when the economy was good, and the ones who were crying after the big bust. I’ll be the first to tell you how stupid a lease is (unless I’m writing your lease, in which case, I would be making quite a bit of money). I am no longer in the business. I’ll admit to racking up huge debts trying to start a business which hasn’t come to fruition and now have to drive a humbling Ford Focus Wagon as well as take a lowly sales job which amounts to slightly above minimum wage, all while trying to pay down the debt and keep from losing the assets I currently still own.

        Why did I divulge my info? Because most of the B&B have already made stupid decisions, and don’t want you to do the same!!!

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        I wouldn’t be too hasty to judge the B&B–I think it’s just that the voicing of a ‘need’ to replace cars that many people would be happy to own, especially when the term ‘lifestyle’ is thrown in (which many read as ‘image’), strikes an especially sensitive nerve in today’s economic malaise. Folks probably read more into the OP than they should have.

        That said, a dog is happy in any car that moves and has roll-down windows. Kids too, as long as you know they’re safe.

        Regardless of safety ratings, it sounds like your wife is happy with a more substantial looking- and feeling-car than the Corolla (which is her call anyway), and that you’d like something that’s a similar step up, but comfortable and not too bad on gas. Like many others here, I’d be inclined to recommend a used 9-5 (how used is almost immaterial, as the car hasn’t changed much since the late ’90s but has awesome seats and a frugal I4).

        Or just find yourself a used Outback with leather seats! The previous generation was a better car than the new one anyway, and the image it projects is the same.

      • 0 avatar
        slance66

        For what it’s worth, I asked one of these questions once, and like you, received some fairly “class warfare” laden responses. Not all, but enough. Ended up with a CPO 328xi most people told me to avoid and I couldn’t be happier.

        I sold a 2007 Tribeca because it just wasn’t comfortable for the driver or passenger and caused my wife back and neck pain. Got a 2007 RX350 at a good price. Took a bath on the Subaru trade but my only regret was not doing the longer term test before buying it. Selling it was the right move. Can everyone afford to do that? Obviously not.

        I’m with you on the bailout by the way, don’t want to buy a car from any company where the U.S. government is a major stockholder. I don’t believe in government ownership of the means of production, it’s called communism. Sell the stake and then I’d be willing to give them a look.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        Right, dude, the original letter was rife with unexplained things. The numbers, as written in the post, just didn’t add up. It sounded like you were sabotaging yourself. So yes, we judged, as you de facto asked us to. It’s the Internet. We tried to give you advice based on that content.

  • avatar
    dastanley

    C’mon B&B. I think we’re being a little hard on misterpeter. He came to TTAC with an honest dilemma based on a medical issue – back problems. I myself wrote into Piston Slap about seat issues on my Corolla a couple of years ago and know first hand about back pain. It can be debilitating. So cut the guy some slack. If he feels the need to buy a new car for his back pain, so what? Let him get his new car. Why begrudge him? I thought we at TTAC would welcome growth and reader participation. Do we want to run misterpeter off and scare others into not writing in?

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