By on February 9, 2016

2015_Subaru_XV_Crosstrek_(1_of_2)

Sajeev,

We have three cars in our household that see regularly use, but we are considering going down to two vehicles in an attempt to save some money. However, instead of just getting rid of one of those three cars, we are trading in two of them toward a newer vehicle that we plan to keep long term.

The two cars we plan to get rid of are a Toyota Camry (180,000 miles) and Honda Insight (260,000 miles). While the Camry is mechanically in fine condition, it’s also 10 years old, including six years of kids doing what kids do best to interiors: destroying them. The Insight is five years older than the Camry, has a check engine light on, IMA light on, and recently a deer decided to headbutt the driver’s side door.

We have narrowed our choices down to two options: Subaru Crosstrek or Acura TSX Wagon. Pretty far apart from each other on a number of fronts, but each would meet our requirements in different ways. Given our penchant for wringing the life out of cars, which one of these, with proper maintenance, will reliably see 250,000 miles?

Sajeev answers:

Both will reliably see 250,000 miles with proper care. That’s not my concern. Instead, my concern is twofold: which one is a better ride for your needs and your wallet?

If the Subaru’s trademark ride and handling demeanor is your cup of tea, just buy one with good service history (assuming you are looking used) and go forward in a state of bliss. If not, consider the TSX for repair related reasons. There could be fewer repairs because front-wheel-drive vehicles have fewer moving parts than their all-wheel drive counterparts. And with a traditional inline four-cylinder (not a boxer) in that Acura, the labor involved could be cheaper.

That said, the Acura’s surprising thirst for premium fuel is disappointing. The Subie’s economy isn’t handicapped by its AWD performance. Therefore, the fuel cost differential will likely make up for the Subie’s extra differential, if you catch my drift.

Unless you must have the Acura’s entry-level luxury trimmings, go with the Subie.

Send your queries to [email protected] Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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91 Comments on “Piston Slap: Of Cost and Axle Differentials?...”


  • avatar

    Most crossovers look like older Ford Edges to me, so why not buy one of those?

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’ve had my Legacy for 5 years now and every time I drive it in the snow I am reminded of why I got it and how awesome it is to be confident as others struggle to got 1/2 the speed limit.
    Now, the other 361 days a year I spend my time worrying that something expensive will happen to it. Granted a turbo Subaru is a different species than the Crosstrek, but Subaru has a reputation for reliability that I personally don’t think it has earned. I started my ownership experience as a fanboy, always recommending them to people. Now, I rarely recommend them to people who don’t enjoy working on their own cars.

    If I lived someplace where it only snowed every couple years or even if I had a job that didn’t require reporting in the worst weather, I’d probably go the TSX wagon route myself.

    I was looking for cars for my mother (before settling on the IS300 I’ve mentioned before) and the TSX wagon was #1 on the list for her. Keeping in mind I was looking for something good for her that I would enjoy driving if it eventually wound up with me. I was not even considering a Subaru for her.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I would go w the TSX as it handles better, has better interior bits and is a Honda underneath, not sure if Subaru solved their head gasket issues but since you said you want it long term you may be looking at two head gaskets, everyone I know who has a Subie puts good money in them right around 100,000 miles. I go FWD and snow tires if needed vs AWD all day long.

    • 0 avatar
      Ltd1983

      The head gaskets haven’t been an issue for well over a decade now.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        That’s not true. The Subaru head gasket issue was not resolved until the new 2.5L engine was released in 2010. 6 years and the jury is still out.

        • 0 avatar
          Land Ark

          Yeah, the 2005+ 2.5s are better, though as they are getting older it is becoming more of an issue. The previous HGs would last right around 110k miles with normal use. The later ones seem to be varying wildly with some as low as 70k miles.

          The 2.0 never seemed to have as many issues as the 2.5s have.

        • 0 avatar
          Ltd1983

          No, it is true, as others have noted. 2005 was the big improvement. And even if we’re going off your 6 years, there’s 100’s of them with well over 100k miles. The jury is in, it’s fixed…

          • 0 avatar

            2005 wasn’t a big improvement. We owned one.

            1st set of head gaskets replaced around 110,000 with the obligatory timing belt and water pump. We felt fortunate to get away with $1400.

            When the SECOND SET OF HEAD GASKETS began to fail at 175,000, we got rid of it.

            It’s gonna take another 5 years AT LEAST to convince me the new design boxer 4 with the timing chain is a return to the reliable form of the old 2.0s and 2.2s.

          • 0 avatar
            Ubermensch

            The 58k mile head gaskets in my 2006 Legacy that are leaking oil would like a word with you about your “fix.”

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Subaru had a stop-sale on the 2009s for head gasket issues. I remember the local dealer was doing several per week (and it’s not a simple job).

          Things seem to have mellowed-out after that, but they still aren’t “bullet-proof.”

          • 0 avatar
            Ltd1983

            The amount of misinformation on here is incredible.

            The 2008-2009 stop sale was for 2.5 turbo’s only, and for pinging caused by oil contamination. Nothing to do with the head gaskets.

            http://www.autoblog.com/2008/04/07/subaru-issues-stop-sale-on-all-models-equipped-with-turbod-2/

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Ltd,

            You may be right, they may have been replacing short blocks instead of heads. Same difference really: engine-out, major surgery.

          • 0 avatar
            Ltd1983

            The fix was a magnetic drain plug.

            Seriously, people hear Subaru and just go “Head Gaskets!” without putting a second of thought into it.

            I’d recommend staying away from the new Chevrolet Cruze, GM had serious issues with their V8-6-4 forty years ago, you never know…

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            LTD,

            I am talking about the fix before the stop-sale order.
            The long-term solution may have been minor but, for a while, Subaru techs were doing a lot of engine-out jobs.

            It’s not like using the V8-6-4 as an excuse not to buy a Cruze. The person is asking about buying a used Subaru, so recent issues are relevant.

          • 0 avatar
            Ltd123

            An unrelated problem on an unrelated engine linked only by having the same manufacturer. Staying away from any Chevy today because of the V864 is an on point comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Baloney. It is a known fact that the Boxer engine is an inherent leaker proven by several friends with 2007 and 2008 Foresters. The 2.5 was revamped for 2010 but it is not known if these engines will still have the head gasket issue 5 more years from now.

        • 0 avatar
          Ltd1983

          “proven by several friends”

          I think someone needs to recheck the definitions of proof and anecdote…

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Ltd the massive cottage industry and independent mechanics specifically specializing in these repairs and endless amount of documentation online seems to back up what EVERYONE ELSE here is saying, including a number of current and former owners. I’ve personally watched my brother work on two such cases: one an ’03 where the issue was let go of too long and the car ended up with a cracked head and ultimately got a used motor put in, the second an ’07 with 130k miles that got the head gaskets replaced.

          • 0 avatar
            Ltd1983

            I’m not saying none have ever blown, but not endemic as it was with the EJ25. Saying the FB is at risk because of the EJ is nonsense.

            And even that is overblown, IMO. I have an EJ25 with over 200k miles on it, I replaced the head gaskets at around 110k miles with a higher quality than stock gasket. It never overheated or left me stranded, but there were contaminants in the coolant, so I did the gaskets anyway. Over 10 years later and still no issues.

            If this is going to be an anecdote-off, none of the 2005+ 2.5’s I know of personally owned by anyone else (probably about 10) has ever had a blown head gasket.

            @gtemnykh – Even if they all do at 10 yrs, I tend to agree with your post below, it’s not he kind of thing to detract me from owning one. My 1997 Outback has never left me stranded, and everything still works on the car after almost 20 yrs. Even our Honda was losing window regulators, etc and rattling well before this age.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I guess consider your friends lucky then, anything right through the end of the EJ run can and will fail.

            I don’t see how you can call it “overblown” when your OWN CAR had it happen? We’re in agreement that it isn’t catastrophic failure if it is monitored and the owner knows what to look for and react in a timely fashion, but the fact that they couldn’t resolve the issue for a decade and thousands of less savvy and prepared consumers got burned with expensive shop bills.

          • 0 avatar
            Ltd1983

            I meant that on my year EJ25 at least, there is no inherent problem with the design that causes a HG leak, it was the result of the 2.5 made in Indiana using an inferior gasket. Fix the gasket once on any of them, and they’re good to go forever.

  • avatar
    RyleyinSTL

    The Subie will go 250k but in my experience that will involve plenly of engine work. My guess would be that the TSX will be a better long term buy….unless you see plenty of snow in the winter.

    • 0 avatar
      Ltd1983

      So you’ve put 250k on an FB? Must be the first person to have done that, and have had to do major engine work…

      • 0 avatar
        RyleyinSTL

        Dad has a Forester pushing 250,000km. Beyond the usual head gasket issues the engine has required 2 rebuilds in that time, the fist was under warranty. He changes oil frequently and plugs-in below -15c. He does haul a small sailboat but that plus the trailer is within the rated towing capacity. All the above qualifies as babying it in Saskatchewan.

        I can say the AWD system has been good.

        Perhaps new Subies are better but if you’re looking at ownership for +10yrs we just don’t know how they will do yet.

        The safe bet is the Acura.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Pay for the gas and avoid the repairs. Go for the Acura.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Must agree. The TSX is a considerably nicer vehicle than the Crosstrek. I think it’s better overall for day-to-day with kiddies as well. It’s a no contest if you don’t need the AWD part.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Looking at Fuelly, the TSX gets a little better mileage than the Subaru Crosstrek anyway, although the difference is less than one MPG. That isn’t enough to offset the price of premium, but it isn’t a big deal some places. In San Diego, premium is a 20 cent upcharge on an expensive gallon of gas. In Virginia, it is a 30+ cent increase over a cheap gallon of gas. Whether or not it is worth paying for premium to have a more comfortable, durable and luxurious car may come down to the gasoline pricing where you live.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    Unloading nearly-worthless fully depreciated cars to buy a non-depreciated car is not about saving money. It might be the right thing to do, but not for that reason.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      There are plenty of people who would buy those “nearly-worthless fully depreciated cars” – just let the word out in any low-income or illegal-alien neighborhood. They’ll come running.

      I’m with Sajeev on this one and would recommend the Subie. With a little TLC and scheduled preventive maintenance, Subies last a long, long time.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    How badly do you want that AWD traction in the snow and the extra inches of ground clearance? Are you willing to put up with a slow, buzzy, cheaper-feeling economy car to get it?

    If long-term cost and reliability is your first and foremost concern, forget both of these and wheel and deal on a new Camry LE and drive it forever. Since it probably isn’t, just pick the one you like better. 250K miles is a long commitment, I’d rather spend that time behind the wheel of an Acura than a small economy Subaru.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Now lets find all the Subie owners who have had much if any trouble with the AWD system and rear axle. Never met one, and I’ve had Subies for 20 years.

    The engines, well we all know the EJ25 DOHC in early Outbacks had problems with oil flow to the cams and head gasket problems. Then Subaru changed it to SOHC, and those had a different kind of head gasket problem which was even worse. And piston scuffing was also a problem on those things; saw them scattered half apart all over the dealership floor back in 2003.

    Now the Crosstrek does not and has never had that engine. It has the infamous FB20 engine, which if you are unlucky, drinks 0-20 synthetic oil due to non-seating low tension piston rings, just like 2008 Honda Accord 2.4l engines which Honda had to fix. Of course, it’s not like every Accord from that year drank oil, or that other years were not oil drinkers, nor does every Subaru FB20. No, it’s the luck of the draw, and how you break it in has no bearing on the matter whatsoever.

    So, in either case if buying used, TSX or Crosstrek, I’d want to see history on oil consumption and no excuses or go and find another one that does have records.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Just how do you find documentation on oil consumption? If an engine uses a quart of oil every 2000 miles, and the owner tops off the oil level between oil changes, what records exist other than his word?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        And the 3400 V6 in my Mother-in-law’s Torrent drinks a quart of oil between oil changes (done on the schedule of the sensor that tells you when you have no oil life left.) That engine design is certainly old enough that they should have had it figured out by the time that one was built.

        My point is that there are lots of issues with lots of different manufacturers caused for a variety of reasons. Unless you are a service advisor at one of the largest Subaru dealers in the country, all info is anecdotal.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      My 2012 Impreza uses about 1.5 Litres of oil every 10000km.
      Or about a quart every 4000miles for non-metric types.
      I usually drive like a granny.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I suppose my question is why those two cars? Finding a TSX wagon, at this point is a bit like Unicorn spotting. I will give you the used Subaru is not a hard find. You will have plenty of Subies to look at and most likely one or two Acura wagons hopefully within 250 miles or your house. The time necessary to go look would kill the deal for me.

    Neither car you have mentioned is really known to be the all being handling car or fun to drive etc. I don’t recall a MT being listed as a requirement…only a car that will go 250k with what I assume to be limited brain damage.

    How about one of those off-lease Lexus RX 3whatever#isnextup? Seems like these will run forever, have more panache than a highlander. You have three kids so a larger car is necessary…a lightly used Tahoe will drink low octane gas in approximately the same dollar proportion as a TSX will drink high octane. Despite either DW or Corely DL (forget which hate GM the most) this drivetrain will go 250k with limited brain damage and the rest of the car will not fall apart at any higher rate than say a Subaru. You mentioned you are a DIY guy, so there you go. I have yet to have a repair on my 9 year old Suburban that I could not handle myself with youtube and a part from Napa for less $100. Honestly this is few and far between and gives me something to do for an hour on a Saturday once a year.

    • 0 avatar
      Ltd1983

      This. Comparing a compact based crossover, and rare mid sized luxury wagon shows they don’t really know what they want. Like almost everyone else, they would be better off buying a CRV/RAV4 and calling it a day.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        I don’t think that the Crosstrek will be much smaller inside for passengers than the TSX. The TSX is barely ‘mid-sized’.

        Just looked it up the Govt. numbers.
        TSX a compact with 95 cubic feet. Impreza/Crosstek 97 cubic feet.

        • 0 avatar
          Ltd1983

          Nice try, but you compared a XV hatch, and a TSX sedan. Looking at the interior volume of a TSX wagon, 125.9 cu ft. So it’s over 25% larger inside.

          Like I said….

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      ” I don’t recall a MT being listed as a requirement”

      If so that would be a problem with the TSX wagon because if I’m not mistaken it only comes with an AT.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      Out of curiosity I checked cars.com and in a 100 mile radius of my area (northern VA) for less than $25k there are 8 used TSX wagons available with less than 60k miles and only 1 used Crosstrek.

      That’s surprising. Of course there are plenty of new Subies in that price range.

      edit: crap, I forgot the XV. Add 79 to that 1.
      Well, it is interesting to see the prices just about on par with each other mileage-wise.

  • avatar

    You said “drift” heh heh heh

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    I agree, pick the one you like. Anything over 100,000 miles depends more on the owner and maintenance than on the car itself.

    I wouldn’t go for a Japanese car at all if I was driving that much, simply because Japanese seats are horrible. I’m 6’3″, so this might not apply to you or your family members, but I can’t stand short seats with no leg support on longer drives. They force my knees in the air, which tenses-up my back. One of the many reasons I got rid of my last Subaru.

    Here’s the least popular suggestion you will get today: find a Jetta or A4 wagon and a good independent VW tech.

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredotto

      TSX owner here. I’m not 6′-3″ but I find the seats to be very comfortable on long trips.

      As for reliability, check out truedelta.com. The TSX is also about as close to dead reliable as you can get.

      • 0 avatar
        roverv8i

        I’m 6’3″ and my TSX is very comfortable on long trips. Most Acura’s are considered to have good drivers seats. If you have never been in the drivers seat of one then trust me when I say they are way better than any other Japanese car I have been in. Can’t stand the seats in a Camry for instance and it’s a larger car. A lot of it is about the seating position. The Camry has the same issue as you had in your Subaru. In an Acura you sit lower and back more letting you keep your knees down. It’s more like a BMW in that respect.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      I’m 6′ and long/wide in torso, and think the TSX seats are fantastic. They have the “shoulder wings” Acura is somewhat known for, and that alone gives a ton of comfort in supporting your upper back.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I think he should get a Ford Bronco, because that is my personal bias and I really couldn’t be bothered to read about this guy’s needs.

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    Children are part of this equation. Go with the TSX, you’ll probably need the additional space. Unless the OP is living in a rural area where AWD is a must, TSX will be fine in the white stuff.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I had a 2013 Impreza with the FB20 that burned about a quart per 1,200 miles.

    I’d try to find that Acura.

    Or a Camry wagon (Venza).

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      Venzas seem to get no love so he could probably get a better deal.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      Venza backseat is very car-seat friendly, which is important now that it’s a capital offense to put your kids in a front-facing seat before college. Also gets him AWD, V6, and lots more toys versus a comparably priced Acura or Subaru. It hates to turn but who cares.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        It’s definitely better car seat friendly than the Subaru, I know from experience. The Impreza barely fits rear facing cars seats.

        Plus, 2GR-FE is light years better than FB and K series for family hauler duty.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I only drove the Venza when it first came out and didn’t care for the way it drove. That was when it was a psuedo SUV before they lowered it. It might drive better now. A post refresh one, while still not matching the TSX’s materials, could be a nice station wagon. The V6 and 6AT are super robust on them, too. As you mentioned, the back seats are huge.

        • 0 avatar
          Sam Hell Jr

          I was trying to talk my sister into a Venza before she hauled off and bought an Outback anyway. The differentiator for her (besides the Subie commercials with the golden retriever) was over the shoulder visibility. I didn’t find the ride more or less comfortable than the Outback’s and as you say I liked the Toyota powertrain better. even the refresh isn’t much of a handler but it’s better than a CUV’s. I still think she got hosed – $30k just doesn’t buy as much Outback as you’d expect – but she’s thrilled with her car so what the heck.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    1St opinion. Do not waste your time trying to find a used Subaru. There resale value is so high. A new one is only a couple thousand more. New warranty, lower “interest rate if financing”, awd, the most up-to-date model, you get the picture.

    2nd opinion. Acura does make a great car. But, premium fuel, feels like you are sitting on the ground, only fwd, etc. But, buy a used Acura maybe cpo. The first two years of a luxury auto will take a dump in the resale value.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    All wheel drive schmall wheel drive. All I ever needed is FWD and all season tires, and I live and drive in snow country for 40 years and have only gotten stuck once with a RWD van with snow tires. Get winter tires for even better results. Most important, don’t drive in terrible weather if at all possible.
    Case in point, we just had a 32 inch record snowfall on January 23. I did not want to deal with shoveling out in the aftermath of this so I flew to Hawaii for two weeks on Jan 22. That solved the driving in the snow issue this time. Mr sun got rid of most of the snow before I got back.

  • avatar
    omer333

    Why not an Accord Crosstour? Granted, it’s not the best looking car, but you can get AWD and a V6 that runs on regular. It’s actually very comfortable on long trips and handles twisty roads pretty good too.

    I leased one and had ZERO problems.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    To each his own, of course, but I would take a Sienna over the two offerings they are considering. Bullet-proof drive trains, good in snow (even an AWD option), plenty of room, good mileage, etc. Cab companies have demonstrated these things can go way in excess of 200,000 miles with no issue. Not everyone likes vans though, so there’s that………..

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Whatever you get, trade the Camry and sell the Insight on an enthusiast forum.

  • avatar
    roverv8i

    Regarding premium fuel in the TSX. It is not required, only recommended. I’ve tried both in mine and have found no compelling reason to use premium for the daily commute. Never any pinging and certainly not enough effect on fuel economy to warrant paying 30 + cents a gallon. Any change in power output is also not noticed. I expect if I went out on the weekend and pushed it out in the country I might notice a difference but I rarely do that in this car. I live in central Kentucky and typically am in East Tennessee when purchasing gas elsewhere. I mention this as I know the octane and additives in fuel vary region to region.

    Makes me think of the rental mustang I had in Utah. Man was it pinging, then I pulled up to the pump and saw 85 on the regular button…….

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    If you live in the snow belt that uses road salt I would not plan on 250K miles over the long haul with any Subaru unless you plan on religiously washing the under side of the vehicle on a weekly basis. We have seen so many owners bring there 6-10 year old vehicles in for service or inspection only to find the gas tank is rusted out and shot, brake lines are shot, the expensive front exhaust manifold to catalytic converter is bad causing lots of noise and exhaust smell and worse the frame rails are rotting out or holes in the floorboards. These cars rust bad. Of course if you live in a Southern state or one that doesn’t use road salt that will help the Subaru’s cause quite a bit. Also the jury is out on oil consumption with any Boxer engine from Subaru and the CVT Lineartronic transmission’s reliability over the long haul but I have my doubts.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I agree with the others that lightly used Subaru shopping is a fool’s game. I will add that a 2.5i Outback Premium is close enough in price to a new XV Crosstrek that it’s worth the premium. It is a much nicer driving, more comfortable vehicle with a VERY nice interior compared to anything in the under $40k bracket IMO. Yes I think it is that good! The plush cloth on the seats in particular impressed me, a harkening back to the high quality and durable Japanese velour of the 80s and 90s.

    Subarus can definitely make it to 250k, but the caveat as others have mentioned is that you simply have to make peace with the reality of some of their engineering decisions and what that means for longevity of certain components. Just keep it in mind and budget for it, and you will enjoy your Subaru. If you expect a 180k Camry ownership experience, you might be disappointed. With these new FB engines, it’s a tad early to see if the dreaded headgasket monster will rear its head, but we already see some issues with Subaru implementing friction reducing elements and light weight synthetic oil to their boxer engines. This is not unique to Subaru, but something to keep in mind. It is true that boxer designs historically have been more prone to oil use, so it exacerbates the oil use problem with low tension rings and 0w-20 oil. Simply keeping the oil level in check is most likely adequate insurance, but over the life of the car, continuously elevated levels of oil contamination can affect things like catalytic convertors and oxygen sensors.

    One other thing to keep an eye out for is subframe rot in salt-heavy environments. I posit that it won’t be a problem, and if it is, it will show up 12+ years down the line.

    The TSX with a K24 variant and 5speed automatic should be absolutely bombproof, I would not hesitate to place a bet on it requiring less work (maintenance and otherwise) over a 250k mile stretch than a Subaru. However I honestly don’t care for these things. Utility is too hampered by that sloping roofline, if the CUV stigma and driving dynamics are something you can stomach, I’d argue a Honda CRV would be right up your alley. Better matched powertrain than the Subaru, and a lot more interior space than either the Subaru or TSX wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      They do not depreciate enough to leave margin for the dealer to make any sense buying used. This is why you’ll see MY13s priced close to new 16s. I’m not sure who is buying them newer used, perhaps the credit challenged?

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “They do not depreciate enough to leave margin for the dealer to make any sense buying used. This is why you’ll see MY13s priced close to new 16s. I’m not sure who is buying them newer used, perhaps the credit challenged?”

        People who have been fed a line of bull their whole life that buying new is stupid and for fools and smart people only buy used cars, in all circumstances. Which is verifiably stupid in many cases on Japanese cars, UNLESS you place a huge premium on that extended CPO warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “With these new FB engines, it’s a tad early to see if the dreaded headgasket monster will rear its head”

      I get anxious thinking about new Subaru engines and potential HG probs. I think I’d require at least 5MY market experience with a new Subie engine before buying in.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        With every revised generation of the EJ25, Subaru fanboys crowed to the world that the headgaskets were fixed for good. AS the new cars turned into 80-100k 7 year old used cars, that wishful thinking was proved false. The FB is a departure from the EJ in many ways, so there is more reason to believe the claims this time around. Even cars with the EJs can live long and happy lives, as long as the HG factor is kept in mind, and when the repair is done, a competent shop is used. That includes checking that the heads aren’t warped or cracked and they use good parts (Fel-Pro makes an excellent HG). That repaired car should have no problem going another 100k. Some people have driven later gen EJ cars with externally leaking headgaskets for tens of thousands of miles, you just have to keep an eagle eye on your fluid levels, until you save up for the gasket replacement job (you typically do the timing belt and various oil seals at the same time). The consequences of letting one of them go and overheating usually means head replacement (or a used engine swap).

        I was very seriously looking at a new Outback back in November, and all of the Subaru “quirks” do not bother me enough to dissuade me from considering one. One just has to be aware of potential running costs down the road, and enjoy their very capable and awesome bang-for-the-buck ride.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    On the FB engines, the block and head cooling are separate, coolant doesn’t go through the head gasket.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m going to have to recommend the Acura on that one…

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    If you want to put a lot of miles on a car, you really can’t do much better than a TSX. There’s a guy working on half a million miles traveling to inspect wrecks for an insurance company in his 2004. He didn’t have to spend much at all until it reached 400K miles.

    http://tsxtravels.com/2016/01/17/20-to-go/

  • avatar
    jimble

    If you’ve been looking at these cars you probably know all this, but: If you want a Subaru and ground clearance isn’t a big issue, the 5-door Impreza will give you better ride, handing, gas mileage, and acceleration, although at the cost of some Frumpy Subaru Syndrome (FSS) issues relative to the Crosstrek. If ground clearance matters to you then the Forester is a better choice than a Crosstrek for most people, because it’s not as slow and it has lots more space. The Crosstrek is pretty low on cargo capacity; fine for a single guy like me but probably not so great for a family. On the other hand, the Forester suffers mightily from FSS, which is one of the reasons why I didn’t consider it.

  • avatar
    davew833

    What about the “myth” that the Subaru H6 3.0 *never* has head gasket problems? I switched from an ’04 Legacy with the SOHC 2.5 that was starting to leak coolant externally to an ’02 LL Bean Outback H6 because I was told the H6 was “bulletproof” as far as head gaskets go only to find it had a blown head gasket as well. I’ve since bought an ’07 LL Bean with the H6 that ALSO has a leaky head gasket. Not only that, but they’re hard to diagnose because they sometimes give a false negative reading with a block tester and test fluid.

    I can do EJ25 head gaskets myself (along with timing belts, water pumps, etc.) but the H6 is not a DIY- friendly engine. If I didn’t love everything else that’s quirky about Subarus, I’d go back to driving Hondas.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    …………… buy a diesel dual cab ……. joking.

    The world is awash with many CUV type vehicles, why limit yourself?

    Subaru do produce decent vehicles, so does Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, etc.

    I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a vehicle for 250 000 miles or kilometres as there is a huge difference.

  • avatar
    shaker

    2011 Toyota Highlander Hybrid – Consumer Reports rates them highly for reliability, and examples with <80k miles can be found for $25k and less on used car lots – you may do better with a private owner.

    It is bigger, has the V6, but gets the same mileage as the Subaru Crosstrek.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    I’d split the difference and go for a Crosstour. Heavy discounts will be at the TSX price and get the AWD. If not afraid of heights, a CR-V should probably be on your list as well…

  • avatar
    phxmotor

    You guys crack me up… I’ve had a dozen Subis over the last ten years. Living n the mountains in Calif where 4-600″ of snow is normal…at least when the snow does come… (We’ve had a few dry years lately).
    Subarus OBs and Legacys have more Made In America content that any of the Big 3 Pickup trucks. They really are made in Indiana with 85% American made content. It’s amazing how many small factories across the Midwest are making almost all the parts in Outbacks and Legacys… It makes ya feel good.
    Asside from that … they are a useful tool when awd is needed. And used ones are used ones are ubiquitous. After living in Ann Arbor recently for a couple years…doing hybrid research work at UT in Toledo…I came to understand the rust problem as I never before did. My god…salt is illegal in California. Now I understand why. Cars in salt and ice area rustvawsy in ten years.. Yet… I normally won’t buy a car until it is at least ten years old. And I’ve never had rust…not a bit… on any of the 325 cars I’ve owned since I was 16.
    All my Subis have zero rust issues. And I never buy a car until it has hit at least 100,000 miles. Yes…yes…yes… the head gasket issue is real. It’s comical to see TTAC people opining about newer vs older 2.5s head gasket reliability. It’s a fact:….
    Every Subaru 2.5 will need a HG job. When it happens is unpredictable… but it’s a 100% guarantee that it will happen. When I hear of heads cracking I gotta laugh…they never crack…that’s unscrupulous shop talk when an unscrupulous shop is doing a number on a Luddite. (hapoebs all the time)
    …But… resurface the head and use a FelPro gskt and it will never ever leak again. (& Machine the head for god sake)
    It’s such a big topic on TTAC about the nasty costly horrendous Subaru HG job…yet…its just not that bad.
    my wife and I working together complete a HG job within 5-6 hours. Literally three hours one afternoon… a nice restful dinner and a movie…then three hours the next day. And a total cost of $350 including WP and pullies and the notorious oil pump o-ring. And exh gskt and etc
    And we are both 63 years old.
    And I’ve been living with a seriously bad back.
    To read how you guys (and the occasional woman) on this sight …in your 20’s and 30’s … and are healthy able-bodied men…are afraid of a straight forward shade tree repair. It’s perplexing. Come on guys step up already.
    I Current have an SVX, two Outbacks 00 & 01… a fantastic 95 Impreza… and a Forester… We have bought and sold a half dozen other Subis that needed HGs just as a hobbie…for fun…something to do on an otherwise boring weekend.
    And not one of these engines needed to be removed. All were done shadetree style. A bit of sailer mouth when replacing the drivers side head (it’s a bit of a Chinese puzzle & needs two people doing a grunting and cussing ballet of heavy metal “surgury”)..but it isn’t all that hard.
    Anyway… Anyone who loves cars as much as TTAC people seem to… yet are intimidated by common straightforward repair jobs ..I just shake my head. .
    How the heck is this country ever going to win a war again?
    My gosh people…I’m not talking about rebuilding the block…I’m talking about a simple HG job.
    More time is spent here debating… why there is a bit if oil usage…?
    why 2.5 HGs fail and 2.0s don’t…
    Why not spend more time on this site
    facing reality… and just doing the
    job when it rears its head…
    Let’s get real… Even brand new Subarus will do this … it’s just not a hard job. And if you really can’t do this simple job… And you really need it done for you… Heck: It’s never more than a $1,500 job. And heck… Look at it this way:
    At 100k ya gotta do a full
    WP – Seals – timing belt – valve adjustment – etc…anyway…and that job is going to cost 5-600 anyway…
    So… …even when a HG job is needed…its only going to be an extra $700 to assure the car will hit 300,000 miles. Do what’s the big deal?
    Oh… Of my five subarus…two are at 250& 275,000 miles… The other are at about 175…& they all drive as if they have maybe 75-80,000 miles. Geese. The SVX is the inky 6cyl of them all and it gets the best mog…on long drives it actually breaks 30mpg.
    How GH mileage is not a big deal. We take long drives all the time without worry… 1,800 mile drives once a month … at least to Phx. And we’ve never been a stranded or broken down on the side of the road…not once.
    My point being: if you do not live in a salt and ice area…your Subarus will last at least 300,000 miles with very few .. Yet predicable repairs.
    It’s not a big deal to keep this cars going at a very low total cost of ownership. And with wonderful safety in the snow and ice.
    (As far as cost effective luxury cars though… I have to admit.. I love older Lexus LS400’s… Certainly not good for the snow…but so cheap & reliable.. With a very low cost of ownership. And the most silky smooth and quiet driving car available at an amazingly low cost)
    Sorry for this list BG post. I’m just tired of a never ending discussion on TTAC about the Subaru HG issue. The bottom line is this: all 2.5’s will need a head gasket job. All. My point is that it’s not that big of a deal because…unlike many cars…when you fix this in a Subaru…
    It stays fixed.
    Ergo: it’s just not a big deal.


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