Where One of Your Authors Selects a New (Used) Crossover

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
where one of your authors selects a new used crossover

Those of you who follow TTAC regularly and with some interest (so, 100 percent of you) are no doubt aware of a high-level used car search I’ve been conducting as of late. A rather unexpected purchase occurred this past Saturday while everyong was enjoying their long Labor Day weekend.

Come and have a look.

My search involves finding a suitable replacement for the giant beige Tahoe (pictured above) that’s occupied my driveway for the past year. Somewhere around month eight of ownership, it became clear the excess utility the excellent General Motors product provided was a bit wasted on me, a single person.

Without towing, child, or ornery pet responsibilities, it became a shuttle up and down the highway for family visits or regional travel, occasionally providing a ride to work (where it did not fit in part of the parking garage — too tall). It also carried items home from Lowe’s or wherever with aplomb. Still, ponderous handling and 14 mpg in town wears after a while. Time to hit the internet used car listings.

A few weeks ago I determined my price range and narrowed down my options. I wanted something well-equipped, comfortable, all-wheel drive, decently commodious for cargo, and something with a good reputation for reliability. Seven seats were not important, nor was a V8. This is all a part of the greater Corey’s Cars Plan, which sees a primary car in the garage (sporting rear-wheel drive and six or eight cylinders) while a practical all-weather vehicle sits outside.

This criteria led me down the path to two vehicles; both different, and yet the same. The first one being a 2004-2006 Lexus RX330, and the second being a 2007-2009 RX350. The main difference between those is an engine with a timing chain rather than a belt, and a few interior and exterior details. It suited all the requirements I’d listed in my head (notice “cool” wasn’t one of them), and on paper was a safe choice.

Until I got to the used listings, that is. There is a noticeable lack of second-generation RX models these days that are in good or better cosmetic and mechanical condition, haven’t done 175,000 miles, and are reasonable in asking price.

People (and dealers) with clean ones seem to want all the money, pricing them even above the fictional KBB asking prices. Irritating! I’d looked at three or four already, and none of them were even in good enough cosmetic condition to warrant a test drive. I just kept walking away.

However, an ad caught my eye on Friday, this one for a green wagon located about a half hour away from me, at a dealer. I’d done research on the model already, but dismissed it after I saw a couple for sale at lower trims or in poor condition. “Not my thing,” I said. But this example seemed a little different. It was clean, and the CarFax showed a history of regular servicing. So, Saturday afternoon I drove over through the humid, cool drizzle of hurricane Harvey’s leftovers. A couple hours later, I had keys in my hand.

It’s a 2012 Subaru Outback, in Cypress Green Pearl with an ivory leather interior. It has the 2.5-liter engine (3.6R models are scarce on the ground) and a CVT. While that’s the wrong cylinder count and the wrong sort of transmission for most of you, just hear me out.

The Outback impressed me for what it did not do. It did not purport to be a Big Tough Truck like many CUVs out there. It did not have sporting pretensions about it that ruin the ride quality. It did not have low profile tires. There isn’t a big engine I won’t utilize which gulps down fuel. Practical.

This particular example is a Limited trim, and had most every box checked with exception to navigation. Yes, the wood trim is of course artificial.

Throughout the car, little touches err on the side of practicality and usefulness. Water bottle storage in every door, seats which fold down at the pull of a lever, a large cargo area. The middle seat belt strap goes up into the ceiling for storage when not in use, so it’s out of sight and out of mind.

The materials throughout seem like they’ll wear nicely (they are certainly not all premium, mind you), and there’s a feeling of solidity. The doors make a particularly nice, solid sound upon opening and closure.

It’s worth noting my dealership experience at Beechmont Subaru was quick and pleasant. No hard sell, no hours of negotiation, no pressuring. I came back an hour after signing on my offer, and my new ride was cleaned, vacuumed, filled with fuel, and the paperwork was ready for signature. This Outback is actually the first vehicle I’ve ever purchased from a dealer.

It rides nicely, is decently quiet (boxer engine noise is still there), and I’ve already been doing 28 miles to the gallon without trying. Count me as a satisfied wagon/CUV customer. The rest of the post-cleaning photos are found below.

[Images: Toyota, eBay, Corey Lewis]

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5 of 107 comments
  • Brettc Brettc on Sep 06, 2017

    Love the green colour. Hopefully it treats you well and you'll definitely make out okay if you go to sell it in the future.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Sep 19, 2017

    @Corey I missed this because I recently bought real estate and my graduate class started late August (in addition to already concurrent daily trips to the urban death maze). My only thought other than they say geniuses pick green, is why used? You can't do Subbie used in USDM, its like Kramer's bottle deposit scheme where the numbers just don't add up. What gives?

    • See 2 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Sep 19, 2017

      @28-Cars-Later The dealer actually printed me a list of dealer comparables within 100 miles in the same trim, and I had a better price than any of them. It has high miles for the year, which is why I think it sat there for a couple of months (since July). I'm a low mileage driver, so that doesn't bother me so much as long as the service history is there to back it up. The longer I own it, the more the miles come into spec with what's expected from the average customer. My cars gather

  • Arthur Dailey Is most of your driving in stop and go urban traffic?Do you have kids, who you have to drive to and from their activities? Sometimes with their friends/teammates.Do you have pets? Do you have some mobility issues?Can you perform maintenance yourself?Do you have a discretionary fund for unforeseen repairs?Do you have another car, so that you only need to use this on weekends or rural/highway trips?Check your answers to the above. They may tell you that as nice as this car is, you might be better off with a new, boring but more practical SUV.
  • DungBeetle62 Before everyone dumps on California and their tax structure and Gavin's hairstyle, my recent road trip (which didn't get to California) was as follows when tanking up Super Unleaded.Texas - Fort Worth area Costco : $3.36Texas - Amarillo Sam's - $3.46New Mexico - Albuquerque Costco - $3.75Arizona - Flagstaff Sam's - $4.25Nevada - Henderson Costco- $4.72Oil is oil is oil is oil. State taxes vary, transporting the refined product varies, but a friggin BUCK AND A HALF more a gallon (and we're talking Costco to Costco here) ain't passing the smell test as you get out west. No, count me in with thinking someone out west is going for a bigger bite of the apple and figuring people will blame Newsom.
  • Tassos Whoever pays $23,000 for this 15 year old unreliable car will regret it. I would not pay half that.Go get an excellent E55 AMG, also 2008, and pretty close HP-wise, with far higher Torque, and a proper luxury interior..
  • VoGhost Why would anyone want to save a car dealer? No really - what actual value do they provide?
  • FreedMike Really nice example, but these are LEGENDARY for being money pits.