Where Your Author Seeks a Green Wagon Replacement

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
where your author seeks a green wagon replacement

TTAC’s a great place to share car search stories (particularly for used cars), and I’ve taken advantage of this soapbox on a couple of distinct occasions when looking to replace one of my close personal rides with something else. I’ve gathered you all here today because that time has come once again.

The Subaru Outback is going to glide off into the fall sunset, and soon.

This change of heart is not just boredom (partially), but rather because usage needs have changed. In June I started a new job and career, and the daily commute increased from 6.6 miles round-trip to 18.2 miles in its shortest iteration.

Smooth roads of suburbia were exchanged for the rougher ones of the urban landscape. It’s a place filled with two-lane roads and lots of stoplights. On the plus side, there’s no must be at the office always mandate any longer. In a more relaxed and modern fashion, working from home is allowed. That meant the necessity for something snow-capable and all-wheel drive went away. Now, my focus can go elsewhere — just like the Subaru’s fuel bill, which doubled in June.

Additionally, it was readily apparent that a Subaru CVT is less than ideal in stop-start traffic. The Outback loses more points with its somewhat agricultural suspension setup, which feels sloppy when the going gets rough. The sound insulation could be better as well — I’ve found an increasing reliance on the volume knob of the stereo.

Those things in mind, I set out on a basic search with a few priorities in mind:

  • Hatchback/wagon format
  • Real transmission
  • Comfort/refinement
  • Leather interior, not black
  • Fuel economy
  • Used
  • MY 2014+

I’d had my eye on a hatchback that seemingly fills these requirements: the Kia Niro. It’s efficient, has great reviews, a dual-clutch auto, and is available with lots of standard equipment and leather seats. However, availability of said mythical Niro is an issue. Seems almost nobody’s bought the Niro in the only trim where leather is commonly found — Touring (rarely selected option on EX). Further, of the 10 or so used Tourings available nationwide, none of them have stone leather. Dealers around here ask about $30,000 for a new Niro Touring with a light interior (which is only available on a couple of paint colors).

The Niro’s not old enough to be available in the trim and color I want as a used proposition, so we’ll open up the floor to other suggestions. The priorities above can be thought of more like rules, by the way. Surely there are several options out there on the used market.

[Images: Corey Lewis, Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Oct 11, 2019

    Motor Trend's long-term verdict on the Kia Niro: "Its 9.6-second saunter to 60 indicates that, like many hybrids, this is not a quick vehicle... hampered by a transmission that performs clumsily at crawling speeds...But what bothers me more is how easily noise seeps into the cabin."

  • LifeIsStout LifeIsStout on Oct 15, 2019

    I haven't seen this mentioned yet, as I don't know if it hits all the marks (like everything else suggested), but what about a second gen Volt? I have a couple of friends with them, and they absolutely love the car. Enough tech to keep you happy, decently engaging drive, liftback. It is a plug in hybrid, but you can probably just run gas all the time and still be ahead of the game.

  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.
  • Master Baiter This is horrible. Delaying this ban will raise the Earth's temperature by 0.00000001°C in the year 2100.
  • Alan Buy a Skoda Superb.
  • Alan In Australia only hairdressers would buy this Monaro as its known as. Real men had 4 door sedans and well hung men drive 4x4 dual cab utes with bullbars and towbars. I personally think this is butt ugly. Later iterations of the Commodore were far better looking.
  • Jeff As a few commenters on prior articles on this site about the UAW strike mentioned many of the lower tiered suppliers could go bankrupt and some could possibly go out of business if the strike is prolonged. Decades ago Ford and GM owned many of their own suppliers but as we all know over the years manufacturers have been outsourcing more parts and with just in time supply there is little room for any interruptions to production including strikes, natural disasters, and anything unforeseen that could happen. When the strike ends there will be delays in production due to parts shortages. It costs suppliers money to just keep making parts and stockpiling them especially when many parts have razor thin profit margins.