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Wife wants a Subaru, But which one to get


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Hi All,


Its become time to replace our Trusty MG ZT-T V6 Manual with an automatic as that what the wife wants.


The car itself has been faultless, which they are not known for but  since driving my recently purchased Auto Mercedes CLK, the wife now also wants an Auto.


I have spent some time narrowing down the searches, firstly by getting feedback from various people/mechanics etc on reliable cars and then by showing pictures of the selected cars to my wife to see which one she like the look of.


The Budget is between £1k and £2k and the wife requested the following.  Car Needs to be an estate as she fill it with most of our home possession when we go camping.  Must also be able to tow our trailer and fit a roof box (as I said she takes most of our home on camping trips).  It must be reliable, have an auto that does not break and be easy for her 90 year old gran to get into.


The following Subaru's sit at the top of the list of cars and I wanted to make sure I didn't buy one and then regret it because I never checked a known issue.


1. Subaru Forester 99 - 04.  Discounted 98 an previous due to the DOHC engine being a nightmare for Headgasket so I have read. 


Pro's - Its an ideal height to get in and out of.  Known to be sturdy, has 4wd and its my wife 1st choice

Cons - Headgaskets?  Suspensions?  Abused Versions..  Anything else?


2. Subaru Outback around the same age - Bit unsure on the 2.5 as I have read engine is a bit flakey, so would possible look at the H6 even though its a thirsty car.  Anything major on these?


3 Subaru Legacy Estate - Same issue with the 2.5 versions I assume, but are the smaller engines any better? 


I have been searching for a week to try and find a buyers guide but to no avail.  I have found that all bar the H6 are cam belts and it needs changing at 50k, oil changes need to be done quite frequent, all like to drink fuel and Farmers love them


All help appreciated, hopefully soon I can become a full member once if have purchased one :)


Other cars I am looking at but are further down the list are .  Volvo V70XC, Mercedes W202 C Class Estate and Possible Freelander (Wife loved her last one) Mercedes ML (Might be too big) and a Boring VW Passat

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Hopefully the members with the cars will be along shortly to give advice on the above cars. 

For me my 1st choice would be a legacy from the above mainly because it is more like a car than an SUV but that is from my preference.


The others Foresters I don't think we really have "Abused" versions over here maybe a few if it was a farmer that has had it like Bitman will tell you he's made his own man made mountains from the dirt off his :) wind noise seems to be the biggest problem.


Outbacks a nice enough car have a few members with them too I think all cars can have headgasket issues on the list as a con Subarus can suffer with it if it's not been well serviced on a regular basis or the more common fault I find is people sticking the foot flat to the floor before it's warmed up seems to be the biggest problem for HG failure from my years of a Subaru owner. Also a lot of people then sell them on by using HG sealer as a temp fix or having it fixed and not done right for it to fail shortly after :( Not always the case but seems to be 90% of the time. 


But hopefully some of the other members will be able to advice you on the cars you're looking at better than me. So welcome to S.O.C :)

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The 2.5L engine is the same power unit in all of the cars you mention. The early 2.5 engine does have a habit of eating head gaskets but was sorted in cars from about 1999/2000 on.

The 2.0l is the same power unit across the range too but dosnt suffer from head gasket issues generally.

The Legacy and the Outback of the age you are looking at are basically the same car with suspension and bodywook differences.

Of the three you mention, I would be looking at the Outback in 2.0l or 3.0l form. The boot is bigger than a forester and slightly more room inside generally. The 3.0l is a thirsty car and I've only ever seen them in auto so it should be easy to find one.

Look for one with as much service history as possible.

The 2.0l and 3.0l are very reliable. At the age of car you are looking at they won awards every year for reliability which is always nice to know.

Good luck and test drive as many as you can find. Spec levels vary a lot.

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Love my outback. Bags of room in it and the ride is nice. I think even with the diesel, the auto would have been a nice option in hindsight. The extra ride height is nice for rough tracks and grassy fields lol

I know the diesel engine gets some negative feedback but seems fine so far (touch wood)



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I and others (Majik) have 3l auto outbacks....a bit younger and more pricey than your suggested budget (2005 models) but they are fantastic, fantastic cars. Smooth as the day is long with plenty of punch when you need it. 27mpg real world and I would imagine it would tow anything easily

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Forester, hg issues on the later models as tlag says, early cars not so much but it's a noisy engine, an sf model may be getting a bit long in the tooth for your needs, self leveling suspension will have had it by now, youll be able to tell by looking at the back end if it looks like a dog sitting down then walk away, plenty of aftermarket eeplacement shock options though at a third of the price of subaru ones.

The ride comfort is lovely and smooth for the type of car, the newer model also sits about 2" higher than the sf.

David's had a foz and now on his legacy so is better at the pros and cons of the sg model forester vs legacy,

Sg model will be a better option and as long as it's been looked after should last forever, but as the others have said a leagcy would be a more suited choice,

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My SG Foz was a great motor too; probably best described as a bit more 'earthy' than my outback, but another great machine all told. It had an intermittent CEL issue that didn't affect how it ran, but had 136k on the clock when we parted, had FSH and you could tell it had been well serviced and looked after.

Solid as a rock and a pleasure to drive...just didn't have the umph the outback carries when you need (or want more to the point) it [emoji1]

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You wont go wrong with a forester :)  my missus loves our forester and calls it a she car lol.Its got performance,can go off road,can getting the shopping in and the kids and you get the burble sound as well.get a remap on one and you will be smiling from ear to ear lol.Either that or id get a impreza estate

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I have a Forester have had it for years, only two problems I have with mine and that is one the self levelling suspention keep an eye on it as they tend to to leak.

Two the sump plug washer every time you change your oil replace the washer as mater of cause, on some cars I have had you can use same washer 3 maybe 4 times but not on the Fozzy, and regard to the boot space yes legacy may be bit longer but it does not have the height of the Forester and when you load the boot of the legacy it drops Down a fair way not a case with the Forester even more so the ones with the self levelling.

On the mater of the self levelling my Forester is a 2004 I changed my rear self levellers for the rears of a 2007 they fit no problem and also they had the internals sorted by then and they are much better, the interior will also last well if you look after it my car has just passed yet another mot with know advisories and covered 158566 miles.

Love my Forester I take it every where and any where, we have a couple of green lanes here where I live and the old girl has gone up and down them many times I even pulled a Suzuki jeep out.

I do my fluid changes every 2 years and engine oil change every 4000 miles only use magna tech pro and I buy it from TC Harrison's as it is almost £15.00 cheaper than my local Subaru dealer charges, that is my one complaint with the Subaru the dealers are f??king rip off merchants.


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I got Forester s-turbo 2001 as my daily driver. Very comfy to drive. Large boot with folding flat rear seats(flat I say flat I mean). Level boot easy to slide things into boot. Can have roof racks. And can tow things. Ones with turbo can tow heavier things. Its an estate but looks more like 4x4. Women love 4x4's ;) ;) ;) did I mention its higher off the ground meaning you can go off-road if needs to.

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