Category Archives: Subaru

2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium (1045)

Overview:

This week my ride is the 2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium. The first thing that strikes me in this car is that “yes we can” have a car that is spacious, has power enough and yet gets an average of 30 mpg. Yep, the top end highway mpg is 36. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Opinion:

The Yes We Can is not in reference to Obama’s charge to election, this is the REAL world where “WE DID THAT” as a result of American Ingenuity at work to build things without the interference of a government who has the audacity to imply Government Did That. American Entrepreneurs built the economies of the free world and don’t you forget it. Apparently those in government did forget it.

General Information:

It is assembled in // n/a. Classification is Midsize. Cars from Subaru: BRZ, Forester, Impreza, Legacy, Outback, Tribeca, WRX, XV Crosstrek.

Handling & Performance:

No complaints on this Legacy as to performance. You won’t do 0-60 in 5 seconds but you will have all you need for normal driving. You will be tempted to have a heavier foot on the throttle because you won’t be draining the tank as quickly as in other competitors.

Styling:

Someone was commenting to me that all cars look the same these days. I recall my grandmother’s visit from the Old Italian area of Massachusetts to California where we had moved in search of a different life. She took the train as most did in those days, and she was overwhelmed by the hustle bustle of our new home. Then she saw a Studebaker of the day and was convinced that Californian’s were strange people. Look at the cars they drove that were designed so you couldn’t tell whether they were coming or going. I guess Studebaker hadn’t reached Massachusetts yet.

The point of my little story is that cars were designed by people back then in contrast to designs today that are put through the ‘clone’ machine of CAD (computer aided design) software that uses efficiency designing so they are aerodynamic to improve fuel economy for example. Ever see an airplane design that wasn’t aerodynamic? Some cars however are box-like, but they are the exception and more a departure for ‘shock effect’. But the overwhelming designs DO in fact make them all look alike because the majority of folks want those designs and more importantly they are demanding better fuel economy. When gas prices go to $10 a gallon there won’t be a boxy car on the road.
Fit and Finish:
Very good.

Cost:

Not bad considering what you are getting for the money. The features include a lot of futuristic assists that are leading to cars that drive you rather than the other way around.

Conveniences and comfort:

Subaru boasts ‘extensive quietening revisions to include acoustic windshield and liquid filled engine mounts.

Acoustic windshield seeks to cut interior noise while reducing weight. The liquid filled engine mounts are used to absorb vibration primarily while the engine is at idle when the engine doesn’t run as smoothly. Things like this are employed to make your ride more comfortable, quieter and more efficient to operate.

Features that ring my bell include adaptive cruise control with pre-collision braking and I also look for “blind spot” sensing (available as an option on this Subaru) which is extremely useful. I also find lane departure warning interesting and is another crutch to keep you attentive to ‘driving’ and not all the other distractions we’re inclined to. With adaptive cruise you can literally take your foot off the accelerator and watch the car come to a complete stop in traffic and start up when cars in front begin to move. All such technology makes your drive more comfortable and less stressful. There is a comfort and calmness to the driving experience that is provided by a smart car that has your back, so to speak. If you get distracted and the traffic stops suddenly pre-collision braking will save your butt.

Consumer Recommendation:

I have tested all the competition (except Ford and Toyota) and Subaru has over the years been a consistent performer. I like the AWD standard on all Subaru’s and the silence is deafening when it comes to the horror stories of maintenance typical of some cars. My experience of owning an automotive repair facility for many years gives me a good feeling about Subaru products due mostly to the fact they were absent from our shop. Look around and they are on the road and not in the shop. We did see a lot of BMW’s, Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar and the like but I can’t remember Subaru. To me that is a very good thing. Today there are new kids on the block so consider Hyundai and Kia in your search. But the entire list below deserves your consideration as well.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru Legacy $23,000, Audi A3 $30,000, Buick LaCrosse $33,000, Chevrolet Cruze $24,000, Chrusler 300 $31,000, Dodge Charger $27,000, Honda Accord Sedan $28,000, Hyundai Sonata $21,000, Kia Optima $22,000, Mazda 6 $25,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $20,000, Nissan Altima $28,000, Volkswagen Jetta $26,000.

Good News:

Nice ride, powerful, spacious, nice features and great fuel economy.

Bad News:

If I think of something I will tell you.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 175 horsepower (Boxer) H-4 cylinder engine, symetrical all wheel drive CVT 6-speed automatic tranmission, 8 airbags, 17” alloy wheels, 10-way power driver seat, dual zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, windshield wiper deicer, leather wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, 7” touch screen display with multi-touch control swipe, scrolling gesture control, voice activated controls, serius XM, SMS text messaging, iTunes tagging and dual USB ports, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, vehicle lane departure warning, new infotainment includes standard touch screen display with high resolution backup camera.

Options: you can add moonroof, navigation, blindspot detection and rear cross traffic alert for $2,890.

Gas Stats:
$3.77/ Gal avg. August 12, 2014
www.fueleconomy.gov
for more information.

26 City and 36 Highway MPG

Pricing:
MSRP $23,495

2013 Subaru Impreza 2.0 Sport Limited (983)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2013 Subaru Impreza 2.0 Sport Limited. It is a general feeling of all the reviews of owners I have researched that all wheel drive is a major reason for their love of the brand and model. Comments ranged all the way from “great car for the Midwest” and “Impresses as perfect City Car” and simply “Yahoo”.

It is true that when someone buys a particular car they are in love during the honeymoon phase. But there were some negative comments like “Confusing and quirky Bluetooth and more road noise than others compared”.

Well I find some truth in all the comments but overall Subaru has never failed to please. I do appreciate the AWD as a feature common to all Subaru’s. Further I could take no exception with all the glowing emotions they showed. It is simply a very nice automobile carefully crafted from its long history and my many reviews over the past 20 years.

General Information: 

It is assembled in Ota Gunma, Japan. Classification is Small Wagon. Cars from Subaru: BRZ, Forester,Impreza, Impreza WRX, Legacy, Outback, Tribeca and XV Crosstrek.

Handling & Performance:

148 horsepower is only adequate but acceptable for such good fuel economy as prices float around $4 a gallon and up.

Performance responsiveness is wanting when you need to pass. But once you know what power is available you simply adjust to all situations. In fact it has been the “Jack Rabbit” performance cars that always get me into trouble with the law. So if you want to be positive about the 148 horsepower chalk it up to saving money on speeding tickets.

But more importantly, it shines when it comes to enhanced control features such as dynamic control, traction control, brake assist with brake force distribution technology and of course All Wheel Drive. What Subaru has long included others are beginning to follow. And of course all-wheel drive is super in any weather condition.

Styling:

Clean simple lines.

Fit and Finish:

Always very good workmanship in Japanese cars generally.

Cost:

Outstanding value.

Conveniences and comfort:

Generally the press cars I drive include most all the bells and whistles but I sort thru those features and ignore the fluff. For example I find I never use the sun roof or moon roof so I wouldn’t ever spend the money to have one. I also find my iPhone Navigation application is a far better value than having one built into the car. But even more cost effective portable systems include Garmin, Magellan, Tom Tom, and others.

There are some features I wouldn’t do without like Bluetooth hands free phone and cruise control which will someday be standard on all cars or even mandated by law. More likely they will be included in a more comprehensive system of cars that drive themselves. If for example you have not driven a car equipped with a “Self-Parking Feature” for parallel parking you will be amazed and what computers can do. So it won’t be long until you will sit and watch the scenery while the car does the driving on GPS.

Consumer Recommendation:

You’re on your own because the prices are all very close and I know you have your favorites. I tend to lean to the Korean Hyundai and Kia cars as the best value these days but Subaru is a seasoned competitor long known for quality.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru Impreza $23,000, Chevrolet Cruse $22,000, Dodge Dart $20,000, Ford Focus $24,000, Honda Civic $24,000, Honda Fit $18,000, Hyundai Elantra $21,000, Kia Forte $19,000, Mazda 3 $23,000, Nissan Sentra $19,000, Scion tC $19,000, Toyota Matrix $19,000, VW Golf $20,000, Volvo C30 $26,000.

Good News:

Priced right, standard safety features and very good fuel economy.

Bad News:

148 horsepower is a little weak, but I wouldn’t trade up for less MPG.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 148 horsepower horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission, symmetrical all-wheel drive, dynamic control, front, side and side curtain and driver knee airbags, 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes with brake force distribution, tire pressure monitor, anti-theft alarm and immobilizer, roof rails, fog lights, 17” aluminum alloy wheels, climate control, audio with HD/CD/ aux input, Bluetooth hands free, leather trim and wrapped steering wheel with controls and shifter, USB with iPod connectivity, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering column, power windows, locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, all weather package with heated seats.

Note: for $2,200 you can opt for power moon roof, GPS Nav with LCD touch screen with rear vision camera, HD Radio and XM Satellite and Nav traffic.

Gas Stats:

$3.95/ Gal avg. June 24, 2013

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

27 City and 36 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $22,995

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2013 Subaru BRZ 2-door Sports Car. (973)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2013 Subaru BRZ Premium Manual 2-door Sports Car and you are gonna love this car. It is, in my opinion, among the best looking in this class and really well priced.

Subaru developed the rear-wheel drive BRZ with the fundamentals of sports car design in mind: low vehicle weight, an ultra-low center of gravity and precision steering. Utilizing Subaru’s new naturally aspirated 200 horsepower horizontally opposed (BOXER) engine design, the BRZ is a sports car that does not sacrifice everyday comfort and practicality, including up to estimated 34 mpg highway fuel economy. It has 2+2 seating and a folding rear seat to provide sufficient cargo space for four race tires and tools to track days.

General Information: 

It is assembled in Gunma, Japan. Classification is Sport Car. Cars from Subaru: BRZ, Forester, Impreza, Impreza WRX, Legacy, Outback, Tribeca and XV Crosstrek.

Opinion and Observations:

1.     Every diamond lane should be available to all traffic during off peak hour travel just like Northern California where the lane is open to enter and exit anywhere along the route. Southern California does not allow that ease of use and worse yet they can tax you if you go over the double lines even in off hours with fines of $4-500.00. Now that is Criminal.

 

2.     Who were the idiots who thought up FAST TRAK on the 110 freeway? And who were the idiots who let them do it? Enter corruption from Detroit, Chicago and the east coast states where toll roads are a way of life. California has now begun to slip into the toilet. I hope no one uses the damn things including the toll roads in Orange county and elsewhere. Isn’t it bad enough we pay the highest gas prices nationally and the tax is a huge percentage of the total. In California for example state tax is about $.40 and the Fed’s impose $.18. And on top of that I have to pay tolls to use the roads I’ve already paid for. That is BS. Next election change your vote to a name you don’t recognize since the ones you recognize spend the most advertising dollars and are crooked to begin with.

 

3.     Finally – a reminder that you slow down because those government tax collectors (they call themselves California Highway Patrol – more like predators) are out in force raking in the money for corrupt California politicians.

Handling & Performance:

Very good fuel economy while being a lot of fun to drive. Not all manual transmissions are as easy and intuitive to shift. And the power is good enough to skip gears 1st to 3 rd to 5 th gear makes around town driving easy. Seldom do you have to go through all 6 gears. Rear wheel drive.

Styling:

I thought the speedometer design was odd in that the most common speed on the display is not where it is easily readable. It would appear it was done that way for racing which you won’t be doing much of on the highways in most countries or states. And that led to them providing a digital display of current speed where it can be seen more easily without your eyes having to travel too far off the road.

Fit and Finish:

Very good.

Cost:

Extremely well priced in class.

Conveniences and comfort:

I felt the seat belt could not be adjusted to avoid the uncomfortable feeling on my neck.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is a sport car that is worth your consideration for only $26,000.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru BRZ $25,000, Audi TT $39,000, BMW 1 Series $31,000, Ford Mustang $31,000, Hyundai Genesis coupe $24,000, Hyundai Veloster $18,000, MINI Cooper $32,000, Nissan Z $32,000, VW Golf $18,000, Scion FR-S $25,000, VW GTI $24,000, Volvo C30 $26,000.

Good News:

Priced well in class, nice looking, good fuel economy and fun to drive, stability control, traction control with on/off setting for track driving, 4-wheel ABS brake assist disc brakes, fold down rear seats,leather wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel with red stitching, power assist steering, navigation with voice control and 6” LCD screen, stereo with HD radio & XM Satellite, CD player in dash, 8 speakers, Bluetooth hands free phone with audio streaming, iTunes tagging capability, USB port, SMS text messaging.

Bad News:

Seat belt adjustment, speedometer small and odd presentation. Difficult entry / exit.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 200 horsepower horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission,

Gas Stats:

$3.89/ Gal avg. April 13, 2013

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

25 City and 34 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $25,495.
Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek (949)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek that is all new this year. It is a 5 door crossover that is roomy and overall it is very comfortable. The cargo space was adequate, but I  had the occasion to load a wheel chair for a 95 year old grandma and it barely fit, but awkwardly and it consumed the entire space. Ok, so how often will you need to take grandma with a wheel chair somewhere, right? Actually the roof rails would have worked. Leave grandma in the chair and strap her to the roof … like in one of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series with Chevy Chase, for you movie buffs.

Or would it be better if you put the kids up there (instead of Grandma), with their iPhones and video games. They are so consumed by their digital life they wouldn’t know the difference. Come-on you know what I mean. God forbid that those same kids are given the keys to the car – texting and playing games while at the wheel? Really!

Although it is not likely it will ever get “Off Road” it is still capable to do so. They’ve done a good job balancing road clearance. XV comes in two models – Premium and Limited with different options.

General Information: 

Parts from the US / Canada n/a, Japan n/a. It is assembled in Japan, Classification is Compact / Crossover.Cars from Subaru: BRZ, Forester, Impreza, Impreza WRX, Legacy, Outback, Tribeca, XV Crosstrek.

Handling & Performance:

All wheel drive always (for Subaru) is comforting to drive and there is little or no slipping of the wheels relative to a two wheel drive car. The Boxer engine description is just to say that the pistons in this internal combustion engine lie flat or horizontally opposed. More importantly, it develops 148 horsepower which is just right for this 5 passenger car. It has surprisingly quick off the line and at highway cruising speed it is nicely responsive for passing.

Styling:

It is a new car for 2013 but it is pretty ‘generic’ in styling for most SUV offerings.

Fit and Finish:

Subaru’s are always well assembled. Remember the early days of automobiles when even the best of them didn’t fit together well but it wasn’t expected. You were just happy to have wheels, and that was true as recent as the 1970s when cars didn’t run all that well anyway so how well the seams fit was the least of their worries.

 Cost:

If you consider all you get standard in the Subaru this Crosstrek is priced very well. AWD (all wheel drive) is a big thing, costs a lot and provides a degree of safety on the road, the benefit of which can’t be discounted. Few cars have perfected AWD as well as Subaru and ALL Subaru’s are AWD.

Conveniences and comfort:

This Premium is well equipped with all the features I come to expect in today’s world of cars. By comparison, my first VW Bug in the 1970s had heater outlets on the base board in the rear and that was a point of discussion. Wow, that was cool, and that was the only feature other than it had a radio with push buttons no less. It was a comfort just to know it would start and you would get where you were going eventually. Cars today spoil the heck out of us, so there is little to complain about.

Consumer Recommendation:

The cars in class are all so close in price that it is safe to say consumers will fall back and buy based on their past personal experience. I encourage you to look at new or different brands than you have relied on when you’re ready to search for your next car. Korean made Hyundai is particularly interesting to me along with its sister company Kia. Smart (Mercedes Benz made) is considered competition in this grouping but I don’t consider it in this field. Chevrolet is also worth a long look.

Of the most similar noted here, the Outlander Sport is also AWD and the others are FWD.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru XV Crosstrek $22,000, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport $22,000, Ford Escape $22,000, Mitsubishi Outlander $23,000.

Good News:

Roomy, comfortable, responsive and good fuel economy (one consumer said he got 37 mpg highway).

Bad News:

Limited cargo space if you have 4 passengers.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 4-cylinder 148 horsepower Boxer engine, all wheel drive,

17” aluminum alloy wheels, dynamic control, continuous variable transmission, heated front seats and mirrors, wiper de-icer, privacy glass, tilt /telescoping steering wheel with controls for audio, cruis control and Bluetooth, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with brake assist, Roof rails, 12 v outlets in dash and console, O/S temp gauge with road surface freeze indicator, power windows and locks.

Gas Stats:

$3.77 / Gal avg. November 27, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

25 City and 33 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $21,995.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0 Ltd (936)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Limited 4-door sedan. Yep, it’s a compact and it is in a class that is very crowded with competitors because it is one of the more popular segments of the market. It is affordable for all you get including a reasonable cost of operations. In addition to the price issues, the size is very serviceable and it is worth mentioning again that it is stingy on gas. Perfect in today’s world.

I’ve never felt so uncertain about ‘everything’ and cars are at the top of that list of everything because of the unstable gas prices. Is the government playing games with the economy while the man in the street is struggling to make a living, pay the rent and put food on the table and have reasonable transportation cost. They are stonewalling everything like we don’t know what they are doing. The support for that statement is simple – Approval rating of government is 10-15%. Well, we’ll see what happens in November when Change is sure to be coming. Then the drilling can resume, gas prices can stabilize and confidence will get us back to work. I’m tired of putting out $100 to fill the tank and do it again in a week. I’m not a happy camper.

Finally this Subaru is a trusted brand that you will rarely hear negative comments. Subaru simply has been a consistent company and performer.

General Information:

Parts from the US / Canada 0%, Japan 100%. It is assembled in Japan. Classification is Compact. Cars from Subaru: BRZ, Forester, Impreza, Impreza WRX, Legacy, Outback and Tribeca.

Handling & Performance:

Just fine handling since it is average in size but you won’t win many drag races with only 148 horsepower. But then I don’t imagine anyone expects more from an economy compact and neither do I. But I did appreciate the fuel to performance ratio generally and that is especially so when you consider it is an all wheel drive vehicle.

Performance is enhance by control features such as dynamic control, traction control, brake assist with brake force distribution technology. In addition it has a complete air bag system for safety.

Styling:

Nice clean lines and conventional styling.

Fit and Finish:

Very Good.

Cost:

A good value commuter that will serve well as a small family sedan.

Conveniences and comfort:

I wasn’t happy with the electronic screen display. It is not easy to see and that was frustrating in using audio controls which was difficult to operate even for my passengers. Subaru – that needs some attention. Settings and Bluetooth were only fair and not as user friendly as they should and could be. But these are things only I would notice since once hands free and audio settings are done you won’t do much changing again, so I doubt it will be as irritating to you.

Overall it delivered a comfortable ride and the USB and iPod connectivity is appreciated in any car. Bluetooth of course should be standard equipment on all cars since it is a safety matter.

Consumer Recommendation:

The field of competitors is 25 strong and that is a tough one to trim down to a manageable number. Price is for the most part very close with the exception of the Audi and the Volvo that almost seem out of place in the lineup. Subaru is a must to include in your evaluation, however, because it sets itself apart with standard all wheel drive and with comparable fuel economy to boot.

I would also include Hyundai, Chevy Cruze, Kia and VW that are standout in my mind. Then sprinkle in a few others including your favorite brands.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru Impreza $22,000, Audi S4 $48,000, Dodge Dart $16,000, Volkswagen Beetle $19,000, Hyundai Elantra Touring $16,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution $34,000, Scion tC $19,000, Volvo C30 $25,000, Chevrolet Cruze $17,000, Mazda 3 $15,000, Volkswagen Golf $18,000, Nissan Sentra $16,000, Hyundai Elantra $17,000, Kia Forte Koup $17,000, Ford Focus $17,000, Honda Fit $15,000, Honda Civic $16,000, Chevrolet HHR $19,000, Honda Civic Hybrid $24,000, Toyota Matrix $19,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $18,000, Toyota Corolla $16,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $16,000.

Good News:

Affordable, good fuel numbers, all wheel drive standard and a trusted brand.

Bad News:

Subaru needs to look at improving the video display.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 4 cylinder 148 horsepower engine, automatic transmission, symmetrical all wheel drive, 4-wheel independent suspension, dynamic control, front, side and side curtain and driver knee airbag system, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, tire pressure monitor, anti theft alarm and immobilizer system, variable intermittent wipers, 17 “ aluminum alloy wheels, climate control, audio with CD, aux input and steering wheel mounted controls, Bluetooth hands free phone system, cruise control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power windows and door locks and power mirrors, remote keyless entry, leather trim and steering wheel and shifter, all weather package with heated front seats.

Gas Stats:

$3.99/ Gal avg. August 20, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

For more information.

27 City and 36 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $21,695.

2012 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium AWD SUV (917)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium AWD SUV.

The 2012 continues with minor changes after the Outback was redesigned for 2010, with a new standard audio system for all Premium trims, which includes AM/FM stereo, single-disc CD player with Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, iPod capability and USB port. A new Harman Kardon display-type audio system is optional for the Premium trims. A new Alloy Wheel Package for 2.5i includes 17-inch alloy wheels and fog lights.

General Information:

Parts from the US/ Canadian 40%, Japan 35%; Engine & Transmission – Japan. It is assembled in Lafayette, Indiana, USA, Classification is SUV AWD. Cars from Subaru:  Forester, Impreza, Impreza WRX, Legacy, Outback & Tribeca.

Opinion:

Driving requires attention to just that – DRIVING -. It doesn’t include sight-seeing, sleeping or TEXTING. Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell, but if the police REALLY do a service to all those sharing the highways and byways they should watch more closely for dangerous use of our cell phones. They seem to be motivated only by ‘campaigns’, like April of 2011 was Cell Phone Awareness month. So every other month it is ok to break the law?

The first fine for illegal use of a cell phone  is just under $200… but the second offence will cost you about $450. I have no problem with that law any more than the enforcement of radical, unsafe or drunk driving or excessive speed.

Well I just observed a young woman in the #1 (fast) lane speeding up, slowing down, speeding up and slowing down over and over for miles. So I pulled along side of her to find the answer to the erratic behavior. She was texting.

Handling & Performance:

This is a perfect size for the average family for a great run about, around town, easy to park  SUV. It’s also good on the highway. AWD is standard on all Subaru’s so it adds to handling characteristics as well as providing another degree of safety. It is 170 horsepower  powerful. Nice.

Styling:

Smooth lines, which is more to my liking, than a lot of products out there. How about you? Or do you like the edgy and busy lines. Inside the wood accents give an elegant touch to an otherwise plain Jane look. Plain in a woman is my preference since you can’t really improve on perfection, but the embellishment in a car does actually add to the beauty.

Fit and Finish:

Good fit and elegant finishing touches.

Cost:

Really good and number one, in my opinion, in this class.

Conveniences and comfort:

Good standard features and overall comfort is very good. Bluetooth was easy to set up which isn’t always the case with many of the test vehicles I drive. After getting nailed for not using hands free I’m more aware of the need to use it every time I get into the vehicle.

Consumer Recommendation:

The Outback price point is the best of the bunch as only the more expensive brands are 4WD or AWD. This is at the top of my list in this class. The field is small and when you determine what you are willing to pay for your new car it is even more manageable as you can limit the number you will want to test drive.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru Outback $25,000, Dodge Journey $26,000, Honda Crosstour $34,000, Acura TSX Sport Wagon $31,000, BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon $40,000, Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon $41,000: Land Rover Range Rover $79,000, Mazda CX-7 $34,000, Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback $21,000,  Saab 9-3 Sport Combi $30,000, Toyota Venza $29,000, Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen $20,000, Volvo V50 $29,000,.

Good News:

Decent fuel economy for AWD SUV, best price in class for what you get.

Bad News:

None noted.

Standard Equipment:

2.5 liter 170 horsepower horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed manual transmission, 17” alloy wheels, all wheel drive, dynamic control or as some call it, Stability Control, front side and side curtain airbags, 4-wheel ABS (anti-locking) power disc brakes, tire pressure monitor, anti-theft alarm & engine immobilizer, rollover sensor, independent raised suspension, Roof rails, privacy glass, air conditioning, audio system with CD player, Bluetooth hands free phone,  10-way power adjustable driver seat, cruise control, electronic parking brake, Leather wrapped steering wheel, tilt/telescopic column, power windows / locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry and 60/40 split fold down reclining rear seat.

Gas Stats:

$4.13/ Gal avg. April 9, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

22 City and 29 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $25,095

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0 I Premium 5 Door (916)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Subaru Impreza 2.0 I Premium 5 Door small wagon.

Subaru says that Impreza is redesigned, with all-new 4- and 5-door trims and a new, more efficient power train offering a 30 percent increase in fuel economy over the previous model. It is powered by a new 2.0-liter 148-horsepower boxer engine, and comes with a choice of a 5-speed manual transmission or an enhanced, upgraded Lineartronic continuously variable transmission. A more aggressive new design draws focus to the Impreza’s AWD heritage with powerful arches, a longer wheelbase and redesigned door and roof trim and front seats yields gains in passenger and cargo room. Interior upgrades include roomier cabins, higher-quality, soft-touch interior materials and the latest infotainment and connectivity technology, including Bluetooth, audio streaming, iPod capability and six speakers; a new navigation system is available for Premium trims.

Nice words but in truth it is pretty much as I saw it. What’s most impressive to me is the fuel economy in a car that is affordable all at the same time. Ok, so it is a fairly compact car in the sedan or small wagon that I tested. And for a small car it is truly roomy for average folks. For the ‘big’ people it is a little cramped and not suggested.

General Information:

Parts from the US/ Canadian 0%, Japan 100%; Engine & Transmission – Japan. It is assembled in Japan, Classification is Small Wagon. Cars from Subaru:  Forester,Impreza, Impreza WRX, Legacy, Outback & Tribeca.

Opinion:

Here is an echo of a prior opinion about the cost of driving is going up thanks to the CHP enforcing California legislation pointed at raising revenue for a corrupt government hunger for cash to perpetuate a level of government services we can little afford.

But the important thing to remind you of is that you too can be a victim of government hunger for more so they can waste more. Friend Richard reminds me that “the thirst when the well is fullest is the thirst that is unquenchable”. The actual quote is “Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?”

―Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese American artist, poet & author of The Prophet

Either way / either version the truth of the matter is that you too may have noticed in the past week a dramatic increase in our fellow travelers pulled over by the CHP. They are hell bent of separating you from the little money you have. . . to put a hurt on you. That my friend is how they “Protect and Serve”. What a crock that is.

So – be on your guard and don’t be a victim. The bad guys are out in force. Don’t give them a target. Slow down and starve the monster government we have in place in today’s world.

Handling & Performance:

VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) is composed of 2 main systems used with full time 4 wheel drives. VDC is traction control that senses vehicle direction and uses brake, throttle and engine management to help maintain stability. When the wheels are spinning without traction or the vehicle is not going in the direction it is being steered, the VDC system kicks in. Direction: uses brakes to slow down wheels to reduce spin and help control vehicle direction. Skidding: yaw and steering wheel sensors use brakes to slow down spinning wheels and re-direct power to the wheel(s) with the best traction to re-gain control. Engine power: use engine output to slow spinning by reducing spark to cylinders to cut back power and help re-gain control.

Another successful refinement to antilock braking systems has been electronic brake force distribution, or EBD. It is based on the principle that not every wheel needs to put forth the same effort into bringing the car to a stop.

EBD is based on the principle that the weight being supported by the wheels of your car isn’t evenly distributed. Some wheels carry a heavier load than others and will require more brake force in order to bring the car to a stop without it going out of control. The amount of weight being supported by a wheel shifts during the braking process, so the amount of force necessary at each wheel can change rapidly. An EBD system detects how much weight is being supported by each wheel, and then changes the amount of braking power sent to each wheel on an instant-by-instant basis.

Styling:

Design definitely uses sharp edges and it seems to work for the Impreza. It is not my favorite style technique because it almost stands out too much.

Fit and Finish:

Good.

Cost:

As expected and the entire segment gives absolutely more value for your hard earned dollar.

Conveniences and comfort:

Perhaps one of the most useful features of modern cars is the simple brake release delay referred to as “Hill Start”. This feature is most useful in cars with manual transmissions. When you are ready to start and remove your foot from the brake pedal the brake stays engaged for a brief few seconds giving you the chance to release the clutch as you apply the gas without rolling backwards. Nice.

Consumer Recommendation:

This is a well priced segment of the market and most are closely aligned. Observe the list of features and pay most attention to the safety features such as stability control and dynamic braking. These are particularly important when you have young drivers who will be using the car. Such technology will do much to keep inexperienced drivers out of trouble – accident free.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru Impreza $19,000, Toyota Corolla $16,000, Volkswagen Golf $18,000, Hyundai Elantra Tourning $16,000, Scion tC $19,000, Volkswagen Beetle $22 ,000: Audi S4 $47,000, Chevrolet Cruze $17,000, Hyundai Elantra $15,000, Kia Forte $20,000, Mazda 3 $23,000, Nissan Sentra $18,000, Chevrolet HHR $19,000, Kia Forte Koup $19,000, Ford Focus $21,000, Honda Civic $16,000, Honda Fit $15,000, Volkswagen GTI $24,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $16,000, Toyota Matrix $19,000, Volvo C30 $25,000.

Good News:

Very good fuel economy, important new safety controls.

Bad News:

Only fair interior space.

Standard Equipment:

2.0 liter 148 horsepower horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed manual transmission, 4-wheel independent suspension, 16” aluminum wheels, all wheel drive, dynamic control or as some call it, Stability Control, front side and side curtain airbags with driver knee airbag, 4-wheel ABS (anti-locking) power disc brakes with brake force distribution, tire pressure monitor, anti-theft alarm & engine immobilizer, daytime running lights, air conditioning, audio system with auxiliary input, steering wheel controls, Bluetooth hands free phone, USB port for iPod connectivity, cruise control, tile/telescopic column, power windows / locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, 60/40 split fold down rear seat and trip computer.

Gas Stats:

$4.15/ Gal avg. March 30, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

25 City and 33 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $19,295.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2012 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited (905)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited Sedan with comfortable seating for 5. A great, affordable quality family sedan. There’s lots to like in this capable car from a company with a great track record for reliability. Not much bad press on the Subaru and they all come with All Wheel Drive safety.

General Information: 

Parts from the US/ Canadian 50%, Japan 35%; Engine & Transmission – Japan. It is assembled in Lafayette, Indiana, USA, Classification is Mid-size. Cars from Subaru Forester, Impreza, Impreza WRX, Legacy, Outback & Tribeca.

Opinion:

Here is an echo of prior opinion about the cost of driving is going up thanks to the CHP enforcing California legislation pointed at raising revenue for a corrupt government hunger for cash to perpetuate a level of government services we can live without. The following listing is going around the internet and is substantially correct from my information. But the important thing is that you are beginning to see a significant increase in traffic stops. So be on your guard and don’t be a victim. The bad guys are out in force.

Subject: Important Notice: HUGE California Traffic Tickets Fines Effective 01/06/2012 

Please be extremely careful in your driving and car registration & insurance matters. State of California is broke and they are trying hard to squeeze all of us hard to collect money. Thanks Gov. Jerry Brown. He is as bad as his father Pat Brown the older generation remembers.

Highway Patrol is under pressure to issue a lot more tickets than last year with at least 30% increase in fines over 2009, so beware of radar guns, highway and traffic cameras  and tougher enforcement of parking rules.

Here are some OBSCENE Traffic Ticket Fines (Effective 01/06/2012) Go to the Snopes link for more information  http://www.snopes.com/politics/traffic/california2011.asp .

VC 14600(A)     $214  Failure to notify DMV of address change within 10 days
Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.

VC 16028(A)     $796  Failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility (insurance)

Note: This fine may be reduced with proof of insurance on or after the violation date.

VC 21453(A)     $436  Failure to stop at a red signal.

VC 22350           $328 Unsafe speed, 16 to 25 miles over the limit.
VC 22454(A)       $616  Passing a school bus with flashing red signals.
VC 23123(A)      $196  Driving while using a wireless phone not hands free, first offense.
VC 22500            $976  Parking in a bus loading area.
VC 22507(A)       $976  Violation of disabled parking provisions, first offense.
VC 22507(B)     $1876   Violation of disabled parking provisions, second offense.
VC 27360            $436   Mandatory use of passenger child restraints.
VC 4000              $256        No evidence of current registration.
Note: The fine may be reduced with valid proof of correction.

Handling & Performance:

Very good with 256 horsepower delivering responsive power as well as 28 highway mpg.

Styling:

Lovely… but common place at the same time.

Fit and Finish:

Very good that is common to Japanese cars.

Cost:

Very good in class. But if you want Nav, moon roof, XM, Bluetooth, rear vision camera, DVD player you can add $3,000. You can reduce this cost significantly by getting a portable Nav if it is as important a convenience as it is for me.

Conveniences and comfort:

I find I can do without a moon roof and seldom use other items in the Options listing for $3,000 as well.

Consumer Recommendation:

Wow, a lot of brands in class. I’ve driven all brands …. And Subaru is surely a great option in the top 10 in my mind. Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Subaru, Toyota and VW is an alphabetical listing. You can rearrange the list in order of your preference.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru Legacy $29,000, Acura TSX $30,000, Audi A4 $33,000,  BMW 3 Series $35,000, Buick LaCrosse $30,000, Buick Regal $27,000, Buick Verano $23,000, Cadillac CTS $36,000, Chevrolet Malibu $28,000, Chrysler 200 $19,000, Dodge Avenger $20,000, Ford Fusion $25,000, Honda Accord $30,000, Hyundai Sonata $26,000, Infiniti G Sedan $32,000, Kia Optima $27,000, Lexus ES 350 $37,000, Lexus IS $35,000, Lincoln MKZ $35,000, Mazda 6 $24,000, Mercedes Benz C-Class $35,000, Mitsubishi Galant $24,000, Nissan Altima $25,000, Nissan Maxima $32,000, Saab 9-3 $29,000, Suzuki Kizashi $22,000, Toyota Camry $27,000, Volkswagen CC $35,000, Volkswagen Jetta $18,000, Volkswagen Passat $29,000, Volvo S40 $28,000.

Good News:

Priced well, good safety features built in, great family sedan.

Bad News:

None

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter 6-cylinder engine, 5-speed auto trans, power steering, all wheel drive, traction control,  vehicle dynamic control, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, front , side and side curtain airbags, LATCH Child system, theft alarm and immobilizer system, tire pressure monitor, 17” alloy wheels, leather seating, climate control, audio with CD player, power windows, Bluetooth,

Gas Stats:

$3.61/ Gal avg. January 12, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

18 City and 25 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $28,295.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2012 Subaru Impreza 5-Door: Less is More (903)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Subaru Impreza 5-Door: Less is More – Driven By Jim Powell- Auto Journalist. This guest column is from a colleague of many years and he writes a column for the Mojave Daily News in the Antelope Valley, CA. Herewith is Jim’s review of the Impreza from Subaru.

Everyone seems to know the brand names of WRX or STI but few seem to know what a Subaru Impreza even looks like. Even my family in the Pacific Northwest, where every other car and SUV is a Subaru, did not recognize that Subaru made a compact car and 5-door wagon/hatchback in addition to a Forester and Outback. This might be because the previous Impreza without the performance WRX equipment was more expensive and less fuel efficient than a Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, or Nissan Sentra. In Europe, the Impreza has been sold as an upscale compact and priced out of the mainstream compact market.

Handling & Performance:

Let us get this straight. The size of the 2012 engine got smaller. Horsepower and torque has been reduced in the non-turbo Impreza engine. And the car got larger? Well, good for Subaru for building a lighter engine, vehicle, and stronger platform using high-strength steel for the same amount of money. $17,495 is the starting MSRP for the 2012 Impreza sedan which matches the outgoing model. Yet the 2012 Impreza gets improvements in mileage with an EPA estimated 27 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.  According to Subaru, these changes make the 2012 Impreza the most fuel efficient all-wheel drive car in America.

Having driven the 5-door Impreza recently, I was impressed with the quiet and smooth operation of the new engine and the total package (CVT sedan starts at $18,495). Acceleration from the 2.0 liter flat Boxer four-cylinder engine with148 horsepower was fairly strong and the mid-range power curve makes the car more drivable on 2-lane highways where many Subaru’s tend to live. Passing trucks in this lighter car feels more comfortable and high winds don’t seem to bother the Impreza’s handling either.

The new 2.0-liter Boxer engine is actually the same size displacement as an earlier Subaru engine but is really a whole new animal. They have lengthened the piston stroke for more mid-range grunt. The new double overhead camshafts have been modified for better engine intake and exhaust breathing at idle and under a load. There is now a Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS) for more efficient torque distribution. So the goal is not a dragster engine or a quick torque peak WRX engine but rather a stronger mid-range power curve for everyday driving.

The 5-speed manual transmission in the 2012 Impreza is noticeably smoother and the shifting gates are more aligned and less clunky. The stick shift transmission has been Subaru’s Achilles heel in recent years but this gearbox has been improved for 2012. However, for the higher mileage, consumers should choose the second-generation Constant-Variable Transmission (CVT) that provides infinite gear of ratios.

Having lived with this belt-driven transfer of power in Nissans for years, Subaru has made their CVT quicker to response when starting up from a stop and quicker to adjust when passing power is demanded. Either transmission will do the job but the CVT is less to think about and features a 6-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle shifters, which allows the driver to control the transmission via six pre-set ratios. A remember, it gets 2-5 mpg better mileage.

There are two different versions of standard Symmetrical AWD and average street driving will not reveal which one is which. The Impreza models with the 5-speed manual transmission feature a “Continuous AWD” with a viscous coupling locking center differential that simply and efficiently splits the power between the front to rear (50:50). The Lineartronic® CVT models use what Subaru calls “Active AWD.” This system electronically manages a continuously variable transfer clutch that splits wheel torque based on a variety of speed and engine demands. During acceleration, deceleration, and wheel slip, the computer determines the power ratio front to rear and back again for the best traction on wet and dry surfaces.

The longer wheelbase(104.1 inches) has given both Impreza models a larger backseat and the 5-door a very usable cargo compartment (Rear seats up/down: 22.5 cu. ft./52.4 cu. ft.). Little things like a hatch that opens high enough to not decapitate tall people, doors the seal well enough to keep out wind noise, and controls that are easy to understand, are what makes a Subaru a Subaru.  Now the windshield is more raked than in the previous Impreza, with the bottom of the A-pillar moved 7.9 inches forward, allowing for a front door opening nearly five inches longer for easier entry/exit.

Styling:

Higher hip points and a lower, flatter instrument panel, along with larger side mirrors, contribute to better visibility all around the driver. The backseat is larger and the headroom is slightly increased but the rear doors could be lengthened to make ingress and egress easier. Like so many other car companies, there is an assumption that more than 2 people will not be coming along for the ride. The rear compartment in the hatchback is symmetrical with good storage on the sides but it is not very well finished.

Cost:

The 2012 Impreza is offered in 2.0i Premium, Sport Premium and Limited models – the Limited a new addition for this year. The 5-door Premium hatchback starts at $19,295 and includes many standard amenities like air conditioning, cruise control, trip computer, and keyless central locks. For the 2.0i Limited, prices start at $21,595 for the 4-door and $22,095 for the 5-door version. Finally, the Impreza 2.0i Sport Premium starts at $20,295 and is only offered in the 5-door body style.

There are also some Legacy/Outback features like the All-Weather Package, body-color rocker panels, fog lights, roof rails, and upgraded fabric upholstery. The Sport Limited and Premium gets the optional navigation system and power moon roof. Even with all the goodies, the Impreza can stay under $25,000 which is less money than a fully loaded Civic or Corolla Matrix. The standard audio system in the Premium models features Bluetooth® hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, Radio Data Broadcast System (RDBS), iPod® control capability, USB port, 3.5mm aux. input jack and six speakers.

A short-coming in all Subaru models has been the navigation system. Fortunately, there is a new navigation system which includes a 6.1 inch touch screen LCD display. Even though the buttons are still too small, the voice controls are improved and features like iTunes® tagging, SMS text messaging, and a larger database make this system sing a better tune.

Consumer Recommendation:

While some criticize the lack of “flash” in the new Impreza, I think they have developed a real-world sedan and 5-door hatchback wagon that is perfect for today’s economy. Proven in sales of cars like the new VW Jetta and Hyundai Elantra, people are looking for more substance, more economy and a little less sport. Excellent standard safety features and airbags everywhere protect all 5 passengers. Mileage is up and so is the drivability of this car. In this case, Subaru has proven that less really can be more.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru Impreza 5-door $18,000, Audi S4 $47,000, Chevrolet Cruze $17,000, Chevrolet HHR $19,000, Ford Focus $17,000, Honda Civic $16,000, Honda Fit $15,000, Hyundai Elantra $16,000, Kia Forte $15,000, Mazda 3 $15,000, Mitsubishi Lancer $15,000, Nissan Sentra $16,000, Scion tC $19,000, Toyota Corolla $16,000, Toyota Matrix $19,000, Volkswagen GTI $24,000, Volvo C30 $25,000.

Gas Stats:

$3.54/ Gal avg. January 2, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

25 City and 34 Highway MPG

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair

2012 Subaru Tribeca Limited AWD (902)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the 2012 Subaru Tribeca Limited AWD Crossover. It is a 7-passenger SUV that continues Premium, Limited and Touring trim lines.

Heated front seats and an auxiliary air conditioning unit with headliner-mounted vents in the second and third row seats is standard. Also standard include a dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power driver’s seat; 4-way power passenger seat; leather touches, a 100-watt AM/FM stereo system with CD player and six speakers. All Tribeca models are pre-wired for XM® or SIRIUS® Satellite radio, and all feature a standard console-mounted auxiliary audio jack to connect portable audio players, such as iPods, to play through the vehicle’s audio system.

Don’t you just love all these neat techy stuff. Keeps the kids busy but in some ways it is too much like being in the space shuttle rather than simple transportation.

General Information:

Parts from the US/ Canadian 40%, Japan 35%; Engine & Transmission – Japan. It is assembled in Lafayette, Indiana, USA, Classification is SUV AWD. Cars from Subaru Forester, Impreza, Impreza WRX, Legacy, Outback & Tribeca.

Handling & Performance:

Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and a four-wheel traction control system (TCS) and Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive enhance the driving experience in ways we aren’t really aware of. And you will have to factor that in when it comes to cost.

Styling:

Styling is rather commonplace in today’s world and while simple it has an elegant exterior that gives Tribeca a strong road presence. Electroluminescent dials and subtle ambient interior footwell lighting provide a sophisticated touch. Nice.

Fit and Finish:

Always exceptional.

Cost:

A bit pricey, but as I say you must consider the unseen features that make it more than a pretty face.

Conveniences and comfort:

The second row seat features a tilt-and-slide control on both sides and an assist spring that reduces the effort needed to slide the second row seat. Molded handles ease passenger step-in to the third row, that is a 50/50 split fold-down.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you appreciate Japanese quality and workmanship this Tribeca is in good company and worth your consideration.

Recognized Competition:

Subaru Tribeca $33,000, Acura MDX $43,000, Buick Enclave $43,000, Chevrolet Traverse $31,000, Dodge Journey $32,000, Ford Edge $33,000, Honda Pilot $38,000, Hyundai Santa Fe $31,000, Kia Sorento $27,000, Mazda CX-9 $33,000, Nissan Murano $38,000, Toyota Highlander $37,000.

Good News:

Safety features AWD etc., noted, nice styling, quiet comfort,

Bad News:

Only fair fuel economy.

Standard Equipment:

3.6 liter H6 256 horsepower engine, 5-speed auto transmission, Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes with brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, front side and side curtain airbags, LATCH child system, rollover sensor, tire pressure monitor, vehicle dynamic control, 18” aluminum alloy wheels, fog lights, Harman/Kardon 10-speaker audio with 6-CD and XM satellite, Bluetooth, cruise control, tilt steering column, climate control, heated mirrors, wipers with de-icer, Aux audio input, leather wrapped wheel and leather trimmed upholstery, heated front seats, power driver’s seat with memory, 40/20/40 split fold down rear seat and 3rd row 50/50 split fold down.

Gas Stats:

$3.61/ Gal avg. January 20, 2012

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

16 City and 21 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $32,495.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2012 – An Automotive Love Affair