Which models of AWD wagons should I look at: Australia $7-10k
January 9, 2015 9:28 PM   Subscribe

I need help deciding what make and model vehicles I should be looking at for my next car purchase.

Wish list:
  • Mechanical and structural quality, reliability and reasonable economy.
  • AWD wagon, big enough to sleep one 5'9" person on occasion with the seats down.
  • Power >2ltr
  • Good clearance underneath, spacious head and leg room, room between steering wheel and lap
  • 2005 onwards, $7-$10k, $12k at a pinch with a good sale of my current vehicle.
I have looked at Subaru's but I am not sure which ones will have the features I want. What other vehicles may suit my needs? What are the must-consider features of buying an AWD wagon? What are some of the common problems with your AWD wagon? Please, help me short-cut the confusion that is inherent in looking for a used vehicle.

I will be doing most of my research online and will only be test-driving once I have a short list sorted (no car yards nearby).
posted by Kerasia to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
I have a 2006 Toyota Kluger that I'm very happy with. 125000 kms and no issues at all.

I think that might be towards the high end of your price range, but it's a lovely wagon.
posted by Combat Wombat at 11:08 PM on January 9, 2015

Be aware that when the systems in these types of cars break down, they are very costly to fix.

A really good way to compare cars is to look at the towing capacity. That will indicate the quality of the equipment.

Older Subaru Foresters are petrol only, so only mildly economical but fit your price range.

Not in your budget but I'd recommend the Audi A6 all road 2005 5cyl diesel or the Mercedes ML, first generation. Also comes in diesel.
posted by travellingincognito at 4:37 AM on January 10, 2015

Subaru Forester, hands down. Don't go pre- 2004, though, as they had a run of head problems in the engines prior to that.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:15 AM on January 10, 2015

I think you want a Subaru too. I'm partial to the outback myself, but the Forester is a great vehicle too that would fit all your needs. You should be able to get a very decent one for 10K.

I've been driving an Outback for years and have had very few problems whatsoever. It's hands-down the best car I've ever owned. I drive her through the snow and the mountains a lot and she's been nothing but reliable, safe and a workhorse. Also tons of space, for hauling or sleeping or whatever. There are days I wish I got better gas mileage, but I have a 2001 and get about 27 mpg on the highway. The newer ones do much better.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:58 AM on January 10, 2015

Response by poster: Don't go pre- 2004, though, as they had a run of head problems

Thanks! Anymore of this type of advice so I can winnow down a list of year/model choices?
posted by Kerasia at 2:07 PM on January 10, 2015

In that price range and something long enough to sleep in, I think you're looking at a choice between the Nissan X-Trail or Subaru Forester (or Outback). I've driven long-term (work cars) the X-Trail and a Subaru Liberty wagon and my choice, hands-down, would be the Subaru.

The X-Trail is probably better in 'real' off-road conditions - a friend of mine used to have one and I was impressed by its ability for a soft-roader, but if you are looking for a daily-use car and maybe some unmade surfaces, the Subaru is a far more comfortable car for daily driving, in my view. The Liberty was the on-road version, not the outback, so that may be not a completely fair comparison. The Subaru has slightly less ground clearance than the X-Trail though, so that may change your perspective. The Outback has less clearance than the Forester, FYI - the only serious difference so, if ground clearance isn't critical either would do you. If you browse around the forums where 'serious' off-roaders hang out (and I very much recommend you don't do this), Subarus are afforded a high level of respect, however begrudgingly, for their ability off-road and their reliability.

In terms of features, you aren't going to get much choice in that price range so, unless something is a must-have for you (eg auto), getting stuck on features might make things very difficult. Given you are looking for something you can sleep in, check how the rear seats fold down - don't just look at the distance between the back of the front seats and the tailgate, because some fold the rear seat squab up, then fold the backrest down, meaning a critical amount of length is lost. Along the same lines, make sure the floor is reasonably flat when the seats are folded down.

I always use carsales.com.au and research until I've decided fairly specifically the car I want, then use the saved search feature to drill down to find suitable candidates. By being clear about what you want and just looking for that, you are ready to make a decision when a 'perfect match' comes along, but it does take some work to get to that point. If you need to trade a car, make sure you select only dealer used cars in the search, or you'll get lots of false results. You probably already know all this, of course.
posted by dg at 5:06 PM on January 10, 2015

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