Looking at this for a chase vehicle...

Mar 19, 2005
Independence, MO
Looking at this for a daily driver/chase vehicle...thoughts?

Hey y'all
So I've been looking for a new car (we finally settled with the Colorado Dealer Licensing Board- they ruled in our favor and the dealership that sold me my false mileage 1990 Mercedes 300TE is being forced to buy it back from us for $9k) and I think I've found the perfect daily driver/chase vehicle:

It's a 2001 Subaru Outback Limited in the very sharp looking Black Granite Pearl/Titanium color combo, powered by the 2.4 liter Boxer four banger and a 5 speed. This car is fully loaded with power everything, leather interior, dual moonroofs, and heated seats. It has 98,350 two owner miles with complete service records and a clean Carfax. It's at Mountain States Toyota in Denver (a highly reputable dealership) and they only want $8,491 for it, which is almost $2k under book, likely because of the manual tranny, which is a hard sell on the Front Range.
There are two primary considerations for my purchase of this car.
The first consideration is its function as a daily driver/cargo hauler.
The AWD is the number one reason I'm buying this car. For great all season traction and miniscule impact on fuel efficiency, the Subarau AWD system simply can't be beat. Whether rain, snow, ice or mud, this car can handle it all. I'm a professional photographer and have a $%#!load of equipment to haul around to my shoots. Sedan trunks of any size are simply not big enough to hold all of my equipment. With the rear seats folded flat, the Outback has enough room for me to shove every piece of equipment I own in the cargo hold and still have room to spare. As far as safety goes this car is exceptionally safe, with standard front/side airbags as well as ABS and traction control and five star government and IIHS crash test ratings. I have no problems with driving stick, I actually like driving manuals better than automatics, they're more fun to drive on the open road, tap the powerband of the engine better and get better overall gas mileage. The pain in the a$$ city gridlock driving is an acceptable trade off. The exterior is nicely styled- it won't win any sex appeal awards, but it's pretty sharp looking for a midsize wagon. Tasteful is the word I believe I'm looking for. It's a little on the anonymous side, but that's ok with me.
As far as the interior goes, I love leather, it's so much classier, so much more comfortable and so much easier to clean and keep clean than cloth, particularly dark colored leather like in this car. The con here is it gets much hotter in the summertime than any other interior material, but if you have tinted windows, put a sunshade in the windshield and crack the windows/sunroof, they stay considerably cooler.
This car also has 7.3 inches of ground clearance- that's more than a 4WD Ford Explorer! I'm a big outdoorsman and the Outback will be a perfect hunting/camping/back country exploring/light off roading rig.
Also, Subaru's are EXTREMELY reliable vehicles. I know several people that own Legacy's, Outbacks and Forester's, and they have nothing but positive things to say about their cars in terms of long term reliability. These cars, if properly maintenanced, can last up to 300,000 miles or more. That's Mercedes/BMW/Volvo/Saab/Toyota/Honda type long haul capability. I asked several Subie owners about the miles on this car I'm looking at, and they say it's just getting broken in. That's extremely reassuring to a college student with limited funds!
The other consideration is its functionality as a chase vehicle. Big on this list is the standard AWD. 9 out of 10 times you'll be fine with FWD or RWD on a chase. But there's always that one time that you need AWD or 4WD and you don't have and you're screwed. As for me, with the kind of luck I have, I don't like to take any chances. I was able to get out of some pretty hairy situations on dirt roads while chasing in my 300TE last summer thanks to the 4MATIC awd system. The interior is very roomy, and there's plenty of places for gadgets; a nice, flat dash to mount my video camera to, lots of space to mount a laptop desk in the passenger footwell and still have room for a passenger, big pieces of unused plastic on the sides of the HVAC center stack to mount radios, etc. Up on the rooftop, even with dual sunroofs, theres gads plenty space to mount antennaes, anemometers, etc. With the rear seats folded, the aforementioned cargo hold is large enough to accomodate a blow up mattress and serve as sleeping quarters. Which it inevitably will every time I chase multiple days (I can't afford motels at this point, I'm a poor white farmboy, lol).

So yeah, this Subie has everything I want and need in a vehicle. It'll be the perfect daily driver, cargo hauler, back country adventurer and storm pursuer. I've already talked with the internet sales manager, and I hope to go up to Denver in the next week or so to take it for a spin and make the purchase.
In previous vehicle threads on this forum, many chasers have expressed that the Outback had the right balance of features (AWD, great cargo room, low gas consumption, reliability) to be the perfect chase vehicle. I think they're right on the money; otherwise I wouldn't be buying it.
Any thoughts, questions or comments on my prospective new ride?:cool:
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Go, buy it now.

My next general purpose car will be a Suby of some type...you can't kill 'em. They were making AWD cars decades before it became en vogue, and they are reliable as vehicle can be. I'd have no qualms about buying a Suby.
Not a bad ride for the price. Couple of observations.
Sunroof (especially 2 of them) and hail is not a good mix. Sunroof/moonroof repairs/replacement will set you back $$$$$$$$'s. Something to contemplate before you decide to venture into large hail.
AWD does not = 4wd, and there is no "4Lo". Those look like run of the mill all season radials, and I'm sure it does not have skid plates, so I don't know how far off road I'd venture. Although that's from the "in the mountains" aspect of it. (It only takes 1 rock to go from this:D to this:mad: )
Those foglights are massive. I'd suggest you install that "clear nose mask/clear bra" material on those puppies. Either that, or find some sort of aftermarket mesh guard to install over them. Bugs and rocks seem to gravitate towards lights made of glass. It won't stop something the size of a half dollar, but it's an inexpensive way to help deter some of the smaller rocks from killing those lights. I did the clear mask thing a year ago on the foglights on my Accord for $20, and I've not had to replace one since. If it bubbles or gets nasty, it peels right off and you can just re-do it.
Yeah I've given much thought to the whole sunroof/hail scenario (which is why I like the steel sunroof on my 300TE, that will be one of the biggest things I will miss about that car) but the sunroofs are standard on the Limited, and you couldn't get leather on the standard Outback model, and it has everything else I want, so I'll take the risk. It'd take baseball + size hail to take out the sunroofs, as the glass is almost a quarter inch thick, but yeah, I definitely will try to avoid hail cores with a vengeance in this car.:rolleyes:
They do offer aftermarket mesh guards for the foglights, I think they're something like $30 for a set, definitely worth the investment. They also offer a front skid plate, which I believe is in the neighborhood of $50. I plan on ordering both as soon as I bring the car home.
I'm also well aware that AWD does not equal 4WD, but it'll still get you through about 80% of traction loss situations as well as 4WD, and its a hell of a lot better than front or rear drive in any traction loss situation, that's for sure. As far as off roading, I think it should be able to handle most Forest Service roads and easy to moderate trails, save the 4x4 only rutted rock tracks, without too much ado. The aforementioned 7.3 inches of ground clearance should be allow it plenty of maneuverability, and the skid plate I'm installing should help protect it from trail debris. I plan on buying an older Land Rover Discovery or Range Rover fairly cheap in a year or two and slapping a lift kit on it for true off roading and back country excursion duty in comfort and style, if not utter fuel ineffieciency.:D But I'll have the Subie for my economy car, and I'll be driving it 90% of the time anyway, so it won't be that big of a deal to spend the bucks to feed the thirsty Land Rover a dozen or so times a year.
2004 XT

I have a 2004 Forester XT the turbo engine. Nice vehicle and it holds in all weather, the all wheel drive is great. Only drawback is my kids and wife do not like it since it is small. However I get very good mileage depending on how I drive 20-25 mpg.
I am on my second vehicle with a glass sunroof and have not busted one yet, not to say it wont happen eventually. Just be sure there is a sleeve type thing that can be in pulled in place to protect you if the glass goes. My old car didnt have a decent cover for between me and the sunroof and it scared the hell outta me when I would get in a bad storm. Even if its not the best AWD system it will be enough for what you are wanting. I had an AWD Eagle Talon, only got in a few situations that the cheap system on it had trouble with and I never got stuck (while chasing). Even now with my Grand Cherokee 4x4, there are some roads that I wont risk going down, especially in the panhandles.