New car

I bought a 2002 Subaru Legacy GT wagon in 2004 with the goal of keeping it for 10 years. It had about 50K miles on it when I bought it, but it still seemed like a good bet since I didn’t drive much and my father worked for a Subaru dealer. But from the start, I hated it. The drivers compartment was too small, it was gutless, it got terrible gas mileage, and it seemed to require too-frequent expensive maintenance. The all wheel drive was occasionally nice, but since I rarely drove in snow, it was unnecessary. I wrecked the car four times and replaced the entire front end twice. By the time 10 years rolled around last summer, my old Subaru was limping along and ready for retirement. I swore I’d never buy another Subaru.

But I loved having a wagon, especially after having kids. I considered the Audi Allroad, BMW sportwagons, Volvo V50, Volvo V60, and Mercedes E-class. All were stupid expensive and impractical. You buy a wagon so your kid can spill applesauce on the back seat, but eating isn’t allowed in the Benz! I also looked at minivans, but since the new car would be my daily driver, I just couldn’t. The Subaru Outback suddenly seemed like the only real option.

And then, Subaru announced the 2015 Outback and its suite of features that pretty much eliminated any remaining concerns. I wanted keyless entry and pushbutton start (these options were previously only available with a “special appearance package”). I wanted dark leather seats and a dark blue exterior, which hadn’t previously been an option at all. Best of all, the prices were essentially unchanged from 2014. Sold! I bought a fully loaded 2.5 Limited in Twilight Blue and gray leather interior.

It took 12 weeks from the day I placed my order before I could take delivery of the car (with 7 miles on it!). Since then, I’ve racked up about 1500 miles, and I love it:

  • My old Legacy was a gutless wonder. 0-60 in 15 seconds, with a tailwind. Throttle lag so bad that I was afraid to make quick lane changes. My new Outback isn’t going to win any drag races, but the car moves immediately when I hit the gas and it can get up to 60 MPH before the end of an on-ramp. It also has a throaty exhaust note.
  • My old Legacy got 12 MPG. My new Outback is averaging 25 MPG.
  • The Harman-Kardon sound system is ridiculous.
  • My new Outback has the Eyesight system, and adaptive cruise control is one Eyesight feature I really like. You can set the cruise control to 60 MPH and tell it to stay two car lengths behind the vehicle in front of you, and it magically does.

Some minor beefs:

  • The touchscreen for the sound system, etc. is really distracting and hard to use while driving. Tactile controls are much easier (and presumably safer) to use without taking one’s eyes off the road.
  • The sound system allows you to have different settings for each input source–AM, FM, SiriusXM, iPod, etc. Even the volume is unique to the input source. I understand why this might be a desirable feature but it caused me some confusion.
  • The navigation system is awful. Terrible. Using Google Maps on my phone is a much better (and safer) option.
  • I am still getting used to Eyesight beeping at me when I cross a lane marker, or when it thinks it sees an obstacle in my path. Overall I think having the system is safer than not, but so far it has all been false alarms.

My Outback received its first dents within a month. I found a small ding in the passenger door, and then a scrape on the rear bumper. Hooray for city living, but I am glad I did not spend another $20K on an Audi or a Mercedes!