Newbie questions (Subaru wagons)

I just looked at a 2007 Outback (base 2.5L, manual, ~19.5k) to replace my recently deceased Ford and I liked it, both the storage
space and the ride and handling. Since I am a newbie with both Subies and AWD I thought I would ask a few stupid questions.
1. Long-term reliability (I tend to keep my cars till they start falling apart and eat time and money). Reviews I saw define long-term as 3-5 years and give Outback and Legacy good grades. What about longer term: with normal, regular maintenance is there a good chance to have a low-hassle 10+years / 150k miles? I know that all things break, but would like to avoid models that tend to require fixes every few thousand miles.
2. AWD (which for me is nice but not absolutely necessary -- I live in MA). Does it make maintenance or repairs (engine, transmission, CV joints, anything else) much more frequent or expensive?
3. Outback I saw does not have metal frame around windows. Is this a source of problems (e.g. with glass breakage opening a well-frozen car after a sleet / snowstorm)?
4. If there are other suggestions for reliable wagons with good storage space for ~20k or less, I would love to hear them (folks here are probably biased, but hey -- it does not hurt to ask).
Any info is appreciated! -- Alex
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Alexander Miha wrote:

yes - very good chance

AWD is sensitive to uneven tire wear, mixing tire sizes, running a single low tire, etc. Take care of your tires. Always try to have it 'towed' on a flatbed if required. The manual you are looking at MAY be towed (with distance, speed limitations I think) with all 4 tires on the ground. never with 2 up and 2 down.

usually not, though I'm in Texas, I haven't read of that - use aerospace 303 or other 'treatment' on the rubber occasionally. Try to train yourself to close the door pushing on the metal, not the glass.

Well, I dunno about pricing (check www.edmunds.com) but my wife and finally narrowed choices down to the Outback or the Hyundai SantaFe(we were replacing a totaled Ford van our daughter wrecked). I'm glad we got the outback hers is an '03 H6. The more recent models are different - but so far, between the 2 soobs I own, the most major problem was leaking refrigerant hoses on the OBW that were replaced under warranty.
I dunno - might take a look at what Mazda offers.
You might also enjoy perusing www.ultimatesubaru.org and www.nasioc.com
Carl
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to reply, change ( .not) to ( .net)

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Alexander Miha wrote:

Subies do have a good reputation for long life, Bellingham WA is "infested" with Soobs of all years. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-143982065.html (requires a free subscription to see the full article)
There are some pretty critical maintenance items, normal but important! The cooling system isn't weak but ignoring it is costly. Changing the cam belt/timing belt at 105,000 miles is also a good idea. Reality is that the maintenance (done on schedule) includes those items.

Yes, AWD does require some extra maintenance, but not "much more". Be aware that you are paying a 2-4 mpg penalty for the AWD.

I think someone here would have said something if it was. There are some isolated glass break issues, but I didn't find any about freezing side windows here http://groups.google.com/groups?as_q=glass+break&num &scoring=r&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_ugroup=alt.autos.subaru&as_usubject=&as_uauthors=&lr=&as_drrb=q&as_qdr=&as_mind=1&as_minm=1&as_miny81&as_maxd&as_maxm&as_maxy 06&safe=off (http://makeashorterlink.com/?M1AC2182E ) If it was going to happen , our friends in Alaska would have seen it.
If it scares you that much, use some silicone spray on the gaskets in the fall.

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My husband's '99 Legacy wagon has about 120K miles on it now, so I can answer just in terms of his experience. My Forester is only six months old.

We also keep cars long term, about 8-10 years. Formerly we had Hondas. The Legacy has had a few more problems than the Honda Accords ever did, but the only major expense he had was that the moonroof motor failed. He's also replaced a clutch and is about due for another one but that's due to his driving style--he's a lot harder on clutches than I am. Other than that it's been just regular maintenance.

All I can say is that maintenance service on Subarus seems to be more expensive than it was on the Hondas, but I don't know if that's due to the AWD. They do get somewhat less gas mileage, as mentioned. I don't think the service intervals are more frequent.

We live in Chicago, and this has never been a problem.

I was looking this spring for a smaller wagon or small SUV. Looked at the Honda CRV, Honda Element, Toyota RAV-4, Toyota Matrix and the Forester. If Honda still made the Accord hatchback or a wagon, I probably would have bought that, but I didn't like the CRV very much and the Element was too square and clunky for me. The Forester was the most fun to drive and had the features I wanted; we also considered the Impreza wagon and I probably would have been just as happy with that, but the Forester seemed to have more useable cargo space and has that really huge sunroof.
Any of these are good reliable cars, however. -yngver
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