I have been approached by various family members regarding future purchases of family vehicles. Kris gave me some song and dance about us scrapping the idea of a Subaru CrossTrek and looking for seven-seat SUV. Yes, I said SUV. The reasons are sane and logical and completely practical but bye-bye BRZ. Bye-bye STi. Upon finding out that we are looking, family members they want an opinion from a car guy. So I am left with a dilemma: Do I tell them exactly what to get on my decision trees or do I go the safe route and ease them into the opinion hellscape that is me? I can’t just say to them to get a 1995 Roadmaster with an LT1 (first, that’s not seven seats. Second, well, there isn’t a second reason NOT to consider it). I also can’t tell them to get a Volvo 850 wagon with jumpseats in the rear (because I want one and I’ll be damned if I going to jealous whenever they pull up at the holidays).
No, I have to be practical. *le sigh*
The following are my email responses:
“Kristen mentioned that your Acura’s transmission grendaded. I am sorry to hear that because that was such a reliable car.
She also mentioned that you are looking into 7 seaters, in particular the Subaru Tribeca. A little bit of a low down on the Tribeca. With Subaru selling a little under 3000 Tribecas every year, the SUV’s death warrant has all but been signed. Subaru kept selling the car through the 2013 model year, but after that, it disappeared from the lineup.
Between the Outback, Forester and the upcoming XV, the thirsty, 6-cylinder Tribeca is basically redundant. At least it’s no longer ugly, just boring.
In one word if you are seriously considering a used Tribeca, I would say yes. Not because of the badging bias because the exterior the 2005-2011 B9 Tribecas are horrendous. 2012-2014 just boring. It laps up road bumps with ease and the V6 is arguably one of the best engines (if thirstiest) that Subaru made during the model’s tenure. The steering is a little entertaining once up to speed (mind you, it isn’t fast nor quick) but it definitely doesn’t feel like driving a big car. It is also 5-star crash tested throughout all those years, a feat only the Forester, Impreza, and Legacy can trump in longevity alone.
It really is a shame that Subaru styled the Tribeca in the vain of a certain French painter only to succumb to a bout of marshmallow addiction. It’s quite the car and it has my endorsement as a reliable buy.
Before you buy one, please check out All Wheel Drive Auto Sales in Monroe (http://awdautosales.com/). Also, please have All Wheel Drive Auto in Kirkland (425-828-6300) look at any Subaru (if any) that you purchase. Ask for Justin and tell him I sent you. I have been going to AWDA for the past 8 years with my car, have had the good fortune to work for them, and they have the best of the best in the business when it comes to customer service. They will never up-sell, only make necessary recommendations and sound advice.
Here is a Tribeca I found at AWDA Sales: http://awdautosales.com/2015/04/21/2011-subaru-tribeca-limited/“
See what I did there? Nice little plug for my former boss. Yay for me.
On to the Hyundai (warning: I might offend you. Get over it):
“I have a thing against Kia and Hyundai. More on a fundamental level than anything else. It’s quite unnerving for our generation to see the Lexus effect unfold within the last 10 years. But that’s just whims and kneejerk reactions that I make among my car peers.
What your asking is a real review of the sucker. The original Sorento was full of truck bits including a real live-rear-axle (to give you any indication of what this means, think 1940 buggies. And the Mustang up until this year, was still rocking that suspension configuration. No, I am not kidding). It was a terrible handling thing with atrocious gas mileage. From 2010-2015, Kia updated the Sorento to be more car-like (much like the younger brethren, the Santa Fe). The 2015 doesn’t the fit and finish issues of the earlier models and you’ll have the feel good All-American vibe buying one as they are made in Georgia. Since it’s pretty compact with three rows of seats, the legroom suffers. I am 6 foot and it’s cramped but with the little ones running around, it should be a big deal. Just don’t count on putting more than a single load groceries behind the third row. Choose the V6 over the 4-banger. Actually that’s a really good rule of thumb when it comes to these 7-seat crossover CUV compact SUV thingamuhjigs (except with the Ford Explorer. Their inline-4 Ecoboost is fantastic). The handling is superb now that they went with a multi-link suspension (And threw the live rear axle away).
It’s good value for money. It’s why people buy Kias and Hyundais. In 2011, you could get a RAV4 for the same money but not the features. You could also get a fully-loaded Chevrolet Equinox for the same money for a topped-out Kia Sorento (around $35,000 according to TrueDelta). The difference? I would never recommend a Chevrolet or a Dodge based on pure principle.”
Ugh…yeah. I did go there. Next is the Nissan (shudder) Rogue (cries):
“The Nissan Rogue, and I assume we are talking about the 2014 model that looks like the handsome younger brother of the Pathfinder and NOT the old beefed-up Altima that flew apart at the sight of a turn, is a very nice compact crossover. It is one of the fastest selling crossovers and is right behind the Cherokee in sales (you know, if that sort of thing interests you. Not me).
The Rogue is a great all-around vehicle. It doesn’t try to redefine the segment, unlike what its namesake might imply, but it does bring some useful features to the table. Three row seats, for example, are work but its two rows for adults and one for very tiny people or a large German wiener dog. There is the foldable front seat which no other car has in this segment. And then there is the CVT.
Continuously Variable Transmission. The bane of performance cars everywhere and those that go fast. Lauded by Floridian penchants. The CVT was first conceived by Leonardo DaVinci and that’s all there really needs to be said about it. Seriously, the guy invented the Ornithopter. I am not going to go around bad mouthing one of his ideas. Subaru has used them since the 80s with varying degrees of success and Nissan has been using them since the 1990s in Europe. They have only come back into the mainstream for fuel economy. Basically (and it’s really basic because I don’t study them), it’s a big old chain hooked up to a bicycle gear lever (not really but it might as well be) that adjusts according to the revolutions of an engine/motor produces.
It is pretty trick in the sense only an engineer would find endearing. The Rogue has one of the best CVTs on the market. With its sensors and computational power, the XTronic CVT allows for an estimated 32 mpg. Darn impressive! It’s also not very bad at handling situations. You want to go fast? It can do that. You want baby comfort? It can do that as well. Unlike other CVTs *ahem*SUBARU*ahem* it doesn’t stutter or jutter in the gear shifting. It’s really nice.
The AWD isn’t all the time. It’s FWD until the moment a sensor notices slippage and then it turns on the AWD. I attend the Church of AWD All-The-Time and I really don’t like this setup but that’s because I’ve been spoiled by Subaru. But it’s perfect for those that want it automatic and super predictable. It won’t go off-road but if you need to get up a hill, it’ll do it.
The SL-trim price of $32k is a bit on the pricey side but it is good value. The 2.5 liter and CVT are de rigeur, and there were 18” alloy wheels, LED running lights, foglamps, automatic headlamps, heated exterior mirrors with LED turn signal repeaters, privacy glass, rear wiper, and a very slow power liftgate among the highlights of the Cayenne Red test car. There is also the SL Premium Package, a $1,900 basket of excellent LED headlights, overly-sensitive Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Forward Collision Warning and Moving Object Detection.
That laundry list of stuff is well-suited for a vehicle that’s nipping at the heels of the Cherokee. Overall, good value for money.”
So there you go. I took some inspirational liberties from TTAC but usually I do whenever I am trying to get at the meat and potatoes of a review.
What are we looking at? It was the MDX but Kris hated the seats. Then it was the Ford Explorer Sport. Then we drove the Limited and I hated myself for it. I like the Sport but the price is just too steep. And then I stumbled onto the Toyota Highlander. Much to my chagrin, I had to walk past a fully-loaded FR-S and wept like a little boy that just had its hand slapped for committing a dirty act on Sunday. But the Highlander is capable and tinker-proof and isn’t the 4Runner because the 4Runner doesn’t have 2-row captain’s seats (a must in Kristen’s eyes). And it drives so comfortably. The throttle position is just so and the brakes are adequate (until I can get some SS lines in there. Maybe). And the price. I can’t argue with their aggressive pricing structure on the Limited especially when they get so many things right. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel so much as adds a little refinement to its truck roots.