Getting firsthand information from an actual car owner is one sure way to get an idea of car performance once it leaves the lot. Autobytel features real consumer reviews that give the unbiased experience of a car.
2003 Subaru Baja - Base (M5)
Pros: The use of a pick-up without owning a truck.
Cons: Rear blind spot
Advice: Do not pay more than $1000 over invoiceFirst highway trip 28MPG (Odometer at 390 miles on end of trip). Poor rear view visibility, large blind spot from tinted rear windows, pilar connecting body to pick-up bed, and rear seat head rest. The 4-spd automatic is responsive from a stopping position, less so at near highway speeds. Left turns on a dry road at a fast 25mph while on cruise control are excellent. Climbing a steep long hill from a stopping position, the engine revs to a maximum 4500 on first and second gear before cruising at speed limit of 45MPH in third at about 3000. Seats are confortable for long trips, drivers seat lumbar support is excellent, doors slam quiet, with back seat folded down exposes cargo nets (an option) the vertical one holds 5 full plastic grocery bags ( a paper bag would be impossible to load into this strechable net, ask for plastic at the grocer), the flat net lays flat in front of the vertical and is not as practical. If the vertical net had some way holding/hooking it open to load items it would have been a good idea. Power Moon roof is noisier than other cars in the full open position at greater than 30mph. This needs an adjustment/redesign to prevent the front flat from moving too high up ( when it is moved down by hand wind noise is reduced significantly.
2003 Subaru Forester - X (M5)
Pros: tight and responsive driving feel
Cons: a little under-powered
Advice: considering a mini-suv? you gotta try a Subaru...This is the mini-suv that truly drives like a regular car. You can make tight turns at high speed without that 'tippy' feel found on some of the competition. More than enough interior room for cargo and great gas mileage. Overall a solid and dependable vehicle.
2003 Subaru Legacy - GT (M5) Sedan
Pros: Subarus excellent AWD system
Cons: Headroom could be better
Advice: Sporty alternative to SUV, inc. options=excellent valueI was seriously considering a 1999 Audi A6 until I came across the newly designed Subaru Legacy GT 2.5 Sedan. Low and behold, I ended up with a sporty, brand new AWD sedan for less than I would have paid for an almost 4 year old Audi. The Audi is a lovely car with a superb interior,(best around in my opinion) but the absolute worst designed cupholders imaginable (tiny, pop out plastic things located OVER the radio!) and a poor reliability record for the '99 model I could afford. The Legacy model in previous years has boasted an excellent reliability rating as well as safety rating and should continue to do so in this model. Fun to drive,excellent visibility, good handling, terrific braking and a fabulous array of standard features sealed the deal for me. My Legacy GT has a nice leather interior w/ 8 way power drivers seat, dual front & side airbags, ABS, heated front seats, power moonroof, nice radio w/ 6 disc in dash CD player & weatherband (nifty feature!), heated side mirrors and much, much more. The dealer gave me an excellent price, I paid just over $24,000 for this loaded AWD sedan-the Audi was more $ with 40,000+ miles!I even ended up with the color I wanted-a beautiful metallic silver with a dark grey leather interior. All in all a LOT of car for the money in an attractive package that is truly fun to drive,with very responsive handling and braking. It could have better pick up when accelerating but it is more than adequate-a 6 cylinder would be terrific, though. My husband at 6'1' found the interior height a bit cramped. There is a surprising amount of room in the back seat, I have 12 & 14 year old boys and they are comfortable back there. Gas mileage is good as well-around 21/27-much better than most larger SUV types. If you are in the market for an AWD vehicle and want value for your dollar in a sporty package the Subaru Legacy GT 2.5 is definitely worth a look.
2003 Subaru Outback - H6-3.0 L.L. Bean Edition (A4) Wagon
Pros: Suspension and road holding
Cons: The seats
Advice: If the seats work for you - buy it.This vehicle handles more loke a sport car than a station wagon. It is solid and sure footed. The six cylinder engine is smooth and quiet, but it does requjire the highest grade fuel for best performance. I am 6'5' and I find the seats to be terrable, hard with little leg support. Eventhough drivers leg room is stated as being 43.3' it sure dosen't feel like it.
2002 Subaru Forester - S w/Premium Package (M5)
Pros: Sporty ride
Advice: Do some research before you buyI purchased the car for the All Wheel Drive as I live in a snowy area. It is an overall enjoyable car to drive, good acceleration, great on gas, feels much sportier to drive then it looks. I however was not pleased with the purchase and have traded it in after only 8 months and 14,000 miles for a Toyota. The car is a magnet for road debree. After 8 months I had more chips and dings on the car then I had with my old car with 130,000 miles. I had 4 warped rotors after only 10,000 miles, and they cut them instead of replacing them. The car began to hesitate and almost stall at times, it ended up needing an oxygen sensor at 11,000 miles, that is ridiculous. It was not the quality purchase I had hoped it would be. A lot of people praise the car on reviews, I cannot do that with a pure heart.
2003 Subaru Forester - XS (M5)
Pros: All wheel drive
Cons: Uncomfortable back seats
Advice: This is an oversized station wagon with no rear legroom for passengers.On the road the Forester handles like a car, unfortunately I could feel every bump and pot hole. It rides lower than an SUV, which is why I think you can feel the road more. There is no room in the back seat for anyone larger than a pigmy or a child under the age of eight. The reason for this is the narrow bench they put in. It needs to be at least 25% wider and pushed back. They could have lifted the seats up a bit since there is plenty of headroom to spare. This might help with the bumpy ride and the rear legroom problem. It has nice pickup with 165 hp, and the console layout is better than a CR-Vs. I did like the giant sized sun roof. The front legroom is nice, but it does cut into the already sparse rear legroom. It looks and feels like a giant station wagon. It might be great for getting groceries, but not for car pooling, or driving friends around in. With the exception of the rear cargo capacity, I wouldn't even consider this a utility vehicle. If you need an all wheel drive station wagon and you won't have any more than one passenger at a time, this would work out for you. Though you would be better off with an Outback Wagon. CD - Moline, IL
2002 Subaru Impreza - WRX (M5) Sedan
Pros: Acceleration and road adhesion.
Cons: As expected from a performance vehicle poor gas mileage.
Advice: Get the WRX but be aware that the Mitsubishi EVO 7 is coming up.The moment we drove of the lot and stabbed the accel pedal with the a/c on, I knew this is the car for me. I used to ride a sportbike and now it is collecting dust in the garage. The only thing I miss from riding is the openess and splitting lanes in heavy traffic. I was only planning to test drive and ended up taking it home.