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.
2002 Subaru Impreza - WRX (M5) Wagon
Pros: Terrific handling instills confidence
Cons: Elbow hits center armrest when pulling back shifter
Advice: Shop around for insurance, then buy one. Great fun in all kinds of driving!I test drove 4 other vehicles that I was interested in. Then I drove the WRX. The salesman rode with me, and I used all my willpower to maintain my disinterested attitude...I wanted that car! After some haggling over price(I later told the salesman I would have paid $500 over sticker price)I bought it. It was tough to keep the RPM under 4000 during the 1000 mi. break-in but I did. And now I've discovered what a hoot this car is to drive! I've owned 60's&70's muscle cars(400 to 520 HP)and they were fun to drive, but they were not as quick and didn't handle anything close to my WRX!!! It feels glued to the road while cornering at speed, and the racing style seats, along with the left foot-rest/brace, make one feel part of the car. I believe my WRX wagon is a true sports car with cargo space! Now a down side. These cars are designed to be very safe for the occupants, so airbags, crumple zones(front&rear),added bracing etc. make them expensive to repair in case of an accident. So insurance premiums are high(Group 17).
2003 Subaru Outback - Base (M5) Wagon
Pros: Well built unit
Cons: Seats and sound
Advice: Shop for autos with better seatsSubaru has always pinched on the seats and standard sound---I don't understand why they don't get it that the front seats are bearable, but not more than that. We had to upgrade the dinky cd/radio and speakers. Too bad! Finally, they could make the unit a little wider to add seat and leg room.
2002 Subaru Forester - S w/Premium Package (M5)
Pros: Humongous Moonroof
Advice: Great value all-aroundI found this to be the best overall value in the compact SUV market. I based my decision for a new vehicle purchase on the best combination of gas mileage, safety, price, horsepower, performance (all-wheel drive), quality/reliability, value (consumer reports), appearance, and cargo space. The Forester came up tops overall. A great value for a great vehicle! The full time all-wheel drive is very secure and the handling is wonderful. It has performed admirably in all types of conditions from highway rainy down-pours, snowy ski-resort hill climbs, mountain hiking treks, windstorms and 100+ degree weather heading out to Las Vegas, to the daily work commute.
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.