So the target to buy a new car is sometime in April or May, before school is over and before we head back up north again. I think we will go back to two cars for the summer and then probably sell the Volvo (if I can part with it) in the fall. A few thoughts on what traits I am looking for in no particular order:
- Good gas milage
- easy to find parts
- cargo room
- cabin/camping worthy (can it hold a canoe?)
- good handling
- fun to drive
- not older than 1999, or over 120,000 miles.
- alloy wheels (don't know why, but hub caps really annoy me)
- Anti-lock brakes
- Oh yea, price.
And here is the list! One obvious thing, they are all Subarus. I guess I am a sucker for the all wheel drive stick-to-anything chassis and rally inspired style of all Imprezas. So from oldest to newest:
1999-2001 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport
This slightly funny looking car (well all Subarus are supposed to be funny looking) has it all, and I have been looking at it for a long time now. A smaller car with good gas millage (23/29), especially considering it is all wheel drive. It is 6'' higher than its non-sport version and has anti-lock brakes. So, it can get out of snow drifts, turn on snow, and stop on snow! Nag - those vents on the hood are non-functional. Lame. But it still puts out a respectable 142 hp. Click here for a great slide show.
2002-2003 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport
A huge re-design took place for the 2002 year with the addition of the "bug eye" design. Again, the differences between the base version (TS) is a few minor things like ground clearance and fog lamps. But gas mileage is down 10% from the older model at 20/26. The added weight, but more importantly horsepower rose from 142 to 163.
2002-2003 Subaru Impreza WRX Wagon
The real deal. Remember those fake hood scoops? Well no more. This scoop leads to a mean 2.0l turbo and churns out 227 hp. And the gas milage is still very comparable to the regular version, at 19/26. But it requires mid-grade gas minimum because of the turbo. Of course, if you use it to its full potential and keep the turbo spinning you will see a much lower number. But this thing is supposed to be an amazing car, and won all sorts of awards when it came out. Car and Driver named it the car of the year.
Everything above 2003 gets well out of our price range, even though my favorite is still the 2004 model. So where am I leaning right now? Its the first option, the older Impreza Outback Sport. Better gas mileage, and less expensive. But it still has airbags and anti-lock brakes. Inside is the engine from one of the most common cars on the road in Minnesota, the Subaru Legacy, so repairs should be easy.
So thats what I have been thinking about. Odd thing though, I have yet to test drive any of them! That could throw a wrench in the works. Thoughts are welcome!