A Reader Comments (October 26, 2017)

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Ben wrote in the following, which I here post in its entirety:

I’d started looking at your site a few years ago based upon your political side. I’ve enjoyed many of your political and similar posts.

Over the past few days, I found it necessary to also use your car review pieces. Due to an “unfortunate incident” that, however, “didn’t happen” (at least as far as anyone outside of the involved parties is concerned), I found myself needing to suddenly replace a reasonably-running 13 year old RAV4 (with 130K miles on it).

I refused to even contemplate another RAV4. The local dealership epitomizes every stereotype about “car salesmen”, and I had been forced to get the RAV4 when I had – it was a replacement for a 2002 Outback that my then-wife had totaled and I, apparently, hadn’t really gotten much say about the replacement. That left me in the unfortunate circumstance of needing to consider replacements very fast without having been able to put any thought / research into the process … talk about “high-stress situation”.

Based almost exclusively on what you’d written about them, I wound up looking at and test-driving:

* 2017 Ford Escape SE
* 2018 VW Tiguan SE (w/ 4Motion)
* 2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium

The Escape and Tiggy (I love your use of that) were both brand new. The Forester was barely-off-the-lot – Certified Pre-Owned (hence “CPO”) with less than 10K miles on it.

First off – as I say, it was due to your reviews that I was able to narrow my potential selections down so (relatively) quickly and get to the task. I’m in central NJ so while I don’t have to deal with the snow conditions that you have described, we do get the more-than-occasional bad hit with a storm, so I knew that some form of “make all the wheels powered” was going to be necessary. My feature list beyond that was really just about non-existent. I’ve got two sons, one of whom, even at almost-15, is already over 6 feet tall, so interior room is rather mandatory. Having spent my life with manual seat adjustments and occasionally driving rentals in the past, I wanted a powered adjustable driver seat.

Just to provide a little bit of “real-world / real-driver” feedback. The Tiggy was quite nice. I hated the auto-stop/start feature, but that seems to have started to become a standard for ecooooonomy [echoing, sort of, your “saaaaaafety” tone]. Plus, lack of a real emergency handle is annoying. Other than that, it handled cleanly on the back roads in suburban NJ and definitely had some “oomph” on the highway. It was the clear runner-up for me.

While I liked the Escape a lot, there was one thing that bugged the heck out of me – it was actually *over*-responsive/sensitive while driving. When test driving, my arm slipped slightly off of the door (I always rest my elbow next to the window) and a very slight tug on the wheel sent me almost half a lane over. Attempting that (purposely) a couple of other times verified it. Twitching the steering wheel was “too good”. If I were a decade or so younger (just turned the big 5-0) and still drove my old Nissan NX2000 (from very long gone times), that’s exactly the type of response I’d want. Now – not so much.

Ultimately, I selected the Forester. As you point out, it not only handles well, but I know (from the Outback in 2002) that Subarus are damn near unstoppable. The lack of auto-stop/start and inclusion of an actual cable-to-the-wheels emergency brake are both very good things. Having the heated seats and a sunroof as standards on the trim line are both very nice features.

While I’m annoyed by the lack of Apple CarPlay for the Forester (they’re including it in other models, but not their most popular line – huh?), it’s not nearly enough to make the difference. Especially given Subaru’s ridiculously insanely *good* CPO warranty. They throw in a 7 year / 100K mile powertrain warranty on CPO. That’s better than for a new one that’s right off the transport truck. Given that it’s barely a year old, it just makes sense. They offer a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty (on CPO) that’ll match the powertrain span for under $2K.

I’d started this (short) quest to find a replacement thinking of buying pre-owned. Finding nothing I liked in local inventories (although, admittedly, I hadn’t searched far enough to find the Subaru dealership and seen what they had), I switched mental gears to looking at brand new. Once I was there, though, the salesman realized that a couple of their CPOs would probably fit my needs (and budget) even better.

So – again – I wanted to express my appreciation for your site, not only the parts that I’d been going there for, but, now, also the more bread-and-butter aspects. I have been financially-constrained for a couple of years now (medically disabled – walking, but not really able to work) and un-gainfully unemployed for a couple more years prior to that. I will, though, definitely be finding time / a way to donate – if only so I can get a “no-clover” sticker, after all!

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