Author Topic: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?  (Read 4711 times)

jimmy88

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Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« on: February 07, 2017, 10:23:15 AM »
I'll keep this short:

Sold my reliable '08 Civic sedan w/100k miles to purchase a '12 Outback w/35k miles before moving up to Denver, CO because I drank the AWD cool-aid.

Currently debating a purchase of a'10 Prius with around 65k miles. Before moving to CO was on my radar I was dead set on a used Prius as my next car, as I enjoy occasional car-camping, and I'm a developer by trade so I like the techy bits.

I am quite outdoorsy and plan to head up to the mountains often, including the occasional dirt road for getting to a trailhead.

I'm asking for advice because I'm not sure if the Prius if up to the task. Switching to a Prius would involve less ground clearance and no AWD. I'd plan to get a set of snow tires for the Prius so I'm not too concerned about driving in the snow.

And the main reason I'd like to switch - ~3-4k invested vs depreciating.

$17,500 Outback total cost after taxes etc.
$15,500 Sell Outback on Craigslist
$2k Lost

~$11,000 Used Prius for $10,000 (including $1,000 state tax title fees etc)

Outback - 17,500
Prius - 11,000
Difference - 4,500 (6,500 - 2,000 lost in sell)
Saved - 4,500

What do y'all think? It'd be great to hear some opinions from Prius owners who live in/near the mountains.

marielle

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2017, 10:44:25 AM »
How much would you save on gas in a year? How much do you drive?

jimmy88

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2017, 11:27:32 AM »
How much would you save on gas in a year? How much do you drive?

I work from home, so it's really just adventure trips and around town stuff, maybe like 7500 miles/year?

Outback gets ~25mpg Prius is realistically like ~45mpg?

I'd save a few hundred bucks a year, nothing to write home about.

lbmustache

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2017, 12:29:19 PM »
I think frugalwoods (blog) has a post on this exact thing. They actually ended up buying both an Outback and Prius just because the Prius can't really handle dirt roads or massive snow piles (they live on a homestead in rural Vermont, I believe).

In your scenario I'd just keep the Outback.

marielle

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2017, 02:10:25 PM »
You're paying a lot for so little driving. Typically MMM says that the more you drive, the newer the car you should buy. If you're a taxi driver for example, you should buy a new car. For a mustachian who drives less than 10k miles, a used car around $5000. The reason is that you're paying a lot more for depreciation than for gas or repairs. When you're driving so little you want a car that will depreciate less since you will likely have it 10+ years.

With that said...you could either keep the car for the premium cost (the 17k) or perhaps buy the same car but older? The Prius doesn't make much sense since it's not really what you want and you don't drive enough to save on gas. Plus, the battery wears with age and you would likely keep it 10-15 years before getting enough miles out of it, by then your battery might be useless.

redbird

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2017, 02:28:57 PM »
I'm a Prius owner and I love it, but if I lived in the mountains, I don't think I'd want one. It's not just the things others have brought up. The Prius is HEAVY for a vehicle of its size because it essentially has 2 engines in it - a gas one and an electric one. As a result, it has very poor acceleration and can struggle with even normal hills at times. If I lived in the mountains or often went to the mountains, I would not want to own a Prius.

You can do car camping in the Prius. It's huge inside. And the gas mileage is great for road trips and such. But for your use-case, you'd be better with the Outback.

innkeeper77

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2017, 03:13:06 PM »
I guess I'll be that guy today.... but why do you want to spend so much on the replacement car? You could technically sell the outback and buy an outback. I have been driving a 2000 outback around, and it does great. If you don't drive much, your risks are lower- why not get an older vehicle, and get even more than $4500 out of it? We drove our outback 20k miles this year... not very mustachian, but it saved us a ton on airfare, and was more environmentally friendly while doing so. I also paid just $3000 for the car a while back, and could easily get a lot of that back if I sold it.

However, the outback gets poor mileage, and really isn't needed around Denver, as it doesn't snow much here. FWD does just fine on most dirt roads- do you really need the ground clearance? Perhaps a FWD hatchback could work just as well, like a Toyota Matrix. However, the outback is better than a traditional huge SUV.

Miss Tash

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2017, 03:20:26 PM »
I live in Denver and have a 2010 Prius.  With good snow tires it can handle 90% of the snow days we get around here, although not that ice storm we had last week.  I have taken it off road in Utah and I can tell you that it has very little clearance!  Don't do it.  Also, on the freeway it gets like 45-47 mpg so not that much more than a regular 4-cyl car.  I'd do what the above poster suggested and get an older Outback or equivalent.  Subarus run a long time and there is a lot of mechanical support for them around here.
I love my Prius for long road trips but not if any off-pavement work is involved (and it always is!).

MayDay

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2017, 05:54:46 PM »
I think it comes down to how often you *actually* go into the mountains.  Your post reads as "I'm planning to do this in the future but haven't yet". 

It also depends on exactly how off road we are talking.  A std. gravel road, Prius is fine.  I've camped out west a good bit in regular cars (not a Prius, but Civic, etc) and never had problems.  But we mostly stick to state parks or national forests that are pretty close to paved roads- not miles of gravel/dirt.  I feel like there is a LOT of good stuff you can see in Prius before you run out of stuff near paved roads.  But I've never lived out West- just visited.

Subaru owners love their Subarus (my first car in High School was a 1988 Subaru GL wagon, woot!) but objective reliability data says they aren't great.  I love the aesthetic, but I don't know that I'd want to own an old one.  Although if you were going to own an old one anywhere, Denver would be the place to be.

brian313313

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2017, 06:34:50 AM »
I'm a Prius owner and I love it, but if I lived in the mountains, I don't think I'd want one. It's not just the things others have brought up. The Prius is HEAVY for a vehicle of its size because it essentially has 2 engines in it - a gas one and an electric one. As a result, it has very poor acceleration and can struggle with even normal hills at times. If I lived in the mountains or often went to the mountains, I would not want to own a Prius.

+1 Prius owner. I love the 50-60mpg but hill performance sucks.

jimmy88

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2017, 11:36:17 AM »
Thanks for all the feedback guys, that definitely gets me thinking about what would serve me best. I will without a doubt be regularly hitting roughish dirt roads on the weekend - but my annual miles driven will be well below 10,000. At the moment an older higher-mileage Outback seems like a logical choice.

therethere

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2017, 11:43:02 AM »
If you don't need the 5k difference why not just keep your current Outback? It seems like such a waste and hassle to go through the buy/sell of a car. I would say keep your current Outback forever. At less than 10k miles a year you can have it for like 15 more years!

jimmy88

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2017, 02:25:29 PM »
If you don't need the 5k difference why not just keep your current Outback? It seems like such a waste and hassle to go through the buy/sell of a car. I would say keep your current Outback forever. At less than 10k miles a year you can have it for like 15 more years!

I don't need the 5k at all, but I'd be losing quite a bit of stash cash over the years from not investing the possible savings, thats the main reason I'm on the fence of selling/buying another car. I agree the hassle does suck.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2017, 02:32:59 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback guys, that definitely gets me thinking about what would serve me best. I will without a doubt be regularly hitting roughish dirt roads on the weekend - but my annual miles driven will be well below 10,000. At the moment an older higher-mileage Outback seems like a logical choice.
+1

I live in Chicago, but climb up from the airport to ski Vail at least once per year.  NO WAY in a Prius!!  When it's snowing significantly, you really DO need chains or 4WD climbing I70 in snow (Loveland or Vail Pass in a Prius in snow...NOPE!!).

hankscorpio84

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2017, 03:37:17 PM »
Have you considered a Ford Escape Hybrid?  I don't have personal experience, but from what I have read they are super reliable minus neglecting to ensure the batteries stay cool.  They get 30+ mpg in the city, slightly less on the highway due to aerodynamics.  Lots of ground clearance, AWD, and there seem to be plenty around at a reasonable price (less than 10k).  Seems like a good compromise between the price and tech of the prius but with the capabilities of the Subaru.

I know people love their Subarus but I can't see how people swallow the maintenance costs.  They are reliable, but their head gaskets and timing belts are notorious for failing if you don't have them changed preemptively.  In your case I would sell the Sub for the Prius.  I think the extra cash, savings in gas, and maintenance will make you happier than the off-road and snow performance of the Sub.

therethere

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2017, 03:51:43 PM »
Yes, head gaskets typically need to be replaced around 100k along with timing belt. But I thought that was only with the older models (all generations before the recent redesign in 2012ish). I'm not exactly positive. Mine actually started to leak earlier at 80k when I bought it used. But because it failed earlier I got it replaced under warranty. But that's what 6-7 years away at his mileage? I don't see the drive to get a hybrid when the majority of mileage would be highway and up/down the mountains for fun trips.

Just think of it as paying for your vehicle for the next 10-15 years upfront. Downgrading to an older Outback will just get you stuck with the expensive head gasket maintenance now which will likely eat up any savings from buying and selling.

Shopping for an Outback on Craigslist in the winter in Denver is very frustrating. When I bought mine someone had shown up while we were test driving it with a trailer and cash in hand and was ready to buy sight unseen. They regularly sell for over KBB price.

Blindsquirrel

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2017, 04:19:14 PM »
  Personal and family experience on the Prius, a Prius with Blizzak snow tires is just about unstoppable, even if the snow is rubbing against the bottom of the car and or you are plowing it a fair bit with the front end. Not sure about the outback other than they are very, very comfortable. Avg 48.5 mpg in a 2007 Prius. Toyota cars are generally very, very reliable as rated by Consumer reports etc.

Blatant

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2017, 05:54:43 PM »
As others have said, it appears that you already have the perfect car for your needs. Not sure why you'd consider swapping to a cheaper vehicle with unknown issues. Seems like a big hassle and a big gamble.

Hotstreak

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2017, 07:07:57 PM »
I've been driving a Toyota Matrix on dirt roads for about 4 years with no problems.  Before that I was driving a compact car on dirt roads for many many years.  I never once had an issue with traction, acceleration, or clearance.  When the snow gets high I put on chains - and do BETTER than anybody in a 4wd or AWD.  I make fun of all my friends with huge trucks when they say they are "required" to get some place, because I literally can drive to the exact same place in my own rig.

I suppose it's possible that you're going to be driving on roads with huge rocks in the middle, that you can't avoid, or that have tire tracks so deep that a Prius couldn't drive on them.  I've SEEN roads like that, but they are exceptionally rare, and usually they don't lead anywhere.  Roads going to trail heads are driven enough, and maintained enough, that a car would be fine.  But if clearance really is an issue on your desired roads, you do get about 3" by going with the Subaru.



innkeeper77

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2017, 07:20:06 PM »
I know people love their Subarus but I can't see how people swallow the maintenance costs.  They are reliable, but their head gaskets and timing belts are notorious for failing if you don't have them changed preemptively.

The timing belt isnt terribly hard to do, and the kit to do it is under $200. Lots of other cars need timing belts done as often (every 100k) so I wouldn't call that expensive. The head gaskets are a failure point, but the newer 2.5L engines (after 1999) leak externally, which is better than internally. It's also possible to replace those yourself. It shouldn't cost any more than a battery replacement/repair. (Though the Subaru MPG is comparatively atrocious, true)

farmecologist

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2017, 10:16:17 AM »
I know people love their Subarus but I can't see how people swallow the maintenance costs.  They are reliable, but their head gaskets and timing belts are notorious for failing if you don't have them changed preemptively.

The timing belt isnt terribly hard to do, and the kit to do it is under $200. Lots of other cars need timing belts done as often (every 100k) so I wouldn't call that expensive. The head gaskets are a failure point, but the newer 2.5L engines (after 1999) leak externally, which is better than internally. It's also possible to replace those yourself. It shouldn't cost any more than a battery replacement/repair. (Though the Subaru MPG is comparatively atrocious, true)


Another thing to note is that the Prius is a completely "beltless" design.  This is part of the reason people rave about them as being maintenance free.   Brakes often go for 100s of thousands of miles without major service ( although this is true of any regen braking vehicle ). 

And this is going to sound strange...but oddly enough the Prius is our best vehicle in the snow.  It does very, very well.. Honestly, I see more 4x4 vehicles in the ditch after a bad snowstorm than anything else...probably due to a false sense of security?  The intersting thing though is that I usually see large SUVs/pickups having trouble...but I do not really see any 4x4 subarus having trouble...go figure.

Edit: Have you seen the new Kia Niro?  Looks like an interesting 'crossover hybrid'....but it is not 4 wheel drive..
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 10:17:48 AM by farmecologist »

MayDay

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2017, 10:36:14 AM »
Not a car person (clearly).

Subarus have had known head gasket issues for 15+ years.

No other brand of car seems to have this problem.

Why hasn't Subaru fixed it?

rothwem

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2017, 11:07:20 AM »
Not a car person (clearly).

Subarus have had known head gasket issues for 15+ years.

No other brand of car seems to have this problem.

Why hasn't Subaru fixed it?

The older EJ series engines have head gasket issues, and they were phased out around '10-12.  My Subaru friends say that its due to the block flexing.  Not sure if that's true or not, but I guess its plausible?

The new engines (FA and FB series) have intermittent oil burning problems.  Some people have a car that doesn't burn a drop, others burn a quart every 1500 miles.  Supposedly they fixed it in 2014, but there are plenty of 2015s that burn oil. 

The flat-6's have never had gasket or oil burn problems to my knowledge.

I was THIISSSS close to getting a 2015 Forester with a 6-speed manual, but the research scared me off. 

MayDay

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2017, 11:29:37 AM »
Interesting. I desire to own a station wagon some day, and Subaru is about the only choice, but I'm not interested in buying one with known issues.  It looks like the flat 6 engine is only in racing sporty sorts, not wagons.  Oh well.

rothwem

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Re: Outback vs Prius in Colorado - car advice?
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2017, 11:47:31 AM »
Interesting. I desire to own a station wagon some day, and Subaru is about the only choice, but I'm not interested in buying one with known issues.  It looks like the flat 6 engine is only in racing sporty sorts, not wagons.  Oh well.

The outback comes with a 3.6L flat 6, which is pretty wagon-y.

Its a pricey car though.