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wmquan said:
Some Subarus have free scheduled maintenance? Please elaborate! Thanks!

We're interested in a number of models as a second vehicle. The Subaru Outback is certainly an interesting choice. However, I want Subaru to add side-curtain airbags (which I want as, given the current state of safety, consider essential in a lower-riding sedan). By the time we buy that may or may not happen.

My understanding is that not all Subaru AWD's are equal. E.g. the power distribution to front/rear varies. The manual tranny Legacy/Outbacks and the VDC have a full-time split dividing a lot of power between front and rear wheels. The other automatic Outbacks have a much more pronounced bias toward the front, distributing power when necessary. That may/may not come into play under more severe conditions when you don't have to wait for power to distribute to the rear.

Curiously, the stability-control-equipped H6 VDC was outscored by the non-stability-control-equipped Passat V6 4Motion Wagon in Consumer Reports' emergency handling test. Probably because of the tighter (firmer) suspension on the Passat. The Sube will be more reliable than the Passat, however.

One thing that's refreshing about shopping for a Subaru -- you'll be negotating from around invoice with no hassle, big change from no negotation around MSRP or MSRP+ with the MDX.

Perhaps too small for folks, but the Impreza is really nice too. The WRX is a pocket rocket (on the highway) and its VTD drive system is also highly sophisticated.
I believe the LL Bean edition may have some sort of free maintenance programme for a number of years.

Some sort of head protection system is DEFINITELY being worked on, but I can't go into more details than that right now.

The manual transmission Subarus (WRX excluded) split power 50/50 via a viscous coupling limited slip centre differential. The automatic transmission H4 Subarus and LL Bean H6 have an 80/20 split. However, this electronically based system (no VC LSD) is pro-active and transfers power to the rear wheels upon acceleration at <b>any</b> speed, not just up to a certain cutoff. It does feel more FWD biased than the manual transmission AWD system though. The WRX and VDC sedan/wagon use the VTD (Variable Torque Distribution) system with a 45/55 split. The system can transfer power back and forth as needed. The VDC vehicle, of course, have stability and traction control.

The Passat won probably because of its performance tires and tighter suspension. Both would result in reduced body roll, and better grip than the Outback's softer long travel suspension, and somewhat off-roadable all-season tires. Note that in Japan, one can get the VDC system on the twin turbo charged Legacy. Now that would be a serious contender to the Passat, should the VDC and H6 ever be offered on non Outback trimmed Legacys.

Finally, a new Forester is due early next year. Expect it to be larger (based on the Legacy platform evidently) and will have some of the things that some people want ;-).
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