The Car Shopping Round 104 - Time to take the Outback out back
Ottawa ON, September 2019.
I’m shopping around for a new car. My current 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback that I got cheap and high mileage is getting to the point of requiring more maintenance than it’s worth to keep in good running condition, so it’s time to replace it before something major on it fails.
I’m not looking to buy a brand new car to replace it, so it’s time to explore the used market with a few criteria that I’d like to have in the replacement car. As much as I like the convenience and practicality of a wagon, I can definitely be swayed to try a different body style if it’s the right car.
What I want isn’t all that’s relevant here, so here’s what you need to know about me. I’m in my 20s, currently living in Ottawa but frequently enough making hours long trips to other cities, especially the 4 hour trip up north to see friends and family. The roads I drive on are a mix of city, highway, rural, and dirt roads, and many are in bad condition with potholes. I also need to mention winter, where I’ll frequently be driving on snow and ice, or even forging a path through the deep snow of side streets that have yet to be plowed. I’m not planning on having kids any time soon, but I do have a girlfriend with a small dog and will give rides to friends at times. That should hopefully cover the ‘who is the buyer’ aspect to give some insight beyond what I articulate.
So what am I looking for? Put on your reading glasses and read the design brief below.
I’m not shopping around for a pickup, minivan, SUV, van, or subcompacts (B-segment) or smaller. I am open to crossovers (be aware of the distinction from SUVs) and something small if it’s a nice sportscar.
Other than that, feel free to send me hatchbacks, coupes, sedans, wagons, sports cars, even convertibles. Be aware that a convertible needs to offer more than just the convertible roof. It’s winter for pretty much half the year, so a car that exists only for a top down experience will not cut it.
A note on cars of a more sporty aspiration; I’m only looking to own one car at the moment, so ideally it will be an all-rounder of some type, but I’m still a guy in his 20s, so I can definitely be swayed by a sports car if it does everything right. Owning a sports car means having to make some sacrifices, so they better not be in vain.
Manual and automatic are both okay, I’d rather have the automatic if a car is meant to be comfortable. FWD, AWD, and RWD are all okay, just don’t send me 4x4 since that belongs on a pickup or SUV. I will prefer AWD in something meant an all rounder due to winter, but it’s not a strict requirement. I have driven a relatively low and sporty car plenty of times during winter and down partly washed out dirt roads, so the sport angle is not to be completely discounted here.
Insurance here will not factor engine displacement, so don’t worry about that, but number of cylinders do matter in that regard. If a car has more cylinders than it needs for no apparent reason, it won’t be worth the extra insurance costs.
I’ll spend plenty of time in the car, and I aim to make the 4 hour trip up north without any breaks, so I don’t want a back breaking car. It doesn’t need to be as comfortable as the living rooms on wheels that 1970s Cadillacs were, but I don’t want to be sitting in a shitspec car. Same goes with the stereo, I don’t want to have to rip out the whole system and spend some money getting something decent. Basically, I want something well equipped though it doesn’t have to be high end.
For seats, I don’t need a third row at all. The typical 5 seat interior is what I need, and if you’re submitting a sportscar I’m willing to drop down to 2 seats or anything in between, but again, the car better be worth it.
When I crashed my Outback, the crash could have likely been prevented if it had traction control or even electronic stability control. I would prefer to get those, but depending on the age of the car I know I might not get them. ABS is mandatory at all cost, I drive on snow and ice too often to not have that.
Going back to that crash, the Outback was a well built car and that certainly helped to keep me safe and to still be roadworthy afterward, so don’t skimp on the safety features of the car. I’ll accept standard safety on a sportscar as long as safety is at least 40. Anything else needs advanced safety.
Here’s where things get fun. I’m looking for used cars, so use this spreadsheet to calculate the value of a car (credits go to Dragawn for making it) Used_Car_Calculation_CSR104.zip (9.7 KB)
There are two price brackets to go for here. I said I’m willing to finance from a dealer, so a car being sold by a dealer can be more expensive than one sold by owner. However, I would prefer to pay the car all at once, so I will be biased to the cheaper cars sold by owners. If you’re going to go for the dealer price bracket, make sure the car is worth it.
Cash price for cars sold by owners is limited to $5000 as calculated in the spreadsheet. Dealer price limit is $11,000 with the financing. Yes that means you can get something new and more impressive and from a dealership, but that won’t necessarily strike my fancy. Dealers will also add a 20% commission fee to their cars (automatically added in the spreadsheet), so be aware of that jump in price once you’re over $5000.
I’m not looking to spend too much money in the long run either, so keep the service costs reasonable and under $1000. Regular gasoline only (91 RON/87 AKI) only and minimum fuel economy of 22 MPG average (maximum 10.7L/100 km). I really don’t want to spend more than I have to at the pump.
What do I want
So far this is a whole lot of limits for the car but I haven’t exactly said what it is that I want. I really don’t want to be driving another blandmobile like anyone else. If it’s a generic car that you’ll lose in a parking lot, I don’t want it. Part of what drew me to the Outback is that it was different, there really aren’t many of those around here, and even wagons in general.
The differences in this car don’t necessarily have to be mechanical, nor do they have to be entirely aesthetic. I value a car that is different than usual, so have a look at what the used car market in Ottawa looks like if you want an idea of what bland and common is like here. I’m definitely open to cars that have been modified, but please keep the trim year original if going the modified route. I’d look for a tastefully modified car, so don’t use Need for Speed Underground 2 as inspiration.
In terms of design, don’t send me one of those half assed 5 fixture wonders. I’d like to see some effort put into the design. If it’s not obvious, then let me make it clear now: design is important.
For a hint, when I was shopping for the Outback, I was also looking at a Honda Element, a Mazda 6 wagon, a Saab 9-3 hatchback, and a Toyota Celica GT-S, just to name a few.
No memes. Seriously, I will bin them swiftly.
I don’t have any of the furry mods and don’t plan on getting them, so don’t send me those. Any other mod should be fine.
Engine ET/PU is capped at 150/60, trim ET/PU capped at 120/100
Minimum drivability of 50
Minimum engine reliability of 60 and trim reliability of 58, but the higher the better
Maximum time for 0-100 km/h of 9 seconds (the ~10 seconds of the Outback is already sluggish enough)
Environmental resistance of at least 40, and no bare steel chassis whatsoever. Bare steel panels are okay.
Must have a 3-way catalytic converter. There’s no longer emissions testing here, but I still don’t want a straight piped car.
Maximum loudness of 45. I won’t appreciate an excessively loud exhaust on a car that doesn’t have the sporty behaviour to match, so be sensible with this.
Minimum model year of 1994. Engine can be older, and the trim and model year don’t need to match.
An ad with the price of the car as noted in the spreadsheet (feel free to round to the nearest $50 increment if you’d like) is required. No need to by anything fancy, just a decent shot of the car and typing up the name and price above/below will do.
Just to make it easier to fine tune cars without having to reread everything, here are the stat limits in the brief:
Minimum 40 safety, maximum $1000 service costs, minimum 22 MPG (maximum 10.7L/100 km), 91 RON/87 AKI fuel.
Last but not least, please send me realistic cars. Take a look at the engineering on real cars if you’re clueless. I will bin cars that are made unrealistic just to chase stats. This is not a minmax round, I’d rather have a car that makes a few sacrifices in the name of realism than have something with the perfect stats that just doesn’t make sense for the real world.
Entries close on June 29th at 12 PM EST
Submit your car to me by PM with the typical naming scheme (CSR104-YourName, Car name, CSR104-YourName, Engine name) and post your ad to the thread before the deadline.
Entries will open on June 23rd at 12 PM EST, the brief and rules are subject to changes until then, so make sure to submit any feedback if anything seems off.
For any extra information, check the original rules thread below.