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The Car Shopping Round 104 - Time to take the Outback out back


Same here, IRL stuff prevented me from getting a car ready. I have 3-4 cars I made previously (some CSR, some for fun) that missed because of ET/PU issues (and one for mileage, it gets 9 MPG). Thinking about posting some “Dreggslist” ads here just for the general amusement. Obviously I wont waste the hosts time with submissions I know are illegal/late.


yeh I had to miss bc I was on vacation xd


I had to miss because I was working. Saw all the autotrader ads, and thought about creating a new lore company, to post a swedespeed listing.



Having messaged all the owners (and the dealership) and scheduled test drives, it’s time to go deeper into the last seven cars until I find the one that will replace my trusty Outback.

@Xepy – 2001 Kuma BK LB4

A couple days of waiting around and it’s time to test drive the first car, the BK. I meet the owner at his house and finally get to see the car up close. The rear end really does remind me of my Outback in its design, but with a bit of a modern twist. The front is most distinct but matches the rear quite well. It’s not the most unique looking car from most angles; it’s when looking at its profile that it stands out with the liftback shape and the chunky wheels. Even with the very tame colour I think the shape and that wing above the hatch are enough to set it apart from most.

Sitting inside the car, it’s quite comfortable and seems to be on par with the comfortable interior of the Outback that I’m used to. The stereo system has a cassette deck under the CD, perfect to keep using my cassette adapter, but it’s definitely lower grade than the premium system in the Outback. Should still be alright, it’s better than what you’ll find in a base model compact. Space is alright, less than a wagon but more than a sedan. I think I’ll be able to just squeeze in my bike with the back seat down.

Time to fire it up and take it for a spin… damn that I6 is smooth. The research I did says the turbocharged 2.8L I6 produces 245 hp and 245 lb-ft of torque and that it’s one of the early adopters of direct injection. Despite that early adoption it should still be a very reliable engine, with Kuma having used high quality parts throughout. This thing pulls pretty well, the turbo spools up completely a little over 2000 RPM and the 5 speed electronic automatic with viscous LSD and AWD does well to put transfer the power to the wheels when it needs it. Acceleration isn’t like a sportscar, but it’s definitely on the fast end for a regular car. Handling is good, a little understeery but it’s predictable and the body roll isn’t excessive while also not being too stiff. The electric power steering feels very numb however. It’s a shame that they didn’t stick to a hydraulic system at this time. My other complaint is that the brakes seem to bite a little too easily, causing the ABS to engage even on dry roads. This is only during hard braking so it’s not too severe. Okay, time to take it back. The basic trip computer is showing an average of nearly 39 MPG, so that’s even less to complain about.
This is a solid car, but let’s see how it holds up after I’ve driven the other six.

@cake_ape – 2008 Mons Cursor LT

I was able to schedule a viewing and test drive with the dealership selling the Mons Cursor LT in the afternoon after seeing the Kuma BK LB4. This is the newest car I’ll be looking at, so I’m excited to see what it has to offer. In terms of design, this is probably the most anonymous since the black paint hides a lot of the detail. It’s a liftback design like the BK but it looks a little more conventional; almost like a lot of these modern sedans that have the roof slope right to the end of the trunk. This closer look makes me realise I really don’t like the design of the grille and bumpers. The black paint certainly hid that from me in the ad. It’s a little late to back out just from that, so I might as well give the car a chance.

The interior is very nice but leather seats, leather steering wheel, and high end stereo with navigation. No need for my cassette adapter here either, it has aux! Quality seems average but the features and materials are high end, and this seat is so comfortable. The interior space is very much that of a compact car, so cargo space is limited even with the practical liftback design. Had it been more of a hatch it would have been more usable; as it stands I’ll definitely need to install a rack if I want to move my bike anywhere, and I can forget being able to use it for hauling any furniture.

Moving on to the actual driving portion of this appointment, the engine seems like a typical small I4 until I push it. As a 1.8L turbocharged I4 making 235 hp and 158 lb-ft of torque, it’s a little high strung for its size, so the turbo doesn’t full spool up until getting over 3000 RPM. That means that smooth acceleration is a little more anaemic than expected, but when I push it and the turbo spools it’s a fair bit faster. That said, faster is relative, the acceleration is slower than expected considering how much power it has for a compact, but it is still a little faster than my Outback. Seems the transmission tuning is less than ideal. The ride is not the smoothest either, with the eco tires fitted. There isn’t much body roll and when mixed with the tall ride height, it feels a little stiff, since the car wants to roll more but the suspension is preventing it. The comfort of this car is more from the seats than the suspension. After a few instances of hard braking due to an incompetent driver in front, the pedal starts to feel a little spongy. Mix all these things with the numb electric steering and it’s definitely not the most engaged driving experience. The average economy of the test drive is 28 MPG, so it’s an improvement from the Outback but isn’t outstanding either. Might as well head back to the dealership, I think I got enough from it.

My next test drive is scheduled in a couple of days, so I have some time to think about these two cars until then.

@CorsicaUnknown – 2005 Corsica Cascade

It’s been a couple days and I’m finally able to go see the Corsica Cascade after work. Oh man does this car look nice. The metallic greyish blue paint is a little subtle but it’s very pleasing. Wagons are already rare enough to stand out on their own, but in terms of wagons this one stands out with the interesting roof design and the ribs running along the side. I really like the crisp angles of cars like these from the middle of the previous decade. The tires look pretty damn skinny but I’ll have to see how it drives to see if that really matters.

The interior is pretty standard fare as the photos showed it to be. The seats aren’t high quality like I have in the Outback but they’re not bad either. Stereo is pretty standard, seems a little cheaper than the one in the BK but it’s also not bad. Comfort is pretty typical I guess, what mainly stands out to me is how much space there is in here. This is why I like wagons. I can easily fold the back seat and toss so many things back there. The cargo area seems a little shorter than in the Outback, but the seats fold down flatter so that might make up for it.

Alright, firing this one up and I get the smooth sounding purr of another I6. This one has a nearly 2.9L unit also fitted with a turbo and producing 225 hp and 231 lb-ft of torque. The turbo should be very smooth and quick spooling… I think that was it spooling all the way up around 1800 RPM. That’s very usable for daily usage, unlike the more high strung one in the Cursor. First thing I notice is that while acceleration isn’t much different than the Cursor, it’s easy to chirp the tires. I guess this must be from how skinny they are, since the RWD layout should make it harder to get any wheelspin when acceleration. I don’t think these would do too well during winter. Other than that, the acceleration is pretty smooth, there’s some understeering that wasn’t expected from a RWD wagon, and body roll is higher than the other cars. No issues with the brakes, and the hydraulic steering gives me better feedback than the electric ones. I’ve managed to average a solid 35 MPG so that’s solid. I’m just worried about the traction issues from such skinny tires for a car like this. This should be enough of a test drive, it’s getting close to supper time.

Of the three cars so far, everything is a mix of good and bad, so I’ll have to see if there’s something that comes up without any compromises otherwise it’ll be a hard decision to make.

@accent – 1998 Pengting Torra

Another day, another car. This is the one I was a little hesitant about, but the owner got back to me and getting to see it and drive it wasn’t a hassle, though it’s a little bit of a drive out past the suburbs. The styling isn’t exactly my favourite, it’s definitely a product of the 90s though it seems a little dated for 1998. What I do like is the wagon shape and the very sloped rear window makes it look more dynamic even though it certainly takes a chunk of cargo space with it. The metallic green colour is also pretty unique and should help it stand out a bit. Not much else to say otherwise, it seems pretty rugged much like the Outback.

The interior reminds me so much of the Outback, minus the premium stereo. The design is clearly from the same era and there’s some quality in the seats to make them quite comfortable. The stereo looks to be pretty good quality as well, with the CD and cassette combination I’ve gotten used to. It just lacks the CD changer from the Outback that’s broken anyways, and the extra speakers and subwoofer. As far as space goes, this is quite nice. It’s a smaller car but still a roomy wagon, and the cargo area seems to be the biggest so far with the seats up. This doesn’t look like it will be a downgrade as far as practicality goes.

The Torra is yet another car with a turbocharged engine, this one a 2.4L I4 making 204 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque. That said, it’s not as smooth as the I6s I’ve driven so far but it also isn’t as high strung as the one in the Cursor. Like the Cursor it seems I need to step on it to get the revs needed to spool up the turbo, which happens around 3000 RPM. It feels rather gutless before that. The 4-speed automatic and AWD system work pretty well to put the power down and acceleration is acceptable. Certainly nothing special, but it’s not slow either. The brakes seem a little bit spongy after a handful of sudden stops, but it isn’t too bad. In terms of handling, it’s another one with numb electric power steering that just feels cheap, but it’s is at least offset by very neutral and predictable steering. Where this car loses points is the basic suspension and seemingly cheap tires that don’t do much to absorb bumps, so the ride isn’t too good on these pothole-filled streets. This would get pretty uncomfortable during a long trip. Time to head back… And it seems I’m only averaging a little over 23 MPG, the worst so far.

Three cars left to go and I’m still no closer to deciding what I want.

@goblin95 – Kasai Arial CS

Another couple of days of sitting around and now it’s time to see the only coupe of the bunch. As far as coupes go this is a pretty sober design, but it’s clearly based on a sedan so it’s sure to be more spacious. Like the Cursor, the black paint is very anonymous, even with that metallic effect. The design is pleasing but really not anything special. I guess so far this is the most anonymous looking car, even though coupes usually stand out more. The aftermarket rims aren’t exactly my favourite either.

The interior is pretty much the standard that I’ve come to expect so far. The seats are pretty nice without being luxurious, not quite as nice as the Torra but there’s some quality there. Same thing with that standard stereo with CD and cassette that will let me use my current adapter for my iPod. As the first car to not have some kind of hatch, space is certainly lacking. The trunk is bigger than the Cursor’s but is not nearly as versatile with only a ski trap for long objects, as to be expected from this sort of design. This is another car that will force me to sacrifice a lot of the practicality I’m used to.

To get on with the test drive, starting up the Arial brings up the typical I4 sound. This one has hydraulic power steering, but the feedback it offers isn’t as good as I’d expect. Handling is solid, a little understeering as can be expected from a FWD layout, and the suspension is well tuned. Unlike the Torra, the suspension seems to have a good design and it absorbs imperfections quite well. The I4 used is a 2.0L turbo unit producing 204 hp and 202 lb-ft, with the turbo spooling a little 3000 RPM. This makes it more usable than the other two cars that had a turbo I4 and offers brisk acceleration, about on par with the BK. I should have expected a coupe to offer the best driving experience so far. I should head back since there isn’t much gas in the car. Seems I’m averaging nearly 26 MPG, so that’s alright. I was hoping for a little more but it’s not a deal breaker.

The Arial has left me a lot to think about, mainly about possibly sacrificing some practicality for a nice driving experience. It’s still heading down the road of compromises.

@On3CherryShake – 1999 Kazume Axent 3.5 SLX

Heading back into the weekend and it’s time for another scheduled test drive. This cherry red premium sedan is the most eye catching of the cars here even though it’s not the most unique. The low and sleek coup-like profile is outstanding and gives the car a very dynamic appearance. I’ll only lose this one in a parking lot if it’s hidden between larger vehicles. There’s plenty of little details on this car to look at and it looks to be in great shape. Ultimately I’d consider this a premium coupe with extra doors.

Stepping down inside the low cabin, I’m surrounded by leather. The quality is comparable to that of the Cursor, but hey, nice luxurious materials being used… Except for the stereo. This is a standard fare late 90s system that’s CD and cassette and uses some normal speakers. I can only guess this might have been bought by the original owner after retirement and once their hearing wasn’t good enough to have a reason to get the nicer stereo. Interior space is pretty cramped as I expected it to be from the low profile. The trunk is shorter than the Arial’s and also only has a ski trap, so it’s pretty useless compared to the practicality of a wagon. I’ll still be able to carry luggage and other things, but it has no chance to move large objects like my bike.

Now to see if this car is actually as dynamic as it looks. I hear the familiar rumble when starting it, as this uses a boxer that simply has two more cylinders than the Outback’s. Displacement is 3.5L and it’s the first naturally aspirated car I’ve tried so far. It still produces a reasonable 222 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque, which get put down to the wheels pretty well with the 4-speed electronic automatic transmission and a viscous LSD. Right off the bat I feel the understeering nature of the FWD when paired to the weight of a premium sedan. The suspension seems well built and tuned, as I get a very comfortable ride. Body roll is pretty low and fitting the height of the car while acceleration is slower than I expected. I get some chirping when pushing it so I figure it has some cheap eco tires fitted. The steering offers good feedback without any potential quality issues like the Arial’s. This car is just so damn comfortable I feel like I could drive all day and not feel sore at all, it would be perfect for long trips assuming I can fit everything I need in the small trunk. The return trip just confirms the impressions I already have, and fuel economy is virtually identical to the Arial.

Another car that sacrifices some practicality but is just so good to drive, so let’s see if the last car makes it easy to choose or not.

@Dragawn & @EddyBT – 2001 BT Motors Panthera SST

Here I am heading out for the last test drive on a nice sunny morning. It’s been a week and this is it, I’ll have to make a decision after this car. So in terms of design it’s a pretty conventional wagon and in a forgettable shade of blue. The front seems pretty much in line with the Outback’s design minus the fog lights and plastic cladding, while the rear has a more premium look to it. Either way it’s a very detailed design and it has aged well. I think only the wagon body style sets it apart, it’s not like the Cascade that has a very unique take on it, or the more radical body styles of the BK, the Cursor, and the Axent.

Opening the door and climbing in, and I’m greeted with the standard fare interior of the year 2001. The impressions are the same as many of the other cars, where quality and comfort are average, the stereo is typical of the era, I can still use my adapter in the cassette deck, and so on. What sets the Panthera a little apart is that it has the most cargo space. Where the Torra had a drastically slopping rear hatch, this one is upright and makes more use of the length of the car.

Powering the Panthera is a 2.3L turbocharged I4 making 282 hp and 210 lb-ft of torque, so the quiet rumble as I start it doesn’t give away its true power. Like Kuma, BT Motors was an early adopter of direct injection technology but unlike Kuma, the reliability isn’t quite as exemplary but still above average. Taking a few turns and I realise the steering is like the Arial’s: while hydraulic, the feedback isn’t as good as I’d hoped. The handling is enjoyable and very neutral, with well-tuned suspension and I’m sure the AWD and viscous LSD have something to do with it as well. Along with the solid automatic transmission, the power is put down very well and makes this the fastest accelerating car of the bunch. There really isn’t much else to it, the driving characteristics really feel like the Outback’s but taken to the next level. Averaging 33 MPG is also quite impressive for an AWD car. It’s time for me to head back and finish this last test drive.

Seven cars, all with pros and cons, so now I’ll need to go through them meticulously to make a choice.

Alright, right away I can eliminate some cars. The first to drop out of the running is the Pengting Torra. The ride was just too uncomfortable, the fuel economy too low, and it didn’t exactly look outstanding to me. The $4,020 asking price, the lowest of the bunch, was not enough to save it. I was a little hesitant about it and I guess I turned out to be right, but I’m still glad I got to try it if only to help give a point of comparison to my decision.

Next to go is the Mons Cursor LT. This was by far the most expensive car and the only one I would have had to finance, with a price of $11,000. Did it offer enough to be more than double the price of the other cars? No. The main thing going for it was the more modern premium interior and stereo system, but otherwise the design didn’t quite do it for me and it didn’t really have anything outstanding to make it worth paying so much.

The next car I won’t consider is the Corsica Cascade. I looked it up and those tires are 175mm wide. The car weighs 1.7 tons. No idea who decided to do that, but that just sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. I already rolled the Outback once, I don’t want to roll my next car either. Seems this one is more prone to rust than the other remaining cars, so that’s another point to consider. $4960 is a little much to pay if I would then need to get a completely new set of wheels. It’s a shame since it was my favourite to look at but I had to let logic take the wheel on this one.

Now here I am with four cars having various pros and cons that I can choose from. The Kuma BK LB4 has the best fuel economy, offroad capabilities, and engine reliability. The Kasai Arial CS was the best to drive and should be the most reliable overall by a narrow margin. The Kazume Axent 3.5 SLX is by far the most comfortable, most unique looking, and least prone to rust. The BT Motors Panthera SST is the roomiest and most utilitarian. On the flipside, the BK is the least dynamic to drive and most prone to rust, the Arial is the most expensive to maintain, the least practical, and the most unsafe, the Axent is the least utilitarian and least reliable, and the Panthera has the worst comfort and engine reliability.

I think the next one to remove from my list should be the Kasai Arial CS. It offers a lot for $4910, mainly in driving characteristics, but it’s not quite to the level of a sportscar and ultimately not worth the sacrifices in practicality from a coupe as well as the more expensive upkeep. This sacrifice in practicality is also why the $4970 Kazume Axent 3.5 SLX is out of the running as well. It looks great and is so very comfortable, but it’s just not worth it, especially since the premium interior has more systems prone to failure.

Now I’m left with the Kuma BK LB4 and the BT Motors Panthera SST. One looks more unique and has better fuel economy, one is more utilitarian and sporty. The BK is $4840 and the Panthera is $4980. Hmm…

I’ve ultimately gone for the Kuma BK LB4. It stands out more while also having better fuel economy, comfort, and reliability. The lower cargo volume seems a fair trade off considering all the advantages.
Congratulations to @Xepy for winning CSR104!

2nd place is @Dragawn & @EddyBT , 3rd is @On3CherryShake , 4th @goblin95 , followed by @CorsicaUnknown , @cake_ape , and @accent


What a way to wrap up this round! You have rewarded our patience by delivering a set of concise and honest reviews for each of the finalists. And I had a hunch that the Kuma would win, simply for being so economical - it wasn’t a KO (in terms of model name), but it still KO’d the opposition for being so balanced overall. Well done Xepy - it was his first win in a while, and just about time as well!


Damn, third! Nice! I’m happy with that.

The Axent was exactly what it was intended to be, and it did it very well. I would have a decent shot at hosting if no one else can, but I expect someone else before me definitely can :)) Thank you @thecarlover for such a fantastic round!

And yes, the Axent found her owner! <3

CSR 104 - On3Cherryshake - Kazume Axent 3.5 SLX.car (106.0 KB)


Wonderful round, thanks @thecarlover! I’m just happy that I made it through to the test drive in my second CSR :). I was worried that my own bias of “newer = better” would get me due to price, but hoped that my bias of “higher end = trumps all” would still get me through… and yes, the fine tuning was not optimal. Very fair critique and points well taken. Cheers, and enjoy your new ride!


Very nice write up and thank you for hosting!

I unfortunately won’t have time to host this time either even though I have an idea for it, so I will have to pass it down to Dragawn/EddyBT.


If Eddy and Dragawn can’t, I’m up for the task.


Very cool round, and impressive write up :slight_smile:


Darn, I was a day late to see the finals! That was an enjoyable round and a great writeup, thanks to @Dragawn for the collab! I’m very surprised with the 2nd place!

As for hosting, I’m currently on an active air force base learning how to fly a glider, so absolutely not from me. Maybe Dragawn would be willing?

I’ll be missing the next 6 or so CSRs too :frowning:, but this result is a nice way to start my absence. Gg all!


First of all, thank you thecarlover for hosting this CSR with thorough well written reviews! And I was happy that my spreadsheet could be put to use, although certain required improvements came to light.

As for hosting, I’m definitely not the best writer, but I’m willing to give it a shot again. After a long hiatus though I don’t know what the community has tired of, so I’d like to run a couple of ideas in a poll. I’ll start the competition with the most voted topic after I’ve turned from work today.

  • Modern tiny budget sporty car (kei car / hatchback / mx5)
  • 70’s eco shitbox
  • 1990 hauler (ice cream truck)

0 voters