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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Traded in my '13 Ford Fusion 2.0l Ecoboost this weekend. I didn't plan on going new, but the style of car I was looking for made it hard not to because used (even last year) with 10-30k miles were still just a few grand less than new prices and almost out of warranty. Plus I ended up getting this for invoice which made it a bit more enticing.

The Fusion is/was a terrific car. If they made it in a liftback I would 100% be in that right now. It had excellent tech, very comfortable, looked great, made good power and had decent MPG's, but the cargo space was awful if you actually had to load anything taller than a suitcase.

Next car had to be:
  • Hatch/liftback or wagon with a low entry point and seats that folded flat
  • 250+hp
  • Nice blue color
  • AWD
  • Not built during peak pandemic (2020-2022)
  • Something more robust/utilitarian
With that requirement you wouldn't believe how many vehicles now lock a lot of features behind trims of the same exact model. I can't get paint/interior colors without selecting (x) trim level, but if I want the bigger engine I'm locked out of those colors or options. This pushed me to also look at SUV/CUV which I totally didn't want to entertain because I don't want the size and most look all the same.

The cars I narrowed it down to were
  • 2017-19 Audi A7/S7 or A4 Allroad
  • 2023 2-door Bronco or Bronco Sport Badlands
  • Mazda CX-50 or 3
  • Volvo V60
  • Subaru Outback Onyx, Wilderness or Touring
As much as I wanted to stick with a sedan I knew I would hate the hard suspension tuning cars get "for sportiness" on the roads around me (the Fusion was getting punished) so the A7/S7 and Mazda 3 were out. Watching a lot of reviews and the 2-door Bronco was my favorite based on looks, but it sits too high and the seats can't fold flat in the back. The A4 Allroad checked a lot of boxes but lacked power, features upped the price quickly and would cost more long term. The Volvo rated pretty poorly with reviewers in that the infotainment is awful and it doesn't make enough power next to the competition vs price.

So the Bronco Sport Badlands and Outback's are neck and neck at this point. You have to get the Badlands for the bigger engine and better 4WD system, but with that you get an actual upgraded suspension, nicer infotainment, vented seats, good cargo and nice styling. With the Outback you get better AWD, more power, more cargo, handles like a car and the interior feels nice to be in, but it's got a CVT transmission. Aesthetically the looks of the Outback really stood out to me.

So here it is, my '23 Outback Wilderness. When I test drove it I had no qualms about the CVT because it put the power down great. It really moves and I'm still in the break-in period on a tank of 87 they gave me. The suspension is just the right amount of lift and ruggedness where I don't have to worry about anything but still ride comfortably. The weird not leather, not vinyl seats grip well and are very comfortable, the all black and dark grey interior just looks nicer than that 2-tone greyish beige some cars get. The only issues I have is the speakers are absolute trash and embarrassing for a $42k car. That will be the first thing I probably change.

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Congratulations! There's a reason those are so popular...because they are damn useful cars. They check a lot of boxes.
I always give credit to Subaru for stubbornly waiving the AWD flag for decades before it became cool.

The used car market is still stupid. I think a lot of people were assuming it would be back to reality by now but...not so much.
Now where have I seen that color scheme before???
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I fought back against practical cars for as long as I could.

We're getting old, John.

Congrats!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks. Yea, I feel I didn't compromise on the power at least. All the cars have creeped upwards slowly and this is slightly faster than the Fusion. Even tho I probably will never tow I like knowing this will tow 3,500lbs while everything else I compared was less.
 

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Congrats!

I'm a sucker for wagons and I like the ground clearance that has. I love that it has white lettered tires on it, too. It's hard to find anything that isn't the cookie cutter shape anymore. We had the Volvo for a rental and hated it, so smart choice there I think.

I really hate dealing with car dealers. Our Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk was about to grenade the rear differential so we just traded it on a 4Runner TRD Pro. Overall it wasn't a terrible experience, but I don't care to go through it again for awhile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ford has the styling nailed down but their quality seriously feels like it nosedived the past 5 years.

As for the Outbacks, I'm 99% sure the Onyx XT would've been perfectly fine for me. But the blue and the look of the Wilderness just sold me a bit more. Technically it's got a different CVT and tuning so it has more torque off the line, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
2 months in and I'm pretty happy with this car. I've not done any crazy off-roading outside of a few rutted fire roads that were covered in 10" of snow and this just didn't care. Even in some heavy slush it would slide but was predictable. I've enjoyed exploring some more of the area I live in as well. Lots of conservation land that is on dirt roads I wouldn't want to take a sedan through.

So far the only problems I've had is the radiator was cracked from the factory and slowly leaked coolant, and the 11" display is not working in a 3" band spanning across it. Oddly enough a software update made it better, but it's still glitching occasionally.

Just got it back from getting PPF on the front and an OE graphics package on the sides. I also installed some Kicker tweeters that helped improve the sound stage noticably. Next is tinting the front 2 windows and throwing some better speakers in the doors.

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My new car sound system is disappointing too. You would think that would be a simple thing for the carmakers to get right. They probably just subcontract the whole package to the supplier I suppose...

In my Cougar, I built fiberglass back-end enclosures for my door speakers and it TRANSFORMED the sound I was getting (for the better). I know they sell little foam rubber baffles for door speakers all over the place, I haven't tried them but if they offer even a fraction of the improvement I got from fiberglass, they are well worth it. The next time I go into my doors I'm definitely going to give them a try.

Looking good though! The graphics are nice highlights, and the wheels are super sharp. I'm glad the gold wheels on blue Subi's are out of favor.
 

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Mine is Bose but I think they are resting on their laurels, riding on the name.
 

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Looks great! Maybe that's what we should look at when, someday, we get to replace the Mazda 3. It doesn't seem like there are many actual cars with power. I think the manufacturers are neutering the cars so they get better fuel mileage so they can sell more SUVs - thanks, CAFE.

I know Toyota still makes a V6 Camry.... Honda makes a turbocharged 4 banger Accord that supposedly offers power similar to what our V6 Accord did, but I'm suspicious (and it, unlike other Accord models, didn't include the memory driver seat feature for some idiotic reason - a feature that's mandatory for Erica and I). A Mustang or similar is out of the question.
 

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Looks great! Maybe that's what we should look at when, someday, we get to replace the Mazda 3. It doesn't seem like there are many actual cars with power. I think the manufacturers are neutering the cars so they get better fuel mileage so they can sell more SUVs - thanks, CAFE.

I know Toyota still makes a V6 Camry.... Honda makes a turbocharged 4 banger Accord that supposedly offers power similar to what our V6 Accord did, but I'm suspicious (and it, unlike other Accord models, didn't include the memory driver seat feature for some idiotic reason - a feature that's mandatory for Erica and I). A Mustang or similar is out of the question.
The GR Corolla appears to be a legit drivers car, wringing a ton of power out of a tiny engine and a manual trans...if you don't mind the styling. Sort of a spiritual successor to a Speed3. The cool kid options run the price up fast though.
 

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The GR Corolla appears to be a legit drivers car, wringing a ton of power out of a tiny engine and a manual trans...if you don't mind the styling. Sort of a spiritual successor to a Speed3. The cool kid options run the price up fast though.
Good luck finding one for a reasonable price though: 2022 GR Corolla production purposely limited to generate demand

Toyota North America's VP of marketing told Road & Track at the beginning of the month, "I wouldn鈥檛 say the limiting factor on these vehicles is our ability to produce them. It鈥檚 being very careful to make sure that we maintain the niche credibility," and that the automaker wanted to build "one too few" of the GR Corolla.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Looks great! Maybe that's what we should look at when, someday, we get to replace the Mazda 3. It doesn't seem like there are many actual cars with power. I think the manufacturers are neutering the cars so they get better fuel mileage so they can sell more SUVs - thanks, CAFE.
They're actually making the larger, more premium ones more because of higher profit margins on them. That's why you have these $40k CUV's with anemic 200hp engines.
 

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Traded in my '13 Ford Fusion 2.0l Ecoboost this weekend. I didn't plan on going new, but the style of car I was looking for made it hard not to because used (even last year) with 10-30k miles were still just a few grand less than new prices and almost out of warranty. Plus I ended up getting this for invoice which made it a bit more enticing.

The Fusion is/was a terrific car. If they made it in a liftback I would 100% be in that right now. It had excellent tech, very comfortable, looked great, made good power and had decent MPG's, but the cargo space was awful if you actually had to load anything taller than a suitcase.

Next car had to be:
  • Hatch/liftback or wagon with a low entry point and seats that folded flat
  • 250+hp
  • Nice blue color
  • AWD
  • Not built during peak pandemic (2020-2022)
  • Something more robust/utilitarian
With that requirement you wouldn't believe how many vehicles now lock a lot of features behind trims of the same exact model. I can't get paint/interior colors without selecting (x) trim level, but if I want the bigger engine I'm locked out of those colors or options. This pushed me to also look at SUV/CUV which I totally didn't want to entertain because I don't want the size and most look all the same.

The cars I narrowed it down to were
  • 2017-19 Audi A7/S7 or A4 Allroad
  • 2023 2-door Bronco or Bronco Sport Badlands
  • Mazda CX-50 or 3
  • Volvo V60
  • Subaru Outback Onyx, Wilderness or Touring
As much as I wanted to stick with a sedan I knew I would hate the hard suspension tuning cars get "for sportiness" on the roads around me (the Fusion was getting punished) so the A7/S7 and Mazda 3 were out. Watching a lot of reviews and the 2-door Bronco was my favorite based on looks, but it sits too high and the seats can't fold flat in the back. The A4 Allroad checked a lot of boxes but lacked power, features upped the price quickly and would cost more long term. The Volvo rated pretty poorly with reviewers in that the infotainment is awful and it doesn't make enough power next to the competition vs price.

So the Bronco Sport Badlands and Outback's are neck and neck at this point. You have to get the Badlands for the bigger engine and better 4WD system, but with that you get an actual upgraded suspension, nicer infotainment, vented seats, good cargo and nice styling. With the Outback you get better AWD, more power, more cargo, handles like a car and the interior feels nice to be in, but it's got a CVT transmission. Aesthetically the looks of the Outback really stood out to me.

So here it is, my '23 Outback Wilderness. When I test drove it I had no qualms about the CVT because it put the power down great. It really moves and I'm still in the break-in period on a tank of 87 they gave me. The suspension is just the right amount of lift and ruggedness where I don't have to worry about anything but still ride comfortably. The weird not leather, not vinyl seats grip well and are very comfortable, the all black and dark grey interior just looks nicer than that 2-tone greyish beige some cars get. The only issues I have is the speakers are absolute trash and embarrassing for a $42k car. That will be the first thing I probably change.

View attachment 82789
The speaker is indeed a fly in the ointment.
 

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They're actually making the larger, more premium ones more because of higher profit margins on them. That's why you have these $40k CUV's with anemic 200hp engines.
Yep. And Mazda 3s that can't get out of their own way. Great mileage, but when you hate life while driving it, what does it matter? (When I'm driving it, I either feel nothing at all, or angry. I really dislike that car. On the other hand, I drove the Cougar to the dentist yesterday and had a great time, even just driving it in moderate traffic...TO THE DENTIST.)
 
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