COAL #44 2018 Subaru Outback Touring – Waving the White Flag

Alright, so some of you may remember the COAL that I did early on in the series about the 2015 Subaru Crosstrek that I married into. A lot of readers were a little disgruntled about the fact that I traded in a 5 year old car when there was nothing wrong with it. There were also a lot of comments saying I made my wife trade her car in. Let’s set that one straight. I absolutely cannot make my wife do anything. She controls the purse strings in our house, and truth be told she was getting a little tired of the Crosstrek as well. If anyone does, however, find out how to make their wife trade cars, let me know (joking)!  I was a bit surprised by some of the comments, because who cares? If people have the means to do so without piling on the debt, let them funnel cars into the used market!

Anyway, this is what replaced it. My wife absolutely loved the Outbacks that I had before we got married. She liked the size of it, the slight luxurious upgrades, and the car-like nature. So when we started to look for another car, she went straight to the Subaru dealer.

I, on the other hand, was ready to get something different than a Outback. I loved my 2017, but I really wanted to add a Volvo into the garage. Knowing full well that it was her car, and it would be mostly driven by her, I let her have the final say. I was there just to guide the process, and throw out options that I thought were safe. At the time Anna was still commuting right before we moved to our new house. So I wanted something with safety, and that was all I really cared about.

We looked at the used section of Adventure Subaru, as we could not afford a brand new one. She immediately spotted a lightly used Ascent, but was shocked by the price tag. I don’t think she really cared about the color, or options, but just that it was an Outback. She went to a black one at first, but it had sadly been smoked in, and the dealer didn’t try very hard to get the smell out. Anna’s next concern was price, it had to be financially doable to her, so that left only a handful of Outbacks on the lot (at the time they had over 30 used Outbacks!). I gravitated toward a green one naturally because that was the color I used to have. Once she saw the interior color she was sold. I wanted to still shop around though, and show her a few more brand options.

We shopped at Toyota, and she loved the new RAV4, but we both agreed that we would not gain much size going up from the Crosstrek. We looked at the Highlander, but it was just a bit more than we wanted to spend.

Our next stop was Mazda. The CX-9 was the one we aimed at, and really liked. The dealer though was very limited on inventory, and most were fully loaded. Anna also felt that it was a bit bigger than she wanted, and we did not need something that size right then.

Next, was a Buick dealer where they had a 2018 Volvo XC60. I was very excited to show her this. She had never seen or been in the new SPA platform, as our closest dealer was 2 hours away. It was Pine Grey with black interior. It also came well equipped, but not top of the line, so it had just about everything she would need. The car had been on their lot for several months, and had been discounted considerably. Anna was quickly distracted by a Buick Regal TourX. It was white with tan interior, and was $25,000 brand new. It was the last one on their lot, and they were wanting it gone. We drove it two times, and each time we both really liked it. It was a base model and lacked a lot of the driver assist features I would have liked Anna to have. I also had a hard time getting behind GM again after my parents’ Tahoe experience. I told her that we could look at the TourX, but just not this one, because of the lack of safety technology. A quick internet search showed this was the only TourX within 200 miles. That search ended quick.

Back to the Volvo. Anna drove it several times, and really liked it. She liked the seats, and how much quieter it rode than the Outback. She agreed that it was the one she wanted. Elated, we sat down with the salesman. Online they didn’t have the Carfax posted, which I found strange, so I asked to see it. He was a young guy, and said sure. After several times when he “forgot” to print it off, I told him we weren’t going further until I see it. When he came back with it, it showed it was a rental owned by Enterprise. I was immediately turned off. Before I could say anything about the Carfax, the young salesman came back with our payment numbers. Now, my wife broke the cardinal rule of car buying. She told the salesmen while I was looking at the car what she wanted our payment number to be. So when he came back to show us, he said “look I got you where you wanted to be on monthly payment.” I started running the numbers at the table, and saw that they had us at a 10.5% interest rate. Confused, I asked “what is the interest rate on this loan?” The salesman AND finance manager came out, and said “we can’t tell you what your interest rate is.” Right there I stood up, and started to walk out. They had already run our credit, and showed we had zero debt at the time, and excellent credit (we hadn’t bought our house, and luckily had no student loans. Both our parents helped us early to establish credit for us), so there should be no reason they cannot tell us our interest rate. As we were getting in the car, the salesman shouted “we have a couple coming from Tulsa to look at it, you need to buy it now or they will.” I simply replied “let them!”

Defeated, we left, and ate some lunch. As we talked over lunch, not saying much about the car, Anna piped up and said “why don’t we just get the Subaru?” I looked at her and asked her if that was what she really wanted. I did not want her to get really bummed out about losing this Volvo if she really wanted one. She told me she was just trying to make me happy by getting a Volvo. I really did not want to go for the Subaru, but it was her car, and I really wanted her to get something she wanted.

After an extremely smooth transaction (it always is) at Adventure Subaru, we walked out with 0% for 72 months on a CPO Outback. They had given us top dollar for our trade, and were really great to deal with, so I was happy.

In 2018 Subaru came out with the Touring model, which basically adds a different color leather, and eliminates the integrated crossbars. The roofline is more wagon like, and cleaner. You also get some plastic chrome accents on the outside, and a heated steering wheel. We also got the added active headlights, which is nice when it’s dark on a curvy road. Ours is the 2.5 4-cylinder, and it’s nice for around town, but coupled with the CVT it lacks for sure. I added a trailer hitch to the car right after we bought it to tow our garden trailer around, and even with a small trailer it struggles.

We still have this car, and Anna is very happy. At first she HATED the driver assist features after it emergency braked on her a few times (don’t get me started), but now she has gotten used to it. The only issue we have had, was and still is the Apply CarPlay. For some reason it keeps cutting out at random times. We have taken it into the dealer to have it updated, but still nothing works. I need to take it back in, but COVID has limited the ability to go in.

It is the car we drive most often when we go out together, and I find it just fine to drive. The seats get a little uncomfortable after a long trip, but we are fortunate to have a nice car. We both plan to keep this car until either the wheels fall off or we need something bigger. In the end, Anna was happy, and the Subaru fits nicely into the garage.