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Topic # 191449 4-Feb-2016 15:10
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I'm vaguely looking (i.e. not looking to purchase in the immediate future) a station wagon (used - can't afford new) to replace our current car (Toyota Altezza).  However, I'm struggling to find something which ticks all my boxes, namely:


 - roomy in the back seat, with preferably a wide-opening door (for ease of access with a car seat).


 - roomy boot, with split-fold seats, to make trips to the landfill with green waste easier.


 - reliable, easy/cheap to fix/maintain.


 - not a boring cabin (i.e. most of Toyota's range). A nice stereo (with bluetooth) is reasonably important, though I'm happy to get an aftermarket stereo installed, especially as most of the factory stereos are dreadful/hideous to look at or use.


 - not a 7 seater/SUV/urban tractor/people mover (not a fan of over-large, high-riding vehicles)


I've looked around at a lot of different makes/models, (along with a number of manufacturers that I've historically avoided) including Toyota Corolla GX wagon, Subaru Legacy/Outback, Mazda 6/Atenza wagon, Honda Accord Tourer, Mercedes Benz C180 Kompressor wagon, BMW 525i Wagon, Audi S4 Avant Quattro, Nissan Wingroad (all taken from Trademe dealer-only searches).  I've taken a couple for test drives, being the Legacy/Outback, the Corolla wagon, Audi S4 Avant, and a Mazda 6.  Of those, the only one that I really liked was a 2010 Legacy Wagon.  It was pretty spacious in the back seat, had a good boot space, I liked the cabin/kit/extras, and didn't feel too large (though obviously larger than our current car).  However, the Dog and Lemon Guide slammed it on the reliability and cost to maintain/fix front.  It immediately put me off, though it's the only car that really gave me a good vibe when driving it (which made the comments in Dog and Lemon so disappointing).


So my question is -  what do people recommend as a good, reliable station wagon, which ticks most (if not all) of my boxes?  It seems like my best option will be either a Mazda or Honda wagon.  Are they the leading contenders for reliability/cost of maintenance and repairs (other than Toyota, of course)? If there are any mechanics here, is Subaru really as bad as Dog and Lemon suggests?  



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  Reply # 1485257 4-Feb-2016 15:20
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I don't know about the Legacy/Outback reliability issues. I know a few people that own/have owned them and they rave about them - none have had issues. Make sure they are well serviced and they should be fine. I think the Subarus have got bigger over the years, the 05/06 Outbacks were very small in the back, and not that wide either.


Have you looked at the Nissan Stagea. Maybe a bit old for you, but pretty grunty. I don't know how they drive though.

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  Reply # 1485259 4-Feb-2016 15:29
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We had a BMW 330I Touring (E46) with zero issues ever and ran perfectly. The 325 are o0od too.

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  Reply # 1485268 4-Feb-2016 15:41
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It is a 7 seater, but dosent look like one.... Mazda Premacy. We just bought a 2010 model recently and loving it, plenty of space if we need it, or seating, goes well, looks good (compared to other similar vehicles), doors are powered sliding doors on the rear so no fear of the kids bashing them into other cars when getting in and out :) It does ride a little low though, so need to watch it on some driveways etc :)



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  Reply # 1485269 4-Feb-2016 15:43
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BMW (and Merc) fall into the category "brand I normally stay away from", but I can't give a very good reason for it, other than perhaps a nervousness about expensive servicing costs for European cars (also not been a big fan of BMW styling).  However, I've been trying to be open minded and cast my net wide.  Haven't driven a BMW though.  D&L weren't very complimentary about BMW, Merc, Audi and other european cars, especially on the reliability/servicing front.  It's not clear, though, how much of this is an historical issue or whether things have improved.  I think there's a general assumption that Japanese imports are cheaper to service because the volumes sold here mean parts are more available and cheaper, but I don't know if that assumption is borne out in practice.


I've seen a Nissan Stagea around town that looks quite good, but it doesn't look like any are available for sale in Palmerston North.  May be a bit old though, as you say.


The Legacy I drove had a reasonably spacious back seat and a plenty big boot.  It drove really well.  The D&L review was pretty lengthy in its list of problems, but chief among them was the CVT transmission, the Boxer/horizontal engine, and the fact that they often blew head gaskets.  It seems like a lot of these problems emerge around the 100,000km mark, which in the second-hand market means they won't last long without expensive repairs.  Coming from a 1999 Toyota with 243,000 on the clock (and very few mechanical issues along the way, barring a couple of coils, a ball joint, and a couple of cambelt services), it seems like it could be a costly exercise.

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  Reply # 1485272 4-Feb-2016 15:45
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I have a 2006 legacy (the outback is quite a different model in NZ). 


I like it and would get another, I might go for the outback simply for the look, the 2006 legacy looks a little boring.


My previous car was a 1989 toyota corona so bare that in mind when looking at what I find the pros and cons




  • heaps of space in the back seats and boot
  • very comfortable to drive
  • awd, great for the ski field
  • fuel efficient on the open road



  • service is expensive (expensive oil, complicated timing belt)
  • a little gutless in eco mode (heavy car only a two litre, I'm also not used to autos)
  • head unit is integrated with climate control so expensive to replace)




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  Reply # 1485274 4-Feb-2016 15:47
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I wouldn't put stock on anything the author of the dog and lemon guide writes. His comments in any news report are equally inept. Subaru had a bad patch through the 00's, but I haven't heard of too many issues more recently.

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  Reply # 1485275 4-Feb-2016 15:47
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Owned a 2008 Subaru wagon.  Had a party the day I sold it.  Awesome while it was going, but expensive as hell to run and maintenance costs needed a second mortgage.  Might have changed in the latter models. but the changed style does noting for me.  


I would have said an SUV...there is a reason for their popularity!


Have you tried a Skoda Octavia?  I have not owned one but very swish indeed, and go really well.  Great value for money also on the face of it.  Sport model especially nice.     



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  Reply # 1485282 4-Feb-2016 15:50
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Are there any cars that the dog & lemon guide doesn't slam?  I bought a bunch of reports last time I was looking for a car (small SUV) and my basic conclusion was "he doesn't like small SUVs".




I think some of the overseas car sites are better informed, and a lot cheaper (ie free)

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  Reply # 1485291 4-Feb-2016 15:57
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1eStar: I wouldn't put stock on anything the author of the dog and lemon guide writes. His comments in any news report are equally inept. Subaru had a bad patch through the 00's, but I haven't heard of too many issues more recently.




I've got a D&L from 2006-7, and I thought it rated subarus well. People who own them seem to like them. I think they are bland, even more band than toyota. When I looked at buying one new, it just didn't compare, not helped by poor sales team. I would look at mazda 6's for a station wagon, if you want something more exciting than a toyota, and also reliable. Toyota do now rebadge mazdas, in the US, for one of their brands.

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  Reply # 1485298 4-Feb-2016 16:08
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Have you looked at the Toyota Avensis Wagon ??





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  Reply # 1485300 4-Feb-2016 16:10
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1eStar: I wouldn't put stock on anything the author of the dog and lemon guide writes. His comments in any news report are equally inept. Subaru had a bad patch through the 00's, but I haven't heard of too many issues more recently.


Interestingly, when I was researching my current car, I read the D&L of the time cover to cover and found there were only 10 cars that were "highly recommended", and the Altezza was one of them.  It gave me a measure of comfort (and is the basis of my rating the value of the D&L Guide) and has been largely borne out by the reliability of the Altezza.  I guess that's why I'm nervous and curious to know if the advice the Guide gives about Subarus is warranted...

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  Reply # 1485301 4-Feb-2016 16:10
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I've had 6 (or maybe 7) Subarus... used to do a bit of rally driving in my yooth and drive a lot for work... a lot of KMs a month.


I've had 2 outbacks (from memory around 01 and 04 models), always bought second hand around the 50K mileage. I'd say cheap as anything else to get serviced, definitely way cheaper than Euro cars (speaking from experience because my mechanic specializes in Euro Audi etc). Moderately expensive for the major service coming up 100ks (cam belt etc). I think I just spent 3, 500 odd on new cam belt and service for my Impreza turbo 


Can't say I've had too many mechanical troubles with any of mine- no blown head gaskets/turbos or anything but I always service regularly. They tend to have a bit of trouble with break pads/calipers (mine always need adjusting). The things that tend to go wrong are small- knobs breaking, catches not working etc. 


My best advice if looking for a second hand car (Subaru included) is don't waste your time on an AA appraisal, get a proper mechanic to do a warrant check, then general engine check and 'appearance' check. If my mechanic tells me he'd buy it... then I'll buy it... and make him fix it when something goes wrong!


Also if you're buying an import Subaru around 06- 07 model, check that it has VDC (vehicle dynamic control) as some Jap models don't even if the equivalent NZ ones do. The upside is that many Jap imports have factory fitted imobiliser alarm (it's just switched off by default as Japanese have no need for alarms). This pleases your insurance company much :) 



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  Reply # 1485303 4-Feb-2016 16:11
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What's your budget?

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  Reply # 1485304 4-Feb-2016 16:11
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Are you able to give a budget indication? This has some impact on what may be appropriate, and also what aged car can be got for that sort of money.


You mention a decent boot - when I was looking for a wagon I was surprised at how small the boots actually were, both as formally measured and in practical use. I think this is partially down to the trend towards a strongly sloped back, which really reduces capacity at window level and above. Makes for nice looking but not terribly roomy cars. While I'd never choose a Skoda on looks alone (yawn), they certainly have a reputation for both rear legroom and boot space (think this applies to both the Octavia and particularly the Superb).


Having owned a 2001 Primera with CVT and had significant problems with that, personally I'd avoid anything but quite recent models with CVT boxes.


Personally, if I was to buy a new car today I'd buy what I currently have - the current Mazda6 wagon. I'd be wary of the previous one in terms of fuel efficiency (as I would be for the current and previous Accord Euro wagons), but if this wasn't an issue and my budget didn't stretch to the current model I'd still probably go with the last gen 6. Still, the current 6 doesn't have a huge boot (we've bought a roof box for holidays);however the rear leg room's fine, and we've got two car seats in the back and access to those isn't an issue (though not as good as my wife's Jazz - doors on that open to nearly 90 degrees).


But there's also the issue of reliability - as has been often mentioned on GZ, late-model cars are so full of electronic wizardry, the reliability and long-term cost of maintaining them is a bit of an unknown. If long-term cost is an issue, you may be best to get something slightly older and/or less wizz-bang (which possibly leads you back to something safe like a Toyota, perhaps an Avensis? Personally, I think the 1.5l Corolla wagon is a bit underpowered).



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  Reply # 1485306 4-Feb-2016 16:12
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Have you looked at the Toyota Avensis Wagon ??



Yeah, that was actually another that I looked at (but haven't driven).  It looks okay - not quite as dull as most Toyota interiors, but I haven't looked at one in the flesh to gauge the space in the back seat.  I'm going to try and look around some car yards this weekend and will take a look at the Avensis.

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