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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    Car Advice (Outback vs Tacoma vs Ridgeline vs ???)

    Looking to get rid of my aging WRX and get something that can haul more stuff and handle living/playing in the mountains. I loved my WRX when I bought it at age 23, but now I'm 32 and need something a little more comfortable and with more cargo room for gear/stuff/future kids. I also want something that's more capable off road, although I am not someone who goes off road for fun, just to access hiking/climbing/skiing. We also bought our first single family home last year, and the need for a vehicle that can more easily haul stuff for house projects has become very apparent (the backseat in my WRX has been folded down flat now for going on 6 months straight). This would be my daily driver, however I work from home so I don't have a regular commute. I live in the greater Seattle area, and ski at Crystal (~1 hour each way from my house).

    Anything I buy would be either new or at most 1-2 years used. Ideal would be something with less than 10k miles so I avoid the new car depreciation hit, but I'm willing to buy new to get the options I want.

    I've somewhat narrowed my search down the following:

    2018 or newer Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
    Pros
    - Subaru AWD
    - Comfortable / easy to drive
    - Best MPG of vehicles I'm looking at
    - Cheapest cost new

    Cons
    - Less cargo/hauling space compared to trucks
    - Dirt/muck from gear is inside the car
    - Less ground clearance than others (although better than current car)

    2018 or newer Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road 4x4
    Pros
    - Toyota Reliability
    - Double cab / long bed would handle all people and gear/material hauling needs
    - Large aftermarket support
    - Option for locking differential
    - Highest ground clearance

    Cons
    - Worst gas mileage
    - Expensive
    - Rear Drum Brakes
    - Interior not as nice as others

    2018 or Newer Honda Ridgeline RTL AWD
    Pros
    - Better MPG than Tacoma (although less than Subaru)
    - Highest payload rating
    - Better interior features
    - Wider bed than Tacoma (can fit 4' x 8' sheet of plywood between wheel wells)
    - Extra cargo trunk in bed

    Cons
    - LOOKS (subjective, but I'm not in love with them)
    - Lowest ground clearance
    - No Long bed option
    - Somewhat pricey (although a bit cheaper than Tacoma)
    - Not a lot of reliability history or aftermarket support

    I'm going to be test driving all three over the next few weeks, but wondering if there are thoughts on these 3, or other vehicles I should be looking at.
    "If I could have any K2 skis this year I'd go with the Volkl Gotamas." - Monique

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Sounds like you need a truck. Iíd cross that Outback right off the list. And no offense, but those Ridgelines are ugly as hell.

    When I got my Tundra, the mpg vs Tacoma was surprisingly similar. And the costs were the same, or actually a bit cheaper.

    Also couldnít hurt to look at an eco boost F150, new ranger, or the new chevy silverados that get really good gas mileage. But Iím a big fan of that Toyota reliability....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Bottom feeding
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    7,143
    Outback or Ridgeline. Or Sienna.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  4. #4
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    Jul 2005
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    Moose, Iowa
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    5,846
    4 Runner if you are expecting a family and want to go off road and haul tons of stuff but the mileage is shit on both the 4R and the Tacoma. We leave our long paid for 03 4R in the garage most of the time and only use it when we need it for towing or family hauling. Tacoma does not have enough back seat room to keep kids happy unless they are tiny and they do not stay that way for long. Long trips in the 4R take a serious hit on the wallet and the environment if you care about that...I do and thus it stays behind the garage door mostly.

    Myself I crossed the pre 2020 Outback off my list due to outdated chassis and my repulsion at owning the CVT after owning a manual Outback and bought an Alltrack manual which we drive everywhere and love...so I would look at the 2020 Outback which is based on the new global platform and should be much more competitive with modern cars and will have the 2.4 Turbo as an option if you think you really need that much power.

    Honda - no opinion but they look nice to me and are probably a good compromise if you really need a bed but not real off road capability.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    5,351
    ^What he said.

    I have a 2016 Tacoma (same body and engine as 2018 or newer) and if you're going to have a family or transport a lot of people, look at the 4Runner or a full size truck.

    Also, the engine searches for gears, a lot, to get the gas mileage it does so if that bothers you, look elsewhere.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    564
    I was considering basically the same list of vehicles, for my last purchase. The Ridgeline get great reviews for sure, but I could NOT bear the look. Personally I'd cross that off the list and replace it with the Chevy Colorado. I also had the Jeep Grand Cherokee on my list.

    In the end, I decided that since the majority of my driving is a long-ish commute, I didn't want a truck as my daily driver. My previous car was a '11 Outback 3.6R (5-sp AT - no cvt). Really liked that car - surprisingly quick, surprisingly capable offroad (for what it is, at least), nice to drive. I'd driven a '10 2.5 outback with cvt, and a '18 Crosstrek with cvt, and absolutely HATED the cvt! So now that all outbacks had cvt, it was pretty much off the list

    So I was pretty much dead set on the Jeep. But then at the last minute, I test-drove a 3.6R. The cvt in that car is a COMPLETELY different experience, than in the 2.5 outback. So much so that I bought the 3.6R. I am shocked, in fact, that I like the cvt in the 3.6 better than the AT in my old 3.6. And it is way more car for the money (especially the '19, where they throw in all the Eyesight stuff), than the Jeep - at similarly priced trim packages, the outback comes out way ahead. And it drives better. And it has pretty much the exact same cargo room and ground clearance as the Jeep.

    In fact, the Outback has better ground clearance than the Ridgeline or a Colorado (but less than the Tacoma). It does not, however, have very good approach/departure angles.

    Main thing is to decide if you want a car or a truck. If car, I can definitely recommend the 3.6R (but not any version of the 2.5 outback). If truck, well...supposedly the Ridgeline is a great vehicle. But it is NOT really a truck (unibody construction - more car-like ride, but can't be as burly as a real truck frame). And while the outback is not especially macho or sexy looking...the Ridgeline look is just unacceptable IMO. So I'd suggest: focus on the Taco or Colorado. The Colorado seems better rated, and seems to be better bang-for-buck. But the Taco looks cooler.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    564
    P.S. the 3.6R cvt is brilliant in the mountains. Despite the stupid, simulated shift points, it NEVER hunts, simulated or otherwise, going uphill - smooth as silk, and plenty of power. And the paddle shifters (where the fake shift points actually make huge sense), make going downhill effortless, without riding the brakes.

    The only downside to the 3.6's cvt is towing capacity. My '11 3.6 (w/ AT) had like twice the towing capacity of the '11 2.5 outback. With the cvt, the 2.5 and 3.6 have the same towing capacity (same as the older 2.5).

    So if towing is important (it is not to me), think about that.

    Interestingly, the cvt is supposedly zero-maintenance (no fluid changes etc.), for the life of the car. We'll see how that works out.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    YetiMan
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    10,783
    I asked my most-trusted, most honest, mechanic buddy if he had a voucher to buy any car/truck but he’d have to be the one working on it, what would he get.
    Answer 1: a super clean 1985 4runner.
    Answer 2 (something new): new 4runner.

    His take: shitty on gas, bomber every other way.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Bozeman
    Posts
    682
    I struggled with a similar decision for a bit. It made it way easier to just suck it up and decide between wagon or truck first. Otherwise your pro/con list is all over the place and impossible to evaluate - like how do you even compare the gas mileage of an outback vs. a ridgeline being able to haul 4' x 8' plywood?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    X2 on tundra instead of Tacoma. For whatever reason they are practically the same price, similar gas mileage and tons more cargo and crew space along with 2 or 3x the towing capacity. One of the most comfortable road trips vehicles Iíve ever had (waaaaay nicer than the Subaruís Iíve owned).

    The only real downside is that itís physically bigger which could matter on tight wheeling trails or if you park on the street in a city a lot.

  11. #11
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    Aug 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by uglymoney View Post
    4 Runner if you are expecting a family and want to go off road and haul tons of stuff but the mileage is shit on both the 4R and the Tacoma. We leave our long paid for 03 4R in the garage most of the time and only use it when we need it for towing or family hauling. Tacoma does not have enough back seat room to keep kids happy unless they are tiny and they do not stay that way for long. Long trips in the 4R take a serious hit on the wallet and the environment if you care about that...I do and thus it stays behind the garage door mostly.
    Quote Originally Posted by ill-advised strategy View Post
    I asked my most-trusted, most honest, mechanic buddy if he had a voucher to buy any car/truck but he’d have to be the one working on it, what would he get.
    Answer 1: a super clean 1985 4runner.
    Answer 2 (something new): new 4runner.

    His take: shitty on gas, bomber every other way.
    I've considered a 4runner as well but I have some concerns on border line worse MPG than the Taco and overall size. I drove a hand me down 4runner in college for a while and loved it, but my interest in them has wained since Toyota kept making them bigger and bigger (a 4runner with a third row seat just seems ass backwards to me). I'll probably take a look at them when I check out Tacomas at the dealership.

    Quote Originally Posted by skizix View Post
    I was considering basically the same list of vehicles, for my last purchase. The Ridgeline get great reviews for sure, but I could NOT bear the look. Personally I'd cross that off the list and replace it with the Chevy Colorado. I also had the Jeep Grand Cherokee on my list.

    In the end, I decided that since the majority of my driving is a long-ish commute, I didn't want a truck as my daily driver. My previous car was a '11 Outback 3.6R (5-sp AT - no cvt). Really liked that car - surprisingly quick, surprisingly capable offroad (for what it is, at least), nice to drive. I'd driven a '10 2.5 outback with cvt, and a '18 Crosstrek with cvt, and absolutely HATED the cvt! So now that all outbacks had cvt, it was pretty much off the list

    So I was pretty much dead set on the Jeep. But then at the last minute, I test-drove a 3.6R. The cvt in that car is a COMPLETELY different experience, than in the 2.5 outback. So much so that I bought the 3.6R. I am shocked, in fact, that I like the cvt in the 3.6 better than the AT in my old 3.6. And it is way more car for the money (especially the '19, where they throw in all the Eyesight stuff), than the Jeep - at similarly priced trim packages, the outback comes out way ahead. And it drives better. And it has pretty much the exact same cargo room and ground clearance as the Jeep.

    In fact, the Outback has better ground clearance than the Ridgeline or a Colorado (but less than the Tacoma). It does not, however, have very good approach/departure angles.
    The comfort factor is pretty much what would sway me towards the outback rather than a truck. My WRX has both low profile tires and pretty stiff suspension and driving it as a daily driver has just gotten old due to the somewhat jarring ride. My (somewhat) fear is I might get the same thing in a truck, but I'll need to test drive and then decide.


    Quote Originally Posted by Supermoon View Post
    X2 on tundra instead of Tacoma. For whatever reason they are practically the same price, similar gas mileage and tons more cargo and crew space along with 2 or 3x the towing capacity. One of the most comfortable road trips vehicles I’ve ever had (waaaaay nicer than the Subaru’s I’ve owned).

    The only real downside is that it’s physically bigger which could matter on tight wheeling trails or if you park on the street in a city a lot.
    The larger size of the Tundra is a turnoff for me. I also don't really have any plans to tow anything any time soon, so towing capacity is pretty much a non-factor to me.
    "If I could have any K2 skis this year I'd go with the Volkl Gotamas." - Monique

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    livin the dream
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    3,504

    Car Advice (Outback vs Tacoma vs Ridgeline vs ???)

    The Chevy Colorado, new Ford Ranger, and new Jeep truck are worth a test drive...

    I drive a full size truck in Seattle and itís a pain. Itís a company vehicle... but if I was buying a personal truck It would be one of the smaller ones.


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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Moose, Iowa
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    5,846
    If you are worried about ride just go ahead and cross the 4R and Taco off of your list. Lolz. Fuel economy difference between the two can't be enough to sway you from buying what you need? Both will get garbage fuel economy but return years of trouble free if bouncy service. I cannot wait to get back in my car after driving the 4R and we have OME springs and Bilsteins which give it a significantly better ride than stock...but still.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    4,277
    Don't rule out utility of a dump trailer for hauling. Airbag can help deal with extra weight in back of vehicles.

    Consider how much off road capability you need to get to where you like to go.

    Sent from my SPH-L710 using TGR Forums mobile app

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    566
    I've been happy with my 2017 tacoma (double cab, 6' box). I need to parallel park in the city so a full size pickup was out of the question. My kiddos do fine in the back seat; it's large enough for real-sized people. And with a 6' bed I can haul whatever I need. Off-road capability is well better than my 2000 4Runner. Mileage is about the same. I'm not into off-roading for the sake of off-roading, but it can get me to just about any campsite up just about any forest service road I want.

  16. #16
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    Jan 2014
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    Gaperville, CO
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    Beware -- if you end up having two kids who are both still in car seats at the same time, Taco ain't going to cut it -- even the double cab. My buddy sold his for a Tundra when number two was coming along.

    Will say I love when he drives to skiing or mtbing in that thing. Plush AF.

  17. #17
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    Sep 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathleenturneroverdrive View Post
    I struggled with a similar decision for a bit. It made it way easier to just suck it up and decide between wagon or truck first. Otherwise your pro/con list is all over the place and impossible to evaluate - like how do you even compare the gas mileage of an outback vs. a ridgeline being able to haul 4' x 8' plywood?
    100% this.

    And another vote for Tundra > Tacoma.
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

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  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    the ham
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    Ridgeline can't carry a sheet of plywood with the gate closed.

    Outback works, but the six will guzzle gas, and there are lots of very similar vehicles from other manufacturers.

    Tacoma is a toy. Not necessarily saying that's bad, but that's what it is.

    Honestly, if you are about to have kids the real answer to this question is a mini van.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Aspen
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    Quote Originally Posted by doebedoe View Post
    Beware -- if you end up having two kids who are both still in car seats at the same time, Taco ain't going to cut it -- even the double cab. My buddy sold his for a Tundra when number two was coming along.

    Will say I love when he drives to skiing or mtbing in that thing. Plush AF.
    I'm curious is this is the same vibe for 4R as well - tight/tough with two car seats?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    11,704
    Red Praxis RX.

  21. #21
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    Jul 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by alpinevibes View Post
    I'm curious is this is the same vibe for 4R as well - tight/tough with two car seats?
    No. They are huge inside for what they are...unless you have 3 kids...then get the Sienna.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

  22. #22
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    Jun 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supermoon View Post
    X2 on tundra instead of Tacoma. For whatever reason they are practically the same price, similar gas mileage and tons more cargo and crew space along with 2 or 3x the towing capacity. One of the most comfortable road trips vehicles I’ve ever had (waaaaay nicer than the Subaru’s I’ve owned).

    The only real downside is that it’s physically bigger which could matter on tight wheeling trails or if you park on the street in a city a lot.
    Thats why I went Tacoma, parking is so much easier if you live in a suburban area.

  23. #23
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    Apr 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyskirat View Post
    Thats why I went Tacoma, parking is so much easier if you live in a suburban area.
    Iím actually better parallel parking it than 90 degree parking it with the backup camera.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
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    5,568
    x3 on checking out the Chevy Colorado. I bought mine new in Ď16.

    Better mileage, more comfort, full metal bed, better off-road (look it up) and generally higher rated than a Taco.

    Whether itís right for you is your call.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    1,083
    I don't mind the look of the 1st Gen Ridgeline. I'd look for the nicest version of the last year they were made.

    Add the Ridgeline has the same payload than an F-150, so it's surprisingly beefy.

    It would ride better than the Tacoma.

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