What's new
What's new

OT: Reliable crossover vehicle


Apr 13, 2015
My mom needs a new car, her 2012 Equinox met its demise recently. She’s the type that buys used, low mile vehicles for cash and drives them til they die so the replacement needs to be newer (2020+), low miles (<25k) and as reliable as possible for the long haul. Sedans are too low to the ground so small SUVs/crossovers it is.

Been looking at Toyota Rav4’s & Highlanders, and Subaru Foresters & Outbacks. Any opinions? I think she would like the Subies due to the size, fuel economy, and apparently special all wheel drive but the headgasket legend precedes anything Subaru. However, everyone I know personally who owns them loves them. Not sure any of them have over a 100k yet though.

Rav4’s intrigue me but wouldn’t you know it, the same night we limped her equinox to the repair shop, another guy was there who just had his late-model Rav4 towed in with what sounded like transmission issues. N=1 is never a large enough sample, but it was a hell of coincidence.

At this point, I'm leery of the Big 3. They seem to only care about building quality trucks, small vehicles seem disposable to them.

Please share your experiences.
Had a Subaru outback. Never a Subaru again- total garage queen.

Very happy with current Mazda CX5. Is at 180 000km and nothing but regular maintenance. Tows up to 2000lbs regularly and multiple times a year it’s up and down primitive mountain backroads. Even my SWMBOed likes it…
My wife has a Subaru Outback and has had zero problems. But hers has the 3.6L six cylinder engine which never had the head gasket problems of the 2.5L four cylinder ones. Although I hear the fours don't have the problem anymore on the newer models????

I would not hesitate to buy another Subaru.
Ford escape. Subaru is full time 4wd so a 2-3 mpg penalty.
All big makers were supposed to have several 2022 BEV each. That got kicked to 2023 and more likely 2024 at the earliest
Bill D.
At this point, I'm leery of the Big 3. They seem to only care about building quality trucks, small vehicles seem disposable to them.
Interesting how common this viewpoint is.
My pos Chevy Impala has over 300,000 on it with no major failures.
My Caddy with the "bad" engine over 240,000. Same.
I do drive vehicles until they literally fall apart.
My plastic body Pontiac Transport looked good but at 250k Michigan rust got to the sub frame. Got out at work and the fenders separated from the body 3 inches at the bottom.
Brought it inside and the only thing holding the front to the back is the fenders. Time to retire this one. The 3800 still ran great.
Not much here on my side for maintenance. I do try to change the oil and filter every 30,000-40,000 miles or so. (that number not a typo)

My sister's Hondas and Toyotas have all had major problems well before this sort of miles and she does all the oil changes and checkups so I am leery of those.
All depends I guess and for absolute sure I do admit bias having grown up in auto families here for almost 100 years back.
(.....maybe the offshore tooling suppliers are higher quality...EG thinks me nuts but I love auto making) :)
Last edited:
After a lot of research and wanting 4wd I bought a used Rav4 for my daughter to take to college 4 years ago. Great vehicle with no issues and she is still driving it. For my wife I bought a Mazda CX5. After many years, no problems with it either.
One of my daughters survived a T-boning that totalled her Forrester, with only minor injuries in 2017. She replaced the Forrester with an Impreza, and her mom bought an Outback the same afternoon.

Both the wife and daughter have been extremely happy with their Subarus. "Pry out of cold dead hands" happy.

All three of the cars have had the 4-banger engines, and none have needed any unscheduled maintenance.
My wife has a 2015 Subaru Legacy with 6 cyl. engine. She loves, it no problems. The only thing that I don't like about the Subie 4 wheel drive, if you cut a tire, they will insist that all 4 tires be changed.
My wife had a 2013 Outback, which she liked, and I didn't. You had to take the front bumper cover and the wheel well covers off to change a headlight bulb. Seriously. They fixed that the next model year, but come on, guys. It drank a quart of oil every 10 hours or so towards the end. No major mechanical failures, though. 2.4 liter 4 cylinder.

It finally died at about 160k miles, but it had lived a hard life and eaten several deer by then. Replaced it with a 2022 Outback V6. That thing is FLAKY. It might just be a pandemic thing where it was built with whatever floor sweepings they found that looked like computer chips that day, but the computer crashes regularly. The driver assist is beepy, erratic and a lot less useful than my 2017 Honda. She's already talking about getting rid of it, and we've had it for less than two years.
You have to buy on reputation. By the time enough vehicles have 200K+ to assess reliability that vehicle has been totally reworked.

I buy GM, and so far so good, knock on wood. Last bad one was a 1982 C1500 with a soft cam. More recent retired a '94 at 250K, and then repurposed the engine with no overhaul. Still running a '03 at 200K, a '04 at 190K, a '10 at 212K, and other high mileage vehicles. I run them until they die.

The biggest complaint with the long replacement interval is all the new gadgets, none of which seem either useful or intuitive to me. Heat and AC is really all the gadgets I want.
The biggest complaint with the long replacement interval is all the new gadgets, none of which seem either useful or intuitive to me. Heat and AC is really all the gadgets I want.
Yep. It pisses me off that in order to get the 'best' radio, I have to buy two levels of packages which also requires the low profile tires, external appearance trim, and radar safety cruise control with nav system and leather seats. $5500, all for a radio.

Then, there is the German approach, which allows you to buy each item separately! Hallelujah! Oh wait.... just the radio, $5500. Not so joyous after all...

But it gets better,,,the latest advancement (by the Germans, no less) is the options which you must pay a subscription fee each year if you want the options the keep working, or they'll turn them off. Criminal.
well I see it all
Toyota is reliable as the rest as long as maintainence is done, and not the 15,000 miles oil changes, stick with regular 6000 miles(10,000kms) or 6 months
yes oil in the engine does go bad, acids will build up on short trips and start attacking the oil.
Most of it is how good is your local dealership....
subaru aren't as common as Honda or Toyota, so sometimes you might be waiting days for parts.
most common things are usually sitting on a shelf locally.
Subaru has a bit of a common pain in the ass to work on so repairs and maintenance will be more $$
yes the mechanic matters, some will glaze over everything and only do the work needed, while others can see issues coming up and warn you about it.

any Rav4 older then 2008 was all built in Japan, and some design quality wasn't there.
BTW I work my day job at a plant that builds the brand new ones, and bought the wife a new hybrid, its 42mpg, but a 10 month wait to get one, so not sure if that says anything that I trust the reliability of them, maybe.
Subarus are one of those cars that people love to rave about their reliability. A key component of that faith is ignoring the multitudes of websites that offer glimpses into the numerous and varied engine failures of Subarus.

Toyotas....I have a friend who spent several years in the engine department at Ford then later Toyota. He told me Toyota focuses on reliability and low cost - which is good - but will never be known as a cutting edge technology company. The results of that you can see in their engines' lower HP and lower MPG as compared to other makers. I thought he was kinda full of it, but then I did some comparisons and it looks to be true. For example, a Mazda 4 cyl of the same size had direct injection, high compression, and made more power and better MPG than the Toyota, which used lower compression and port injection. None of that would matter if the Mazda were unreliable...but it's not.
I test drove the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CRV almost 10 years ago for my wife and I found them both annoyingly sluggish in different ways.

I tried a Mazda CX-5 and it was a dream, fun to drive, and very responsive. My wife bought that one. She has been driving it since with no problems.

I wanted to like the Toyota and Honda, but I hated how they drove. It doesn't mean they won't be reliable, but for the same price or less, I highly recommend the Mazda.
I'm driving a 2002 Subaru Outback, and expect to get another 5 years out of it. It is definitely requiring more maintenance as it gets into its 2nd decade as a daily driver, but I remain pleased with it.
Definitely aligned with gbent's comment above. I have driven a modern Outback loaner, and it had waaaaay too much gizmo-tech in it, including a feature that twitches your steering wheel if the car thinks you are not following the lane markers. (In the land of perpetual road construction, we are lucky if DOT has the Jersey barriers in a straight line, much less the painted/scraped/repainted/rescraped lane markings!) As soon as I could get to the glovebox manual, that was turned OFF. I am also not thrilled about always-online cars, and actively displeased with replacing console air/AC/heat control switches with touchscreen virtual buttons. Problem is: to get a car with a 20-year-old feature set, you have to buy a 20-year-old car!