Camp Vehicle Search, Part the Third

Okay, since my last post, here is a summary of happenings in my car search:

  • Considered a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk with the 5.7L V8
  • Considered a 2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
  • Settled into dithering between the 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx XT and Limited XT.
Illustration for article titled Camp Vehicle Search, Part the Third

More Painfully Long Explanation

Because I’m hung up on the idea that I need more offroad capability, I was (and frankly, kind of still am) concerned about the approach angle on the 2020 Subaru Outback. So, although I’ve ruled out the 4Runner and Passport, I was ready to consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee.


The Grand Cherokee comes with reliability concerns. But the overall package seems quite good, and the optional 5.7L V8 on the Trailhawk gets it to a speedy 0-60 mph time. I did not end up test driving it, but having ridden in my neighbors I imagine that it performs well, and the interior space is good, probably about as good as the Outback.

But the more I thought about it, the less I liked the fuel economy or lack thereof, and an honest look at what I was likely to do with the vehicle went the same way as when I ruled out the 4Runner: the extra cost compared to a similarly equipped Outback was for extra capability that I would likely never ever use.


I then was hung up on the lack of physical buttons on the 2020 Outback for the HVAC. I looked at the 2019 Outback and saw that the HVAC buttons were all physical. Hurrah! And I could get a 3.6L flat six engine that would compete with the new turbo four.

But, the 2019 had (and still has, as far as I can tell) a tendency to have glitches freeze up or otherwise interfere with the infotainment screen. And that 3.6L engine gets about 10% worse fuel economy for similar performance when compared to the 2.4L turbo in the new car. People familiar with both claimed that the new seats are better and the new car has a better ride, which should be expected.


Plus, I realized that the only thing that I adjusted without looking was the temperature setting, and the 2020 has physical controls for this. Everything else I look down for, so the lack of physical buttons except for temperature really shouldn’t affect me, meaning that this should not be an objection for me.

So, now I’m pretty settled on getting a 2020 Subaru Outback

That’s right, I seem to have made a decision on my new family adventure vehicle. Appearances can be deceiving.


Now I’m dithering between the Onyx XT and the Limited XT. And when to actually make the purchase.

Pros for the Onyx XT:

  • Can get it without sunroof or navigation
  • Has extra off-road AWD setting
  • Has full-size spare
  • Is cheaper than the Limited XL

Cons for the Onyx XT:

  • Has StarTex (urethane, wet suit-like) upholstery that seemed to make me sweaty and which I’m hearing may actually stain easily, counter-intuitively
  • Lacks driver’s seat memory, which is a big deal since this car will switch between me and my wife driving a lot

Pros for the Limited XT:

  • Has driver’s seat memory
  • Has leather upholstery, which we are accustomed to
  • Has a better sound system, although the one in the Onyx seemed just fine

Cons for the Limited XT:

  • Has only a thinner temporary spare tire (probably not a big deal)
  • Only normal and off-road settings for the AWD (probably not a big deal)
  • Has “DriverSense” monitoring that warns the driver if distracted or sleepy, and apparently may be overly sensitive
  • Has adaptive lighting that turns with the car (although I like this on my GTI, it doesn’t make an enormous difference, and the units are much more expensive to replace, plus I plan to add a bit of auxiliary lighting anyway)
  • Is about 10% more expensive than the Onyx XT

How much longer will I bother you about this shopping?

Well, I think that I’m going to test out the Onyx XT again with an eye toward my feeling about the upholstery, although the weather has finally cooled off a bit here in North Carolina, so that may be a bit difficult.


And I need to keep considering how much the idea of spending more on the Limited XL and ending up with the DriverSense stuff annoys me.

But the big hesitation is that they are just starting to build up inventory, so I’m inclined to delay maybe until November or possibly December to get a chance at a better deal.


At least I’ve exhausted all other possibilities that I would consider and have narrowed it down this far (not without minor reservations, though). Exhausted is how my wife feels about hearing about this. Hopefully you all are at least entertained!

[Edit] I should add that one discussion with my wife was that we might get the Outback, beat it up for a few years, then see if switching to a redesigned 4Runner would be a good thing. Supposed to happen in 2022, and if it’s a better deal or I keep getting the Outback hung up on stuff, then we’ll switch cars, yet again.


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