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Hi there - coming at you from Vancouver, BC. I'm looking for a weekend adventure and roadtrip vehicle for under $12,000 CAD. I need it to be able to handle pot holes and bumpy logging roads at least to get to the good hiking spots but still be economical on highways. We'd use it for camping so it needs to fit all our gear and maybe allow us to sleep inside. All signs seem to be pointing to the Subaru Forester/Outback as opposed to Honda CR-V or Toyota Rav4, which is why I'm here.

I'm not a car-handy person, so reliability is key. And my max budget is $12,000 so I'm very concerned about parts needing to get replaced in the near future after purchasing. Obviously I'm looking for a used model. It seems like the 2009-2013 with 100-200k odometer seem to be within my price range. We'll likely only keep this car for a few years because we'll be moving out of the country at some point - so this is not going to be our forever vehicle.

Do you have any advice for which model to go for? Any other tips/things I should look out for when purchasing a used forester/outback - such as things to check asap before purchasing? I'm wondering if something is up for replacement but the prev owner hasn't done that yet, I can bargain down the price... How is it on snowy highways? We'll routinely want the car to travel along the sea to sky highway (a windy highway from Vancouver to Whistler that sees a lot of car accidents especially in the snowy winter). I've heard that the 2011 model seems to be one to avoid... Any comments would be appreciated. Thank you, and looking forward to joining this community!
 

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2022 Forester Limited 2018 Forester XT
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I think Forester is more trail worthy than the Outback..but not overly. You should go for the 2013 or later. 2010 and earlier there were Head gasket issues and also timing belt and idlers, tensioner, water pump needed changed. 2011-2013 do have oil consumption issues but depending on mileage the dealer will take care of this issue. CRV is more reliable than the Forester but not made to go off road.
 

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2015 Forester2.5i Premium CVT
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$12k in Canadian money will not buy a Forester that won’t need work soon. It’s arguable that it would buy anything bulletproof, but if it did it would more likely be a Toyota, and Toyota parts and service are also ore likely to be cheaper and more readily available.

What you do need in any event, is a trustworthy mechanic to whom you can take any candidate car for inspection before you commit to it. Especially if it’s a vintage Subaru which, at that age, can start to develop some potentially expensive issues.
 

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2020 Subaru Forester premium
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385 Posts
Id go forester. the outback will also do what you want I just like the looks of the forester a bit more... both have the ground clearance you want. Im sure with seats folded down they would sleep 2 people but for sure 1 on a air mattress. Also if i was doing a adventure vehicle id look at the roof top tent camper deals..Add some A/T tires you will lose a little MPG but in a adventure vehicle youre not looking at MPG...and you will still get better MPG than most other off roaders. As for the parts..there are a lot of these out there both the Forester and Outbacks are popular so I think parts wont be a issue...as people said though just watch for that head gasket and a few other problems some cars of various ages have..I think..(do not quite me on this do research) once you hit around 2014 all the issues(head gasket oil consumption) issues have been solved/fixed so if shoot for a 2014 Outback or Forester. And you CAN find them in or around your range this is just a for instance doing a 15 second search of 2014 Subaru Foresters


 

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Outbacks have more overhang in the front which can cause issues offroad so would definitely need lifting or cutting away the bottom of the bumper. But - for sleeping the OB is probably longer internally.
 

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Being in Canada you could always look into LP Aventure

I had talked to them and they said of the stuff they do mostly the Subarus are the best platforms.
 
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