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2009 Subaru Legacy (Subaru)
2009 Subaru Legacy (Subaru)

What Car?

She pictures herself only in a Subaru Add to ...

Hello Michael and Jeremy:

Please help me fast.

My three-year lease on a Subaru Legacy wagon is up in about three weeks. I've been paying $585 a month and the car has been great. I'm a photographer and I put the back seats down to fill it with stands, tripods, lighting equipment, camera bags and even a six-foot ladder. I always have an assistant with me, and sometimes a client, too, so I can't really do with something smaller, although I would certainly like smaller payments.

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I went back to the Subaru dealer and found out that the Legacy wagon has been replaced by the Outback, but it's jacked up too much. There's also the Forester, which is a little cheaper but I didn't like it much; I don't want an SUV. The salesman wouldn't tell me the actual price of either; he skirted around it and only would tell me the monthly lease payments on them.

Should I look at a Toyota RAV4 or a Honda CR-V? How about a Ford Focus wagon? What about a Volkswagen Passat wagon?

I love my Legacy. It's four cylinders and manual transmission, which I like. I've taken good care of it and it has 56,000 km on it. The buy-out is $14,000, but the salesman who sold it to me tells me it's time to trade. He says it will need brakes and tires and a lot of repairs.

2010 Subaru Legacy

Donna

Vaughan: Subaru should reprimand the salesman and Donna should take the buyback. End of story.

Cato: Always the clear-cut and the simple with you. Not that you're a simpleton, but life is grey, not black and white.

Vaughan: Cato, hang on. Donna's in a hurry; she's under the gun. She's got pictures to take and doesn't need to be jacked around by a car salesman.

Cato: I'm not saying - yet - that I disagree with your conclusion but …

Vaughan: Baloney.

And here's another thing. She shouldn't be leasing in the first place. There's a myth out there that independent business people like Donna do better on business "write-offs" if they lease.

C'mon. Revenue Canada doesn't let a nickel get away. Loopholes are closed fast. Leasing involves more expense, but makes no difference in tax as far as I can see.

2010 Toyota RAV4

Cato: Now you're a tax attorney. But you have made my point. Life is grey; it's complicated. You don't know what Donna's income is, how she's structured her business and so on.

Let me say one other thing about her current Legacy. At 56,000 km, she has 200,000-250,000 km of life left in that car. If you look at the research on older cars, by year four and five she'll start averaging about $800 a year in repairs. By year 10, it's $1,000. She's not going to get away from that regardless of which car she owns. So those are the facts.

Vaughan: Let's get to her new-car options.

Cato: Right. The Toyota RAV4 is a solid buy and Toyota has thousands in discounts on it right now. Worth a long look. It's reliable, is available with all-wheel-drive and it's even built in Canada, so if you're a nationalist there is that to consider.

Vaughan: Not convinced. She should take the buyout.

Cato: Then there is the Honda CR-V. Hugely reliable, comfortable, safe and fuel-efficient with its little four-banger. Again, Honda has thousands in discounts on it, too.

Compact Multi-Activity Vehicle: Honda CR-V EX-L

Vaughan: Not convinced. For 14 grand, the low-mileage, three-year-old Legacy is the deal.

Cato: The Ford Focus is an interesting case because, well, Ford does not sell a new Focus wagon here in Canada. A pretty stunning new hatchback is coming in 2011, but right now Donna's Focus options are sedan or coupe - both heavily discounted.

Vaughan: So still no sale. She babied that Legacy. I'm sure she changed the oil, polished its little fenders and followed the maintenance schedule assiduously. Donna, keep the damn thing - it's now become cheap.

Cato: Like you. As usual, you are stubbornly wrapped around this buyout solution - like a hungry, scared baby hugging his mommy's … Well, you get the picture. Where is your open mind? Emptied, I suppose.

Okay, let me take a run at the Volkswagen. Donna, forget it. Too expensive and not the type of workhorse you want.

Vaughan: Take the buyout, Donna. Take the buyout. And now Cato, after all your slicing and dicing, surely now you realize my initial call was best.

Cato: Yes, I have to agree. But I also enjoy winding you up, so it was worth the ride just to see it.

Vaughan: Bah, humbug. Take the buyout.



2010 Honda CR-V EX 4x4

2010 Toyota RAV4 Sport 4x4

2007 Subaru Legacy 2.5i

Wheelbase (mm)

2,620

2,660

2,670

Length (mm)

4,555

4,620

4,795

Width (mm)

1,820

1,855

1,730

Height (mm)

1,680

1,745

1,475

Engine

2.4-litre, four-cylinder

2.5-litre, four-cylinder

2.5-litre, four-cylinder

Output (hp)

(torque)

180 hp

161 lb-ft

179 hp

172 lb-ft

175 hp

169 lb-ft

Drive system

All-wheel

All-wheel

All-wheel

Transmission

Five-speed automatic

Four-speed automatic

Five-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)

1,605

1,613

1,475

Fuel economy

(litres/100 km)

10.1 city

7.5 highway

9.7 city

7.2 highway

10.7 city

7.5 highway

Base price (MSRP)

$31,490

$30,540

$27,995 (2007 MSRP)

Lease buyout $14,000

SOURCE: CAR MANUFACTURERS



Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

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