Mountain Biker and Seldom camper deciding between small SUV or WRX
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This is a discussion on Mountain Biker and Seldom camper deciding between small SUV or WRX within the Car Purchasing Forum forums, part of the ClubWRX.net Marketplace category; I live in Northern Virgina, and for those of you unfamiliar with the area, think of it as the ultimate ...

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    Mountain Biker and Seldom camper deciding between small SUV or WRX

    I live in Northern Virgina, and for those of you unfamiliar with the area, think of it as the ultimate grid locked suburbia. We are a stones throw from DC, however a paper airplane could reach Washington before anyone from south of the city could. So understand that, even though commuting around the area is dependent on I95 / 495, it is by far different than your typical highway commute.

    That said, I am an avid mountain biker, and a seldom weekend camper. I love the outdoors, I LOVE adventure, but I'm tired of driving an SUV. I purchased a 2011 Ford Escape brand new, and I've grown weary of driving it. It is small, boring, though it fits everything and has clearance to go over curbs (though, I rarely do such a thing). I don't go far off-road, nothing extreme in my opinion. I felt the SUV would open my ability to take a soft utility vehicle and conquer areas that I wasn't sure a car would be able to (read small stream / camp site). I go camping perhaps 4-5 times per year. Not often, and perhaps even more seldom than that. My parents are looking into buying some mountain property, but most of the roads are paved or gravel, and I wouldn't need to traverse walls or boulders. I also am not impressed with the 21.9 mpg average that I have gotten. I feel like with larger storage space in the vehicle, 6 days out of 7 the space is used to carry "junk" and I'm frequently considered the go-to driver as the trunk can fit some packs and small cargo and fit 5 people total. Whatever the case, the performance in the Escape is meh, the gas mileage for a small 4 banger SUV is not great, but it isn't pathetic, but the "off road" capabilities just don't please me, and I'm totally looking for a funner daily commute. I used to own a '98 6 banger Mustang which was a 5 speed, and even at the lowsy low horsepower that I was used to from my dads supercharged GT at the time, the car was a blast! RWD, manual, I didn't care that I could barely fit my backpack when I had to commute to college in it.

    This brings me to the 5 Door WRX. It's got some spunk, optional all weather inside mats, AWD, yadda yadda yadda. The interior isn't that cool, but I could always throw in an aftermarket receiver into the dash board. I like how RAW it is, the sound, the appearance, the performance. It's awesome. I love the idea of touting that rally-esque feel when driving. I like that Subaru markets itself to outdoorsy people. I think a removable roof rack could work well for my mountain biking adventures, and I've read numerous forum posts where people take the car weekend camping. Hell, my friend takes a VW Golf TDI camping...

    So I'm coming to you guys, who may have been in the same situation. Do I opt for something like the Forester, or do I drop rubber on the pavement and have fun? Am I experiencing a pipe dream? Should I really dump my SUV for a car? Should I go for the Forester? Would the WRX not be advised for small camping trips? Would I bang up the car beyond repair taking it off mildy unmaintained roads? Would I receive even worse gas mileage driving it in traffic? 16.9 gallon tank is comparable to the 17.5 gallon in the Escape - if I could achieve 21/22 combined, I'd probably be okay with it, though I know I'd smash the pedal frequently, at least the first few months I drive it.

    TL; DR I need your biased and expert advise! WRX or Forester for seldom weekend camping, often mountain bike carrier, daily commuter. Cheers!

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    MAINEiac 11blackSTi's Avatar
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    May I suggest you take a look at the subaru crosstrek? My girlfriend has one and it is awesome. Gets over 30MPG and has a ton of room in it (we have even slept in it in a bind). It has great ground clearance and a fairly rugged appearance. I have driven it and it has some spunk, although not as much as my car. The WRX would be fine I think for what you are looking for, but you definitely won't be sleeping in it and even the hatch doesn't have a TON of space.

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    Moderator rage-wrx's Avatar
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    Also have a look at the Forester XT. The new 2014 ones get great gas mileage, run on 87 oct gas & have a little more space than the WRX. Though it will feel like driving an SUV, it is plenty fast.
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    Registered User djk5077's Avatar
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    The XV Crosstrek and Forester XT are both good suggestions. The new (2014) XT doesn't come in a manual transmission, where as the WRX only comes in manual. I'm not sure whether transmission choice is important to you or not though.

    The wrx will definitely not match the mpg's of the Crosstrek or the Forester, and will likely be comparable to your Escape. For reference, I average 22-24 driving around town and work commuting, and get 26-27 in strictly highway driving. It also doesn't have the ground clearance of the other two, but has more than most sporty cars. I've taken mine camping and have even slept in it. It can handle dirt/gravel roads and moderately smooth fields just fine. If you can live with comparable mpg to your Escape, I'd say the wrx would fill your needs just fine.

    Easiest way to find out is to just go drive them all and see what you think of each. Also, here's a pic of my roof rack setup. Leaving the base feet in place, I can have the rest of the rack on or off in no more than a minute.

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    I considered the crosstrek, however I'd moreso like the overseas Subaru XV versus the XV Crosstrek, namely better MPG and diesel to provide a bit more power / torque. Through researching for a new vehicle for my lovely girlfriend, the 2013 Impreza was a pretty stellar commuter car (perhaps lacking features from the Mazda3, etc) and began my interest and curiosity with the WRX. If the WRX hatch is the same size as the Impreza hatch, I most certainly can carry my tent, bag, etc, and with a roof rack or, God forbid, a trailer hitch mount, I can easily carry my mountain bike. The WRX would just allow me to have much more while driving.

    Since there is a large off-road community for the WRX, I've seen numerous 1-1.5" lift kits for the WRX. As long as I could go up and over a curb without catching everything under the bottom, I would definitely be okay.

    I was able to drive the crosstrek and forester, and while the forester is a world's better IMO than the Escape, and while it handles a bit better, it still feels like an SUV. The crosstrek was very similar to my girlfriend's impreza, thought it just felt a little larger. The power in the XV doesn't impress me, though it was a perfect size being that I liked the roof being a bit lower than a typical SUV while maintaining much of the cargo room that I would need. The impreza by itself, however, is perfectly fine with me and has more than enough capacity for me. While I do go car camping, I have an unusual interest in lightweight backpacking, which is very ignorant and ridiculous considering that I am only a weekend camper and while I like having small and light gear, I still come with a canopy and lawn chairs...

    Obviously the lift on a WRX would affect probably more than just the center of gravity, but has anyone here experienced lifting the WRX just a tad? Obviously, changing the ride height and adding roof racks and slapping stuff onto the engine is going to reduce my fuel rating, that would be something I would accept provided I grin ear to ear every time I drive on (or off) the road.

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    Registered User MercRising's Avatar
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    Going to a WRX from Jeep Cherokee's was a tough transition for me in respects to your inquiry in the OP. We had an 09' Impreza hatchback with a hitch and hitchmount bike rack which helped. However, overall cargo space and obviously off-road capability were sacrificed.

    If you want an 85/15 split for a fun DD with occasional camping/mtn biking go WRX.

    If you want a 70/30 or more split more toward camp and bike, go SUV. The WRX is fine on decently maintained dirt roads and low to mid amounts of cargo, after that, you need a bigger more capable offroad vehicle...aka SUV.

    We take our 12' Outback on our camping trips now! It's big enough and sits high enough to get the kid and all our crap plenty far off the beaten path.

    GL with it.

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    and the Funky Bunch Calvinball's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Levenly View Post
    I considered the crosstrek, however I'd moreso like the overseas Subaru XV versus the XV Crosstrek, namely better MPG and diesel to provide a bit more power / torque. Through researching for a new vehicle for my lovely girlfriend, the 2013 Impreza was a pretty stellar commuter car (perhaps lacking features from the Mazda3, etc) and began my interest and curiosity with the WRX. If the WRX hatch is the same size as the Impreza hatch, I most certainly can carry my tent, bag, etc, and with a roof rack or, God forbid, a trailer hitch mount, I can easily carry my mountain bike. The WRX would just allow me to have much more while driving.

    Obviously the lift on a WRX would affect probably more than just the center of gravity, but has anyone here experienced lifting the WRX just a tad? Obviously, changing the ride height and adding roof racks and slapping stuff onto the engine is going to reduce my fuel rating, that would be something I would accept provided I grin ear to ear every time I drive on (or off) the road.
    The current WRX hatch is very close to a current Impreza hatch inside, dimension-wise, and exactly the same as the previous gen Impreza (up to 2011).

    As far as experience with lifting, you'll probably get a lot more input on that over at DirtyImpreza Forums - The Off-Road Impreza Community.
    Last edited by Calvinball; 05-24-2013 at 11:46 AM.
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    Registered User oguitar's Avatar
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    I take my WRX camping almost every year. I have gone over some very rough roads that I probably should have avoided. I was afraid I was going to smash the transmission or rear diff. It handled the rough road fine though. Did not get stuck at all. How are the camping roads in the area? A lot of SUV's are really not meant for off roading at all.
    Life is like riding a bicycle in order to keep your balance you must keep moving.

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