Where Your Author Selects an Outback Replacement, but Asks: New or Used?

2018 Buick Regal TourXRecently I reached out to you, dear readers, for some suggestions on replacing a 2012 Subaru Outback. The wagon has occupied my driveway for the past two years, but, for reasons outlined previously, it’s time for it to go. My initial idea for a replacement was a Kia Niro, but that didn’t seem like it was going to pan out. So I turned to the real experts around here.

Comments poured in, and four suggestions were clear. Let’s narrow things down a bit.

After more than 160 comments, the four main reader suggestions were the Hyundai Elantra GT, Buick Regal TourX, Volkswagen Golf, and Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen. Not coincidentally, the list there is in order of least to most desirable to me.

The Elantra GT’s interior is a big letdown in contrast to the restrained good looks of the exterior. Inside it looks cheap and cobbled together, and I’d expect better of Hyundai in 2019. The Regal TourX is outside of budget, even when used. Some commenters seemed to think dealers would be happy to knock of $10,000 just for asking nicely, but I’m not so sure. Nor am I sold on the reliability or later resale value on an Opel-Buick wagon which will surely be discontinued very soon.

<img data-attachment-id="1697162" data-permalink="https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2019/11/where-your-author-selects-an-outback-replacement-but-asks-new-or-used/vw2-5/" data-orig-file="https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw2.png" data-orig-size="619,461" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="2018 VW Golf Sportwagen" data-image-description="


” data-medium-file=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw2-450×335.png” data-large-file=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw2-610×454.png” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-1697162″ src=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw2-610×454.png” alt width=”610″ height=”454″ srcset=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw2-610×454.png 610w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw2-75×56.png 75w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw2-450×335.png 450w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw2-120×89.png 120w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw2.png 619w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”>The upper half of the class is filled by two Volkswagens. While I don’t take issue with the standard Golf’s purposeful interior and time-proven exterior appearance, it’s a bit smaller than I’d like (even though I’m downsizing). The Sportwagen is left as the Outback replacement worth considering. It’s in budget, I like how it looks, and prices are good because it’s as popular as getting a rash. It drives nicely, is quiet, and feels like it’s been put together well. But in this single model, I’m left with a new/used quandary.

<img data-attachment-id="1697164" data-permalink="https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2019/11/where-your-author-selects-an-outback-replacement-but-asks-new-or-used/vw-9/" data-orig-file="https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw.png" data-orig-size="621,459" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="2019 VW Golf Sportwagen" data-image-description="


” data-medium-file=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw-450×333.png” data-large-file=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw-610×451.png” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-1697164″ src=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw-610×451.png” alt width=”610″ height=”451″ srcset=”https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw-610×451.png 610w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw-75×55.png 75w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw-450×333.png 450w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw-120×89.png 120w, https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/vw.png 621w” sizes=”(max-width: 610px) 100vw, 610px”>2019 is the final year for the Sportwagen in the North American market, and it shows. The model lineup is consolidated this year, with just three trims on offer. The highest trim is the SE, which features a smaller 1.4-liter turbocharged engine. Said engine replaces the 1.8 from prior model years. With this change, horsepower dropped from 170 to 147, while estimated fuel economy went up a couple of highway MPGs.

2018 is the used year of consideration here. The 2018 version received an infotainment update with a larger touchscreen, and was also the last instance the top-tier SEL trim was available.  SELs featured more standard equipment like navigation, nicer interior trim bits, sport-design seats with additional bolstering, Fender audio, and more exterior bright work.

Either option is thin on the ground with a tan interior, though a few new ones are out there. As new, dealers seem to want $24-25k for 1.4T SE, apart from a large volume dealer in Illinois that’s asking $23,206. Used 2018s with around 10,000 miles ask between $20,000 and $21,000. But that figure includes a higher trim SELs with a larger engine, like the one pictured.

What do you do in this situation — spend $24,000 on a new one that’s a lower trim, or $20,000 for a used one that’s more powerful and has more equipment, but is less efficient?

[Images: GM, Hyundai, sellers]