2020 Subaru Outback; Dealer Markups on Popular Cars | Talking Cars with Consumer Reports #217


We give our first impressions
of the redesigned 2020 Subaru Outback. We answer questions about
first year reliability. And what do you do
about dealer markups when you’re trying
to buy a popular car? Next on Talking Cars. [MUSIC PLAYING] Hi, and welcome back. I’m Mike Quincy. I’m Keith Barry. And I’m Jake Fisher. We are so excited this week to
talk about the redesigned 2020 Subaru Outback. This is the car
that’s really grabbed a lot of people’s attention. We were able to rent
two models from Subaru. We have a premium model
powered by the 2.5 liter, four cylinder engine as well as
the top-of-the-line 20 XT which gets the turbo-charged 2.4
liter that’s out of the Subaru Ascent. This is a car that a
lot of Consumer Reports readers, members, subscribers,
all the above, really follow. So Jake tell us, what are
your first impressions? First impression
of the car, well, I mean it’s incrementally better
kind of in most every way. I mean this is a
car, wagon, SUV. I mean, first of
all, we were just talking about before it’s kind
of like a best in its class. But what is it? Now it’s of kind of one. Right? I mean, it’s kind of
this unique offering. And that’s why people are
kind of very excited about it. Because it’s kind of a wagon,
kind of an SUV but lower. And it’s always been a really
great option for people. I mean, what did they do to it? I mean they did a lot actually. It’s on the new platform. So there’s this new
platform that they launched with the Impreza
and then the Ascent is on it. The Forester is now on it. And now they’re kind of going
through the product line. So the Outback will be on,
and the Legacy very soon too. And this new platform is kind of
a little bit better tied down. So the ride is still very nice,
the handling is a bit bitter. It’s a bit roomier. They also changed the
infotainment screen. So now it’s a really,
really big screen. Yeah, yeah. Some good things. And that’s where it kind of
goes into the weeds a little. Yeah, so I mean the
cool thing about Subaru is that they can take a car
and totally change everything. And it feels just like
it’s barely different. It’s like renovating
your kitchen and putting it all
new everything, but it’s the same
exact counter tops and appliances to just new. Well, the Forester
was like this too. I think that our new
Forester and the old one, they look the same. Sure. But there is one thing
which is different, and there’s this giant
screen in the middle. Tesla-esque screen, if you will. It’s Volvo-esque, honestly. I’m going to go that far. The nice thing is it does have
actual buttons for climate control. Some, some. The not-nice thing is that it
divides up the screen in ways that I don’t necessarily
think are useful. So for instance, if you
use CarPlay or Android Auto with it, it puts
CarPlay or Android Auto in this tiny little screen
in the middle of the screen. It’s like a picture
in picture TV. But yet you have, like, an
angle of attack sensor– Don’t forget to set your VCR. Yeah, up top that shows you
you’re negative 2 degrees on the road. And it’s the size
that you can actually see it from across the highway. And that sort of
mix, it just feels like they didn’t put a ton
of effort into the screen. The big screen is fine if it’s– See I don’t know if I
agree with you on this because here’s the deal. OK, my biggest
problem– now we’re getting major first-world
problems here because we complain about things like
CarPlay that most of the market don’t even have. But one of my big problems with
CarPlay is that I get CarPlay, and then, oh, I want to
change my FM radio station I got to bounce out of
it do something else. I want to go change
something in the climate, I’ve got to bounce out
and do something else. What’s nice is
because they bisect the screen I get
my CarPlay here, and then below it
I’ve got my climate. In the middle I’ve got
what’s playing on FM radio. I could change my
FM radio station without bouncing out of my
ways that I’m using in CarPlay. It is a little weird. I mean, sometimes
I’ve got my radio below CarPlay, and like
a radio above CarPlay and it’s something else too. But I think by having
multiple things– which is actually Volvo-esque. Maybe one of the
few things I think are kind of cool about Volvo
is they can do multiple things. Not that everything is
great on the screen. I mean, there’s certainly some
opportunity for improvement. But the weird thing
about the CarPlay, again and getting right– this episode is about CarPlay. It is really tiny. And I think on my
iPhone Max or whatever, I think it’s bigger if I
just use my cellphone mount. The screen is actually
bigger than– yeah. I like the fact that
it’s divided up. And in fact, then
the new version– I won you over. Now it’s good that it’s– No! I like the fact that
divided, but it’s divided, it’s sliced and diced too much. Pick a team. So the car really actually
does have a good handling. Yeah, we’re not the [INAUDIBLE]. It’s pretty quiet inside. Oh, you drove the car? Yeah, I just stayed
in the parking lot. Yeah, me too. I was trying to get my
Hall and Oates on there. And if I can’t get my
tunes I’m not going to– All right, all right. I’m going to make
the worst pun ever. But let’s talk about
the 2020 EyeSight. Because I have glasses,
because we have glasses on. I heard a pin drop somewhere. But the EyeSight has changed. I mean, this is our driver
assist stuff and whatever. And it’s always
been a good system that has the automatic
emergency braking. That’s standard equipment
and all these other things. But what they’ve done
is they’ve added– The facial recognition. Well, they got
facial recognition. So they’ve got this driver
monitoring camera which– Hello, Jake. Yeah, pretty much. Right? So one thing that’s
got that, now we saw that before in
the Forester, they had it in high-level Foresters. I drove a couple hundred
miles with this thing. It’s supposed to notify you when
you’re not looking at the road. Great idea, I’m all for that. I think driver monitoring
and all that stuff, there’s lots of potential. But every time I
kind of moved my head but I’m still looking at the
road, it was annoying me. I think most people are
going to shut this off because it’s not smart enough
to really notice if I’m actually looking at the road or not. I found it a little hyper. I would turn my head just to get
my coffee cup just for a second and it was, like, keep
your eyes on the road! I was like, dude, I’m fine. I’m here. I’m paying attention. It was, like, my eyes
are on the road I’m just itching my face or something. It’s a little antsy, I think. I think people are going
to wind up turning it off. The other thing which
I’m not super happy about is they seem to, again,
we’re talking about Volvo. They’re copying like
a pilot assist system. These vehicle automation
systems, now it’s got lane centering. So, like, lane keeping is
like you go over the line and it goes beeps
at you or nudges you if something happens. Now it’s got this
thing where it’s got a steering wheel,
that steering wheel button on the steering wheel. And a little thing
lights up and it kind of goes in the center
of the lane but sort of not and annoys you. It’s not great. I don’t know what it’s for. I turned all that stuff off. And that was another
downside of this screen is you have to go through
lots of menus and sub-menus to turn it off. And they don’t even make sense. But the good part is– and I drove one all weekend– is once you set it you
don’t have to then reset it every time you use the car. That’s good. And it’s a little
different because we’re all getting in these cars that
other people have driven and we’re playing
around with them. So you were the one who
screwed it up for me. Yeah. Well, not the first
time, not the last time. But in the menu, right? I mean, there’s
driver assist stuff and then there’s all
these different menus– It’s really configurable. You can really get it there. I’m sure we’ll
put that video on. But I don’t know. It’s not ripe. I’m not going to go so
far as to say it’s– you’re equating with Volvo. I still think the Volvo
system’s much worse. I would live with
the Subaru system way before the Volvo one. I’m with you there. But you say things stay off. I am kind of afraid
for the system because there is that annoyance. It’s kind of wind up, like,
I don’t like this system, I don’t like that system. You shut all the
stuff off and it stays off and is not going
to be there to help you when you need it. And that’s the problem. And you’re going
to turn off things that you maybe don’t
intend to turn off because it’s so configurable. And everything is in
slightly different menus that you’re going to– I just want it to stop beeping. OK, so I shut off something– I couldn’t get it
to stop beeping using adaptive cruise control. And I went into the menu– Now what that is that when
you’re in adaptive cruise control if it sees a car and
then stops seeing the car it beeps. And Hondas do this too. But I don’t need that beeping– I can see the car. I’m looking, why– And I couldn’t find
out how to turn it off. Kias do that as well, yeah. Why do I have to look down
there and it’s telling me what I’m seeing, and
I’m distracted by it. And then it’s just– And then the camera tells you
you’re not looking at the road. So as we’ve gone on maybe
ad nauseam about the screens and electronic stuff
like that, really want to get a little bit into
more about how it drives. So Keith, behind the wheel, what
do you think of the redesigned Outback? I got to say, I love that turbo. I think it’s going to attract
a sort of customer who’s looking for something
that’s practical but doesn’t want
to give up on fun. And it’s fun to drive
not just at high speeds. It’s fun around town. It just feels like you’ve
got the wind at your back when you’re driving it. This turbo is just well sorted
out, there’s not a ton of lag. I really like it in
this particular car. In the Ascent it needed
to move a big car. Right, a lot more weight. This just feels so nimble. I like it. I like it a lot and it’s
supposed to get better fuel economy than the six. And that is kind of the downside
if you were fans of the six cylinder Subarus, those are
going away now and supplemented by this turbo 2.4. But what about even
just the basic 2.5? I mean it’s OK. It’s not quick. And if you’re an Outback
driver you’re not going to be surprised but it’s
certainly not a quick vehicle. But I totally
agree, that turbo– again, if you’re
a fan of the six. But the truth is that Subaru
is really known for turbo fours a whole lot more than
it is about flat sixes. Sure. And it is really
nice in this package. It moves quickly. Again, it feels a little more
tied down in handling too. You get in a corner
and the thing feels a little more tied
down, a little more steady. It’s a nice driving experience. And again, all those things that
people really like in Subarus. They’re quiet, they
ride really well. Definitely quiet. Subaru’s got ride worked out. Yep. I think one of the
things that we’ve always said about recent Subarus is
you’re getting all-wheel drive and you’re getting
decent fuel economy. And that’s no mean feat. So we actually have a
first drive of the Outback on ConsumerReports.org,
check it out. And we’re going to be buying
one of our test models. Well, that’s kind of
an interesting thing. I’m so glad you
interrupted me because what is going on in the Subaru
sales room right now? So if you’re looking
for one of these 2020s, you might have to wait until the
2019s are off the lot because. The 2019s are still
selling so well that Subaru’s kind of easing
the 2020s into the market. They don’t want to sandbag
the sales of what’s already out there. The good news is these
2019s are great cars. Still really good. Especially if you’re
buying the base engine. I mean, I’d say if you’re
looking at the six maybe wait. Unless you just love
the six for some reason, wait for the turbo. But if you’re just
getting a base car, especially if you
don’t want that screen you’re not losing out. It’s not like Subaru made
car that’s light years ahead. I completely agree and
I’ve given that advice to some people. And they’ve actually purchased
the ’19 Outback and they’re super happy with it. Again, you’re going to
get a better deal on it because it’s the one going out. They’ve already
released the other one. Your reliability is
going to be better because they’ve kind
of worked out all the bugs of this chassis. Although a lot of
things in the 2020 we’ve seen on other vehicles,
though, right? That’s right. So I mean, look,
every time there’s a redesign it’s going to be
some kind of a hit in terms of reliability. But you’re exactly right. So I don’t think,
for this vehicle, because there’s much in
common with other vehicles. Again, we saw the 2.4 that’s
basically in the Ascent. That chassis has been around
for a little while and a bunch of different things, so
probably a lot of the bugs are worked out. But I think the better bet
for value is actually the ’19. And some of them, I
was looking online, and they’re marked
down pretty decently. You can get one
marked down off MSRP and you can get a
decent deal on it. That’s a lot of
car for the money. Now you mentioned
first your reliability. And I have a great prediction
that maybe a question that we’re going to get
to later in this episode might have to do
with exactly that. You’re scaring me. Which allows us– Foreshadowing. To then transition to the next– That was the loudest segue ever. I was trying to do
that Carson thing. You know, I predict– Could the Outback bring
you a bird of paradise. We’re going to get to some
possible reliability questions. But the first question
that we have– and we love getting
your questions, [email protected]
Super producer Dave Abrams hates it when I mess that up. But anyway,
[email protected] Keep them coming, text
questions, video questions. We love especially
the video questions. And the first one we have
is from [? Darnley ?] from Yonkers, New York. I’ve heard of Yonkers. I’ve heard of that place. Roll it. Hey Consumer Reports. You guys are doing a great job. I love it, I love it, I love it. Keep up the good work. I was looking at
the Kia Telluride as my number one choice. And the problem was, there’s an
insane markup on these vehicles because they’re so hard to get. And they’re just not
making enough of them. They can’t see to
keep them in stock. Long story short, why
do these dealerships have to do these crazy
markups on these cars? Do you know anything about this? Have you heard about this? Let me know, thanks. So Keith, what advice do you
have for [? Darnley? ?] I mean, what is going on
with dealer mark ups? So first of all, good
choice on the car. Good choice on the Telluride. We’re converting
a lot of people, I think, to the Telluride. Yeah, unfortunately
I think this car’s such a great value that I think
it’s a little underpriced. And unfortunately sometimes
when a car is new, and it’s hot, and it’s just hitting the
market, and it’s popular dealers do this
thing where they add what’s called a market value
adjustment or a dealer markup. And sometimes you hear
about it with supercars. You hear about it
about limited edition, and $40,000 on the new Supra
or something crazy like that. But I did some
research and I found it happened with the Chevy
HHR, the Saturn Sky, the Toyota Prius C. I think the first PT Cruisers
also were subject to that. Yeah, and it’s crazy. It’s something that
just sort of happens. What’s interesting
is that I looked and this wasn’t happening
with the Hyundai Palisade. And they’re almost
identical cars. And I think that speaks
a little bit anecdotally, this seems to be
something that happens more often at Kia dealers. It was happening with the
Stinger, when that first came out. And now they’re putting
$2,000, $3,000 on the hood just to move the Stinger
because it’s a slow seller now that the bloom is off the rose. So what I would do is I would
cross shop with Palisade at a Hyundai dealer. If you like the Telluride
better I’d go and say, hey listen, I’m
just going to shop at the dealer across the
street and buy this similar car if you can’t match the price. Don’t ever pay this dealer
this market value adjustment. Don’t do it. Online I searched, there’s
actually a crowdsourced list on a Telluride fan
website of all the dealers that have tried to do this. And they tend to be mostly in
California, Florida, Texas. But I guess there’s
one in New York. I mean, really, with so
many good SUVs out there, people have a choice. What more can you add
that Keith is saying? Keith smart guy. Here’s the thing, one,
it it’s very temporary. So just kind of take a
breath, wait a month, it’s probably going to go away. It’s just because
they’re kind of new. But it is very
interesting, I still think it’s so fascinating
to see an SUV like this, a volume SUV like this. I mean, he listed
all these other cars and we’ve seen it before. We go buy cars. We’ve been buying
cars for a long time and sometimes we’re being asked
to pay extra for these cars. But usually slow
volume specialty cars. So I think it does say
something about Kia that they’ve got a hit on their
hands if they think they could charge extra for it. Wow. Great question,
keep them coming. It’s going to move on to
the next question we have. And this is from
Ryan, and Ryan writes, I’m looking to replace my
2004 Suzuki Grand Vitara. And so far I’m looking
at the new Kia Soul. However common
sense tells me not to buy a first year model
due to reliability concerns. But it got me thinking,
is there really going to be that
much of a difference between the first
year of the new model and the first batch
of the second year? So foreshadowing really
coming into play here. Jake, what can you talk
about first year reliability? So first of all, he
says it’s common sense. Surprisingly it’s not common
sense to a lot of people. So this is a very
correct consumer here, and really knows that
there is a difference when you redesign a vehicle. What I can say is that,
yeah, it does get better after the first year. I don’t care what it
is, they do get better. Now the question is, how bad
are they on their first year? And there’s a couple
of things going on. One is you look at
the manufacturer. So would I get a first
year vehicle from– Jaguar Land Rover. Yeah, probably not. Would I do it from
a Toyota or a Honda? Maybe. But it gets a little
deeper because how much is really new about that vehicle? And that vehicle, I
mean there’s a lot of carryover parts in that. The powertrain is
a lot of carryover. So I wouldn’t be that concerned
about that particular car, about Kia Soul. If it something
brand new, like we’re talking about the first year
of the Kia Stinger or something where it’s a whole
new kind of platform, I would be a little
more worried. Fun fact about the
Suzuki Grand Vitara. At one point it was the official
state presidential vehicle of Chile, because the president
had one as her own car and she got elected. And then she just drove it. So you’re in good company
with your Grand Vitara. Just in case. If you ever want to get elected. Can I leave now? Just in case you needed a little
Suzuki trivia right there. Suzuki trivia. Excellent, OK thanks
for that question. Next up is Craig who
writes, love your podcast and I’ve been a Consumer Reports
subscriber for many years. Recently I’ve noticed some cars
horsepower ratings increases when using premium
gas versus regular. Is this uptick in horsepower
using premium only on specific new cars? So, Keith I’m going to
hand this one over to you. Regular gas, premium gas? Yeah, you’re going
to see this more often now because a lot more
cars are using turbo engines. And also horsepower
is this sort of thing that you can really
sell a car on on specs. And you can advertise,
three more horsepower than the competition. And using premium fuel it
is possible with engine controllers to kind of squeeze
a little more horsepower out of especially modern engines. So Jake, I think you can
talk a little more about– We looked into this a
number of years ago. Yeah, we looked into it and
we actually did some tests. And we actually looked
at some of the cars that allow you to use both. So they actually
recommend premium fuel to get the horsepower
but don’t require it. And little known fact, pro
tip, don’t use premium. Because in each one
of the cases there wasn’t really any difference
when we ran the regular fuel. So the truth is that when they
spec out these engines, yeah they can’t spec it
around premium fuel. And if you use
regular fuel there may be some situations
where you’re not going to get that horsepower. But the truth is that
you’re probably going to get the horsepower anyway. And it’s just for the
newer vehicles that have the two horsepower rates. But caution, make sure
that you note this. Do not be confused to
think that you have a car, and if you put premium
in you’re get more power. Right, any car. You’re not. You’re absolutely not. Yeah, but if there is
a car where they set up a specific testing condition
so they can get the highest horsepower rating
possible, they’ve probably done that
with premium fuel. They’ve probably done
that but you’re probably going to get that
same horsepower in your normal drive. You’re not going to notice. This is a common
question that we get. We’ve written
extensively about this. And basically the takeaway
is, if your vehicle does not require premium we
wouldn’t bother with it. But some vehicles will
say premium required. And in that case, that’s
when you go with it. That’s it. Excellent question. Next up is John from
Fair Lawn, New Jersey. Thanks for the great show. My wife and I have a
2017 Chrysler Pacifica and while we love it,
we have encountered some reliability issues. It’s still under
warranty, but can we expect to have more
issues down the road? Are problems under warranty
predictive problems outside of warranty? Another great
reliability question. So we sort of have one of
the reliability gurus here. So when a car starts– Yeah, exactly. Oh, me? You’re looking– so
when a car starts out a little problematic. Yeah, well here’s kind of,
again, a little known fact. When you look at our
new car reliability the truth is brand new cars
don’t have a lot problems. I think we all kind
of know that, right? And there’s a lot
of cars that we don’t recommend
because we’re saying, well, we think it’s
going to be unreliable. But you look at the data
and it’s, like, well they’ve only had a few problems. The reason we’re very harsh
on these vehicles that have just a moderate amount
of problems in their new year is because that’s what
it does, it predicts. It’s all about
predicting down the road. So if you’re just going to
go in the car for six months or whatever, that’s fine. But you know what,
if the first year, you’re going to have a
small chance of problems, maybe you’ve got like 8% chance
or whatever, that balloons. We have so much
data, so many years of data that shows the cars
that have that moderate amount of problems, it grows. It’s predictive of having many
more problems down the road. So maybe time to
think about trading it in before the warranty. Right, warranty’s up,
well there’s that. But the one good thing
is that they started up with love your podcast. I think people are
starting to understand that if you flatter
us first then we’ll answer your questions. Video and flattery are the
ways to ask your questions. And listen, John from Fair
Lawn, we totally feel for you. The Pacifica is a very nice van. It really is a nice van. And it wouldn’t be super
recommended by Consumer Reports if it unlocked the key
to good reliability. So good luck with that. Last question we have is
Hank from San Francisco. In your opinion what
is the best handling compact car in the market? I was thinking either the
BMW 330, Volkswagen Golf GTI, or the Tesla Model 3? I really thought we could
get through a podcast without talking about Tesla. He’s in San Francisco. Is he trying to recreate
the chase from Bullet? I need one for my enemy
and I need one for– He didn’t mention the
Charger or the Mustang. Well, it’s this
modern San Francisco. So you’re going
to get the Tesla. So how do they land when
they fly through the air? Best handling car. Maybe he lives on Lombard
Street and he just has to– We’re going to be starting
with Steve McQueen here. So tell us, what do you think
is the best handling car in this general category? So I think it kind of depends
on what you call a compact. Because nowadays there
are compact crossovers that handle well. And also there are compact
cars like the GT86 BRZ which are compact, but they’re
certainly not in this– I think he’s sort of more
talking about a luxury sport compact sedan. Well, yeah look at on his list. I mean there’s at least
four doors I would go with. OK, well the BMW 2 Series? I really, really, really
like how it handles. It feels just a little
more of the handles. I mean, it sounds, you
know, soul and visceral. But it really is. So save a little money
by not doing a 3 Series, but going with a 2 Series. Yeah, and it’s a car
that feels connected. It got a great road test score. It’s not fussy. It’s just a blast, it’s kind
of the last of its kind. Right. So, Jake, from this list
or something else in mind? Well, I like his 2
Series, that’s nice. Just to kind of throw something
out a little different is the Hyundai Veloster. Nice. He didn’t mention
manual transmission but that’s a good choice. Well it’s a nice car
for manual transmission, but it handles
really, really well. I mean, it used to be based
off of their cheap little car. But this new one is
kind of its own chassis and it’s really impressive. Really flies under the radar. Great shifter, it
flies under the radar. Yeah, it’s a great GTI. You think GTI, but that
answers that same question. It’s not expensive at all. I was going to throw a
little bit of curve too. I’m going to the Kia Stinger. You get rear or all-wheel
drive, a sweet turbo V6, really good nimble handling,
good steering feedback. I’m a huge fan. And, again, I think this
is a car that’s sort of underappreciated out there. But I think a good choice
certainly in this category. Well that’s about going
to do it for this episode. As always check the show
notes for more information on the vehicles and the
topics that we talked about. Thanks so much for tuning in. We’ll see you next. [ENGINE REVVING] [SNAP] [MUSIC PLAYING]

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