I am the second owner. The issues below are not car specific diseases generally speaking. They are strange for the 2 year old car.
1. Wheels - $700. You can find them cheaper. I replaced them with the same model because the original ones were worn.
2. Rear ball bearing - $300. That was completely unexpected. The car ran with that issue almost 4 months before I got the time to fix it.
3. Front light bulbs - 2 x $15. Actually I had to replace a single bulb, but I could not find the original brand (Phillips), so I decided to replace both of them (GE).
I lived in upstate NY when purchased the car and had trips to canoe. For wet/slippery/minor off-road conditions, this car behaved even better than Audi 90 Quattro I had before. Then I drove to NYC and back the whole winter, and this car never put in a spot. Even with broken ball bearing.
Now I am riding at town only and it eats too much gas (look at the specs overview at edmunds.com).
What I do not like:
1. Inefficient transmission. I suppose the inefficiency of the transmission is the primary reason for the high gas consumption. If you want to dart away at a traffic light, it will use the 2nd speed to accelerate up to 50mph. If you let's say for a some reason want to speed up in the high speed traffic, it will do it at 3rd speed, though 4th speed is enough. I have a strong feeling that the transmission was designed for slow riding.
2. Lag in the transmission. It is waiting for something. Is it for safety?
3. It is narrow, it is not enough space for the rear seats. This car has enough power to have a roomy cabin and trunk.
4. Rear passenger seats are not convertible.
5. Front passenger seat has only 4 ways to control its position.
6. Gas. It requires at least 91. I do not see it last half of a year.
What do I like:
1. The transmission has "pseudo-manual" option. It is not convenient after the classic manual transmission, but it is good for the acceleration. There is no such automatic transmission that can beat a manual one.
2. Car handling. Even on jerky turns and maneuvers, it is under control. I had only a problem at snow storm when I was between a bus and a truck, and only a lane where we were.
3. Brakes. No comments.
4. Engine. No comments.
5. Control panel. It is very simple and it has only the things you have to see.
6. High clearance. No comments.
7. Rear spoiler. It is useless actually, but at night the cars behind will not blind you due to the spoiler. Though it does not work for some trucks. This is very efficient against "know-alls" using high intensive front lights and not thinking about others. You know what I mean.
What I cannot evaluate:
1. Sound. Occasionally I found a sub-woofer under the driver's seat. I am not a music fan, but it sounds great.
2. Some people say that the maintenance is expensive.
It is quite hard to answer; would I choose the same car the next time? It is not a family (3+) car definitely. If I do not have a family, I would choose it again. Though I have seen that even old retirees like the Outback wagon. But it was upstate NY and the stuff making life diverse (snow storms, heavy showers etc). In NYC, the same people prefer full size sedans from Ford, Mercury, Saturn and Lincoln.
I will pity it when I'm going to sell it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 24th October, 2008