'Loses' 1 quart of motor oil per 5-7 tanks of gas (since purchase at 99k) ; possibly a very light rear main seal leak, or else the engine is consuming oil. No oil stain where it's parked in the driveway, and I'd rather keep topping off oil than search for the fault.
Consumes power steering fluid; I replace 1 quart's worth about every 5k miles (since purchase at 99k).
Moonroof rail broken (105K), I forced the moonroof closed, disconnected the switch and have not used it since then.
Leather seats have worn poorly; major ripping on driver and passenger front seats, while the rarely-used rear seats are in as-new condition.
Paint on the roof has been fading since purchased at 99k.
Clearcoat on the hood has been flaking off since 120k. This car has been parked uncovered for most of its life in Arizona.
Driver's window switch broke (101K) ; replaced with a used part from a junkyard.
Odometer broken when purchased at 99k, replaced with odometer gears from a junkyard car at 132k.
Have replaced 5 speakers since 99k, all with used junkyard parts.
Rear hatch interior panel clips (wagon) broken (99k), shoved a racquet ball between hatch and interior panel to stop the squeaking.
Recirculator switch for climate control has made a thumping sound since purchased (99k).
Air-conditioner switch began to stick (115k), replaced with junkyard switch.
Rear hatch pneumatic openers do not hold the hatch open in cold weather (since purchase at 99k) ; replaced with aftermarket (which make terrible noise) at 115K, then replaced with OEM openers from a junkyard at 117k.
Electronic mirror adjusters failed (115k).
Dashboard 'leather' warped since purchase at 99k, has deteriorated since then.
Cruise control failed due to faulty brake pedal cutoff switch (at purchase at 99k), had a shop replace these at around 120k.
Purchased the car for $2500 three years ago, expecting to drive the crap out of it for 2 years and 'throw it away' if/when a catastrophic or expensive repair was needed. I have put maybe $1000 into the maintenance and repairs over the past three years and 40k miles, and now expect the car to easily last another 2 or 3 years.
I expected this to be a very high-maintenance car. In some ways, it is - many little things have gone wrong, but few of them have bothered me enough to fix. An 850 would be very expensive to maintain if every little fault was dealt with by a dealership. You can keep your costs low if you do the work yourself, and use junkyard parts for non-safety-critical items (window switches, speakers, etc.). Independent shops are not cheap, but are cheaper than dealers for having work done.
There is great DIY support from a variety of websites. Some jobs are tough (such as timing belt), but with some experience and courage, can be done at home with proper tools. A good set of Torx wrenches comes in very handy. Look for an independent shop in your area if you're not comfortable with this. I changed a timing belt for the first time on this car.
I have abused this car with lots of driving on washboard backcountry Arizona dirt roads; it has barely developed a squeak from this, though the wagon's hatch tends to squeak a lot if the clips that hold the interior panel to the hatch are broken.
The five speed manual transmission has perfect ratios, and helps deliver more power to the wheels. It feels good to shift. It may still have the original clutch. If you can find a five speed 850, get it.
Broken odometers are very common, but can typically be repaired in about 1 hour using aftermarket or junkyard odometer gears. When shopping used 850s (95 and older), you can use the on-board computer to read out the actual mileage. Details for how to do this can be found online.
Onboard computer can be used to flash codes for faults (95 and older), and an OBD II connector is available on post 96. This helps with DIY diagnostics and maintenance.
I typically get around 20mpg in heavy city driving, 25mpg in mixed driving (timing stop lights), and can sometimes get 27mpg on highway-only trips at around 65mph.
This is a comfortable car. I am 6'2", and have plenty of legroom. The seats are supportive, and I feel fine driving 5 or 6 hours at a time.
Cargo room in the wagon is incredible. I have hauled a full-size washer and dryer, at the same time, with the seats folded flat. I have hauled a twin mattress and boxspring with the seats folded down. I sometimes carry 2 mountain bikes, wheels attached, in the back.
This is a great car for someone willing to do their own maintenance, and who doesn't care about little things going wrong.
This would be an expensive, frustrating car for someone who freaks out about check-engine lights, or who insists on dealership servicing.