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Already pointed out by others above, while the Subaru's have legendary AWD systems, bullet proof, their engines and transmissions, sadly, according to multiple mechanic friends of mine, aren't built anywhere close to the level of Toyota. Head gasket issues and transmission failures pre 150k miles is far less uncommon than it should be. Likely depends on the mileage you put on the vehicle. My father in law loved his Subaru in Minnesota winters, but traded it off prior to hitting 100k miles.....
 
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You have to remember that all AWD Siennas come with run-flat tires which are not great...plus, no spare. I had to get all season tires for my 08 LE AWD and throw spare one in the trunk. I have a dedicated set of rims and tires, General Arctic 12, and swap them before it gets really cold. With snow tires and older AWD system, it plows through the snow without any problems. You probably can get a used set of 18" OEM Toyota rims and get a dedicated set up.
The only reason I'm not getting the AWD - run flats are expensive and don't get very many miles out of them has been my experience, plus, have been remote with a flat, had to drive over 100 miles on a run flat, which caught fire, leaving us stranded. I'll never have a vehicle without a physical spare
 
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Discussion Starter #23
Curious if you got the SE model. I have a 2018 XLE AWD. 2018 SE didn't offer AWD option. Enjoy your Sienna AWD!
I did get the SE model. So the AWD option on that model is new? I don't know that I would have gone any other way so I'm very happy Toyota decided to include AWD in the sportier model. AWD is a must where I live.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
We had a 2006 Outback for about 11 years. We really liked how secure it felt on wet and snowy roads. But we had to start dumping a LOT of money into the engine and exhaust starting at around 90k miles. It seemed to use an excessive amount of oil starting early in its life.The dealer tried to tell me that "normal" oil consumption for the Subaru boxer 2.5l engine was 1 qt/600 miles, if you can believe that. I tried pushing back on that, but got nowhere.

By 90k, we had replaced the rear main seal, head gasket, and both cats, which probably clogged due to excessive oil burning. Subaru faced a class-action lawsuit over the oil burning issue at one point, I think it was 2013/14 model years. They purport to have re-engineered the motor, but it looks to me to be the same basic design since the Outback was introduced in 1996. Our Outback essentially needed a new engine at 100k.

Here in the PNW, about every other car you see is an Outback. They are popular for good reason IMO, aside from the 2.5 engine, I think they are well designed and engineered. But our independent mechanic, who sees a lot of them, said that by 100k "they either burn oil, or leak oil, or both". Our experience is consistent with this.

Another issue with the 2.5L engine is that it is pretty gutless. Decent max hp, but a very narrow power band. We had a 5 speed manual tranny, which helped, but now your only option is CVT.

All of this is to say if it were me, I would avoid any Subaru with the 2.5L engine. Maybe they have addressed the oil burning issue, maybe not, but I know we'll never buy another one, at least with that motor.
Before my Impreza, I had a 2006 Outback with some of the same problems. Compression loss, guzzling oil. And I agree that the engine was fairly gutless. It also had a 5 speed manual transmission that helped a lot, but I definitely see where you are coming from.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Welcome to the Van world, if you are still craving for clearance, there are things that you can do to your van to get more clearance ;););)....
Smart Choice, I have a 2018 F150 but the ride in the van can't be beaten.....It drives like a sedan and is sooooooo comfortable.....

Javvy
Thanks! Trust me...we've already been scoping out lift kits! But...I will say I'm pretty impressed with its off road performance so far. I had to take it up some seriously questionable 4WD roads up towards Hahn's Peak in the middle of nowhere to get up to a cabin I manage. We're talking big rocks, mud (as it was pouring that morning) and steep! The van killed it. My passengers were seriously impressed. I'm sold!
 

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Discussion Starter #26
You have to remember that all AWD Siennas come with run-flat tires which are not great...plus, no spare. I had to get all season tires for my 08 LE AWD and throw spare one in the trunk. I have a dedicated set of rims and tires, General Arctic 12, and swap them before it gets really cold. With snow tires and older AWD system, it plows through the snow without any problems. You probably can get a used set of 18" OEM Toyota rims and get a dedicated set up.
Yeah, I'm definitely not a fan of the run flats...but that can be remedied fairly easily. We do the same re the winter tire swap out on all our vehicles. We're looking at a set of winter rims and will be using the Nokians.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Welcome to being a Sienna owner. I know it's a bit late to answer as you've already bought a Sienna. But a lot of people don't know that Toyota has made great awd vehicles that also competed in rally races that beat many a Subaru. Although the Sienna isn't a true awd vehicle, it does split it's power from front to rear 50:50 just like Subarus when needed via multiple sensors. As you yourself have found out, the spaciousness in a van just can't be beat. And there are lift kits available for the awd Sienna if you ever needed more ground clearance for snow or for going off the beaten path.
I had no idea about the rally race wins for Toyota! That is an awesome thing! Yeah, I've been really happy with the AWD system so far...had to rally the van up some nasty 4WD roads to get to a cabin I manage. It had no trouble at all. It was steep, wet and rocky. No clearance issues either. We are looking at a lift kit as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Selling our 2002 Forester 5 speed was not easy(especially after having the head gaskets done and having it driving like new again) but with a growing family we needed more room. I actually let it sit in the driveway for over a year before I came to terms with the fact that we just didn't need it. We are now in a 2010 AWD sienna and for our purposes, it is every bit as good as the Subaru was. The van feels substantial but drives nothing like an Explorer, Expedition, Tahoe or similar larger truck based SUV or pickup. In the snow(it is much better). I have had several 4x4 pickups and SUVs and they do not inspire confidence on snowy or icy roads, I guess due to the higher center of gravity. Living in your area for the last 20 years, I can recommend the Sienna 100 percent for your on road driving. For your back roads in the winter if you were okay in the Subaru, I would think you are fine in a Sienna. However, as others stated, if this is your main concern a truck based vehicle (or a Highlander as @fibber2 mentioned) may be better for ground clearance and beefier suspension, etc. The newer highlanders have different awd modes that will likely help too, though I think it's a tough option to find. Your issue on the snowy dirt roads will likely not be traction, however but ground clearance and potholes. FWIW, we do run studless studded snow tires and carry chains in the winter, but have not needed the chains....yet. Also FWIW the guy bought this from told me he and his neighbor live at the end of a private road that was only plowed after storms. He said he never got stuck, but his neighbor in his subaru would get stuck all the time. Take that story with a grain of salt because I have no way of fact checking.
This is all excellent! I was speaking to someone else in town who had one for 15 years and just sold it and said it was an amazing vehicle and he and his wife had no trouble at all. He said they ran some solid snow tires on it and it turned into a snow tank. I'm feeling pretty confident about it now.
 

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We are now in a 2010 AWD sienna and for our purposes, it is every bit as good as the Subaru was. The van feels substantial but drives nothing like an Explorer, Expedition, Tahoe or similar larger truck based SUV or pickup. In the snow(it is much better). I have had several 4x4 pickups and SUVs and they do not inspire confidence on snowy or icy roads, I guess due to the higher center of gravity. Living in your area for the last 20 years, I can recommend the Sienna 100 percent for your on road driving. For your back roads in the winter if you were okay in the Subaru, I would think you are fine in a Sienna.
I didn't pick up on this when Jac first posted it, but for the record........

The Gen-II (2004-2010) AWD system was structurally similar to the Subaru, in that it had full time AWD engagement. In 2011 (Gen-III), the system added an electromechanical clutch engagement system - it became an 'as needed' part time AWD system. The older vans were arguably better, but consumed more fuel. The new system relies on sensors to detect slip and a need before engaging the rears. So there is some level of delayed response. I'm sure it still works, but as we have demonstrated with our Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4, not generally as well as the full-time system on the Subaru Outback.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Ok. That’s good information. Hopefully it will be a good fit for us. I bet with the good winter tires it will perform very well!
 

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I happen to own both a 2007 Sienna and a 05 subaru outback. Both have been good reliable vehicles. Both have had about the same number of repairs and it is hard to pick a winner. The big difference here is ground clearance. The Sienna sits quite low and this will create some issues in deep snow. The AWD sienna also is known to wear out tires in a hurry. We average 30k miles on a set while the subaru can go 50k plus miles on a set of similar tires. For snow my bet is on the subaru but if you need room the Sienna is a good choice.
 

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I didn't pick up on this when Jac first posted it, but for the record........

The Gen-II (2004-2010) AWD system was structurally similar to the Subaru, in that it had full time AWD engagement. In 2011 (Gen-III), the system added an electromechanical clutch engagement system - it became an 'as needed' part time AWD system. The older vans were arguably better, but consumed more fuel. The new system relies on sensors to detect slip and a need before engaging the rears. So there is some level of delayed response. I'm sure it still works, but as we have demonstrated with our Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4, not generally as well as the full-time system on the Subaru Outback.
Crap, sorry! I didn't remember they re-did the awd system on the newer generations. I know that too. I'll be more careful.
 
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