IT was two degrees in the Blue Mountains when Kate and Gerren Hawkins broke down in their "old Holden" a few years ago.
That's when they decided they wanted a new and more reliable car. "We always liked Subaru and didn't consider any other car," says Kate, 29, a sales manager.
So they bought a 2008 Liberty 2.5i Luxury Wagon to fit Gerren's musical equipment. "It was important to fit all his music gear and the seats fold down flat," she says.
"It doesn't matter what you put in there, it always fits, so we hardly ever pay for delivery of things; we just pick it up ourselves. I also like Subaru's style. They have quite a sporty look without being a sports car and are quite rugged."
Safety was also very important. Kate says they were aware that Subaru has a five-star safety rating and all-wheel drive for all its vehicles. "I used to snowboard a lot when I as younger and I know a car handles icy conditions better with all-wheel drive," she says.
Now they have moved north to Queensland and traded snow for sand with planned trips to Stradbroke Island. They've also traded the Liberty for a new tangerine-coloured Subaru XV 2.0i-S with CVT which is due to arrive in the next few weeks.
"Our trade-in price was just under what my payout figure was for the hire purchase which is pretty good given the state of the economy at the moment and how low second-hand car prices are," she says.
"I thought we would get a second-hand car this time but there wasn't much difference in price so we went for the new one. We may as well get brand new and have all the warranties. Subarus don't seem to drop thousands of dollars in value the moment you drive out of the dealership."
Kate says she was attracted to the new XV by a host of features such as "extra airbags and the look of the dashboard".
"We bought the S model because it has the touch-screen satnav, digital radio, USB with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth stereo adjustments on the steering wheel and dual aircon which is really important for us as I'm always whinging it's too cold and my husband is always whinging that it's too hot so it will be handy when we do car trips together."
Kate will mainly drive the car to work Monday to Friday with occasional weekend trips away to the beach, so fuel economy was important. "We are downsizing from a 2.5-litre engine to a two-litre engine with stop-start which we hope will make a difference," she says.
"Even if it's saving just a little bit of petrol, it's also handy to get the extra mileage from the tank.
"I hate filling up the tank. It's always a hassle. I'd rather drive around for two weeks than have to fill up every four days, even if it ends up costing much the same. You pull over when you have to, not when you want to."