Subaru Harp-mobile Advice

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    Kela Walton

    I’m hoping to buy all-wheel drive, slightly used, harp-mobile that will hold a concert grand pedal harp. What are your thoughts about Subaru? Any advice about models and years is appreciated!

    Sherj DeSantis

    I own 2 Subaru Forresters. My older one, a 2006 is 2″ longer than my newer one which is a 2010. You can fit a full size concert grand in them, but it is VERY tight. A manager from Lyon and Healy told me that an Outback will carry a Lyon and Healy 23 easily, but they cost substantially more than the Forresters. There isn’t anything about the Forresters I dislike. I live in an area that is miserable with hills, snow and ice, and I won’t drive anything else, anymore. Hope this helps! Sherj


    I moved my Camac Athena concert grand in my 2002 Subaru Outback, but it was a lot of finagling to get it in compared to what I am driving now (Dodge Grand Caravan). I had to shove it in the back, then open each side door and tip it up so that the crown was sort of resting on the driver’s seat back. It also had to be shifted around a lot to get the back door closed. If you are going to move your harp a lot I suggest you consider a car where you can just lean the harp and shove it straight in flat. The cars I know of that allow this are Dodge Grand Caravans, and a 2008 Taurus X. There are probably more, but those are the ones I know of.


    I can get my Camac Atlantide into my husband’s Outback but it is a tight fit. We tried it in a Forester -do not remember the year and it would not fit but we are looking at Forester for my cello playing son because it is a great car. I would take my harp to the dealer and try it before you buy.


    You’d probably have the most room in a Tribeca, though it is also somewhat more expensive than the Outback and Forester. A friend once gave me and my concert grand a ride in her Tribeca and it fit easily.

    Philippa mcauliffe

    We have a Subaru garage within walking distance of the house. Didn’t get one. We are right hand drive which makes it easier for a harp – you can push the passenger forward for the longer side. My harp is a Camac Atlantide and it did not fit in a Forrester at all in 2010. We wanted something that you can just lean it onto and slide straight in without a struggle onto a flat (padded) surface. Then you also need your trolley, a stool, your bags, your stand and your passenger to have leg room. It JUST fitted into an Outback and Liberty wagon but very little room for anything else (a Liberty is the 2wd version of an outback – not sure you get them though in US) and mum said they felt like driving a hearse. It just fitted into a Passat wagon but very tight. Much easier into a Mazda 6 wagon, a Volvo wagon or 4WD, a RAV4 or any of the bigger Toyota 4WDs. Then does the car fit into your garage? We couldn’t get a high car or the automatic door hit it. If you can find one, a sideways opening boot door stops you having to line up at just the right distance to get your harp under the open door when you lean it over. And no steps to drop down is good at the boot entrance and floor although you can fill a gap with foam mattress if you have to.


    I’m driving my second Outback, a 2005. The back seats fold down flat, as opposed to my 1st Outback, a 1998. I do have a foam mattress in the back, covered with a tarp for easier sliding. The wheel wells also are farther apart in the 2005. The only change that isn’t in my harp’s favor is a slightly smaller opening. I overcome that obstacle by loading my Salzedo in on its column and then lowering the neck. Although I am short and the driver’s seat is fairly far forward, I have several inches between the base and the hatch.

    That said, the Outback has been redesigned again, and appears to be larger, at least in its height.

    I’m a fan of the Subaru’s. They are really well designed, both mechanically and in terms of safety, and at the base price, you get a lot of bang for the buck. Plus, I’ll pick the Subaru over a minivan any day when the roads are snowy or icy!


    Adding on to this, has anyone tried a crosstrek? I’d like to get a subaru this year…I’ve always had my heart set on a forrester but I noticed that the crosstrek is a little cheaper. I have a L&H prelude which I’m sure would fit, no problem. Eventually I would like to get a concertino or some sort of smaller pedal harp. And I don’t want to have to trade up my car for that. Does anyone have opinions of a crosstrek? I haven’t seen anything on this forum..


    Hi Diane, I met you at AHS 2008 in Michigan. I have to chime back in. Although Subaru has a wonderful reputation, I really feel I was duped by them. The Outbacks from ’98 thruogh ’02 had a bad master cylinder and they never did a recall. Instead they had us all go in to the dealerships for an “additive” that was supposed to help. In the end the block cracked on mine when it was barely broken in, and I was out an enormous amount of money. I will never drive one again. I also have to say that I am not a fan of AWD when there is ice. I will take my plain old Dodge Grand Caravan anyday over the Outback where snow and ice are concerned. It’s a heavy car, and it really really sticks to the road under all conditions. I remember one particular incident driving to work on an ice-covered road in the Subie, and I couldn’t really go over 15 mph without heading toward a ditch. Just had to say it……plus I can lean my harp back and just slide it straight in with about a foot or so to spare at the base in my van. Carl Swanson recommended it, and he was absolutely correct that it is a wonderful harpmobile.


    Hey, Briggsie – I remember meeting you. I was glad to put a face to a Harp Column user then, and glad to hear from you now.

    4WD won’t do anyone any good if one wheel can’t get a grip, so weight is an advantage when driving over a solid sheet of ice. When there is something for at least one wheel to grip, I have felt much more secure with my car than in my husband’s minivan.

    I do remember my first snow storm with the Subaru. I was parked on the road outside of my apartment and the plows had left a 2 foot high icy wall of snow packed against the cars on the side of the road. I went out to my car at the same time as the owner of the car behind me. She was equipped with a shovel. I kicked the snow free from my tires, and then drove over the snowpack in one, smooth motion. The other driver gave me the dirtiest look!

    Christian Frederick

    Lots of good information in this thread. If you have had experience, please tell me more about the Toyota RAV4, and also I’ve seen a Volks Wagon Passat wagon on the road that looks like a good harp mobile. I’ve been downsizing, so for my next car, I do NOT want a minivan, I’m 6’3″ and need a harp mobile that will fit a full size concert grand harp with the driver’s seat pushed all the way back. Thank you….


    I don’t think a RAV4 will be very good for a tallish person like you. A Highlander would work, however. I liked the test drive of a Honda Pilot I took a couple of years ago and that’s also big and reliable.

    Passats don’t seem to have good owner satisfaction from some of the research I’ve done. Jettas seem much better, but not as large unfortunately and you probably wouldn’t want one as your permanent vehicle.

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