Last post on Nov 02, 2006 at 7:19 AM
You are in the Subaru Forester
What is this discussion about?
Subaru Forester, Wagon
Aug 08, 2004 (2:05 pm)
I am now the still-undecided owner of a 2005 Forester XS w/auto. I've had it for almost one month and 2500+ miles. Until I have had more experience with the service department of the dealer from which I purchased it, I can't give an unqualified thumbs-up.
I had driven Chrysler Corp. minivans for 12 years prior to this purchase; the last being a 1999 T&C Ltd. My previous car to those was a 1988 Dodge Colt Vista 4WD wagon (Mitsubishi Space Wagon in other parts of the world). We really liked the Vista, its 7-passenger seating was actually able to hold 6 adults and picnic gear on more than one occasion. Its subsequent redesign and enlargement in the early '90s made it even better in most respects, but the fact that its new 2.4L SOHC engine was a bit underpowered for its new size and weight, its rise in cost, and the fact that Chrysler Corp. didn't offer the LWB 7 passenger version and Mitsubishi dealers were hard to find back then, decided our change to a full minivan. If a modern equivalent of the 7 passenger Space Wagon were offered today, we would jump on it!
But a mild heart attack on my part meant that my wife would have to resume driving after a several-year hiatus in case something more happened to me and she just couldn't feel comfortable or in control of a car as large as the minivan. And we really cannot justify owning two cars.
So, we looked at what is on the market today and finally narrowed it down to the Toyota RAV4 and the Forester. Our choices were helped immensely by Consumer Reports and by reading various Edmunds forums, this one included. The inclusion of the Subaru in the short list was aided by the experiences of other family members elsewhere in the country with Subarus dating back several years (We live in East-central Florida).
The RAV4 had the primary advantages of having a dealer only about 20 miles or so from us in Daytona Beach and of being available in 2WD for a bit of monetary savings. The nearest Subaru dealer is about 43 miles away in the Northern suburbs of Orlando.
A test drive of the RAV4 made my wife feel that it was too tippy in the turns. She also didn't like the spare tire hanging off the rear. I found it rather peppy and reasonably quiet, aside from engine noise on acceleration.
But a test drive of a 2004 Forester in late June made my wife's eyes light up with a look I seldom see when shopping, but which lets me know that I am NOT going to get out the door without buying! LOL
The dealer offered a pretty good deal on the 2004 XS w/premium package - and it was white, which was the only color we considered suitable for FL. But it had the moonroof (a waste of money in our eyes) AND black leather seats which, with the modest tinting in the windows, made the interior too bloody hot!
Besides, I had done my on-line homework and decided that 2005 incarnation offered features unavailable in 2004 (the revised transmission, standard cold weather package, and power seat among them), so we decided to wait for the 2005s. The dealer checked his computer and said that a white 2005 was just off the boat. I could have it for MSRP with the usual dealer installed accessories (bug deflector, arm rest extension, splash guards, all weather mats, cargo nets and bin, etc.) thrown in for free. I didn't haggle too much - one cannot expect the sort of deal on a brand-new model that one can on leftovers that have manufacturer's incentives. Besides, this dealer is one of the few I have seen around here that doesn't have that 500-600 dollar "miscellaneous" fee stuck on his paperwork. Actually, I looked at the Edmunds TMV price after we returned home and my price was only fifty bucks or so off the TMV price at that time. I noticed later that the TMV value had changed and now my cost was about $500 more than TMV - more supply, I suppose. His trade in offer on my high-mileage 99 T&C was about right.
The car should have arrived right after the July 4th holiday, which was good for us because I wanted to get some break in miles on it and my wife practiced up before we left for a trip to Indiana late in July. But the day came and went and no car! A week went by and I was getting a bit impatient. Then workmen across the highway from me cut a major phone line and I was without a phone for 6 days (no cell phone). Use of our neighbor's phone brought the info from my salesman that daily storms in Central Florida were holding up rail shipment because of the danger of hail damage to the cars (although all the railway car transporters I remember seeing these past few years have enclosed sides).
The salesman did tell me that a few had arrived, including one in Champagne Gold Opal, the new gold for 2005. I said we wanted white! But another few days' wait made us think that perhaps it be would worth a drive to the dealer to look at the gold one. We did and saw immediately that the new gold is much lighter and more interesting than the previous gold was. It seems to change color depending on the light and what it's parked on or next to, all the way from a warm silver to a rich gold. In fact, the color has prompted the first comment/questions from a total stranger I have had about any of my cars since my Opel Manta Rallye and Mazda rotaries of the early 1970s. A truck driver at an interstate rest stop approached my wife as she was cleaning the windows while I was inside. He said he and his wife had been considering the same two cars we had and he felt immediately that ours must be a 2005. He said that his wife wanted the Forester, but after seeing our color, he wanted that color!
Our only reservation then (and still one today) is that the beige (more gold,really) interior is just TOO light for the kind of use to which this kind of vehicle is likely to be put and the climates in which it is mostly purchased, especially the carpets and cargo floor. The gray interior that comes with white is just enough darker to show less grime.
We drove it home on July 13th sans the splash guards, arm rest extension, and bumper protector (the first two had been ordered in the colors suitable for our white car which never arrived). A few break in miles and days later I returned for the installation of the missing items. I can't figure out why Subaru doesn't reuse the original color-matched top for its armrest extension rather than the black. The splash guards went on ok, but while loading the car for our trip north, I noticed just how crookedly the bumper protector mat had been put on. Part of my dealer satisfaction opinion will be formed by his willingness and ability to make this matter right.
Enough for now - the car is GREAT! Much less wind, engine and road noise (other than tire noise on coarse asphalt) than my T&C. The transmission is the smoothest, most positive automatic I have ever owned. After the break in period, the car seems to want to run happily on the interstate at 80-85 MPH - I keep having to slow down.
#15146 of 18028 My new Forester - continued
Aug 08, 2004 (2:22 pm)
I wish this thing would notify one when one has exceeded the message length while typing!
Anyway . . . The torque curve and gearing is such is that the car will maintain speed and even accelerate when doing 70-80 mph on the uphill grades encountered on I-75, I-24, and I-65 between home and Indiana without hunting or downshifting.
With a mix of 80/20 interstate/city-suburban driving, I have had two tank averages over 29 mpg, one just about 26 mpg (a tank of gasohol I pumped by mistake in Indiana) and the rest 27-28 mpg. All at thoroughly illegal interstate speeds and with the a/c mostly on.
Driving through a few periods of heavy rain really gave me a feeling of confidence in the car's tractive abilities, but I immediately missed the higher driving position of my minivans that put me above the worst of the spray. All the traction in the world is useless when one is suddenly flying blind!
More of my experiences with this car when I have them.
P.S. One more thing . . . at our ages (late 60s) we both find that the seats are WAY too hard for comfort on a long trip with 8-10 hour driving days. Perhaps it's because it's more difficult to sort of scroonch around and change position in this smaller car than it was in the Chrysler. We will probably have to get memory foam seat cushions before future trips.
I do like being able to rest my right leg against the console and the dead pedal for my left foot, but I really miss the arm rests of the Chrysler - the door armrest and armrest extension in the Forester are just too low for me and the window ledge is a bit too high. And a hard edge in the door armrest makes it uncomfortable to rest my left leg against it for any length of time.
#15147 of 18028 Re: My new Forester - continued [veritasusa]
Aug 08, 2004 (5:43 pm)
Great review, thanks! Enjoy your new Forester.
#15148 of 18028 2005 FORESTER
Aug 08, 2004 (5:44 pm)
Thanks for sharing. Do you have an automatic or a manual? The mpgs sounded good. The armrest and door rest levels are important for me too. I find the VWs best at this and the Focus is good too. Maybe the top of the armrest is better in black since the oils from your skin can discolor other lighter colors. As to the grey interior, is it cloth? You can get after market leather in any color you want, including the perforated breathable kind. Good Luck. Still deciding between Forester and Focus. Don't want to go the VW route with new platforms a year or so away.
#15149 of 18028 iirc....veritas(truth)usa(small island in Japan)...
Aug 08, 2004 (7:04 pm)
....indicated that his automatic was the "smoothest, most positive" he's ever owned.
...a comprehensive statement - given los anos - indeed!! ez
#15150 of 18028 mpgman - Re: My new Forester
Aug 08, 2004 (7:06 pm)
Mine is the automatic transmission, which makes the mpg figures I am getting all the more surprising. I could have used a 5 speed quite well, but my wife needs an automatic and I like the more sophisticated AWD power proportioning available with the automatic. My wife rechecked the figures 3 times when we got our first 29+ mpg tank figure - she was sure she was making a mistake. But she carries a calculator in her purse to make up for the loss of the trip computer (I wish Subaru offered that feature rather than the measly compass in that too-expensive auto dimming mirror) in the T&C. I'm not a particularly balloon-footed driver, but I avoid full-throttle starts and short stops whenever possible. I seldom use my cruise control - the traffic even on the interstate routes I mostly use is just too heavy most of the time.
All the interiors in the 2005 Foresters are cloth only, except for the new LL Bean edition. The moquette cloth in the XS version is certainly grippy! If I try to slide around on it like like I did in the leather seats of the T&C, I almost pull my shorts off. I am leery about getting a leather interior in the aftermarket because I don't know anyone who has had experience with any local shop that does such work and maladroits of all persuasions seem to abound in this area!
If we could have gotten an LL Bean without the moonroof, we would have sprung for it to get the leather, the auto leveling rear suspension, and the hard surfaces on the luggage area and rear seat backs. Just another example of bloody-minded thinking on the part of of someone at Subaru!
Regarding your comment about the black armrest top, one thing that worries me about the long haul is that the door armrests are cloth and I wonder how well they will hold up to even infrequent contact with my scratchy, dirty elbow. The armrest heights might be better if I had the driver's seat lower, but I have gotten used to the chair-height seating of a minivan and so keep the power seat pretty much at max elevation. Besides, I find that if I sit lower, I have to have the seat farther back for legroom (I'm 6'0") and that leaves the steering wheel too far away for my taste. Oh, for a telescoping wheel!
Also, the radio/cd display washes out in even moderately bright sunlight, but that doesn't bother me at all since I haven't listened to the radio or any other sound in my car for years. I find I am so busy concentrating on the road and the idiot drivers around me that I don't hear anything, anyway.
The minimal tinting of the window glass might be more of a problem here in FL except that the smaller window area compared to my prior T&C keeps the sun off most of my body better and the a/c is right-now efficient. It's effectiveness and relative silence (haven't needed more than fan speed 3 of 7 so far) and my wife's abilty to better direct the airflow cause her to like it much better than the a/c in the T&C.
Lastly (for now) - I don't think much of the all weather floor mats offered by Subaru. They seem stiff, even in FL heat, and the grooves are too shallow to trap the kind of sand and crud I get - even staying on paved surfaces just about all of the time. I will undoubtedly scrap the ones I got and go to the aftermarket for better ones from Weather Tech or the like. It is my firm belief that ANY vehicle manufacturer who installs a light colored, carpeted floor with a driveline hump should offer a full rear mat that covers the hump in the center as well!
#15151 of 18028 Re: mpgman - Re: My new Forester [veritasusa]
Aug 08, 2004 (8:04 pm)
Excellent write up, and thanks for sharing. I hope you stick around and continue to participate here in the Subaru Crew at Edmunds. Your comments are very useful. Again, thanks.
Aug 08, 2004 (8:44 pm)
Very insightful review of the Forester by veritasusa. Reminds me of Jack (ballistic). Anyone hear from him anymore?
#15154 of 18028 leo2633 - Almost a coincidence!
Aug 09, 2004 (7:08 am)
Interestingly enough, my first name is Jack. But I see from the post of mckeown that the other Jack is really a John.
Oops! I see that a correction has been made and that ballistic is still a Jack, after all.
And I am NOT ballistic - not (yet) about my Forester, at least.
But if you had asked me several years ago about my 1958 Edsel Citation or about my 1977 Dodge Aspen . . .