Last post on Nov 02, 2006 at 6:48 AM
You are in the Subaru Forester
What is this discussion about?
Subaru XT, Subaru Forester, SUV
#2368 of 6715 Daily Driver
Dec 23, 2003 (7:18 am)
John, what you need to keep in mind with the XT is that although I believe it handles, brakes and accelerates well, this is no boy racer and if you don't punch it to get into the turbo, you are essentially driving a regular Forester. No lowered and hardened suspension, no super low profile tires. This is a fun car but amazingly easy car to drive and park, especially in town. Visibility is great, especially with the big rear window, the dimensions are trim and the turning radius is very tight. It is comfortable and well appointed, especially if you get the leather and sunroof. Plus, I used the XT to replace a 1999 Isuzu Rodeo with 4wd, and my insurance rates actually dropped 10% with State Farm. Pretty amazing for a brand new car.
Although some complain about the noise, I think it is fine, especially if you push the roof cross rail back. I just drove a loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited for a 100 miles on the open highway, and I can tell you the Subaru steers and rides much better and I believe is actually quieter - driving both on subsequent days on the highway into a strong head wind.
Sam I am - when my radio became possessed with the volume randomly changing, I was quietly motoring down a city street. I will let you all know if this occurs again.
Dec 23, 2003 (7:22 am)
atlgaxt, I agree it's no boy racer. It's a (small) shame that they didn't go for a front-mounted intercooler, as that would rid the car of the boy racer hood scoop. However, a thicker rear sway and better tires I'm sure would improve handling immensely. Why are tires the first thing car manufacturers skimp on to save money?
And good points - the visibility is outstanding, turning radius is tight, and it's very easy to park.
Dec 23, 2003 (7:23 am)
I think Subaru wanted to produce some fantastic performance numbers, and may indeed relax/change the gearing in coming model years.
If EPA numbers improve, I bet a lot of people would bite.
Dec 23, 2003 (7:39 am)
With the auto, a lot of times if you are slowly rolling and then you punch it (like when you are turning onto a highway and there is only a yield sign) it will hang in second gear and not downshift. First couple of times this happened it slightly annoyed me, as you really have to punch it in that situation to get a downshift to first. Then I realized that it moves out fine even starting in second with the auto. This engine puts out so much low end torque that I really think in day to day driving, it would be just as fast with taller gearing.
However, if you had a taller first gear, a 4,000 rpm clutch drop and AWD would put additional strain on the drivetrain. At the same time, without a clutch drop, 0-60 in less than 6 seconds would be tough. So there may be merit to the argument that Subaru geared the XT to generate hot numbers at the test track at the cost of fuel economy.
Dec 23, 2003 (7:41 am)
The current final drive ratio is almost like a towing gear, 1st is so low. Bet you could get that 2400 lb trailer moving no problem.
Dec 23, 2003 (8:16 am)
Ballistic...What's your opinion?...Would an XT PP succeed as a daily driver in this region? Especially coming off an Accord. For me a car has to succeed on several levels. Is the XT ONLY a performance car? I suspect not, but I'd like to hear from you folks who've lived with it.
I can't draw any direct comparisons to Accords, sorry. However, it goes without saying that one's evaluation of any new car depends greatly on how it compares to what he's accustomed to.
My XT likes/loves (not in any particular order):
1. Very compact outside dimensions and modest curb weight, especially for AWD. I much prefer smallish cars to behemoths. Tight turning circle, superbly parkable.
2. Very acceptable interior space for people and stuff, especially considering the aforementioned small size. Getting sufficient adult backseat space requires discovering the "correct" way to set the driver's seat - i.e. as high as possible, so the driver gets adequate legroom without having to slide the seat all the way back. Thus adjusted, a six-footer can be comfortable in the driver's seat while another six-footer can sit in comfort behind him. More than that you can't expect from a 99" wheelbase.
3. Near-perfect balance (for such a small, light car) between ride compliance and nimble, adept handling. Fast drivers think there's too much body roll and too little lateral grip, but I wouldn't change a thing. Well, except for high road-noise levels (see below), which will lead me to the quietest tires I can find when the Geolanders finally wear out.
4. More than enough power for any conceivable driving need. If this were my only, or primary, priority, I'd be ecstatic.
5. Truly outstanding outward visibility in every direction. The headlamps are terrific - among the best I've owned, especially after upgrading to Philips VisionPlus bulbs. The wipers (front and rear) are also commendable - every other car I've owned, I had to put on longer wipers to cover more glass. Not so the Forester. Whether XS or XT, this is an ideal car for Northwest weather.
6. While it won't win any beauty contests, the design is growing on me - and at least it does NOT have the WRX's adolescent, boy-racer styling.
1. Ridiculously short gearing for such a powerful car. Way too many RPM at highway speeds. 3.70 gearing would be ideal, 3.9 would be acceptable. This contributes to:
2. Excessive fuel cost. In 4K+ miles of extremly moderate, conservative 80% freeway driving, I'm averaging only 20 MPG on high-priced premium fuel. The regular Forester does much better even if both cars are driven identically (which is usually the case with mine).
3. Ridiculously low 1st gear, followed by an awkwardly large jump going to 2nd. I dislike shifting when I've barely crossed an intersection. This thing should be able to reach at least 40MPH in 1st at the redline, instead of barely 30. Mostly, I skip 1st and just use 2nd whenever possible. I'm a diehard stick-shift guy, but in the XT, the automatic is the better choice.
3. Higher interior noise levels than I'd like, mostly road noise and driveline noise transmitted inside, plus wind and engine noise. Every time I go from fast to slow and back, I have to readjust the radio volume to compensate for widely varying noise levels.
4. Rattles. A severe one just beneath the dashtop in the passenger airbag area that drives me crazy on Portland's pebbly stud-worn surfaces, plus tinny ones from each front door, plus a new intermittent one from the instrument cluster.
5. The white-on-black instruments are attractive, but very hard to read on sunny days, especially if you're wearing sunglasses. Black-on-white would be much more functional. I also prefer red panel illumination instead of blue-green.
6. The HVAC system lacks a true bi-level mode providing heated air to the footwells and cool air to your face and upper body from the dashlevel vents. Something akin to this is supposedly possible IF you run the A/C compressor, but that's a ridiculous solution.
7. The hill holder, which is (IMO) intrusive and, on a car with a convenient handbrake, unnecessary. I've learned ways to just avoid invoking the HH.
8. A very soft, spongy brake pedal feel, although the brakes themselves seem excellent.
9. Overboosted power steering. I like lots of road feel through the wheel, and the Forester's is so heavily boosted that it's numb compared to other cars I've owned.
10. The cruise control defaults to "off" every time the engine starts, requiring you to fumble with the control switch that is awkwardly located far from the driver's sightlines, near the bottom of the dash.
11. The engine is on the coarse, unrefined side. Sometimes it idles reasonably smoothly and quietly; at other times it shakes the whole car. The engine takes on a great note at full throttle and high revs, but I rarely need to operate there.
12. The electronic throttle (or some other engine control) causes an on-off fluctuation or surge following each routine upshift, sometimes for four or five seconds. Gets in the way of driving smoothly.
13. Brain-dead product planning: It was/is preposterous for Subaru to limit the sunroof and leather to automatic buyers, although this won't bother you.
14. A few quibbles, such as having to buy the armrest extension instead of just designing a workable one in the first place; and not being able to get desirable options available on Foresters elsewhere, such as dual-range transmission, HID headlamps, headlight washers, dual folding front-seat inner armrests, self-leveling rear suspension, etc.
Bottom line, Johnny: The XT is a very good all-around daily driver that misses being spectacular due to the unfortunate gearing. Even so, it has more than enough positives for me to recommend it. Your automatic will be even better than my 5-speed because you'll have a tad taller overall gearing together with intermediate ratios that (IMO) are perfectly suited to the XT's torque characteristics.
Dec 23, 2003 (8:31 am)
So considering all the pros and cons of the XT you mentioned above, are you happy with your vehicle?
Dec 23, 2003 (8:36 am)
It's easily addressed by swapping the stock sway bar for an STi swaybar for starters. Or getting the hollow 25mm front and rear swaybars from cobbtuning.com
Cobb is also currently working on struts and springs.
Man, that gearing is horrible though!! LOL Beating a dead horse???
ballistic, when are you selling it? Not a very nice way to refer to Product Planning since they receive feedback from this board. You're probably not referring directly to the department, but same thing IMO. Don't forget to thank them for the improvements that came about in '03.
#2376 of 6715 "Daily driver" Q & A's
Dec 23, 2003 (8:37 am)
A quick thanks to the original poster of the excellent question and those who've taken the time with their thoughtful responses. IMO, exactly what makes these boards so valuable--the experiences of those who have already put their $$$ on the line.
Dec 23, 2003 (8:42 am)
The lesson to be learned from "Ballistic" is this:
Never buy a new-model car sight unseen without knowing all the facts about it, after one short test drive. Then don't go on Internet forums and decry the manufacturer's product for your lack of purchasing discretion. Finally, don't repeat your overblown criticisms over and over in an imperious tone, resulting in fights with enthusiasts in every car forum out there.