Last post on Nov 26, 2012 at 9:58 PM
You are in the Subaru Forester
What is this discussion about?
Subaru Forester, Fuel Efficiency (MPG), Wagon
#185 of 216 MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied
Jan 23, 2010 (9:27 am)
I have an '09 automatic X LTD with fewer than 11,000 miles on it. The deciding factor that made me buy a Forester over a RAV 4 was the safety features--I had just been in a really gnarly accident and was a bit freaked out. I drive VERY conservatively in town and non-aggressively but a little fast on the highway--70 to 75 mph. Even at that, I try to drive behind semis so that I can use their wind blockage. I drive about 3/4 of the time in-town. I have been incredibly disappointed in the mileage that this car is getting, as I'm very concerned about my comsumption of fossil fuel. Over the life of my car, I've been averaging about 20 mpg and lately have only been getting 17-18 mpg. I thought that certainly the mpg indicator was to blame, so yesterday I took it to the dealer (by the way, I have serviced my car only at Hunter Subaru in Hendersonville, North Carolina). This is what the dealer told me yesterday:
--The mpg indicator is not meant to be exact (ummm...why not? Is Subaru incapable of manufacturing more precise technology?)
--But, that said, I probably AM getting 17-18 miles per gallon and this is fine because the lowest acceptable mpg for this model Forester is 15-16 mpg. They suspect that I am getting this low mileage because:
1) That is just what my car gets;
2) We live in the NC mountains and you get lower gas mileage in mountains (aren't there mountains all over the US? Furthermore, aren't our mountains far more rolling than any of the mountains out west?);
3) I should try buying premim gas;
4) The cross bars on the roof (no bike racks or kayak gear on the bars) are causing wind resistance and so I can't expect to be getting premium mileage;
5) They recently had a woman in complaining of the same problem with her Chevy, but when the guy from the dealer drove it around for 50 miles, he got much better mileage than she does and now, "She's happy as a clam." I believe that I was supposed to take a lesson from her example and be happy with what I had and understand that my low mpg must be my own fault.
Anyway, no satisfaction at all.
I would like to make two side notes:
1) I was so angry when I left Hunter Subaru that I drove straight to Jim Barkley Toyota, which is where I got my last vehicle (I love this dealership), handed the guy my keys and asked him what he could offer me for a trade-in. He said about $18,000. Appletree Honda said the same thing. So, after owning my Subaru for little over a year and having driven it only <11,000 miles, it had depreciated over $8,000. 2) My previous vehicle was a Toyota 4WD Tacoma TRD with a V-6 engine, big tires, the Off-Road package, and a lot of giddyup. It got about 20-22 miles per gallon (As I said, I drive conservatively). This figure includes all the gravel/composting/stone hauling I did. When I totaled the truck, I received $14,000 for it. This was for a truck that was over 6 years old and had over 100,000 miles on it. So. Could somebody please give me some feedback and advice? Am I being unreasonable? What should I do? Thank you so much. I'm so upset that I'm crying as I write this. Elizabeth
#186 of 216 Re: MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied [elizabethanne]
Jan 23, 2010 (11:48 am)
Are you relying strictly on the MPG computer or are you calculating MPG manually (miles driven / gallons to fill tank)?
Having said that, the Forester is not super fuel efficient. It's very boxy and has poor aerodynamics. The 4-speed automatic is also archaic and needs at least one other gear. Subarus with the new CVT transmission get much better mileage. AFAIK, both Edmunds and Consumer Reports got about 21 MPG overall for their long term test Foresters.
I have an older Forester, and it has averaged about 20-21 over 7 years and 62,000 miles, but it's a turbo and manual transmission, so not exactly apples to apples comparison.
As far as resale value, any car depreciates the most during the first and second years. Also, I'm sure you can get better than $18K if you sold it privately instead of trading in.
The Rav-4 V6 is currently the best rated small SUV in some comparison tests, while the Forester is lagging far behind.
#187 of 216 Re: MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied [samiam_68]
Jan 24, 2010 (2:28 pm)
Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. The Kelley Blue Book value of my Subaru is in the low 20s, so it appears that you are absolutely correct about being able to get more for it in private sale.
I had taken for granted that the mpg indicator on the dash would be accurate (I still can't understand why that technology isn't more refined). I am now embarking on a do-the-calculations-by-hand study. *shrug* That's the way I used to do it, so I don't see why I can't do that now.
I am very sorry that I didn't buy a RAV 4. Maybe next time.
Best to you.
#188 of 216 Re: MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied [elizabethanne]
Jan 24, 2010 (10:11 pm)
You're very welcome. Perhaps, when you calculate your MPG manually, you will see a higher MPG - maybe the computer is way off. Although, usually, the case is the opposite - the computer shows higher MPG than manual calculations.
Good luck and keep us posted!
#189 of 216 Re: MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied [elizabethanne]
Jan 25, 2010 (8:51 am)
I don't really agree with the dealer's list of reasons.
1) your mileage may vary, but that's nowhere near what our Forester gets (09 PZEV Limited automatic).
2) uphill you do worse, but you make it up going downhill, so the total effect should be minor
3) do no use premium fuel, it's tuned for 87 octane so don't waste your money
4) cross bars may have a small effect, you can remove them when not in use
5) each driver's mileage will vary, sure
I suspect the real reason right now is the bitter cold. I'm farther north than you but even my Miata is only getting 250 miles per tank before the low fuel light kicks on. My mileage is probably down 20% or more due to the severe cold we've had lately.
We get around 22-24 in the city and 27-30 on trips, but we're not going as fast as you on the highway (you said 70-75, we do 60-65 usually).
I'd try slowing down a bit, if that's practical, and try combining trips/errands so that the engine is already warm. During warm up your fuel efficiency is dismal.
Try this experiment - zero the trip odomerter on a cold morning. Drive off. It will tell you your mileage after 1 mile. I bet it's 12 mpg or so while the engine is still cold.
Then zero the trip odometer again, while driving on the highway. Keep your speed steady at around 55mph (safely, of course). I bet after a mile it registers 30mpg or so, if the engine is already warm.
So there is your minimum and maximum range - about 12 to 30. EPA is 20/26 IIRC but you can do a lot worse (with a cold engine, city driving) or a lot better (cruising on the highway but not too fast).
Good luck. I'm sure when the weather warms up you'll do better.
We usually hit our peak late spring or early fall, because we're not using A/C, but it's not really cold, either.
#190 of 216 Re: MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied [ateixeira]
Jan 25, 2010 (11:07 am)
Elizabeth, your disappointment with the mileage after 11,000 miles is understandable. I have a 4-month-old 2010 with 7500 miles and my average right now is 24, with most of its miles coming during winter months (in Fairbanks Alaska) that bring with them (truly) bitter cold and poor mileage. I have seen tanks as low as 18 mpg, but those were primarily very short trips (5-6 miles one way) with significant idling and cold temperatures (well below zero). I also navigate hills, but they are nothing major.
The Forester has two trip meters - A and B. Recently, my wife accidentally reset the "B" meter, which I had on running total since new. It read 24.3 mpg. My manually calc'd spreadsheet indicated 24.26 about the same time, so once the miles rack up, the trip computer is pretty much dead on. Tank by tank, it is usually optimistic. I have had a few tanks where the trip meter was lower than the calc'd economy, but I'm sure some of that has to do with circumstances (when the pump shuts off, etc).
Even now, during the cold months with winter blend fuel, etc., I have yet to have a month where our average fuel economy is lower than 20 mpg. Some tanks, yes, but not on average over a month. Mine is a 2010 Premium PZEV manual.
A couple things I have noted about my car:
1. It loves speeds between 40 and 50 mph and can get upwards of 40 mpg. Speeds under 35 (which requires a drop in gear) or over 50 are significantly worse (about 6-8 mpg). For city/suburban driving, try to maximize the amount of time you are in that sweet spot to make up for the start/stop cycles.
2. Speeds over 70 also cause a substantial drop in fuel economy. When driving it home from Seattle in September, it was giving me 28-31 mpg when driving mostly between 59 and 68 mph, but the few times I pushed it over 70 the readout would start dropping .3 mpg every couple of minutes. I did not drive a full tank over 70 so I am not sure how low it would have gone, but I was definitely taking a hit.
As for driving behind tractor-trailers, you may not be doing yourself any good unless you are riding right up behind them. By the time you are a safe distance behind, you are likely pushing through the turbulence created by their passing and may be hindering your fuel economy to some extent.
All of that said, I still think 17-18 mpg seems low unless you are making a lot of very short trips. Setting your tire pressure at 35 psi may help a little as well.
#191 of 216 Re: MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied [xwesx]
Jan 25, 2010 (11:12 am)
I agree about the slower speeds.
We drive from DC to the eastern shore, and the country roads have 50mph speed limits most of the way. Those are our best tanks.
We can break 30 if we're trying.
#192 of 216 Re: MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied [elizabethanne]
Jan 26, 2010 (5:28 pm)
> The deciding factor that made me buy a Forester over
> a RAV 4 was the safety features
Then stop crying over gas mileage. You should have bought a Hybrid, if fuel economy is worth crying over.
> The cross bars on the roof (no bike racks or
> kayak gear on the bars) are causing wind resistance
You will get terrible gas mileage with the cross bars on. Take them off if you want better mileage, (partricularly on the highway ... probably gain 2 MPG just from this).
> My previous vehicle was a Toyota 4WD Tacoma
> TRD with a V-6 engine, big tires, the Off-Road
> package, and a lot of giddyup. It got about
> 20-22 miles per gallon
I seriously doubt this.
Regardless, you said you were averaging 20 MPG, and you were happy getting 17-18 MPG, (perhaps you meant un-happy?).
Let's say you drive 100000 miles. The difference between getting 17-18 MPG and 20 MPG at $4/gallon equates to $2856 extra gas. The difference between getting 17-18 MPG and 22 MPG equates to $4674 more in gas.
Assuming it takes you 5 years to drive that 100000 miles, selling your vehicle for an $8000 loss to save $2856 doesn't make much sense.
Stop worrying about fossil fuels. There is plenty to last your life time. Stop worrying about so-called "global warming". We will eventually run out of fossil fuels which will also solve that potential problem.
#193 of 216 Re: MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied [robm2]
Jan 27, 2010 (10:03 am)
Tell us how you really feel, don't hold back.
#194 of 216 Re: MPG on '09 Forester--I'm fit to be tied [robm2]
Jan 27, 2010 (10:38 am)
Very good point regarding the cross bars, Rob. I completely forgot to mention that factor, which is very significant on the highway. I have cross bars for mine, but only mount them (which only takes a minute or two) when they are needed.