I bought this car new in late 2000. It has performed very well during that time. The 2.5 liter boxer engine provides sufficient power to maintain interstate speeds even while climbing some steep Appalachian Mtn. highways. The best feature of this car has been its utility. We've loaded, hauled, and towed many different items with the Forester ... it has a lot of cargo room for its size class. My two biggest complaints have been: 1) outside of a large city, it's difficult to find a quality garage to service the car 2) when in use, the cup holders block/prevent the use of the climate controls (I know that's picky, but after five years of ownership ... it's really annoying).
Peppy engine with pretty good gas mileage. Lots of interior room for its size class.
I bought our 4th Subaru to use in my work and it never fails me. I use this Forester to pick up and deliver computer equipment to the public schools. It's comfortable (I'm 6' tall) and easy to get in and out of. The back seats fold quickly and the sound system is quite good. It had 56,000 miles when I bought it and so far I've only done routine maintenance. I don't go to the Subaru dealer; he charges way too much ... $35 for an oil change. My independent garage charges $22 for oil change & tire rotation. We also have 3 Outbacks and I have to admit they ride better, but they're harder to get out of. Reliability has been very good.
Seats are ideal! Smooth, quiet drivetrain. Lots of headroom. Generous cargo area. Fun to drive and goes through mud and snow like a tank.
Cheap cup holders. This model has rear drum brakes ... four wheel disc brakes should be standard. Plastic interior parts scratch easily and leave scars. A longer wheelbase would improve the ride, but it's comfortable as is.
I spent 8 months trying to find the right car. I thought it was the Forester so I bought a new one. In the beginning it was great but after the 3 year warranty ended, problems began. I have replaced all the tires, all the rotors, both oxygen sensors. The car gets poor gas mileage (about 18 mpg) and I literally watch 1/8 of my gas gauge disappear after I start the car in the morning. I can't get the check engine light to turn off and I feel like every month there is something new to replace. I have 55k miles and I don't abuse the car. I am disappointed with Subaru's 'reliability' and am looking for a different manufacturer to buy from. I think they use cheap parts.
Nice looking interior - doesn't look cheap like many of the new cars with gray plastic molding. Versatile.
Reliability, new cup holder design, higher quality parts.
I bought my Forester after I had children because of its high safety rating. My previous knowledge of Subarus was that they were reliable. Thankfully, I have not had to find out first hand whether or not it holds up in an accident. However, I have had more than ordinary maintenance headaches. The car now has about 92k miles. Since about 75,000 miles, the check engine light is on almost more than it is off. I have had to replace the alternator, the catalytic converter, have had transmission issues and had a number of minor repairs which add up. My goal is to finish paying it off, and run it into the ground. No more Subarus for me.
Room in the cargo area is great. Very quiet when running. Handles very well in rain and snow.
Get the transmission and electrical systems right. Chintzy cup holders in front and back, as well as shoddy arm rest/storage between front seats.
I have just received word from my mechanic that my $25k Forrester (admittedly with 140k miles) will not pass inspection due to the stupid engine light being on again. It has been on almost constantly since I purchased the auto on 4/1/00. I have replaced the O2 sensor 3 times in the last 18 months, have had to replace the axle when the tire fell off (the lug nuts just sheared) in dangerous conditions on the West Side Hwy in NYC, and I will probably buy something else very soon. The car was great when it was new, and even up until last year before things started to go wrong. I am hoping that Subaru will stand behind its product, but it hasn't so far. If they do, I will amend this review and let you know.
The pick-up, the A/C, the sound system, the heated seats.