My Forester has the 2.5 engine that has developed the infamous PISTON SLAP which makes it sound like an old uncared for car. We service per the manual, so it IS cared for. It sounds like loud lifter noise and it doesn't go away when warm. The dealer, after several visits, says it is just normal. Guess what car I will NOT buy next time. & I'm telling everyone I know.
Had the vehicle for about 3 years now. Very satisfied with the fit and finish of the car. It has a lot of standard equipment for a base model. The 4 speed automatic transmission is a little bit lazy getting the car moving. The Forester fairs very well in inclement weather; it is also a very highly rated vehicle safetywise by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), especially when compared against rivals in this price range. My only real complaints are the tight back seat and the antiquated rear drum brakes on the 2.5X, with the perpetual squeaking problem that a dealer rep advised me was just a poor brake shoe design inherent on this model.
Safety ratings, all-wheel drive system, standard content and excellent build quality.
More room for rear passengers. Disc brakes for the rear wheels; the standard drums have a perpetual squeaking problem no matter how often they are cleaned.
The car is solid and practical. Some small complaints. Lumbar support is not great. Could be a bit longer in size. CD player is fair. Power is ok for most conditions. Would I buy another one? Yes, but will look at several other similar models too.
Easy to drive.
See my review. Tires are not my favorite. Bridgestone tires are not very good in the wear and tear factor.
This is my 2nd Forester. Traded in the 2000 because I got tired of the manual. When I got the 2003 XS, I also had a 1999 Audi A8 Quatro (315 HP, all aluminum, etc.) and remarkably, the Subo was more fun to drive -- and light years better mileage. I do wish they had a turbo diesel, and I'll probably keep this car till they do and then trade in.
Visibility, road feel and handling, moon roof (huge), heated seats, controls (once you get used to them), ease of upgrade (you can buy nearly all the Subo options on the open market and everything is pre-wired and usually pre-drilled for mounting (speakers, mud flaps, electro sensor mirror, etc.).
The OEM tires are dangerous; near worthless in rain or snow. I replaced them all after 10K miles -- on this car and our '03 Baja. Insist on a no cost upgrade when you buy this car (don't forget to get an upgraded spare too, they are full size).