Wanted to get a small SUV, but not too small. I test drove everything in the market (RAV4, Escape, Liberty, Tuscon, Equinox etc.) The Forester beats them all. Picked the car up from the dealer and the next day packed it up with a wife, two kids, two small dogs and a weeks worth of luggage and beach equipment and hit the road. Tons of room, very comfortable and a great drive (all for the base X model). Drives like a car (unlike the other small SUV's I tried) and just feels huge inside. Love the handling and can't wait to battle the winter. Grabbed a 2005 because loved the Green (which they don't have in 2006), below invoice price and huge rebate. Surprisingly great car for the price.
Base seats are incredibly comfortable and love the material. Large trunk space. AWD. Fuel efficiency. Standard safety features.
Better pickup (which I think they have in 2006 model), but unless you are into drag racing, not a big deal. Need grippers in the cup holders (doesn't hold drinks securely). More a/c vents in the back. Overall incredible car and the perfect car at this price level.
Quicker from a standing start than our previous WRX's and our '05 Legacy 2.5 GT turbo. No serious turbo lag felt in the XT, as well as being stronger through the gears. Doesn't handle as well as the WRX's, but it is a lot more comfortable and versatile, especially on a long trip or bumpy gravel roads. Mileage of 24-25 mpg in mixed driving with generous use of the turbo is excellent for such a high performance vehicle. A trip with 4 people on board through mountains (6,000 to 10,000 ft) did not diminish its performance/fun factor. Not as cute as the V8 Mustang we had, but feels just as fast and a lot better handling (safer) in inclement weather. Actually fun to drive in the rain.
Turbo, gearing, versatility. It's a smile generator! It's appearance may not impress posers, but the driving experience impresses me.
A sixth gear for even more economy, but don't change the ratios of gears 1-5 so that the performance is not hurt. We drove the 2006 XT. It was slightly quieter, but it has revised ratios in its 5 speed manual and isn't quite as quick. That, plus the new 'styling' is why we searched around for a 2005.
I purchased the Forester for my daily commute of 100 miles a day round trip. I gave up a perfectly good running Honda with 260K miles for the Forester and with the exception of gas mileage, I am very happy. The Honda was a consistent 32-36 mpg and this is around 24-26 on the highway, but with premium gas. Doing the math, that is comparable to 22-24 mpg running regular fuel. The car is FAST, fun to drive, practical, reliable (the Forester is built in Japan) and an excellent value for the money when compared to other vehicles. My ONLY complaint is the gas mileage. I would expect a little better with a 4 cylinder engine, but then again it's a turbo and AWD. Passing on the highway is done with ease.
Turbo engine, sporty hood scoop, heated seats, climate control, 6-disk CD changer, AWD, and 5-speed.
The car NEEDS a 6-speed. That would bring gas mileage up to the high 20's or low 30's. Put the STI tranny in it.
I have had this car only two months and the mileage is very bad. It is lucky if it gets the 22 mph and it plummets from there if the air conditioner is used. Also, it hesitates on take off, leaving me waiting for VERY clear intersections before accelerating. I'm told it might be better when it is more broken in. Too late. I wish I had gotten another Honda.
The 05 Forester is a long overdue replacement for a 91 Suzuki Sidekick. The Forester is very solid, well-built, responsive and fun to drive. The driving position is excellent and the extra leg room up front is wonderful. The fit and finish seems very fine and so far I have not found any flaws needing correction. Gas mileage is super, even in an all city commuting usage. My Scottish Terrier enjoys the small back seat. The cargo area seems large enough to handle shopping and hualing duties.
The smooth running and strong pulling boxer engine makes driving fun. The transmission is well matched. Excellent heating/cooling/vent system. Good sound system. Comfortable front seating.
The rear hatch is a little awkward and difficult for me to operate. An opening rear window would be an excellent addition. The lack of a window frame seems flimsy, the window shakes when opening/ closing the door if it is partially up or down. Getting in and out requires some contortions.