I bought a new 06 Forester with the 5-speed manual transmission in Sept 05. After 3800 miles, it has three annoying, potentially dangerous characteristics. The engine races uncontrollably during cold starts after the clutch is released, it bucks when throttle is lightly depressed, and engine speed cycles when slowing to a stop with clutch depressed. The cold start problem is dangerous, as the car will accelerate briskly and unexpectedly to 20 MPH. I havent run into anything yet, but I caution other drivers about this condition. The dealer is cooperative but unable to fix the problem. Subaru says all 06 Forester 5-speeds do this. They are working on a fix, but nothing yet.
The Forester replaced a 2003 Honda CR-V. The Forester has acceleration equal to the Honda, but I expected the Forester to be better since it has more horsepower and less weight. The Forester has much better handling on mountain roads (where I mostly drive). The Honda had disc brakes on all wheels, but Subaru saved a few bucks by providing drum brakes at the rear. The Honda had much more interior room and miscellaneous storage spaces. The Forester has some annoying buzzes and rattles in the dash area on rough roads. Even at 75,000 miles, the Honda had none. The controls on the Forester lack the silky smoothness of the Honda. The Honda (EX model) had a better sound system.
Acceleration, handling, and full time AWD. Excellent visibility in all directions. Good quality interior materials.
Provide latches for a center position installation of a child safety seat in the rear. (Subaru recommends that that outside position installations be used, and these are not as safe as the center position.) The brake and clutch pedal positions need revising as driving with boots is very difficult.
I am very happy with the 06 Forester X, 5 speed. It has great acceleration, handling and fuel economy. The visibility is great and it is easy to park. Adjustments for the seat height and steering wheel are great to accommodate smaller drivers. Plenty of room in the trunk for our large dog and the rubber cargo mat is highly recommended. Incredible amount of standard equipment and very good pricing. Nicely improved from '05.
All wheel drive, fuel economy, visibility, handling.
Continue to improve the arm rest, integrating the arm rests into the driver's and passenger's seats would increase overall comfort.