This is my first Subaru and I am impressed. Excellent quality and fun to drive in the snow and rain. Sure-footed AWD and good traction make this a pleasure in foul weather. I highly recommend Subaru Forester as an alternative to higher priced gas guzzling SUV's.
Heated seats, heated mirrors, full time 4 wheel drive, decent gas mileage and power to pass.
A bigger engine would be nice. I've got my eye on a new 2006 model with turbo power!
Generally happy with the comfort, driveability, economy, and utility of the vehicle. However, three complaints in order of severity: 1- In the winter, once the cabin has warmed to the selected temperature, the climate control system blows cold air on your face and hands, and super heated air on your feet. Subaru has not acknowledged that this is a problem. 2- Wind noise around the driver's window, and 3- the tires wear fast, have poor snow traction, and are noisy. Also, their size results in a speedometer and odometer error of nearly two percent. Think about that when your warranty runs out 700 miles before it should.
Good handling, comfortable front seats, good visibility, engine performance, gas mileage, audio system, fun to drive.
The automatic climate control system needs a major redesign, especially as it performs in winter. Having the A/C kick on on a dry, 20 degree winter night does not make much sense to me. I would also suggest changing the shape of the tail gate to allow four foot horizontal clearance.
2003 Subaru Forester X AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 5M)
This vehicle drives surprisingly well and can climb very well too! The gas mileage is very good because of the 4 cylinder engine. It is peppy but slows down with cargo as expected. The roof racks are standard and accept most carriers.
How it grabs the road in snow and rain.
For improvements, spend more for the XS with leather, moonroof, and aluminum rims. Turbo is available on newer models. The backseats are uncomfortable.
Engine break in could be over 10k, since I continue to get higher city mpg. AWD does some bucking on turns, probably speed sensors in auto transmission. Acceleration is adequate for passing, esp. when pushing throttle, but have been experiencing some hesitation that can be handled by letting up on the throttle and re-applying speed. Tend to think it is Evaporative Emission system/valve near fuel tank because is usually only present in hot weather after car has been sitting with engine off. Fit and finish excellent in vehicle, very quiet on bumpy gravel roads with hardly a rattle. Good in snow, but winter tire pattern a must since vehicle tends to understeer. OEM tires no good in snow. Would buy again.
AWD of course is the primary reason for buying this vehicle. Cargo capacity is moderate with rear seat folded down, but one doesn't buy a mini-SUV for hauling trees. Sound system with underseat woofer is first class. Rear wiper very handy with flat rear glass. Very comfortable front seating, posture.
Auto transmission dipstick needs to be longer to avoid heater hose on checks. Spark plug boot puller a plus. Barometer plus exterior thermometer. Separate maintenance schedule or CD. Better OEM tires. Backup warning system. ECU printout module, possibly flash memory. Redesigned undercarriage plastic shield/screws.
This is the first year of the redesign, and Subaru did a good job making the car feel more "quality." The fit/finish is higher than the previous generation, yet they still managed to pack in a lot of bang-for-the-buck features. This car is great for winter/cold-weather climates due to AWD, heated seats, etc.
The very respectable safety ratings (highest for a compact SUV).
The automatic climate control is finicky. You either freeze or fry. The LED lights that indicated climate settings are hard to read in daylight.