Have only owned the vehicle for about two months and am very happy with power and performance. I really wanted to get a Forester with large moon roof but unable to find low millage with head gaskets, timing belt, and water pump already done in my price range. I do like the heated seats in my model. Good breaking, prompt and tight steering. Peppy acceleration with my 5 speed manual. My biggest complaint about the vehicle is that the road noise is quite high, especially on the freeway. There appears to be wind or air coming through speaker looking device near mirror on driver's side door, weird. Had to replace two belts within first month of owning car, but when you buy a 2004 vehicle with 113.000 not a big deal.
I purchased this vehicle in Dec. 2017, and despite the fact that it only had 89,400 miles on the odometer and was very clean it did need some $$$$ and TLC to make it a nice reliable vehicle. The automatic transmission (and spin on filter) / differential gear oil / brake fluid needed to be flushed and replaced. It needed a new fuel filter, and a cabin filter. The timing belt, and water pump had just been replaced prior to purchase. This was a NJ vehicle so it was subjected to the NE winters which meant that the ball joints needed to be replaced because the rubber seals had deteriorated. It also has a little bit on the undercarriage which is normal for a 14 year old NJ vehicle. The rack and pinion power steering unit, and the radiator needed to be replaced also and after the repairs, new tires and a 4 wheel alignment it's a very nice smooth ride for a 14 year old vehicle. I purchased a 4 year / unlimited mileage vehicle service contract from Cars Protection Plus at the time of purchase for an additional $1,200, and it saved me $1,000 on the rack and pinion steering unit / radiator / labor so, that seems to have been a good investment for this vehicle. Like virtually all Subaru Foresters in this age group (2002 -2008), this one did suffer from the infamous wind noise problem, but that was easily corrected with some vinyl tubing inserted behind the window weatherstripping, some weather stripping applied to the exterior mirror gussets and some side window deflectors, now it rides just as quietly as a new vehicle.
overall, very good, very little headaches for the past 14 years . Sharp looking, active vehicle. Dependability top notch. epa mpg slated at 19/21. lucky to get 16/19. Turbo hp is nice-but at the expense of mpg. Other than wind noise, it's a fun suv w/ a little extra get-up-and-go. Nice when you need or want it. Well maintained. Garage kept, No rust. Leather Package. Sliding moon/dun roof,. Has a roof rack; no just roof rails. Generous cargo space with rubber (not plastic)tray and retracting shade; factory issued carpeted floor matches; has a mutii-6 CD disc changer-a rare find- if you still listen to cds. They don't make them anymore. My rating: 9/10.
In the winter of 2016 I hit a patch of black ice while driving a new Dodge Ram 4X4 truck, I hit a snow bank broadside and rolled it into the woods crushing the poor truck. After the insurance company agreed it was a total loss I bought my first used Subaru forester (2004) and I must say I feel a lot safer in a Subaru AWD than I ever did in the Ram. After owning and driving the Forester for 6 months I knew I'd never own another brand from that day forward. When I wear out this one I'll buy my first brand new Subaru Forester. I have already begun to customize mine and there is so much in the way of after market parts on line and in the auto stores. The gas mileage is crazy good and I am getting about 22 city and 27 Hwy. If your sitting on the fence about getting a Subaru DO NOT delay it any longer, I only wish I thought about this brand 40 years ago ahen I started driving.