I have had my 04 XS for 5 years now, generally speaking, it's a good car. It is reliable and gets 28-30 mpg highway, front seats are comfortable, back seats are tight, car is sporty and stylish, great traction in bad weather, massive sunroof, BUT...this car has problems. From day 1, car bucks after filling with gas (dealer can't explain), wind noise on highway is horrendous, check engine light goes on and off at will, moving drivers seat causes airbag light to go on, sunroof track broken-they want $1500 bucks to replace, vibration from engine Y-pipe drives us crazy (dealer again can't fix), now the rear end has a very loud humming noise as if its about to go. Car only has 62k miles.
Gas mileage, front seat comfort, looks, winter traction.
Build quality is not there, I have had this car for 5 years and I'm just waiting for a catastrophic failure to occur. Can't wait to trade it in.
Bought this in October of 2008. Pretty fun to drive. Handles great on the road. Plenty of cargo space. Works great with rack on top. Leather feels good. Solid car inside with no squeaks despite all the compartments. I've heard some people complain about the back seat. I don't think it's that bad considering it's a car. Have yet to really test the all wheel drive at my lake house. Can't wait.
All wheel drive great in rain. Cargo space. Easy mount of roof rack.
Transmission takes a long time to shift back after going up hill with cruise. WIND NOISE!!!!!!!
I bought this car after extensive research in 2003. It was down to the Honda Element vs. the Forester XT and the power won out. This is the first car I've had that I can honestly say I've used most of it's capabilities regularly. I'm no street racer but I do enjoy the acceleration and handling of this little SUV. I usually travel by myself or with my young son and it's just the right size. I've had it off road on the beach and on dirt trails - no complaints and it's easy to maneuver. It towed my 17ft Boston Whaler nicely as well. However, for family road trips we take my wife's Pilot - more room.
Engine & chassis - power and handling, all wheel drive, versatility. Not everyone has one.
Transmission is a weak point and 5th gear could be taller for better mileage. Wind noise from front door gussets. Rear seat room - Britax car seat with child forces front passengers to move forward. Front seats should fold forward to use seatback as table.
I do not give this vehicle 10s across the board, but I give it a 10 in what I was looking for. It is not fast. It produces lots of wind noise. It doesn't corner particularly well. It does provide amazing versatility, functional all-wheel drive, and plenty of room for storage. I am an outdoorsy type. I take this vehicle camping, hunting, fishing, biking, and for long distance traveling. I have driven this through sand, mud and water. I accidentally went through an innocuous looking puddle that came up over the hood, and the Forester pulled right through. Am very happy with the Forester and will drive it until the wheels fall off, or I do, whichever comes first.
Interior design, all wheel drive, factory roof racks, audio system, heated seats, HUGE sun-roof, so secure it feels like you are inside an '84 Sedan DeVille.
Too much wind noise, needs more power, continuous power outlet even when ignition is off.