This car served me well for 10 years 11 months and 174,000 miles. Reliable from start to "finish". Routine maintenance is a bit expensive. Only mechanical failure was a U joint in drive shaft at 153,000 miles. When timing belt was originally replaced at 82,500 miles also replaced head gaskets. Did not do so when timing belt was replaced at 165,000 miles and at 168,000 miles a very slight oil leakage began (to the tune of 1 quart per 3,000 miles.) Decided to trade in at 174,000 miles. This car went to 28 of our 50 states.
I've owned my Forester XT for 6 years now, and it has been a very fun car. The only repair I've had is the alternator. It's far faster than it looks and I love being able to floor it on the highway in 5th and it just goes. It looks good, carries a fair amount of stuff when I go camping, and is great in the snow.
Excellent winter vehicle, though slightly underpowered
written on 12-27-2010
Generally speaking, it is a great small utility vehicle that that drives like a car. It is an excellent winter vehicle, but it is not best for highway driving. It lacks power for comfortable passing, and down-shift is on the slow side. And, highway wind and road noise are on the noisier side. I took it for a 4000mile/6000km drive from Canada to California. It handled nicely when it was +24C and during winter blizzard when I-15 got closed for hours. I haven't had major problems with the vehicle, except sunroof does no longer work. And, parts and service are a bit expensive, especially in Canada.
This is the pioneer and last of the true sport crossovers. There are a lot of copycats nowadays, but this one is the real thing. Manual transmission, 4.44FD, AWD with 50/50 torque split, big STI engine 2.5L, factory turbo with low compression pistons, disc brakes, LSD and fully independent suspension. Sti parts are all swappable. All parts from the WRX and STI fit into this vehicle since they share the platform. Tons of aftermarket parts available and can be modified to go very fast with simply an Sti turbo and Sti top mount intercooler. Plus using OEM parts. Great sleeper vehicle. Gearing is very tight. Highway cruise can be somewhat annoying because 60mph equates to about 2500RPMs, which leads to too much fuel consumption. This is a vehicle meant and designed to run on the STI turbo and tmic. It doesn't simply because Subaru will not cannibalize the STI. Sti springs are on the stiff side, so I recommend softer rated ones. Swapping in full STI suspension, it can take its toll on daily commuting. Not a great daily because its fuel consumption is not the best. In terms of reliability, so far I've had a window that does not work, cruise unavailable due to a check engine light, ABs light on, and gas pressure switch that pops out the gas station hose. All in all, it a very fast and highly reliable station wagon. Its very rare in XT, and very few cars today have the mechanical attributes this vehicle has, rewarding you with a great bargain and collectibility.
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.