Subaru Forester 2003-2008 expert review

4 Dec 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Subaru Forester 2003-2008 expert review

Subaru Forester

2003 – 2008 review

Subaru Forester 2.5-liter engine

Powertrain: The Forester offers two engines: the 173-hp 4-cylinder 2.5L SOHC and the turbo-charged 224-hp 2.5L DOHC. Both are flat Boxer engines with cylinders arranged horizontally; two cylinders on each side. Both engines have a timing belt that must be replaced at recommended intervals. A turbo-charged DOHC engine requires premium gasoline.

Transmission choices include a 5-speed manual with Hill Holder clutch or 4-speed automatic.

Fuel Economy: The 2008 AWD Forester with a non-turbo engine and an automatic transmission is rated at 20/26 mpg (11.8/9.0 L/100 km) by the EPA, with yearly fuel costs estimated at $2,550 with average driving. This means that on one full 16.9-gallon (64 liter) tank, the Forester can travel for 335 miles (538 km).

Handling and ride: On the road, the Forester is fun to drive. The flat horizontally placed engine gives the Forester a low center of gravity and as a result, the tall Forester feels very stable on winding roads. At the same time, the ground clearance is high enough not to worry about hitting curbs. Overall, the handling is comfortable.

The steering is on the light side, but precise, with tight turning radius. The ride is fairly smooth. There is some wind and road noise at higher speeds, but not too intrusive. The non-turbo 2.5L engine has enough power for everyday driving.

A turbo-charged engine is quicker, but is more expensive to maintain.

AWD System: What makes Subaru special is its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive where left and right axles are of the same length. Models with a manual transmission have an AWD system with a central limited slip differential. In automatic models the torque distribution between the front and rear axles is controlled electronically by a hydraulic transfer clutch.

A viscous limited-slip rear differential is available. Although the Forester’s AWD system is not designed for rock climbing, it works well on slippery roads or in moderate off-road conditions. We drove the Forester through foot-deep snow and the vehicle handled with confidence.

Safety: Anti-lock Brakes (ABS) are standard. The 2003-2008 Subaru Forester received perfect five-star ratings in the NHTSA frontal and side-impact crash tests and four stars in dynamic rollover tests. The Forester earned the 2008 Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS.

Pros: Good fuel economy for an SUV, safety ratings, capable AWD system, low center of gravity, car-like handling, compliant ride, tight turning radius, visibility, decent ground clearance, standard roof rail.

Cons: Plain interior, road and wind noise, tight rear seat space, no telescopic adjustment on the steering column, small cupholders.

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