Just managed to trade-in my beloved Forester XT after 5 fantastic years of ownership. It was hard to part with her but that mostly had to do with the blind adoration I held for this ever-so-practical family hauler. In manual form, it seemed to combine the duties of carting the family and our cargo around as well as provide a little fun and frivolity with it’s 2.5L turbo charged Boxer engine driving all 4 wheels permanently.
The reality was, it was expensive to insure, expensive to service and expensive to repair and relatively expensive to fuel. It averaged 11.2L per 100KMs – a commendable effort (probably because it was a 5 speed manual) but no where near what its rivals could achieve.
I probably could have done better if I wasn’t such a lead-foot sometimes. The kids in the back would often howl when I dropped it down a cog and planted the foot to overtake. The trick was to keep it in the right rev-range and the 4-pot donk would reward you with a big grin on your face. Sadly, low-end torque left much to be desired, not to mention the SUV-handling awoken you to the fact that it was not designed to carve corners comfortably.
Built like a tank and reliable as ever, it never let me down with any major faults… until the very end when the air conditioner compressor clutch crippled itself. I’ve only replaced the battery and a brake light in all that time, outside of regular maintenance items – a minor blip in comparison to repairing the air conditioning. A good AC mechanic could probably have fixed the clutch (a common issue with these Foresters apparently) for a few hundred dollars but many were quoting $1,500 to $2,000 to replace it entirely to guarantee longevity.
I’ve always ditched my vehicles shortly after the warranty expires but I was surely convinced that the Forester was a keeper. The climbing maintenance costs and a potentially expensive repair bill turned that sentiment around quickly. To boot, Subaru Australia just dropped the prices of their 2015 models (a la Free Trade Agreement with Japan), sending second-hand values spiralling downwards. Harrumph!