Subaru Gurus

Joined
Sep 26, 2002
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Central Arkansastan
I’ve notice quite a few Subarus running around lately and have some question for those who own or know about them. How are they, really?, noisy? Quiet, good handling? What is the real difference between outback and forester, other than forester seemingly taller? How’s the 2.5L engine? Amy issues ? What is difference between that engine and the 2.4L other than the turbo? They seem like nice vehicles, I definitely like the fact there are more colors than the “50 shades of grey” that most other manufacturers have.
 
Joined
Dec 19, 2018
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Vancouver
We just bought a '22 Forester in August in the Cascade Green.

Forester and Outback are similar. Outback is longer, lower roofline, more car like. Forester is more like a traditional SUV. Outback has a big screen where all the climate controls, heated seats etc are on the screen. Forester still has physical buttons and knobs.

The 2.5 is an adequate engine. It is pretty good on fuel, especially considering the vehicles are full time awd. If you don't NEED the power it's a hefty premium to buy the 2.4 and it gets worse mileage too.
 
Joined
Jun 4, 2003
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98245
New or old?
Our 2004 Forester is noisy, but reliable (still running). It had a bit more ground clearance than the Outback. That era of 2.5 engine had head gasket issues, but ours was fine when I did the timing belt & coolant change at 105k miles. No major issues, just the usual maintenance items. It will probably go another 100k.

Our 2018 Forester (2.5 non turbo) is much bigger, quieter, better fuel economy, softer suspension - so soft I installed a thicker rear swaybar to reduce body roll. This engine has a timing chain instead of a belt, so no need for that big service down the road. It's an automatic (the '04 is a manual), and when you hit the gas the transmission has LOOONNNGGG lag before it kicks in. It's been reliable so far but too new to rate long-term durability.
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2008
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10,920
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Ontario, Canada
I like our Outback, the 2.5 doesn't sound to good at some rpms and throttle positions, but its near silent and smooth at cruising speed, and seems to pull half decent when it revs up for a pass, so good enough! Its a good winter highway car.
I haven't been in the latest gen Forester, but my parents 2016 is a bit rough riding and has a bit more NVH than our Outback. I did drive a newer 2021 base Legacy 2.5 and it felt a bit cheaper than our base Outback, plus the stop start is a bit annoying.
I haven't tried a 2020+ Outback either, but if its like the Legacy, I would say in the lower trims, the 2018,19 Outback maybe the sweet spot for simple, capable, comfortable SUV.
For me I think the 18-19 Outback gives you mid-size SUV comfort and capability, with compact SUV mileage, with no DI or turbo, and 2700lbs towing.
 
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Joined
Jan 3, 2004
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2,749
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Illinois
Outback has a big screen where all the climate controls, heated seats etc are on the screen. Forester still has physical buttons and knobs.
I wonder - Does that mean the Forester is one revision behind, and just hasn't transitioned to the big screen yet?

I prefer the buttons and knobs so that's the kind of thing I'd be on the lookout for.
 
Joined
Apr 20, 2014
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Franklin County, PA
Our 2019 2.5 Outback is our first Subaru. It's a quirky little thing, but I really like it.

The 2.5 for the most part is quiet and vibration free. You can sometimes hear the valvetrain at idle. Certain throttle situations it sounds weird. It isn't a powerhouse, but will get up and go for those interstate on-ramp runs.

Head gaskets are a non-issue now. Subaru's in house CVT has been sorted by now.

Oil filter is on top for ease of change. Spark plugs are a total **** to get to. Passenger side you can somewhat get to, but not the drivers. There's an AC line that is right smack dab in the way. Unfortunately mine is past due for a set so I gotta figure out what I'm gonna do...

Haven't tested it in snow yet. I have a 4WD truck so I might not even need to take it out, but the AWD is there for piece of mind.

Handling is ok. Kind of mushy in corners, but with the AWD has grip. Feels solid and planted even on bumpy back roads. I still feel my truck can out corner the thing, kind of strange I know.
 
Joined
Dec 19, 2018
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Vancouver
I wonder - Does that mean the Forester is one revision behind, and just hasn't transitioned to the big screen yet?

I prefer the buttons and knobs so that's the kind of thing I'd be on the lookout for.

I suspect the next gen Forester will be updated to the new larger screen. Unless they get a bunch of bad feedback on that. Seems a lot of people don't like giving up the knobs.
 

Propflux01

Thread starter
Joined
Sep 26, 2002
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Central Arkansastan
Cool, just the things I like to hear, the good and bad. I have no issues with the Tucson I drive now, sans the 2.4L a bit anemic, but still adequate for most driving conditions, and a very smooth hiway ride.
 

Pew

Joined
Mar 12, 2018
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IL
My mom has an Ascent and I like it. It took some time to get used to the size coming from a Focus but it's comfy, power is smooth and surprisingly fast for what you think it is. I like the CVT too but I didn't drive it up and down hills on the highway. Not as fancy as some other 3-rows like the Highlander, more like a 3-row Subaru RAV4/CRV as far as interior materials go but it's a lot more comfortable and better ride quality than a CX9 or X5.

Surprisingly quiet cabin for a Subaru. Steering was direct and not twitchy like Mazda but not lazy like a...Camry. Comfortable non-premium 3-row vehicle IMO. I'm surprised I don't see these more than the CX-9.
 
Joined
Jan 30, 2018
Messages
564
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Northeast Texas
Bought a 2014 MT Forester last year. The 2.5L's biggest issue is oil consumption. I would say it has been the slowest accelerating car I've ever owned. Other than that, it has been great! Its been one of the easier engine bays to work with. I know someone already said that they felt the suspension was pretty soft--I feel the opposite, but I like it a lot the way it is. I just got a new set of 215 tires for it, and the steering is very easy. So far, I've been in this Forester, a 2016 Outback 3.6L, and a 2011 WRX, and I'd say that the Outback is the only one distinctly quiet on the inside (could be because it is a premium trim..?) otherwise, they have above average interior noise. Don't really care--I've gotten so used to using earbuds throughout my commute/ going to the gym anyway that the moderately louder interior is a non-factor. Still, probably one of my favorite cars I've owned.
 
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Joined
Nov 3, 2013
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2,101
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Northern Utah
I have a '13 Outback Limited with the 2.5. We have put about 153k miles on it. It has been a good car for us. Let's see what I can answer, from my experiences.
  • Reliability. Great. The only thing I have had to repair is puddle lights that have burned out. Interestingly, Subaru no longer offers the puddle lights. I guess they had a high failure rate. Except for that, my Outback has been trouble free.
  • Maintenance. Oil changes are a breeze. I love the top mounted oil filter. My generation of 2.5 is well suited for a Fumoto drain valve, so I've added one, and this helps with the easy oil changes. There is enough clearance that I can change oil without putting it on stands, when I am lazy. Air filter is fairly easy. Rear diff has a drain and fill plug, so it is easy. CVT is fairly easy to drain and fill also. But you need a good OBDII reader, that can read transmission temperature, to fill the CVT fluid. Front diff fill plug is a little tricky to get to, but doable. As Delta mentioned, spark plug change is a pain. I can get both passenger side plugs in about 20 minutes. Front driver takes about that. But the rear driver is a real pain. Perhaps it is easier on newer models?
  • Noise. It is average. I wish it were quieter. But my other car is a Mercedes E350, so perhaps my expectation is too high.
  • Power. It is ok. Test drive one and decide for yourself. Keep in mind that in winter conditions and a cold start, the power response is kind of sluggish. This is not the engine, but the CVT. Once the CVT warms up, it does fine.
  • Handling. I think it does pretty good for an SUV style vehicle. I love the AWD. Admittedly, when driving in snow, I probably push the limit on speed. But the Outback has never let me down. I've got a set of Bridgestone Blizzak tires for the winter, and I have never felt insecure.
  • Negative. Mine is one of the oil burners. I go through about a quart every 3,500 miles. That really irritates me. It is my understanding that Subaru fixed this, after a class action suit was settled.
  • Would I buy another? My wife and I discuss this often. Every once in a while, I get the itch to trade my Outback for a Mercedes ML350. I want similar controls and maintenance to my E350. I want more quiet and luxury. But then I think, why would any sane person trade my Outback, that has been totally dependable, for a used Mercedes that may or may not be dependable. I think the Touring model of the Outback is pretty nicely equipped, so yea. Perhaps I would buy again.
 
Joined
Mar 17, 2011
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High Country of Western NC
Our family has owned Subaru vehicles pretty much continuously from 1995 to the present. Currently we have three of them in the household. Both of my sons own Crosstreks and the wife leases a Legacy. Other than for an infrequent dealer oil change or a very occasional recall, our Subaru vehicles have stayed away from the dealer service departments. Super reliable, and cheap to operate. Most all of ours have had the 2.5 boxer. The older versions had a timing belt and were known for head gasket issues; however, we never had any headgasket issues in our Subaru vehicles. The 2012-2013 model years saw the newer boxer 2.5 with timing chains become the mainline engine. Had quite a few of these as well with no issues. Subaru cars are certainly not at the high end, but for the money and awd they are super had to beat, IMHO. Tough as nails in crash testing and perfect for areas with winter weather, we've found them to be our go-to brand. As a matter of fact, the wife will not even consider ANY other brand.
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2008
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Ontario, Canada
I have a '13 Outback Limited with the 2.5. We have put about 153k miles on it. It has been a good car for us. Let's see what I can answer, from my experiences.

  • Would I buy another? My wife and I discuss this often. Every once in a while, I get the itch to trade my Outback for a Mercedes ML350. I want similar controls and maintenance to my E350. I want more quiet and luxury. But then I think, why would any sane person trade my Outback, that has been totally dependable, for a used Mercedes that may or may not be dependable. I think the Touring model of the Outback is pretty nicely equipped, so yea. Perhaps I would buy again.
Quietness was why I went with the 2018 and not the 2017. Subaru did a few things for 2018 to help reduce noise, revised the side mirror, laminated glass side windows, revised CVT chain, and some interior upgrades in all the models. I kind of think of our car like a subaru tried to build a modern Buick, it idles along at 1500 rpm, soft riding, and pretty low steering effort.
So far we haven't had too much trouble with it, a squeaky driver seat bottom(free repair), the odd time the screen reboots about 30 seconds after you start driving, but works fine the rest of the time, and it did go through the brake pads in 60k miles which is a short interval for us. Subaru also sent us a notice that they've added an extended battery warranty, as some cars seem to kill the battery. Ours seems to be fine but the battery is a bit small, but the battery tray has room for a bigger one, so most people upsize the replacement.
 

Al

Joined
Jun 8, 2002
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19,704
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Elizabethtown, Pa
You got the info you need. I have the '18 Forester XT which has the FA20 Turbo engine (2L) The FA24 Turbo (2.4L) is a Bored FA20. It has won Wards top 10 engines 3 times in the last 10 years. The FA has been modified to produce 500+HP without rebuilding.
The 2.5L standard is an OK engine. I have it in my '22 Forester. The Forester sits up higher than the OB.

Subaru's CVT is very solid and comes with a 100K mile warranty. Subaru has always been one of the Leaders in Safety and AWD.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
635
Location
Bay Village, Ohio
I have the Forester Wilderness. It's got an adjusted final drive ratio that gives better low end torque, making the 2.5L, which catches a lot of flak for being a turd, feel peppier (there's an expected mpg hit, though). It also has a cooler I believe for the CVT. I like those additions to the base model Forester.

I like the car a lot. I came from a full size truck. Nice little car to drive with outstanding visibility...lots of glass!
 
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