Buying a Suburu Forester

Submitted: Sunday, Dec 14, 2014 at 23:32
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I'm not a bush basher and don't need a Prado and mostly live in the city so am thinking of buying a Suburu Forester 2.5 litre, petrol, all wheel drive, 220mm clearance and the dreaded CVT. Something for irregularly maintained station country tracks north of Kalgoorlie.

Am I paranoid about the durability of the CVT and the extra noise or is this a real issue to anyone?
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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Sunday, Dec 14, 2014 at 23:38

Sunday, Dec 14, 2014 at 23:38
Can't speak for the CVT, so maybe this reply is not much help to you.
But as to Subarus generally, we have had seven of them over the years, all from new - and never had a problem with any.
We did two around OZ trips (one in an Outback and one in a turbo Forester) towing a small Avan, and handled the gravel etc with no problems.
Have had the Hilux for a few years now because we do mainly serious off-road stuff and carry more weight - but for any sort of formed gravel road I could not fault a Subaru.
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Reply By: Michael H9 - Sunday, Dec 14, 2014 at 23:38

Sunday, Dec 14, 2014 at 23:38
What year model? The auto is probably more reliable than the manual from stories I have seen and heard. But they were talking about the older shape Foresters. I've been down quite a few tracks with Foresters and seen a few clutches burn out but never a problem with the auto. I don't know about the CVT though.
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Follow Up By: Mick T3 - Sunday, Dec 14, 2014 at 23:51

Sunday, Dec 14, 2014 at 23:51
Brand new. 2014 or 2015.

There is a manual model that is only available with a smaller 2.0 litre motor.

I do like the quieter manual transmission, but wonder if it is underpowered.

0-100kph in 11 or 12 seconds. 110 kw and 196nm torque for the manual 2.0 litre. 7.2 litres per 100kms.

The CVT 2.5 litre is 126kw and 235nm torque. 8.1 litres per 100kms

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Reply By: Ron N - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 02:22

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 02:22
Mick - I like the Subaru's and the stepdaughter has a current model Outback - and I tried to buy a new Forester for the missus, as the family wheels, for over 12 mths. I've got a Hilux for myself.

However, Subaru's are highly thought of, 98% of owners love them, owner satisfaction is very high - but they are hard to buy at a reasonable price.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The dealerships are intricately woven and there's little competition between them.
In W.A. there are only 3 dealerships and they're all owned by the same parent company. You pay their price, that's all there is to it.

These dealerships buy all the excellent, late model, low km Subarus they can get their hands on, thus maintaining their grip on the market, and maintaining the high resale values.
Subaru are also one of the most profitable car companies in the world - with a current ROI of 28%!!
International investors have been buying Subaru shares wholesale because they offer such a good return.

I reckon I should be able to buy a new Forester 2.5i-L for $35,000 drive-away here in the West.
Every other vehicle with AWD that is comparable, is less than that figure to buy on a drive-away basis.
However, Subaru ensure you pay around $37,500-37,900 for a 2.5i-L. I don't see where the value is in that pricing, despite the fact they are a great little chariot.

I gave up and bought a Camry Atara S instead. It doesn't have AWD, but it drives and handles better than the Subaru. It sticks to the road like its got AWD. It's much bigger and roomier than the Forester. It's got more features, and it's got a new 2.5L engine and a new 6 speed tranny that's almost a match for the Subaru CVT.
98% of the use this car gets, is city and near-country use.
If I lived further out and travelled the station country tracks, then I'd reckon I'd probably need the extra ground clearance of the Forester, and I probably would have gritted my teeth, paid the asking price, and swung for the Forester.

I love the Suby CVT, it's one of the best transmissions around for fuel economy and instant power is on tap with a plant of the foot. The tranny drops the engine RPM right back at every opportunity, and keeps the fuel use right down.
I can't really fault it. I don't believe it's noise levels are over the top.

It is a complex tranny, with a torque converter coupled to a vari-speed steel chain drive and pulleys, several sets of helical gears and clutch packs, and a multitude of electronics controlling it all.

Subaru Lineartronic CVT

I can't say what the durability of the CVT is for 5 or 8 yrs down the track - but all Subaru components in the past have proven durable, and Subaru overall reliability is excellent.

I would have loved to have had a Forester in the family, but they are simply overpriced for what you get.
If you can manage to score one for a price at least $2000 below the RRP, then you will do well.
However, we don't have enough competition on the West Coast to do that, and I couldn't buy from an East Coast dealer, and end up any better than a local deal, by the time the costs of transport were added.

Stepdaughter owned a '99 Outback H6 that she bought at 30,000kms and sold at 180,000kms, and it performed faultessly.
She got $8000 for it in 2012 and sold it privately within a fortnight of putting it up for sale.
The current Forester is a top little chariot, just a little too highly priced for what you get, IMO.

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Follow Up By: Mick T3 - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 19:59

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 19:59
A dealer, one of two in Adelaide, offered me the 2.5i-L CVT for $38,000 Drive Away and the 2.5i CVT for $33,000 Drive Away.

I'd like the Paddle Gear Shift, but don't want to pay $5000 extra for package it comes with.

Do you think the Paddle Gear Shift is useful, Ron N?
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 21:03

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 21:03
Mick, the Camry Atara has the paddle gear shift, but I don't see it as being a particularly useful option - except for one area - selecting specific gears for steep hill climbing and going down steep hills.

I could imagine it would be useful going up or down some of the steep ranges over the Gt Dividing Range.

We drove up to Kuranda from Cairns and back down to Gordonvale from Atherton, in August, in a hired current-model Corolla - and I can tell you, the climb up and down those ranges are both some drives, that keeps you on your toes! The Corolla actually handled those sections with superb response and handling.

However, the Camry has the ability to select gears by merely pulling to the right and cranking the lever repeatedly back against spring pressure, to go down the gears - or cranking forward repeatedly to go up in the gears - and this feature kind of makes the paddles a bit superflous - unless you're terrified of taking your hands off the wheel, of course!

I've actually never tried the manual select position in the Subaru - the CVT is so good, and the Subaru brakes so good, I've never had to hold the Outback in lower gears on a steep hill.
However, I haven't had to climb or go down anything like the Kuranda or the Gordonvale hairpin trails in a Subaru CVT, so I lack the experience in that area with the CVT.

I still believe that at $38,000 drive-away, the 2.5i-L is still well over-priced. A dealer in Orange actually sold several new 2.5i-L's for $36,500 drive-away in January 2014, and I contacted him about the offer, but they were all gone by the time I saw them advertised.

The new Japanese free trade agreement is supposed to bring Japanese car prices down - and the Yen has depreciated against our dollar by about 5% since mid-January 2014, so the current Subaru prices should be a lot better than they actually are.

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Sigmund - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 05:16

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 05:16
CVTs have been around for decades. It's proven technology.

The Subie is quite capable in the rough but you should consider an alloy sump guard and AT LT tyres.
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Follow Up By: Member - Wildmax - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 15:17

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 15:17
Yep; good idea about the alloy sump guard. I ripped our plastic one on the Savannah Way between Burketown and Normanton - no damage to the vehicle, but had to use a few cable ties for a temp repair.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 16:16

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 16:16

We did 3 outback trips towing a camper trailer in our 07 Forester without a squeak. That included a number of the standard tracks that were at the time only open to 4WDs due to ruts and water ponding.
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Reply By: Bigfish - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 07:10

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 07:10
For the last month I have been studying everything about the outback and forester as I was contemplating buying one. I reckon I spoke to 20-25 actual owners over a couple of months and not 1 had any issues or complaints. Pretty amazing really. Don't do a lot of 4wd now but wanted the option. I ended up buying a 2014 Pajero for $50,000 drive away. More room than the suby, only 1 service a year and more grunt. Bigger vehicle than the suby. I decided I wasn,t quite ready to settle for a smaller urban car just yet! Drives like a car on the road. Only a 5 speed auto but as smooth as silk.. Suby would be nimbler around town but not as good on corrugations or off road. Both of these vehicles get excellent ratings from people who have actually owned them and not just others who know someone or read something. Actually the reason I went away from the suby was when I asked the salesman why do we have 2 services a year and in America its only one, his reply was...our weathers different, more harsh. Sorry mate, you lost me . Just plain old rip off for servicing. At least the prices are capped.
I would have bought the petrol motor as well.I don't reckon you could go wrong with a Subaru. Great reputation.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 16:22

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 16:22
The service schedule is only a guide. Liquids and filters should be changed according to how and where the vehicle has been driven. Eg. if you're towing the starting point for thinking about oil changes should be half the recommended interval. Ditto for lots of short drives.

I've just bought an Austrian-made motorbike with a pretty highly tuned engine and the recommended oil change interval (with fully synthetic) is 15,000 kms. That'd probably work with long road rides. Mixed rides, no way would I trust in that.
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Follow Up By: Bigfish - Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014 at 07:29

Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014 at 07:29
It may be a guide Sigmund BUT if you don't follow the service schedule you void your warranty. Hence 2 services a year.
I am assuming you have a KTM. Having had bikes all my life I know that my oil is changed every 5000k at least. Sometimes 3000ks. Even the high performance ford I have says 15000k on $75 a litre oil!! 5000k sees it getting an oil change. Motor $15-$20000--oil$ 500. No brainer who gets changed.
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Reply By: gbc - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 07:29

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 07:29
We are also a Subaru family, currently with a TriBeCa since 2008. Prior to that was a b4 Liberty for 9 years.
In September we hired a Liberty sports wagon in queenstown n.z. For a ski trip. This was the 2.5 cvt with 85000 kms on it. If you've ever been to that part of the world you'll know how they get treated on the ski field roads. We did the South Island in that car for just over 3000 k.m.s it was tight and the engine/auto combination was a surprise. Much more power and torque than I expected with 4 people and gear. The cvt wasn't noisy at all?
I've always gone for more power than needed for the job and wouldn't have considered the 2.5 cvt, but having lived with one for two weeks, I am thinking about my next sube now in a different way.
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Reply By: Geobserver - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 09:40

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 09:40
Make sure you take it for a test drive. The Subaru Forester is notorious for not being able to do the speed limit on city or country roads, and constantly veers into the right hand lane in little or no traffic. Nor do they seem to have good vision at roundabouts where they seem to constantly hesitate before moving.
AnswerID: 543014

Follow Up By: Bigfish - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 13:55

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 13:55
If he gets one without Qld plates he,ll be as good as gold....
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 14:03

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 14:03
You sure you didn't mean "unable to keep to the speed limits" due to always wanting to go faster? [;-)

I've driven the stepdaughters Suburu Outback plenty, because she's always away on FIFO, and I can tell you, that thing has no trouble disobeying speed limits, even in the country.
The Forester is lighter and smaller than the Outback, but it uses the same 2.5L engine.

As far as overtaking goes, the Outback with CVT is great. Get stuck behind a slow-moving truck or underpowered vehicle, and floor it, and it will very rapidly pick up speed for a quick overtaking move with limited distance to do it in.

The only fault I have found with the Subaru is the electric power steering. It has relatively heavy steering with less "feel" than older cars with engine-driven power steering.
The Camry also has electric power steering, but the feel and response is excellent, there's no difference between it and previous models with engine-driven power steering.

I find vision is getting worse, not better in many current models, not just Subaru.
The move to airbags in windscreen pillars in many cars seems to make the problem worse.
Also the design trends that create a high "waistline" at the rear or with roofs that curve down sharply at rear, make rearwards vision poor.
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Follow Up By: madfisher - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 20:38

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 20:38
Our ferry drivers often do 2 to 3 thousand ks a week and all refer to foresters as the new Volvos, must be something in it.
cheers pete
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Reply By: Mick T3 - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 22:06

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 22:06
All of this sounds like good news. I will try out the 2.5i "entry level" CVT model again, tomorrow and see how the $33,000 Drive Away price is holding out.

Thanks, everyone, for your input to my driving future.

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Reply By: cruza25 - Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 23:13

Monday, Dec 15, 2014 at 23:13
Go ahead and take the test drive. Not sure about the cvt . I have a 5 year old forester 2.5 xs auto, done 155000 . Changed the cam belt at 120000, and followed the schedule for the rest.

Total cost of repairs so far $50 for an oil pressure sensor, front brake pads $65 front rotors $125 and a few headlight globes...... not bad for 155000 kms and still feels good enough for a lot more over the next 5 years.

Their sales growth is the result of good reliability, good pricing and durability. Not by "in your face" advertising or fixed price (crap) servicing.

with decent tyres and driven to the conditions, they go the distance. Who ever said they are slow ......... maybe get the wife to show you how to release the handbrake.
AnswerID: 543039

Reply By: Sigmund - Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014 at 08:21

Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014 at 08:21
Yep, I put 86,000 km on mine. Only ever needed a replacement damper due to a hard bottoming out in the outback.

Just beware of the diesel Subies. A number of DPF problems have been posted about on the web and the filter is veeery exxy to replace.

For bush driving the OE tyres will wear out fairly quickly and then it's a good idea to get AT LTs. I really liked the D697s on corro and gibber and found the Geolander AT/Ss surprisingly good in the wet.

Those who know:

AnswerID: 543042

Reply By: deserter - Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014 at 14:32

Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014 at 14:32
I traded my 07 Prado on a new 2.5 Forester auto in May this year. Loved the prado but the turbo failed. I have owned jeeps, falcons, magnas, nissans and holdens, as well as the prado. Quite simply - this is the best car I have had after 40 years of cars..

Dunno where the fella who talked about bad vision gets that idea. Best allround vision. I average 7.2 per 100k. I tow a 4.5 tinny with 60hp motor with ease. I have been offroad and am amazed at how good this thing is. Been on tracks that required 4x4 with the prado. Did them easily.

Drive one - you will see what I mean.
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Reply By: Ron N - Thursday, Dec 18, 2014 at 00:49

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014 at 00:49
O.K.!! With the latest motoring news release, everything I have been saying, has been vindicated!!
The new model Subaru Liberty has had a price reduction - of UP TO $14,000!!

Just goes to show what a rort Subaru have been having with buyers!
You can look forward to the price of a new Forester dropping by up to several thousand dollars!

New Subaru Liberty pricing dropped by up to $14,000 - Dec 17, 2014

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 543107

Follow Up By: disco driver - Thursday, Dec 18, 2014 at 10:34

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014 at 10:34
Based on your theory, isn't the "White Goods" Toyota range similarly overpriced and the lookalike Lexus even more so.

happy Xmas.

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Follow Up By: deserter - Thursday, Dec 18, 2014 at 11:17

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014 at 11:17
Ha - make that every brand lol. I remember many years ago buying a Cherokee. Convinced the missus that 4x4's held their value so well. Jeep dropped the new price by 5K three months after I bought it. Ouch.

BTW - just noticed that the Forester 2.5 won the 2014 RACQ gong for best AWD SUV under 40K.
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