Forester V X-Trail - Drive Setup / Luggage

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2003 at 09:37
ThreadID: 6123 Views:4397 Replies:2 FollowUps:1
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Hi all,

Been doing some research into buying a softroader in the next few months. After something that is going to do the job on wet-slippery country tarmac roads and reasonably corrugated dirt roads. Nothing extreme, but something that would be mainly a sealed road country car but cope with a bit of tame off-roading on the weekend. Ended up at the conclusion that the X-Trail and the Forester were far and away leaders in this field.

However I did a bit of research into the 2WD/AWD/4WD systems (manual of course) of both and would like some advice on what people think. All details below are quoted from the official manufacturers websites and RACV/NRMA reviews.

X-Trail uses a version of Nissan's All Model 4WD system, which drives the front wheels only in normal conditions and, when in auto mode, automatically sends torque to the rear wheels via an electronically controlled coupling when required. A "Lock" 4WD mode fixes front to rear torque distribution in a 57:43 ratio only at speeds below 30km/h (above that speed the system reverts to the auto mode).

One reviewer states "It is, however, important to read the owner's manual, as there are some limitations to be aware of; e.g., if the power-train oil overheats, the system automatically drops into 2WD".

Forester on the other hand, has the AWD transmission where a viscous coupling limited slip centre differential is used to constantly transmit the engine power to all four wheels. During straight line driving the torque split by the differential is 50/50 to front and rearwheels. Torque distribution at the road however is also dependent on load distribution and tyre grip and as a result the static ratio is 60/40. During actual driving conditions, load movement when cornering, accelerating or braking etc. causes the torque distribution to also move in the same proportions. When wheel slip occurs a rotational speed difference between the front and rear axles is created and the viscous coupling automatically matches the torque to grip, in order to restore maximum traction. The Forester also has the dual range transmission with a 20% low range reduction.

I've heard about the benefits of having rear wheel drive larger cars to improve handling, but does the X-Trail overcome this with it's current setup? Can it compete with the Forester's AWD handling?

The other pros/cons that I'm considering are the extra power of the X-Trail (132Kw / 245Nm) over the Forester (112Kw / 223Nm), the fact that in the X-Trail you can put the back seats down and have a flat plastic surface that doesn't attract dog hair/dirt and the somewhat limited room in the back seat foot wells of the Forester......

Any advice or recommendations would be much appreciated.

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Reply By: Member - Colin (ACT region) - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2003 at 11:26

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2003 at 11:26
Any advice I give is obviously going to be 'slightly' biased (see My Rig) but -

Most of what you have quoted is true - and from many years experience with Subarus (going back to 1976 models !) my comment would be, "apart from Subaru, has anyone seen any other make of 'softroader' (and I don't like that word!) in the more difficult 4WD places eg. Canning SR, Simpson etc?"

I realize you don't wish to take the car to these more extreme places but Subaru has the runs on the board - it has reliability and strength and the drive system as you have said seems to be the best of the bunch - they have a rear LSD also but Nissam probably does as well.
From what I have read the power figures of the Nissan don't seem to be as startling as they seem on paper? The Nissan looks bigger, not sure if it has more room inside and the Forester could not be called roomy - I rarely carry more than 2, and would not go camping with more than 2 people anyway.

Subaru have Clubs in all states, Qld and WA being more exclusively Subaru - they all run trips to cater for the different needs of members.
NSW Club links

If you did decide to 'get serious' there is a huge range of excellent after market gear available for Subaru.

Hope this unbiased view is of some help - buying any type of car is a pain ? so much choice.
AnswerID: 25684

Reply By: GaryInOz (Vic) - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2003 at 21:00

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2003 at 21:00
Now that you have looked inside the vehicles and under the bonnets,and been dazzled by the brochures, have a look underneath. X-Trail: look at the exposed rear muffler, the rather delicate rear suspension set-up, general underbody protection. Now look under the Subaru: eveything up high and protected by the rails, reasonably substantial suspension on a subframe, and a definite track record of reliability. The Subaru also has quite a list of modifications available to improve its capabilities if you so desire.

The choice is a no-brainer.....

...and yes I did own an earlier one for 10 years and 180 000 kms.
AnswerID: 25729

Follow Up By: Don - Thursday, Jul 31, 2003 at 17:57

Thursday, Jul 31, 2003 at 17:57
Thanks for the comments. You could hardly call a plastic 'bash' plate worthwhile either (X-Trail). The track record is in the Forester's favour and the new GT has that extra grunt.......

It was mainly the default front wheel 2WD (X-Trail) that had me a bit worried - can it handle as well as the AWD setup on the Forester??
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FollowupID: 18074

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