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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been looking at getting a forester for a while. I'm looking at getting a 2003 XS. They are really hard to find used so I haven't had a chance to find one to test drive. Can someone tell me there experience of driving one. I use to own a 2003 WRX. I loved the car but I blew a rod in it so I got rid of it. I'm looking for something that is a little more roomy so I can fit my bikes, snowboards and all other kinds of fun stuff. That's why I want a forester. Has there been any major changes from the 2003 2.5 N/A to some of the new 2.5's? Let me know you experiences of driving a 2.5 N/A. Thanks.
 

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Administrator
2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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40,873 Posts
As with any used vehicle, a detailed service history is desirable, but not likely. There wasn't one when I bought my '07 FSXT (July/09). Keep in mind a timing belt change, with associated parts is due at 105K mile & it's on the spendy side. If you're in an area that uses road salt during the winter, check the undercarriage for rust damage. There have been reports of failing head gaskets on the '03 model. So far, no problems on our highly MODded '03X. :smile:

You may miss the power of the WRX, going to a N/A Forester, but many have said the power is good. Personally, I found it a bit lacking, hence the MODding (NOT recommended!). :wink:

Bobby...

My MODding Journal
 

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2003 XS MT
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I have an '03. Look for one produced later in the model run to avoid headgasket issues. 120k, no problems here. The power at a mile high altitude is not very great, but that's ok. I had an option to buy a turbo, but saved money on the sticker price (and speeding tickets) going with the N/A. The space is awesome, it will swallow EVERYTHING. No major changes until the remodel in 2009.
 

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2016 & 2018 2.5i Premium CVT
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Changes from 2003 to 2008 were evolutionary. Nothing drastic. Yes, 2003 was a transitional year regarding head gasket problems. Nowhere near as bad as the earlier SF models, but more frequent than subsequent years. Older too, of course.
 

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Ol' Timer
2006 WRX Spec-C 6MT
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5,961 Posts
You'll miss the power. If you had a NA Subie before, you'd be ok. But coming from a turbo, you will find the NA engine frustrating. I had both NA and turbo Subies, and for 'round town commuting the NA engine is more than adequate; but once I would get into higher elevations, steep hills, or lugging lots of gear and people, I became annoyed with the lack of power.
Test drive both before you make a decision.
 

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The Sub kit guy
2005 Forester X & XT VF39
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13,008 Posts
I own an NA and a Turbo 05 (pretty much the same as the 03) and I don't think I could daily drive the NA model. It is ok with the family running errands, but after getting a taste of turbo power I don't know if I will personally EVER have a car under 250 hp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the suggestions. hahaha eeryone tells me to go TURBO!!! Are there any mods other than a turbo that can give me some more power on the 2.5 N/A? I've heard of full exhaust giving you about 15 more hp but thats not much. Any other mods? Thanks.
 

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2003 XS MT
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There's a whole thread about getting more power from a N/A and it's a sticky, do a search and it will come up. I think you'll be better off just buying a turbo if you want the power. For me, power wasn't a big deal. I ride motorcycles for that sort of thing. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I found the thread/stiky. Thanks alot. That really helped. I'm just going to have to test drive them before I decide.

There's a whole thread about getting more power from a N/A and it's a sticky, do a search and it will come up. I think you'll be better off just buying a turbo if you want the power. For me, power wasn't a big deal. I ride motorcycles for that sort of thing. :)
 

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1999 Forester L
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15 Posts
I have an '03. Look for one produced later in the model run to avoid headgasket issues. 120k, no problems here.
Any idea what the model run ranged? For example, the last one I looked at had a manufacture date of 06/2002. I wondered where that fell in the 2003 model year?
 
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