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2010 2010 2.5X AT Premium
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[This is probably in the wrong forum -- please move it it's better off elsewhere...]

I've had a 2010 Forester 2.5X Premium now for a couple of months. It's been used locally for typical urban driving, and it's been on a couple of longer road trips involving back roads during that time (in the Northern California Trinities and Mt Shasta area), and I thought I'd do a quick review of my experiences with it, in case any would-be buyers might need persuasion (or not) :).

Summary: this is a good car; I like it a lot. I've enjoyed driving it in the two months that I've had it, and it's already proved its worth around town and out in the middle of nowhere. It gets the big picture stuff right for me: things like fuel economy, performance, utility, and driveability are all better than I expected. The minuses I've noticed tend to revolve around details (and a sometimes puzzling lack of attention to detail), but there's really nothing that's been any sort of show stopper for me.
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The vast majority of my driving is done on the freeways, highways, back roads, and logging or mining trails of the deserts and mountains of California, Nevada, and Oregon, but the vast majority of actual trips I do take place on the streets of urban Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley. Subarus have been in my family and circle of acquaintances for a long time, so I knew what I was getting into with the Forester. In particular, I knew that I wouldn't really want to take a stock Forester very far off-road or along some of the really bad mining or logging trails I'd taken my Pathfinder down, but that's OK -- I can't have everything. I also knew it wasn't a Prius or a Yarris or something like that: I'm realistic about its gas mileage around town, and the fact that it's not always going to be as sporty or as pleasant to drive as (say) a Boxter (Right. I'm sure I could afford one of those).

Things I like (in no particular order):

* This car handles nicely, and I really like the ride (of course, I'm used to an old Pathfinder, so what would I know? :)). The handling is predictable and more like a normal car than an SUV, with a lower centre of gravity than I expected and a certain crispness that I like. I've been down some really pretty bad roads and trails in the last few weeks, and the the handling and the ride seem very appropriate -- it fishtails less than my Pathfinder on corrugated dirt roads, and nothing I encountered on some old logging trails in the Trinities caused me any handling problems. Around town or on the freeways the Forester feels like a car you'd actually want to drive around town or on the freeway -- it turns well, it stops and starts reliably, it's easy to park, and it's pretty predictable.

* Fuel economy -- so far, my Forester's actually done slightly better than the advertised gas mileages. I'm a fairly conservative driver, but even still, it's nice to get significantly better mileage out of it than my Pathfinder, and to get nearly as good mileage under some circumstances as my old Camry.

* Visibility is good in this car. Subaru have somehow managed to give the car a relatively low centre of gravity while keeping the driver feeling higher up than (say) a Camry, and front, side, and rear visibility are all much better than I expected.

* Internal space -- I was worried that the Forester would be significantly smaller inside than my Pathfinder, but this hasn't proved to be a problem (at least not yet). This car feels bigger inside than it looks -- I can even leave my silly Akubra hat on while sitting in the driver's seat and not hit the ceiling, and I'm a little over 180 cm tall (about 5'11" in Nineteenth Century measurements, I think).

* The AWD seems both unobtrusive and effective, but I haven't done any snow or ice driving yet (it's still a bit warm for that), nor have I really tested it off-road or off-trail. If the VDC works as advertised, this will be a very effective car for 95% of my bad-road and off-road work...

* Reliability? Ask me again when it's done 150,000 miles :).

* Safety? I hope never to find out, but the specs all look good.

Things I dislike, none of which is a show-stopper:

* Road noise -- I'm hoping it's mostly just the factory-standard tires, but the road noise with this car's noticeable enough that some first-time passengers comment on it without prompting. It's definitely noisier than the Camry (which you'd expect), but it's also at least as noisy as the Pathfinder under some conditions, which you wouldn't expect.

* The automatic transmission can be an acquired taste, to put it mildly. In my experience it's much too keen to shift down when you so much as even think of pressing the accelerator, or when you encounter a shallow hill with the cruise control engaged. The sports shift mode is really, really (really) useful for countering this (kudos to Subaru for making it so easy and effective to use the sports mode), but it's definitely not what I expected; for most of my (manual) driving life I've shifted up as soon as possible, and it's weird being in a car that thinks 3500 RPM (or whatever) is appropriate for a slight hill or a mild acceleration. It's supposed to adapt to the driver's observed driving characteristics, and I suspect it has a bit over time, but it's still a little startling when it thumps down a gear.

* The alarm system shows a real lack of attention to usability and detail for a modern car (even my 92 Pathfinder gets it right in ways I can only hope Subaru will in some bright future world). You can make arming and disarming silent, and you can disable the alarm, but you can't really do either without the sort of song and dance that, while entertaining to onlookers, really isn't appropriate. And you can't ever make it so that you can enter the car with just a key however you armed the alarm without the alarm going off immediately... which is really really (really) annoying.

* You can't get skid plates, full-size spare tires, or bull bars as factory or dealer options. Not a biggie -- pre-purchase research made it obvious I'd have to do this myself -- but for a car that advertises itself as being a sporty sort of AWD thing, at least two of these things really aren't optional if you're going to go down the sort of bad roads I drive, let alone off-road.

* Similarly for tow or recovery hooks -- yes, you can break off the little hatch things in the front and rear bumpers and attach the little screw-in hook thing, but that's no substitute for the Real Thing.

* The factory standard audio system isn't great -- the sound is really pretty average, even indirect sunlight makes the unit's text unreadable, and FM reception is a bit worse than I'm used to from my other cars. But it does have a nicely-placed aux input for my iPod and / or XM radio setup, which kinda makes up for the rest....

* I can't believe the standard internal sun visor things don't have pull-out extensions to use when deployed to the side so that there's full coverage to the door pillar. Even my old basic-model Camry had these; the little cardboard things I've built for the Forester will do, but this is another of those attention-to-detail things.

* Square cup holders!!!! Argh, Subaru, what were you thinking?! These things don't fit *anything* :).

Overall, though -- so far -- I'm extremely happy with the car. It's a nice cross between (say...) a Camry and a Pathfinder.
 

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2018 2.0 FXT-Touring CVT
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Wow.. i2i we see it. I agree with everything you have written, and I am of the same mindset - the pathfinder. The Forester is my first SUV-like vehicle. The closest I have come was my 01' Tacoma 4dr. I also noticed the road noise difference between the Forester and the Camry ('03) it replaced.. but with the soon ot be stereo that is going into the FOZ and the included sound deadening.. the noise issue should be better addressed. I am also looking for a full size spare now and a skidplate.
 

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2009 Forester
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Nice review and pretty darn accurate.

The one thing that doesn't bother me as much as others is the square cup holders. I find them very useful for large coffee cups. The handle and all fits in there and locks in nicely.

They also work nice for quickly tossing things in there and having easy access later. Like your GPS, iPod, power cords etc.....and don't forget, you still have the round cup holder in the door skins for things like water bottles and cans....JMO
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone for the responses so far (I could have written more in the review but it looked huge when I first cut and pasted into the editor window...).

Anyway,
The one thing that doesn't bother me as much as others is the square cup holders. I find them very useful for large coffee cups. The handle and all fits in there and locks in nicely.

They also work nice for quickly tossing things in there and having easy access later. Like your GPS, iPod, power cords etc.....and don't forget, you still have the round cup holder in the door skins for things like water bottles and cans....JMO
Yeah. In fact that's what my "cup holders" have been doing for the past two months -- holding bits of equipment and cables :). Shame they can't hold standard-sized cups from the coffee shop, though, without the contents spilling out into the cup holders. Can't have everything...

Nice write up.

I see you have a load warrior. If you want to mount lights to the front do a search and you'll see my DIY project.
Thanks. Yeah, I watched along with you as you posted that thread. Lights are not yet a priority, but they're likely to become a rainy day project for me sometime soon (especially given that our rainy season is about to start...:)).
 

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Cup holder, I use the space in the door by my leg. I try not to drink/eat while I drive.. you know.. cut down on distractions. I love both the square spaces in the center between the shifter and the console. My armrest slides forward so it covers the first pocket and gives me a nice spot to rest my arm during long drives.

What I have really grown to love is the space between the universal spare on the tray cover. I store all of my misc stuff (flashlight, jumper cables, various towels, reusable shopping bags and such) in that space. The extra items create a tight space keeping the various items from moving around down there.
 

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I have a 2010 Forester 2.5X that has had 2 road trips from Pittsburgh to Buffalo, and I agree with the review. My hearing isn't the greatest (too many years working on race cars without ear plugs), so the road noise isn't an issue--so far--for me. I moved into this from a VW Jetta, a car I loved to drive...until this one! It has done very well in the 3 weeks since it came home from the dealership. The fuel mileage is getting better, I'm getting smoother at driving it, and it's helped with some home improvement projects as well.

Jingletown--Great review, and incredible pictures!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Cup holder, I use the space in the door by my leg. I try not to drink/eat while I drive.. you know.. cut down on distractions. I love both the square spaces in the center between the shifter and the console. My armrest slides forward so it covers the first pocket and gives me a nice spot to rest my arm during long drives.
I think what bugs me most about the Forester cup holders is that in all other cars I've driven with large cupholder spaces there's been a fold-out round holder thing that can be used to actually hold cups but that gets out of the way when you want to actually use the space for something else (I know this is sounding like a tired refrain, but, "my 17-year-old Pathfinder can do that!").

On the other hand it's funny that cupholders can be such a lively topic of discussion -- it has to mean that there's not much else really wrong with the car :).

What I have really grown to love is the space between the universal spare on the tray cover. I store all of my misc stuff (flashlight, jumper cables, various towels, reusable shopping bags and such) in that space. The extra items create a tight space keeping the various items from moving around down there.
You too, eh?! Yeah, that space is really useful. When the Subaru sales person showed me the space I thought "I can do a lot with that...", and I think I've kinda lost track of what's in there now :).

Jingletown--Great review, and incredible pictures!
Thanks! Can't wait to take some Forester-in-the-snow pix...
 

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... I've had a 2010 Forester 2.5X Premium now for a couple of months...Things I dislike...Road noise -- I'm hoping it's mostly just the factory-standard tires... The automatic transmission can be an acquired taste, to put it mildly...
I changed to quiet tires soon after I bought my 2008.

I will never like the poor-acting automatic transmission. Just today, there were two occasions when I needed to go faster suddenly. The first time, in 4th gear at 40, I floored it, the transmission began to process the request, whereupon I realized it would be too late so I backed off, even before the downshift could begin. The second time, coasting in whatever gear is around 20 mph, I floored it, and by the time the request was processed and it selected 1st gear, I was so far behind the situation that I had to hold it to redline in 1st.

With a manual, when you floor it, you are going to get some power to work with immediately, rather than a long dead pause in processing the request, followed by too much commotion too late. You are also going to be in the right gear from the start, being able to anticipate the situation. An automatic has to be awakened from its stupor and selects its gear in a panic.
 

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I think what bugs me most about the Forester cup holders is that in all other cars I've driven with large cupholder spaces there's been a fold-out round holder thing that can be used to actually hold cups but that gets out of the way when you want to actually use the space for something else (I know this is sounding like a tired refrain, but, "my 17-year-old Pathfinder can do that!").

On the other hand it's funny that cupholders can be such a lively topic of discussion -- it has to mean that there's not much else really wrong with the car :).
No doubt. My Camry had a little drop down widget that suspended two medium sized cups very snugly in that space, or raise the widget and a nice large cup could fit. I am used to it now though.

You too, eh?! Yeah, that space is really useful. When the Subaru sales person showed me the space I thought "I can do a lot with that...", and I think I've kinda lost track of what's in there now :).
All the stuff that sat in two different cargo nets and a box in my Camry ('03) now fits underneath the rear cargo tray with room to spare. I am more aware of what is there now than I was when all that stuff was in my last car. Only thing left out was my tennis racket, but now I just keep all my rackets in my tennis bag. So it's no big deal.

One thing I might do is during my upcoming stereo upgrade, I will add all the suggested sound deadening materials to quiet the cabin a little bit.
 

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One thing I might do is during my upcoming stereo upgrade, I will add all the suggested sound deadening materials to quiet the cabin a little bit.
Does anyone know if Subaru runs the door chimes and warning sounds (ie the ding when you leave your lights on) through the radio? In my Malibu I changed out the stock radio for an alpine but I had to mount the stock one in the trunk not to lose the sounds. Its a small thing but it saved me from leaving my lights on or the keys in the car a few times so it was worth it. Just hate the space it takes up back there.
 

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I changed to quiet tires soon after I bought my 2008.

I will never like the poor-acting automatic transmission. Just today, there were two occasions when I needed to go faster suddenly. The first time, in 4th gear at 40, I floored it, the transmission began to process the request, whereupon I realized it would be too late so I backed off, even before the downshift could begin. The second time, coasting in whatever gear is around 20 mph, I floored it, and by the time the request was processed and it selected 1st gear, I was so far behind the situation that I had to hold it to redline in 1st.

With a manual, when you floor it, you are going to get some power to work with immediately, rather than a long dead pause in processing the request, followed by too much commotion too late. You are also going to be in the right gear from the start, being able to anticipate the situation. An automatic has to be awakened from its stupor and selects its gear in a panic.
thank you. that's exactly the experience i had the other day in my 09 Forester. it happened while merging onto a busy highway. very unpleasant.

marty.
 

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And you can't ever make it so that you can enter the car with just a key however you armed the alarm without the alarm going off immediately... which is really really (really) annoying.

I can't believe the standard internal sun visor things don't have pull-out extensions to use when deployed to the side so that there's full coverage to the door pillar.
Those two things bug me too, just so you know you are not alone.

I discovered by accident that unlocking the door with the key and opening it activates the alarm.:icon_frown:

The first bright sunny day we had, and I was driving the Forester, I flipped the visor down and gave it a tug on the end to extend it, and was surprised it did not even slide on it's support arm.:icon_rolleyes:
 

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Does anyone know if Subaru runs the door chimes and warning sounds (ie the ding when you leave your lights on) through the radio? In my Malibu I changed out the stock radio for an alpine but I had to mount the stock one in the trunk not to lose the sounds. Its a small thing but it saved me from leaving my lights on or the keys in the car a few times so it was worth it. Just hate the space it takes up back there.
Sorry, I do not know. If I find out before you do, I'll post it up here. My guess though is no.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I will never like the poor-acting automatic transmission.
This is my first automatic after a lifetime of manual transmissions, but it's not like I haven't driven a lot of automatic cars over the years. Which is what makes the Forester's behaviour so weird to me -- just today I lightly pressed down on the accelerator to get around a double-parked car before oncoming traffic caught up to us, and -- blam! -- suddenly the engine was doing 5,500 RPM. There's only one word for that: "broken" (or perhaps "idiotic"). I'll definitely be mentioning it to the Subaru service guys when it goes in for its first service, but I'll probably get the same response people who mention that sort of behaviour here on the forums seem to get: "yeah, it does that". Oh well.

(Why did I get an automatic anyway? I wanted an automatic because a) it's a convenient thing to have when stuck in barely-moving urban traffic (especially on the hills around here); and, b) Foresters don't come with a crawl ratio, and there have been several situations in my past where a manual clutch without a crawl ratio would have been a real pain (not that endlessly riding a fluid clutch won't cause its own problems, of course...). I still think I made the right choice, but the transmission controller's certainly got a (warped) mind of its own :)).
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Those two things bug me too, just so you know you are not alone.

I discovered by accident that unlocking the door with the key and opening it activates the alarm.:icon_frown:

The first bright sunny day we had, and I was driving the Forester, I flipped the visor down and gave it a tug on the end to extend it, and was surprised it did not even slide on it's support arm.:icon_rolleyes:
Thanks. Yeah, it bugs me that what could be a great car is marred a bit by getting so many of the day-to-day usability things wrong -- the sort of things a 17-year-old basic model Pathfinder and a cheap 10-year-old Camry both get right.
 

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This is my first automatic after a lifetime of manual transmissions, but it's not like I haven't driven a lot of automatic cars over the years. Which is what makes the Forester's behaviour so weird to me -- just today I lightly pressed down on the accelerator to get around a double-parked car before oncoming traffic caught up to us, and -- blam! -- suddenly the engine was doing 5,500 RPM. There's only one word for that: "broken" (or perhaps "idiotic"). I'll definitely be mentioning it to the Subaru service guys when it goes in for its first service, but I'll probably get the same response people who mention that sort of behaviour here on the forums seem to get: "yeah, it does that". Oh well.
If you're used to a manual, just use sportshift all the time! :biggrin: I don't even have sportshift in mine and I shift them both manually (works similarly).

I find the 4EAT to be much more sluggish just left in D than when I'm telling it what to do.

The 4EAT is annoying at times, but there are other times when I like it. I drove a 2009 with sportshift this summer (loaner) and didn't really like the car much (I'm just an oldschool Foz guy :shrug:), but I liked the trans more than mine because of that extra feature.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
If you're used to a manual, just use sportshift all the time!
Yeah -- the sports shift is the saving grace of the Forester's automatic transmission for me. It's convenient and easy to use, and works nicely. But I really just want the transmission to do the right thing without me telling it what to do :).
 
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