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I had driven my little Mazda3 until the wheels almost literally fell off. I didn't want to let it go, it was the best car I'd ever owned in terms of driveability. But at 135,000 miles, with a growing family, and facing over $5,000 more in various repairs than she was worth (including a broken AC system in the middle of Houston summer), it was time to put her down.

The very first car I considered was a Subaru Forester. I've always had them in the back of my head as a potential option, and have driven a 2010 model fairly frequently. But, like a kid in a candy shop, I wandered through the other options with near paralysis of choice. Some were pretty but too pricey (Lookin' at you, Volvo). Some were rugged but too unreliable/unsafe (sorry Jeep Grand Cherokee). Some were in too high demand (%#%$# Telluride). Some were just mostly bland people-movers (Sorry, Honda). Some were just awful in practice (Not sorry, RAV4.).I circled around the options for longer than I should have (hey, I grew up without AC, a summer with the windows down was no big deal). But finally came back around to the Forester as the option that checked the most boxes. Safe, reliable, rugged enough for light off road, good space. The only downsides for me were the lack of a turbo or hybrid option, the abysmal towing capacity, and, well, to be honest, the aesthetics (exterior) just have never thrilled me. Not horrible, but would have liked a little more redesign with my redesign. But that pretty, unrealistic car can wait until the kids are off to college. For now, I was solidly satisfied with a Forester.

This was the first car I ever bought completely new (i'm in my early 40s), and my first Subaru in general. I've had several 1-2 year old , 10,000 mile cars before, but that wasn't an option because of the 2019 redesign (we wanted every last ^&%^&$% safety feature you could cram into this thing.) I went back and forth with a couple dealerships on a 2019. As the 2020s neared, they got a little more competitive. I I actually had a deal on a 2019 Premium set to go, but the 2020s came out the next week on websites. Scratch that, daddy wants the the shiny new thing. Amazingly, after negotiating with several dealerships just to get below the MSRP, I got a really decent offer on a pretty loaded Premium, below invoice, from a dealership having a not-so-great month. After waiting a week and a half for the car to arrive at the dealership, I picked it up.

Shiny.

524477
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Discussion Starter #2
I knew about auto start-stop beforehand, and decided it wasn't a deal-killer, but man. This seems like such an easy thing to fix (default off, or allow it to be switched off permanently, instead of EVERY TIME I GET IN THE CAR.) We'll see how much it continues to annoy me.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think I have mild tinniitus.I have just realized this because the Forester is so quiet I can hear my ears ringing without the background noise of my mazda3.
 

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2011 Subaru Forester Automatic
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I had driven my little Mazda3 until the wheels almost literally fell off. I didn't want to let it go, it was the best car I'd ever owned in terms of driveability. But at 135,000 miles, with a growing family, and facing over $5,000 more in various repairs than she was worth (including a broken AC system in the middle of Houston summer), it was time to put her down.

The very first car I considered was a Subaru Forester. I've always had them in the back of my head as a potential option, and have driven a 2010 model fairly frequently. But, like a kid in a candy shop, I wandered through the other options with near paralysis of choice. Some were pretty but too pricey (Lookin' at you, Volvo). Some were rugged but too unreliable/unsafe (sorry Jeep Grand Cherokee). Some were in too high demand (%#%$# Telluride). Some were just mostly bland people-movers (Sorry, Honda). Some were just awful in practice (Not sorry, RAV4.).I circled around the options for longer than I should have (hey, I grew up without AC, a summer with the windows down was no big deal). But finally came back around to the Forester as the option that checked the most boxes. Safe, reliable, rugged enough for light off road, good space. The only downsides for me were the lack of a turbo or hybrid option, the abysmal towing capacity, and, well, to be honest, the aesthetics (exterior) just have never thrilled me. Not horrible, but would have liked a little more redesign with my redesign. But that pretty, unrealistic car can wait until the kids are off to college. For now, I was solidly satisfied with a Forester.

This was the first car I ever bought completely new (i'm in my early 40s), and my first Subaru in general. I've had several 1-2 year old , 10,000 mile cars before, but that wasn't an option because of the 2019 redesign (we wanted every last ^&%^&$% safety feature you could cram into this thing.) I went back and forth with a couple dealerships on a 2019. As the 2020s neared, they got a little more competitive. I I actually had a deal on a 2019 Premium set to go, but the 2020s came out the next week on websites. Scratch that, daddy wants the the shiny new thing. Amazingly, after negotiating with several dealerships just to get below the MSRP, I got a really decent offer on a pretty loaded Premium, below invoice, from a dealership having a not-so-great month. After waiting a week and a half for the car to arrive at the dealership, I picked it up.

Shiny.

View attachment 524477 .
What color is that?
 

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Got a 2020 Magnetic Grey that should be in at the end of next week and excited by this color.

Thanks for the post. Keep us updated of your experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So I'm about 275 miles in, and here are some random thoughts.
1) Still hate the auto on-off. I will say that it's a quick start, only a slight delay before moving. It's well designed, and if I was doing mostly surface streets with stoplights of decent intervals, I would use it. But stop and go Houston traffic on highways gives it way too much of a workout, and is not a pleasant experience. I really, really want an option to default this to off.
2) Lane keep is pretty cool. I like that it gives you a nice subtle nudge. I have noticed that it has troubles with a lot of our local highways, either because the markings are worn (especially dotted lines) or there are pavement lines between the lanes (jitterbug effect in some areas), or when rain/sun conditions decrease contrast between the markings and road surfaces. It does well with fresher, solid line markings.
3) So. many. manuals. It's like having Encyclopedia Suburaica.
4) Ride is quiet and absorbs shocks well, and steering is responsive. It's not what I had on the Mazda3, but they're totally different vehicles. For its class and design, the handling is solid. I have had a couple instances where it felt liek the AWD was over-correcting, but it really shines in i rain events. The ride is less even than my old 3, with more jerks here and there, but it's steady.
5) I knew acceleration was not going to be the Forester's high point, especially after driving a tiny, very quick little car. It's a little lackluster "off the line", but seems to dig deep. Sport mode does seem to help on the low end.
6) I'm obviously still working through some emotional connections to my old Mazda 3:)
7) The shiny metallic finish is not as shiny as some other car brands (if you believe Mazda;s ads, for instance, their CX5 with metallic gray is practically a mirror). However, it does have a nice quicksilver-esque luster. I also like that when it's dusty/dirty, it just looks like a more formal dark gray, rather than just looking dirty.
8) I like all the extra space, but I wish there was still a little more legroom in the back for kid seats. With kid seats in, my kids legs are still pretty close to the front seats (already scuffing up the backs. sigh.) I know this is just the name of the game for small SUVs, but still.
9) Connecting my phone via bluetooth was easy. trying to figure out Android Auto, etc, past there is pretty heinous. I haven't even tried to use any of the Starlink, Sirius Xm, etc features yet. But I am old and sleep deprived, and moving from a 2008 car to a 2020 car, so I've got a pretty steep learning curve to deal with.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I like the under-floor storage in the rear, I just wish it had more sensible compartments in the tray? Or just an un-compartmentalized tray above the wheel storage. It is more spacious than I expected though.

Which leads me to a marginally-related anecdote. From time to time, my job (and hobbies) involves getting out into the field, into waterways, etc., and so I carry things that make sense in that context.....wader boots, plastic sheeting, rope, rubber gloves, duct tape, stained field clothes, etc. However, taken out of the context it kind of looks like the trunk of a serial killer.

Huzzah for under-floor storage! Now I won't have any more of those awkward "uh, on second thought, maybe I'll get a ride with someone else" moments when I open up my trunk with someone else there.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Wow. the all-weather mats were a damn good investment. Even in just a couple weeks, the amount of dirt/etc. that's accumulated on my driver's side all weather mat (and would have on my pristine black floor mats) is impressive.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I don't think I gave the Forester enough credit for the interior upgrades since the last model I drove (2010? 2012?). The old ones seemed pretty basic. Sturdy and serviceable, but like Dodges from the 80s, all monocolor hard plastic. The interior is nicely appointed, with soft touch over a lot of the area, and the contrast stitching is really nice. The cloth seats are nice ( I wish leather was an option on the Premium) but don't feel as durable as I would have liked, like a looser weave? May just be the pattern. Time will tell. Overall, though, the design and style is more luxury and less utilitarian than it used to be.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I took the Forester out for its first highway-speed drive (I drive on highways all the time, but seldom at posted speeds due to typical Houston traffic). Got to try out adaptive cruise control, pretty nice. The lane-centering feature on the 2020 worked really well. At one point, when there was no one around me on a open stretch of highway, I lifted my hands an inch off the wheel for a moment to see if it would stay in lane. It was going through a slight curve, and matched the road perfectly. It then gave me a glaring warning to put my hands back on the wheel. Well played, Subaru. Still so bizarre to come from a 2008 car to an almost-autonomous system. I for one welcome our new car-computer overlords.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Car is pretty dirty after a couple weeks. Meant to wash it before, but unsure whether the metallic paint/shark antenna can go through a regular car wash? Seems like a stupid question, but the last thing I need is a messed up car before I hit 500 miles...
 

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On my MY13 Forester start/stop wasn't that bad when you learnt to press brake pedal only that much that it barely hold car still. That way engine kept running all time. Would that work or have they changed something?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
On my MY13 Forester start/stop wasn't that bad when you learnt to press brake pedal only that much that it barely hold car still. That way engine kept running all time. Would that work or have they changed something?
It does seem to work that way, but it just feels like to much work for too little benefit in highway driving. I have been using it in street driving at stop signs/lights, and it's been appreciated there.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So now that I've got a good feel for the car and the safety systems, I need to get around to setting up all the media/Starlink/whatever stuff. I have no idea where to start. I downloaded Android Auto for my phone, but when I go to the apps section on the car display, it's still grayed out, even though it's active and running on the phone. weird. And what is Starlink? Apparently I have a limited time subscription to it, but I'm still hazy on what exactly it is. Looks like I need to delve into volumes 4-6 of my Encyclopedia Suburuica collection of manuals to figure this out.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
With all the electronics, systems, etc to go wrong I'm starting to wonder if I need to reconsider an extended warranty. It seems like the electronics alone are half the value of the car in potential repair costs. My last car had a cd player. That's about it. I am woefully unprepared for this.
 

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Android Auto is notoriously quirky. Some things that are important:

1. Let the head unit boot up completely before plugging your phone in. Wait until you click I Agree or that message disappears and the shortcut buttons appear.

2. You need to make sure that you're using a good cable. Don't if your phone is micro USB or USB-C, but I've used these cables with success with my Pixel 2:



I use dark mode on my phone and when I connect to AA, it turns dark mode off until I disconnect. 🤷‍♂️
Google also can't find my house by address.

Hope this helps with Android Auto!
 

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It does seem to work that way, but it just feels like to much work for too little benefit in highway driving. I have been using it in street driving at stop signs/lights, and it's been appreciated there.
What you mean by little benefit in highway driving?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
What you mean by little benefit in highway driving?
A lot of my highway driving is stop and go. Either I have to be super focused on applying just enough brake to stop without triggering on/off , or it ends up going on/off/on/off without any appreciable idle time being saved. Unlike surface streets where I'll spend a minute or two at a light.
 
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