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I'm currently driving a Mazda 3 and have been looking for a forester for a while now. After a few test drives I'm having a harder decision than I thought I would. The decision being selling my Mazda 3 (manual) and buying a 5sp forester. The reason for wanting to make the switch is because I'm a pretty big skier and am going to school in CO, and have never spent a winter with my front wheel drive in CO, but I don't want to have problems driving in a lot of snow up on mountain roads to go ski. The dilemma I'm having is I can't decide if the trade off of the more refined interior and shifting of my Mazda 3 is worth the AWD in a forester (shying away from wrx/sti because of the extra money to insure).

Any sort of input or experience with owning/driving a forester would be greatly appreciated.

Also I'm looking for an 04-08 model forester.
 

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2010 Forester 2.5 XPremium 4EAT
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863 Posts
Foresters love snow, they dream about it.

Have you compared, driven, a Forester yet? They are as refined as most other cars of their ilk. Also, I think refinement will pale into insignificance when you're on a snow clad icy road up in the mountains.

Generally -

* Also consider automatics, you'll have far more choice.
* If buying from a dealer, try and buy from a Subaru specialist. They'll be far more familiar with known issues.
* If buying privately, you want to see full service history. Foresters made before 2011, the EJ engines, need the timing belt replaced every 100K or so. You need to see solid evidence it has been done.
* Try, hard, to get any car you're thinking of buying inspected before buying, unless you are mechanically minded and know what to look for in used Subarus.
* Head gaskets can be a problem which is why an inspection is so important.
* My choice would be to try and buy from someone who is clearly a Subaru enthusiast - the car will more likely have been cared for.
* Always go for quality and service history - better to buy an older, solid car than a more recent model which has questionable history.
 

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2011 Forester XT Slush box
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Other points to consider:

* Not sure what year your Mazda 3 is, but the Forester would probably be a larger vehicle. More space for gear, but also a little tougher to park in tight spots. The Forester will sit higher and have better ground clearance.
* Fuel mileage (if that's an issue) will be better on the Mazda than a Forester.
* Dedicated snow tires and front wheel drive is okay for most people (especially us flat-landers), but if you're heading up into the mountains after a snow storm, AWD and snow tires is decidedly better. Depending on conditions, some of the roads you want to access in winter might be limited to AWD/4WD equipped cars or 2WD with chains installed.

All of Cub's points are valid. You're asking about a 10 year old car at minimum, so maintenance history becomes pivotal. Make sure all the recalls have been addressed at least.
 
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