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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We just picked up a 2015 Premium CVT Forester, as a companion to our 2015 2.5i Outback Limited. I thought a quick comparison on a few points might be interesting to some Members.

Seat comfort: Outback wins, the cushions are bigger and have better lateral support. Shouldn't be a surprise.

Fuel economy: Forester seems to be winning in town (over 24pmg), don't know about the highway yet. Outback will do over 30mpg at a steady 65mph on dry roads, we'll see what we get from the Forester.

Performance and transmission: Forester weighs about 300 pounds less than the Outback, which is immediately reflected in acceleration. The Outback's CVT is programmed to feel like a six-speed, with slight pauses between fixed ratio changes on acceleration as it pretends to be a gearbox. Forester is a vanilla CVT, there is no simulation of fixed ratios, it just holds an RPM level while the car catches up. Forester transmission has zero driver control other than PRND and Low, fairly primitive. Less expensive, too.

Handling, braking: Around town, I prefer the Forester by a small margin: visibility seems a little better, and with less weight the car is a little more nimble, really a pleasure to drive. Forester wheelbase is about 5 inches shorter than Outback, an advantage in handling, but it's a little more choppy on rough surfaces and expansion joints. Forester and Outback both have 4-wheel disc brakes, and they are up to the task. Both cars can be hustled around on a back road, but I prefer the Forester in this case, just because it's a bit lighter.

Electronics: The Outback Limited has both Nav and EyeSight®. In the future I will always get EyeSight®, but Subaru's Nav and user interface are simply not competitive. Couple of cases in point: trying to select a song through the panel interface by an artist from the iPod always (repeat ALWAYS) plays the first song on the iPod. It does not work. On the Nav system, there are local towns which simply do not appear in the system, and so far I can't make the online update work. I do believe that Subaru user interface software testing is either done by the developers (a huge no-no in software land) or by Mrs. McReady's second-grade class. End of rant.

I debated getting EyeSight® on the Forester, but decided against because the Forester version does not have rear cross traffic alert. We have all that on the Outback, and it's just wonderful stuff.

So, the Forester software isn't in the same league with the Outback, but it still manages to disappoint, since you can't download the address book (contacts list) from the iPhone. Dumb.

On a positive note, there is a good flat space on the Forester dash to mount an adhesive disc, as the base for a good aftermarket GPS. In our case, a nice Garmin sits there, and it's way better than any Nav that Subaru ever thought of producing, at a cost of nearly $270.

Summary: I'm very happy with the Forester, it's a good garage-mate for the Outback. The Outback will be the road trip car, the Forester will be my preference around town.
 

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Outback will do over 30mpg at a steady 65mph on dry roads, we'll see what we get from the Forester.
I think my record is 45 Canadian MPG in the Forester at 60-65mph. But it's heavily dependent on the wind, due to the tall, boxy body shape... a strong wind and/or higher speed can knock it down to low 30s.
 

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Thanks for the excellent summary cohland, there's probably a lot of forum users like myself who have cross-shopped both the Outback and Forester. It's nice to get an informed opinion from someone who owns both.

In my case, the biggest factor in getting the Forester over the Outback was the seating position relative to the clutch/steering wheel (yes, in Canada the new Outback is still available with a M/T!) My wife (5' 2") just didn't like the seating position she would need to depress the clutch (too close to the steering wheel, and the dash was apparently "too high"). I'm not sure that I buy this reasoning, I think she just didn't like the larger size of the Outback.

From my perspective, I agree with the OP's summary of Forester strengths relative to the Outback - better visibility, more nimble, better power to weight. And the massive sunroof! Plus it's a little cheaper too. But I could easily see why another consumer would go for the Outback instead - better ride (longer wheelbase), more usable (longer) cargo area, higher quality interior with better seats, higher towing capacity.
 

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Yes, definitely sad the outback lost the massive sunroof. Plus, as far as I could tell the sunroof only comes with eyesight. I don't like that bundling....
 

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Thanks for the summary.... I admittedly would have gone for a 3.6 OB if were even close to a similar price point as the FXT. The 2.5 NA outback just would not cut it for my mountain driving needs.

I agree with all points!
 

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We just picked up a 2015 Premium CVT Forester, as a companion to our 2015 2.5i Outback Limited. I thought a quick comparison on a few points might be interesting to some Members.

Seat comfort: Outback wins, the cushions are bigger and have better lateral support. Shouldn't be a surprise.

Fuel economy: Forester seems to be winning in town (over 24pmg), don't know about the highway yet. Outback will do over 30mpg at a steady 65mph on dry roads, we'll see what we get from the Forester.

Performance and transmission: Forester weighs about 300 pounds less than the Outback, which is immediately reflected in acceleration. The Outback's CVT is programmed to feel like a six-speed, with slight pauses between fixed ratio changes on acceleration as it pretends to be a gearbox. Forester is a vanilla CVT, there is no simulation of fixed ratios, it just holds an RPM level while the car catches up. Forester transmission has zero driver control other than PRND and Low, fairly primitive. Less expensive, too.

Handling, braking: Around town, I prefer the Forester by a small margin: visibility seems a little better, and with less weight the car is a little more nimble, really a pleasure to drive. Forester wheelbase is about 5 inches shorter than Outback, an advantage in handling, but it's a little more choppy on rough surfaces and expansion joints. Forester and Outback both have 4-wheel disc brakes, and they are up to the task. Both cars can be hustled around on a back road, but I prefer the Forester in this case, just because it's a bit lighter.

Electronics: The Outback Limited has both Nav and EyeSight®. In the future I will always get EyeSight®, but Subaru's Nav and user interface are simply not competitive. Couple of cases in point: trying to select a song through the panel interface by an artist from the iPod always (repeat ALWAYS) plays the first song on the iPod. It does not work. On the Nav system, there are local towns which simply do not appear in the system, and so far I can't make the online update work. I do believe that Subaru user interface software testing is either done by the developers (a huge no-no in software land) or by Mrs. McReady's second-grade class. End of rant.

I debated getting EyeSight® on the Forester, but decided against because the Forester version does not have rear cross traffic alert. We have all that on the Outback, and it's just wonderful stuff.

So, the Forester software isn't in the same league with the Outback, but it still manages to disappoint, since you can't download the address book (contacts list) from the iPhone. Dumb.

On a positive note, there is a good flat space on the Forester dash to mount an adhesive disc, as the base for a good aftermarket GPS. In our case, a nice Garmin sits there, and it's way better than any Nav that Subaru ever thought of producing, at a cost of nearly $270.

Summary: I'm very happy with the Forester, it's a good garage-mate for the Outback. The Outback will be the road trip car, the Forester will be my preference around town.
1. I don't do much stop and go city driving ... my "around town" driving is mostly on major streets, and the majority of that is two lane roads without stop lights, or urban freeways, and will get over 30 mpg in general (computer indicated, which is about 5% optimistic).

2. On the highway, it's fine up to about 65, but drops off dramatically above that, presumably because of a high drag coefficient. That's to be expected with an SUV. My other cars get quite a bit better mileage at freeway cruising speeds (and above :smile2:), and they all weigh about the same.

3. Like you, I think the Forester handles pretty well. It begins to get a bit unstable at highway speeds, particularly in wind, so again like you, I like it much better for around town driving.

4. Never have used an iPod so I can't address whether it works or not.

5. I love EyeSight, and the nav is functional but a person would be better off most likely using their smart phone or a Garmin-type portable nav unit. The next generation EyeSight for the Forester should be much better.

6. I'm not so sure the brakes on the Forester are up to the task (can't say about the Outback). They are mushy and need more pressure to stop the car. And in a rapid stop situation, they really fall short of my other two cars. I can only imagine how they'd be with a load in the back. They should have come upgraded from the factory.

7. I've not had any trouble downloading contact lists from my iPhone to the head unit. I just go through the touchscreen procedure and it works perfectly. I've noticed one quirk though ... to get the person's name to show up for an incoming call, it has to have the "1" in front of the area code. Merely having the area code plus phone number only shows the caller's phone number. I have the head unit with nav and H/K speakers, which may perform differently than the other radios.

8. I bought my '15 just over a year ago, and the maps that came with it were well over 2 years old. I pointed it out to Subaru of America and they provided an updated SD disc when the newer maps were available. They were still dated over a year ago (first quarter of 2014 as I recall), but it's the best they have. I had to pay for the disc, but got reimbursed promptly by Subaru ... something over $200 with shipping. It's probably the last update I'll do, given the cost. That's another reason for having a portable Garmin ... most have free lifetime map and traffic updates.

Overall, I really like the Forester. I like the all-wheel drive. I'd prefer the CVT that comes in the Outback, or even the one in the XT, but the vanilla one does the job. It's a neat little car with lots of room and great visibility. And it looks pretty good too. One thing I really like are the HID headlights in the Touring trim ... they are great. And it uses about half the gasoline that my Mazda pickup did, and is peppier even though the Forester has a 2.5 NA 4-banger, while the truck had a V-6.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
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7. I've not had any trouble downloading contact lists from my iPhone to the head unit. I just go through the touchscreen procedure and it works perfectly...
Your Touring trim apparently has a higher-level stereo than my non-nav Premium, there's no option presented for downloading contacts on mine.

Although this is probably "preaching to the choir", I think that Subaru really needs to look aound at the competition (especially Toyota, whose nav system just works), decide on just what constitutes a good set of electronic interface features, and stop the nonsense of trying to differentiate models by introducing those irritating little differences. It is not going to cost them a dime, it's not going to make any difference in sales (probably), it would just be good for the customers.

I'd like to see a world where the Subaru user interface for smartphone is of a very high standard specification and is exactly the same across the entire product line (JUST LIKE THE SAFETY SYSTEMS), and that the nav system receives free map and traffic updates automatically (subject to user control). The technology is already there to accomplish this, it's the product marketing people who are getting in the way of progress.

The fact that a $150 aftermarket GPS, that is updated for free on demand (with a lifetime subscription included in the purchase price, like the Garmins from CostCo®), literally runs rings around a $1,000 factory-installed nav that is upgradeable for a fee, is just plain ridiculous these days.

A lot of us have smartphones pretty well integrated into our daily existence, so I think that the automakers should recognize that and just flatten any differences, making their use as transparent as possible.

To me, a good backup camera, full iPhone (and Android) smartphone integration (automatic bluetooth connection, automatic address book download on connection) should just "be there" in every new car...like airbags, antilock brakes, and stability control systems.

Maybe that's asking a lot, but to me the differences and quirks in the user interfaces between product levels are more annoying than anything else. They certainly are not useful product differentiation.

I was interested in your comments about fuel consumption on the highway, and will be able to experience it next weekend on a relatively short highway trip (∼150 miles). The refrigerator-like profile is going to come into play!
 

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Great write-up, cohland.

I would love to trade my Forester or an Outback. But still can't delete those roof rails. Tried the last three years already. :frown2:
 

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Good write up cohland, I was not sure what this meant - " Forester transmission has zero driver control other than PRND and Low"

Not aware of any "low" on our car.

Our 7/15 Diesel Fozz can be placed in Manual, simply slide gear lever to the right an 1" and paddle select whatever gear you wish.
 

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Good write up cohland, I was just not sure what this meant - " Forester transmission has zero driver control other than PRND and Low"
The US CVT "Premium" trim 2.5 has no paddles, no x-mode. Just Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and the "Low" mode, which provides a little extra engine braking at lower speeds. This version of the vehicle is really set up for conventional highway driving on well-graded roads. It can climb and descend and go off-road without destroying itself, but it's packaged and marketed as a family passenger car.
 

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Thanks rdc, when in the low mode, does the CVT continue to go up and down the CVT (gearing ratios) or is low a single non changing ratio ?
 

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Thanks rdc, when in the low mode, does the CVT continue to go up and down the CVT (gearing ratios) or is low a single non changing ratio ?
It does go up an down; you can throw the car in low at any speed and it will do something...

Search for the thread on this, it's very good.
 

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Your Touring trim apparently has a higher-level stereo than my non-nav Premium, there's no option presented for downloading contacts on mine.

Although this is probably "preaching to the choir", I think that Subaru really needs to look aound at the competition (especially Toyota, whose nav system just works), decide on just what constitutes a good set of electronic interface features, and stop the nonsense of trying to differentiate models by introducing those irritating little differences. It is not going to cost them a dime, it's not going to make any difference in sales (probably), it would just be good for the customers.

I'd like to see a world where the Subaru user interface for smartphone is of a very high standard specification and is exactly the same across the entire product line (JUST LIKE THE SAFETY SYSTEMS), and that the nav system receives free map and traffic updates automatically (subject to user control). The technology is already there to accomplish this, it's the product marketing people who are getting in the way of progress.

The fact that a $150 aftermarket GPS, that is updated for free on demand (with a lifetime subscription included in the purchase price, like the Garmins from CostCo®), literally runs rings around a $1,000 factory-installed nav that is upgradeable for a fee, is just plain ridiculous these days.

A lot of us have smartphones pretty well integrated into our daily existence, so I think that the automakers should recognize that and just flatten any differences, making their use as transparent as possible.

To me, a good backup camera, full iPhone (and Android) smartphone integration (automatic bluetooth connection, automatic address book download on connection) should just "be there" in every new car...like airbags, antilock brakes, and stability control systems.

Maybe that's asking a lot, but to me the differences and quirks in the user interfaces between product levels are more annoying than anything else. They certainly are not useful product differentiation.

I was interested in your comments about fuel consumption on the highway, and will be able to experience it next weekend on a relatively short highway trip (∼150 miles). The refrigerator-like profile is going to come into play!
I agree with all your points. And if Subaru made the electronic interface the same across all product lines and trim levels, in the long run it should be less expensive to them. Actually, things like telephone interface possibly should be the same across all auto makers, with different qualities of stereos, head units, etc., being the discriminator between cheaper and more expensive automobiles.
 

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The US CVT "Premium" trim 2.5 has no paddles, no x-mode. Just Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and the "Low" mode, which provides a little extra engine braking at lower speeds. This version of the vehicle is really set up for conventional highway driving on well-graded roads. It can climb and descend and go off-road without destroying itself, but it's packaged and marketed as a family passenger car.
The Touring trim 2.5 does not have paddles, but it does have X-Mode, and the Low for hills. I tried X-Mode in the snow, and it works well; I sometimes use Low descending a fairly steep hill that's a block long approaching my house and the engine braking, I'd say, is about equivalent to dropping 2 gears in a 6-speed manual. It's not overwhelming.
 

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Thanks rdc, when in the low mode, does the CVT continue to go up and down the CVT (gearing ratios) or is low a single non changing ratio ?
The transmission control computer in the Forester will not let you do anything stupid to it, and won't behave in such a way as to cause itself damage. So what Low does varies with the speed you're going when you engage it.

It's still a CVT, not a fixed gear, but the computer seems to use a power curve that's optimized for torque rather than for fuel economy. This produces noticeable engine braking at lower speeds.

This thread is very informative:
http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f89/cvt-brakewear-redux-truth-about-l-190409/index2.html
 
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