In Defense of the Forester, and Other Automotive Oddities

February 24th, 2014

2002 Subaru Forester

I ran that car ragged.

In virtually all the western states, I experienced plenty of big-city traffic, wide-open freeways, epic snowstorms and countless trips to Costco and Home Depot. Through it all, I can’t remember a single problem.

Purchased new in 2002, my Subaru Forester delivered perfect reliability for over a hundred thousand miles. I sold it only because I have a compulsive need to drive something new, or new to me, every few years. The Forester performed so well, in fact, that I’ve kept the model on my short list of cars to look for when it’s time to acquire a different vehicle.

In those quick searches it’s not uncommon to find the same model with over 200,000 miles on the clock. So why would a used Forester make a do-not-buy list?

MSN Autos posted a list of 15 used cars to avoid, and one of them was the Forester. Naturally I take issue with this claim, because of my positive experience and my observations of the Forester’s longevity. Here’s what MSN had to say:

The Subaru Forester has a lot going for it. Its compact stature belies a surprising amount of interior room, and the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine offers impressive power. Add in all-wheel drive and the Forester is a must-consider for anyone whose neighborhood sees snow in the winter. Alas, the Forester has had issues. The 2004, 2005 and 2009 models have high turbocharged engine replacement rates, and the standard 4-cylinder engines built between 2003 and 2007 suffered head-gasket failures at a high rate as well.

Maybe I got lucky since mine was a 2002 model. Maybe the Foresters got worse with age. Mine wasn’t turbocharged, but the little 4-cylinder had ample power when needed, and I think it did pretty well on gas. I don’t remember ever calculating the mileage, as fuel prices were somewhere around $1.30/gallon back then. As long as I could bum ten bucks off someone, I could drive for a week and a half.

I changed the oil semi-regularly in that car, purchased a couple sets of tires, had the brakes done and maybe some more basic maintenance, but certainly never had any major repair costs.

This got me thinking:

Have you had a great experience with a car that doesn’t have a good reputation?

-tgriffith

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Used Subaru Forester

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