I'd buy one again, if they improved rear seat space and a more frugal engine
The shock absorbers died. Started with an occassional clicking/clanging noise everytime it went over a hump. Got more pronounced and frequent, and after further inspection, it proved that the shocks had failed. It wasn't that noticeable when driving on a straight road. That was at around 78,000km.
I liked the fact that the chassis is from the Subaru Impreza WRX, and many of the components were the same; and on the road, it does prove to be worthy of its shared platform with a rally car of such. Its rigid and surely makes other SUVs seem soft. Clearance is not as high as other SUVs in the same class; however, that translate to easier boarding and exiting the vehicle. Older folks would surely be grateful for the friendly height of the vehicle. The aperture of the rear door is not as generous as the front ones. Passengers above 1.75m (`6ft) would find the short rear doors a little annoying getting in and out of.
Interiors aren't exciting. Almost boring, but functional. Hard plastics throughout, but I reckon it would last the miles/years of ownership. Note that the back seats have an upright recline angle and all the passengers that have been in the rear seats all complain of the upright seating position.
The factory sound system is decent, but I had opted to change the speakers/headset and installed a subwoofer in the huge boot/wagon space in the rear. Much better!
Driving ergonomics are almost spot on, but the steering wheel is rather large, and the turn ratio is not aggressive, somewhat resulting in a not-so-responsive drive when attempting to dart through a series of tight turns. I thought a replacement STi steering rack would sort it.
Handling is really quite good for a SUV type vehicle, especially when comparing other SUVs, the Forester feels almost car like. But the height has that effect on the steering such that it is not as direct as I'd hoped.
Going over bumps/speed humps is exemplary of what a well damped vehicle should feel like. And whilst on the go, the Forester is quiet. Choice of tires would further enhance the quiet ride of the car. Note that whilst cruising at 100kmh/62mph, the engine is only turning over at around 2250rpm or so - meaning it does make a good cruiser!
I had a small parking mirror mounted (factory option) on the side fender of the car to help me gauge the curbside whilst parallel parking, please, if you're intending to get one of these cars, leave it be. Its quite useless, and worse of all, it tends to cause wind noise when driving beyond 50mph/80kmh!
Engine and drive train are impressive. Torque is the name of the game with boxer engines, and this engine surely doesn't disappoint. I wish there were 5 speeds instead of 4 as the transition of the gears may seem too far spaced apart. 4WD is confidence inspiring in the wet. But the ride height would let it down in the corner. I had tried to install the anti-roll bars in the rear, but that had only minor improvements. I even changed to 17" wheels, still the height posed an issue around corners. In all fairness, this is a SUV, it wasn't meant to do mad speeds around corners.
Also a caution to note : this car can be quite thirsty. Fuel consumption ranges from 6.8-8.8km/L. This depends on how much urban driving one does and how prone is your right foot to flooring it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 10th July, 2006