Purchased this car after moving back to the States for around 3500. I previously had a Skoda Roomster in Europe, which was great, and before that I had a Subaru WRX wagon.
I bought the Forester because I needed an AWD car for the Pacific Northwest. I assumed that the Forester would be reliable, and understood that a car with 160k would have minor problems, but what I experienced was total and utter loss of confidence in the brand. I have NEVER had so many problems with a car!
Within the first month of ownership, the head gaskets blew at 165k. At the mechanic's, they also told me that it needed new brakes, axle bearings, axles, and shocks. I thought alright, it's an older car, some of those things are normal wear and tear, no biggie. I paid for the head gasket repair, and saved up for the other repairs. Over the next months I slowly replaced the other parts on the car.
The car handles snow, sleet, rain, dirt roads with aplomb and confidence due to its AWD. The 2.5 engine had decent torque, and the fuel consumption was acceptable at around 24 city and 26 highway MPG.
The moment that real troubles began was when I was coming back from school at 10 pm, and I started hearing a ticking from the engine. Before I could pull over on the highway, the engine blew a rod and I was stuck on the highway! Towed it to my Subaru mechanic, and he gave me a quote for more than I paid for the car! At that point I sold it on Craigslist and got myself a 2001 Toyota 4Runner. I was a really big Subaru fan before this, and now I think that I would have been cheaper to rent a car for the time that I owned the car :(