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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Ford F150 vs Subaru Forester? Has anyone switched truck to subbie?

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15 replies to this topic

#1 kip42



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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:04 AM

I currently drive a Dodge Challenger. It is horrible in the snow and is giving me electrical problems. Need a vehicle that can get me to work in the snow. This winter has shown me  that the Dodge just won't cut it. Want to do some off roading so that's also a consideration. Want to trade it on either a Subaru Forester or Ford F150. Have any of you went from a Subaru to a truck or truck to Subaru. My criteria is high crash rating, off road capable, decent fuel economy in it's class. 



How much better off road is one than the other?


Debating if the truck would actually be more protective in a crash since it could roll.

What's your city, highway, average MPG?


Looking it as Subaru higher fuel mileage/ Truck can haul more of my stuff. All going to come down to safety and off road capability if it's worth the trade off in fuel mileage. 



#2 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 12:17 PM



which one do you want?


Is this truck going to be 4WD? if not, no contest off-road, Subaru wins.


but, if the 'stuff' you carry is huge or dirty, the truck wins.


If you really only haul dirt or giant stuff once or twice a year, the fuel savings will pay for a rental vehicle - or borrow a buddy' truck and buy him some beers w'ever.

#3 MilesFox


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Posted 17 February 2014 - 12:22 PM

The soob will be more practical, and handle better on the street in snowy weather. Inless you are haulig tonns of cargo, a trailer hitch and a u-haul rental on the forester will do the job. The subaru would probably do better in a roll over considering their beefy a pillars that defeat the jaws of life.

#4 Fairtax4me



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Posted 17 February 2014 - 12:30 PM

How far off-road do you want to go?
If you're just going on basic trails to a camp-site, the Forester will do fine. A set of off-road tires and a small lift will help out traction and ground clearance.

But If you need to drive 6 miles into the woods with no trail and haul out a load of fire wood...

#5 Tsuru


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Posted 17 February 2014 - 01:26 PM

If you roll a Subaru, you are driving in a situation that the vehicle was not intended to be in.


The Ford F150, while quite capable, won't sidehill as readily as the Subaru, due to the center of gravity being higher.

(i'm running a Ford Ranger with over 250,000 miles on it. so the ford trucks are long living, my Bronco was still running strong when I sold her with 220,000 on it, the F150 I gave to my friend with over 197,000 over ten years ago and she is still running it)


The F150, if 4X4, (and you are in PA? you could use 4X4)

will need to be manually selected (push button or rotary knob) and I recommend manual hubs, the auto hubs aren't all that great for anything except casual, occasional 4X use, they unlock when you let off the throttle, are coasting, or pointed downhill and using compression braking.

The Subaru (later models) are pretty much full time all wheel drive, no wondering if your hubs are locked, or when would be a good time to select 4X4.You just drive it and it gets you there!


The stock Subaru is really not a full blown offroader, it can be made into a quite capable offroader, (lifted with skidplates, brushguards, lights, winches etc, etc) but just off the lot, the F150 (4X4) is more capable of traveling where the roads aren't

If you are just going to trail run, national forest kind of "offroad" then the Subaru should serve you quite well.


Mileage, the Subaru will win hands down,

the best I could manage with my twin tanked, short bed, 5 speed, 300-6 F150 was 30, and that was on a mississippi run with a tailwind (and a can of seafoam in each tank)

The averages were closer to 18-20MPG.

A tonneau cover helps mileage with the pickup trucks, likewise bed cap/campershell).


the one thing I never was fond of about my F150 is that before I got the shell on the bed, I HAD to carry things I purchased in the cab of the truck if I were on a multi stop shopping run.

and if I had a passenger along it could get cluttered fast.

The Subaru has no such issues. passengers and your groceries travel in secure comfort.


I do not know your family size, or your penchant for outings with friends. With the F150 you are limited to three unless you get the extended cab, then five (buckets up front bench seat across back), or six with bench up front as well).


Safety, the Subaru (especially the later models) all have excellent crash ratings.

the F150 holds its own due to sheer mass.

Additionally, the F150 series were made by the double bucketfulls since the dawn of time, parts are readily available at any u-pull it or pick-a-part.

You can also buy a cheaper F150 Custom or XT (base line models) and upgrade your way to a fully loaded XLT Lariat just by bolting on what you want, the F150, and F250 share many components, all body panels are the same (within model years) the primary difference being that the frames/axles/running gear are stouter with the F250, and stouter still with the F350.

Got a F150 with vinyl seats and door panels, find a F150 in a parts yard with cloth interior and just swap it all out,  its all drop in without modifying anything dead simple.


Engines are proven in the Fords, likewise the Transmissions (save for the automatics in the 1986 F-series/Econolines  and Broncos), the automatic four speed overdrives were prone to slipping and could burn themselves out over time.


Engines to consider for the F150,

the 300 straight six, super simple and is a torque monster, 

The 302 (5.0 liter) V8 time tested, hot-roddable

351 (5.7 liter) stout as the cast iron shes forged from, fantastic if you are towing anything, and I mean ANYTHING (this engine is also hot-roddable, drop a cam in this things with forged pistons and a custom engine management system and you are in for one wild ride (at 7 or so mpg).


You will also need to consider adding weight to the bed, over the rear axle for traction during the winter. (sand bags, boiler plate, bodies, sacks of cats, cartons of poodles, etc...) the pickup truck is light on the long end by design. I run 225 pounds of sandbags in the rear of my ranger over the Montana Winter here. it helps.


If you get an older F150 (mid 1980s),You should know that in 1986 Ford was forced to press into production an untested fuel injection system for their truck line (broncos too), the fuel injection and fuel management system for 1986 was oddball, one of a kind, so nothing for any of the other years will fit or function, if you have a 1986 fullsize bronco or F series truck/Econoline van it's unique. only those 1986 parts will work on the 1986.


If it were me, I'd look for a F150 XLT Short bed 4X4 straight six, automatic, manual hubs, 2" lift, skidplated, pushbar/brush guard. winch, full lighting (front, sides, rear) hi-lift jack, bed mounted jerry cans for fuel and water.


A late eighties 4X legacy, lifted, custom bumpers, pushguards, read mounted spare, single fuel can, 15" rims, (etc, etc)


But this isn't about me.

get what you need to get through, 4X4s are going to be cheaper for you in the spring when the need for them isn't so pressing.

but for goodness sake, get rid of that dodge...they are real good lookers, but carry the dodge/chrysler (plymouth) curse of being beautiful to look at, awesome to possess and utterly reliable...for the first six months.

(I'm speaking from experience)


(lean towards the Subaru...you can't go wrong with a Subaru, and this is coming from a Ford guy!)


Best of luck on your quest!




#6 Loyale 2.7 Turbo

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:05 PM

Has anyone switched truck to subbie?


Yes, see: http://www.ultimates...-to-the-subaru/


Kind Regards.



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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:35 PM

All I will say, after 2 years working Ford parts is stay the heck away from the 5.4 and the 3.5 ecoboost they are both garbage.

#8 soobie_newbie67


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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:36 PM

I went from a 2000 Chevy K2500 with a 454 to my 1996 Legacy and love it. does just as good in the snow. still have the truck cause its for work but I will always have a Subie for a daily driver. just got a 2000 Legacy GT and it has even more safety options than the 96 did. I love it

#9 idosubaru


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Posted 17 February 2014 - 06:07 PM

All going to come down to safety and off road capability if it's worth the trade off in fuel mileage. 


i've owned like 30 Subaru's and have an F150.  should be pretty easy to tell what you want as they are in NO way comparable.  i hate driving my F150 and basically use it only for towing...and yet i think i'd still recommend an F150 for you.


more ground clearance, hauling capacity, more weight for safety, and it seems like you prefer american cars anyway.  the chances of you liking the Subaru seem low - but go test drive a few?


Get an F150 with a straight 6, excellent motors, you can't hardly find anything better at high mileage reliability and inexpensiveness. they're a little underpowered for a full sized truck but you're comparing it to a forester so towing capacity can't be on the radar screen.  you're in flat land too, mine is only limited up steep mountain grades and towing large loads - cars or huge boats.  i hate to say it and may be banned for it but that straight 6 is a better motor than a forester is going to get you.


depends what kind of "offroading" you're doing but ground clearance makes a huge difference in getting high centered in mud and snow.


i don't like roll over risk and prefer more control which i feel cars give you, and i don't like being that high off the ground.  but i can't downplay the important of mass.  there's no way to guess what kind of dangerous situation you will be in for the future and thereby dictate which advantage would be more desirable.

#10 idosubaru


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Posted 17 February 2014 - 06:07 PM

how about both?  my insurance went down when i had one Subaru and then added the truck - so it was cheaper to own both for me anyway.  i got a significant discount for having an additional vehicle.

#11 jp98


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Posted 17 February 2014 - 06:33 PM

In my book there is no comparison.  If you need a truck then get the truck, if you don't then get the Forester. 


Now if you were comparing a compact truck with the Forester it would be different. 


Also if you plan to purchase the truck and put a cap on it then get the Forester since you just disabled 90% of the trucks advantage. 


I have both my Outback and a F350 diesel truck and wouldn't even try to compare either one with each other. 

#12 bratman2


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Posted 17 February 2014 - 09:41 PM

I am going to assume you are talking about trading a Charger in on a new truck or Subaru. What I would do if you have the room and cash is buy the new Subaru Forester. The new CVT Forester can get you in the low 30's mpg highway. Take the difference of what a four wheel drive F150 cost and buy a used longbed Ranger. Preferably with a 4 cyl and 5 speed. Best of both worlds and good gas mileage with both. The late model 01 and up Rangers had a major change on their 4cyl engines. I paid $6200 for a 06 Ranger 3 years ago with 49k miles. It was beat up some but the interior was excellent. Most people want the supercabs and autos, this makes these trucks a great buy. I would imagine an 01-03 could be had for well under half that. If you don't mind shifting gears the Forester can also be had with a manual!!! Should knock another grand to your favor!

#13 tirod


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Posted 19 February 2014 - 11:27 AM

I had an '80 F150 with the 300 six, the mileage wasn't good. I could haul a load of firewood, but without 4WD, your buddy will destroy a new clutch when he gets stuck in the woods. As said, the cab is small, there's no sheltered storage or seating for more than two others and that gets cramped quickly. It's also big, it doesn't maneuver in traffic well, and it heels over like a yacht in high seas in quick lane changes. The ride is too soft in front and with no load it's harsh in back. This coming from the perspective of someone who had just sold his '66 Mustang and moved into the truck. No positive comparison except you can haul a lot of DIY home remodeler stuff around when you need to. 


I sold it when the cab was crushed in a tornado, I had already moved on to a Jeep Cherokee with auto and 4WD. Lots more room, plenty of sheltered storage, and yes, I could haul a small load of wood in back with the seat down, and did so. But - every now and then, I needed something bigger, so I bought a 5x8 utility trailer. One that small tracks behind with no curb jumping and hauls the same stuff as a pickup bed - but doesn't destroy the gas mileage so much. Nonetheless, the 4.0 in the Cherokee wasn't all that economical and got about the same as the truck, 16-18 in town. That's a more realistic figure for everyday driving. 


Off road, it was far superior to a 2WD truck, but without lockers in the differentials, you can get stuck just as much, just further into the swamp. That is the #1 problem - 4WD isn't without some kind of limited slip or locker to get at least one tire pulling. I've had to the the F150 pulled out, and the Cherokee. Jeeps aren't bought, they really are built. Stock Jeeps aren't all that, just compared to 2WD sedans that would be out of place off road. 


Since then, I bought a 99 Forester AWD. Just a tad smaller than the Cherokee, but newer ones of any of the three have morphed into supersized. I can still use the trailer and have with the Forester, that size doesn't challenge it and the combination is still well matched. The Jeep had 171 hp stock, the Forester 174 or so, plus the AWD shuttles the power to whichever end has traction. I does pull better in the snow, and the ABS chattering reminds you that you can go too fast when you clamp down on the brakes. The upgrades to heated mirrors, windows, seats, etc make it a much better cold season car, and that is obvious when you see the distribution of sales nationwide - AWD is a northern or mountainous terrain seller. 


Off road, tho, the Subaru is not and cannot be used aggressively. It simply does not have the ground clearance that the live axle trucks and 4WD Cherokees have. That is because of the CV axles, altho those are now on the front of trucks. You cannot really lift a Subaru - the shafts are anchored inboard to the frame thru the differentials mounted to the unibody, and they will not tolerate excessive angles. With a live axle vehicle, you can at least lift them moderately which will elevate the engine and transmission pans away from things that can and will destroy them. 


Subarus have solenoids hanging into the transmission pan, striking the pan and bending it even slightly upwards will damage them. Note the rally guys are using manuals with high travel suspensions and lots of skid plates. AWD cars are much more prone to crushing the solenoids, if you really plan hard off road use, then modifications are necessary with any choice. It's a matter of which achilles heel you pick, and none are exempt from it. 


You can choose to run your Subaru easy off road, the problem is that terrain is no respecter of persons, and things can and will happen. Consider carefully to what extreme you mean to take things, then the costs to get the vehicle prepared and armored to meet that level of challenge. Don't plan on doing any water crossings deeper than hub height - despite all the hype, off road vehicles aren't warranted for it and the electrical systems are toast if they sit in water longer than 1/2 hour. You can drain and change all the fluids, but a wet wiring harness is a total as far as insurance is concerned. They aren't waterproof - the average bass boat rates higher. It's planned slobsolescence on the part of the makers. It's why trailer wiring on pickups hauling boats has such a short life. 


Define what you really plan to do with the vehicle 85% of the time, and then bias it to at least not be all wrong for the other 15%. I still enjoy the capability of the Forester even if I have lost a lot of working ground clearance. It's a matter of knowing - now - that I can plow thru creek banks knocking them down without having some concerns about engine and transmission damage - something the truck and Jeep would tolerate. I can't recommend Subarus in that use, they simply aren't intended for it. 

#14 Tsuru


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Posted 19 February 2014 - 12:34 PM

"Built not bought"



#15 ThatSubaruKid


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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:16 PM

Just putting this out there as far as crash/rollover safety goes, my buddy rolled his 1995 Legacy Wagon 8 times on a 350 yard stretch of I5 in California after being side swiped and over correcting. Three people in the car, one laying in the back seat without a seat belt and no major injuries. Just cuts from the shattered glass everywhere.

#16 ThatSubaruKid


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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:20 PM

Just putting this out there as far as crash/rollover safety goes, my buddy rolled his 1995 Legacy Wagon 8 times on a 350 yard stretch of I5 in California after being side swiped and over correcting. Three people in the car, one laying in the back seat without a seat belt and no major injuries. Just cuts from the shattered glass everywhere.

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