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Outback vs Forester, buying my first Subaru

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I've narrowed my new (used) car search down to a 2011 Outback (38,xxx miles)




and a 2011 Forester (25,xxx miles). Both are the base 2.5x model, with pretty limited features outside of alloys.




I've had one experience with a Subaru and that was driving a new model Outback over the course of 4 days through Montana. I enjoyed it, the paddle shifted CVT tranny felt nice and crisp, had great leg room front and back, seemed to handle well enough (I drive a 2003 Hyundai Sonata, just about anything is better than this) and I enjoyed the car overall outside of the fairly significant blind spots. I have not driven a Forester, yet.


I'd like to know about experiences with each vehicle, namely reliability, maintenance and anything mechanical. 



Edited by absoludicrous

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Can't tell you a lot, but our close friends have a base model 2007 Forrester (too small for their liking and they wish it had a few options). They have put a ton of miles on it with very few repairs needed. We are the original owners of a 2007 Tribeca that has all options as it was basically a dealer demo. We are basically happy with it and will continue to drive it, but are relieved we bought the gold warranty as there has been numerous repair issues. Also, gas milage has been maybe only 15 city and 19 highway, despite using premium gas (not required). We have owned a 2007 Legacy station wagon since January 2012 and are having issues with it, but love the incomparable handling and safety of Subaru's and will continue to drive Subaru's. 

I suggest negotiating a good price on a gold warranty unless you are a mechanic.


On your decision which model, make sure you are ok with not having certain options. Also look up which has more cubic centimeters (interior space). Do they both have removable mats for the back ? Similar tire life ? Car fax report and/or Subaru maintenance/repair record ? Roof rack and/or rear hitch available ? If so, with which vehicle can they be had for lower price ? If you want one of these or both, negotiate now for them after they give you their "bottom" price (ask for them for free, and compromise if necessary that you will pay for the part and they install for free)


I am sure that you realize that the later model year Forresters and Outbacks are larger and more similar in size to the Tribeca, which does not sell well, maybe because of gas milage. Adjust the seats forward and back and have you and other relevant parties sit everywhere. 


By the way, I would buy a Forrester or Outback, and would probably decide based on price and my above comments

Hope some of this helps


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The outback is on a larger (legacy) platform so it has a larger foot print.  It is also made here in America.  The Forester is built on the impreza platform and built in Japan...


That said, the forester is designed with more leg room in the front than the outback.  What I mean bu this is you can move the front seat further back and sit more comfortably in the forester if you have long legs...You really don't want to be sitting in the back seat behind someone who has the seat moved all the way back though...


The Outback is designed for overall comfort so where there is less seat travel for the driver and passenger the back seat is more comfortable all around.  Seat size and comfort in an outback are also better than a forester as is ground clearance.  Cargo carrying capacity is greater in cubic inches in the outback but depending on what you are carrying it may fit easier into the forester because of the size of the rear hatch door.


The 2.5 Horizontally Opposed or Boxer engine has been the staple and base engine for YEARS.  It is a proven excellent power plant.  It has been in both the Forester and Legacy models I believe since their inception and will serve you well.  Because the outback is a larger heavier vehicle the forester will be a sportier car to drive.  You will notice a difference in acceleration will be a bit better as well as.  The outback is no slouch and the little you loose in acceleration you loose you will make up in comfort and options...


It's been a while for me but back in the day the AWD system of the outback was considerably better than that of the forester.  The X model forester had a limited slip rear differential that transferred power left to right in the rear and front to back, but I believe the outback transfers power left to right, front to back on BOTH the front wheels and rear wheels.  This is not VDC (vehicle dynamics control), but much superior to the foresters powertrain, especially if you live in a part of the country that gets their share of snow (looking at the Carfax it looks like you are in SD).  What this means to you is when on ice or snow whichever tire has the best traction will get the most power (up to a 60% 40% split) with the forester you can have traction lost/waste in the front end where by the way most of the vehicle weight is.  The outback being heavier will help you in the traction department too.


Towing capacity is better on the Outback too.


The rest is really amenities that you have to decide if they are important enough for you, (better stereo, heating and A/C type, upgraded fabrics and carpets, the lines of the car etc.) 


You can get an outback in a 6 cylinder too which you can't in the forester.  The H-6 engine is a newer engine that Subaru has offered sine about 2001 - 2002 I believe and it's a solid engine.  They offered it in the outback H-6 and VDC and when they released the Tribeca it became the standard powerplant in that vehicle as well (I purchased the B9 because of the 7 passenger seating.  It's tight in the back but it works for us).


I was at one point a Car Salesman I am not anymore.  Having sold Subaru, Volvo, Chevrolet, Kia, and Suzuki as new cars I choose to put my family in either a Subaru or Volvo, take that for what it's worth.  I also will NEVER purchase a new car again, WAY TOO MUCH money lost on the front end.  The key to owning a Subaru (or any other car) forever is maintenence.  I can't stress enough the importance of REGULAR 5,000 mile oil changes.  If the car you buy comes with an owners manual there is a maintenance schedule in that manual FOLLOW IT.  If it doesn't come with an owners manual get one and then FOLLOW IT. :)   It may cost you some up front but it will save you in the long haul and your subie will run forever or at least until the doors fall off... :D


Hope that helps a bit.

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