Getting firsthand information from an actual car owner is one sure way to get an idea of car performance once it leaves the lot. Autobytel features real consumer reviews that give the unbiased experience of a car.
Dependable & Versatile
Pros: All wheel drive in snow, rain, awesome
Cons: Want better than 23mpg. Clutch could be sportier.Bought in 2002 as soon as 03 model came out. Original battery and spark plugs still after 100k. All electrical working great. Catalytic replaced under warranty before 75k. Besides cat, no other issues; this car is amazing!
Forester SE excellent general use vehicle
Pros: Handling and performace with reasonable economy, 'real' glove compartment, durability
Cons: Fog lamps and privacy glass not standard across the line and idiot lights verses real gages for temp, pressure, voltage.Recently purchased Forester SE is proving to be a good choice. Elbow room aplenty. Averaging much better than advertized economy, all modes (without lead-foot). Good power, adequate for medium (300 mi) and hilly trips. I bought the SE trim to get real tires and wheels (16x65 vs 17x55) and to avoid the 'hole in the roof' (a small popup would have been acceptable). The 'push' from the rear wheels in lock-to-lock turns is a different experience, care on slippery surfaces in really tight turns may be advised (not tried yet). My biggest criticisms of the total lineup:  idiot lights, no temp, pressure or voltage gages (all trims).  Only high-end trims offer privacy glass, power seat(s) fog lamps (I installed post-delivery) and compass  only 3 exterior colors offered to get dark upholstery and carpet (which I got ...pastel gets dingy quickly... general complaint about all vehicles).  the assist handles should be 'A' pillar-mounted instead of roof-mounted (this may be a head-strike issue though).  Riccaro seats would be better (not available on everything out there unless you buy a premium gas-diet German or Swede).
Pros: Sits up higher than my previous auto (sedan)
Cons: Refer to review comments.I hear a 'clunking' type sound whenever I start my forward acceleration. It sounds like it is coming from the rear of the vehicle but the dealer service manager says it is the ABS computer under the hood and that it is common to this vehicle. I frankly do not believe that. It is proving to be very annoying, leading me to be completely dissatisfied with the car. I would not own another one.
Bullit Proof Ride!!!
Cons: Gas mileageThis car has been 100% reliable for the first 100k (except for a battery at 90k). It has been everything that I could have expected.
Pros: Handling and AWD
Cons: Under powered by 25/30 hp.This car is wonderful to drive and handles like a BMW at times. Problem without Turbo auto is a bit under powered even with the manual 5 speed. Still for a short wheel base it feels great, stops on a dime and is very balanced. Low center of gravity and AW keeps auto glued to ground. Best car for the money in its class. First Subaru but won't be the last.
Best car I have ever owned
Pros: Turbo and mileage
Cons: Love it all5 speed Turbo. Live in mountains outside of Denver, and this is the best vehicle that I have ever owned. I have the 'driveway from hell' - suffice it to say that the local towing company knows my house well - and this car has never failed me. Bought it in 2003 and in 2010 has 80K miles. Only maint is the usual - oil changes and new plugs and air filter at 60K. Runs like a dream and gets average of 23 MPG combined city/hwy, and better than 28 on I70 too and from the ski areas (which obviously has many long climbs). Overall a great car - am hard pressed to even consider a new one, although at 64 the joints are giving trouble in my left foot and may have to go with an automatic. You absolutely can't go wrong with this car. We own 3 Subarus ('92 SVX, '01 Outback, and the '04 Forester) and would never buy anything else. They are the best value around (nothing else comes close for the price) and the quality is about the best out there.
Pros: Bluetooth hands free!
Cons: Navigation system little hard to understandI love the pearl color, the way it turns on a dime. and the gas mileage is great too!