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I can’t believe it has already been four years since I got the car, and two since the last review. But the lease is over and the time has come for it to go back to the dealer tomorrow. The good news is….my loaded 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT will be ready by 2 PM tomorrow. Yup, this will be #4 and will represent the most cars from one marque in 42 years with cars. It ties with Toyota and Alfa Romeo for the top spot.

From the number of Subarus that I see on the road vs. just a few years ago, I suspect many more people are starting to drink the Subaru Kool Aid. It is certainly well deserved and even overdue I think; these are terrific cars.

My new Forester is one of the few models still built in Japan for the export market. It was only one of two sitting on the dealer lot in a desired colour, and he made me an excellent deal if I chose from local inventory. Unfortunately, it is loaded with every conceivable bell and whistle including the new EyeSight collision avoidance system: Two cameras mounted in stereo just in front of the rear-view mirror, that constantly scan the front field of the car and warn of impending potential dangers such as pedestrians, unplanned lane changes due to dozing off, or closing in too rapidly on a decelerating vehicle. I’m pretty old-school in this regard: If you need stuff like this (e.g., computerized auto-parking, etc.) to drive, you probably shouldn’t be driving! And I do find the plethora of electronics more distracting than helpful (I’ve rented about a dozen state-of-the art cars in my travels during the last two years).

Now to my final review of the 2010. I won’t go into the excruciating detail of the common car review. I will however, provide a quick summary of the pros and cons:

Pros:

  1. Extremely reliable, to the point that I always missed my service points because there was nothing niggling at me to bring it in. I am ashamed to say that I once unwittingly went 8 months between oil changes and only realized it was time when the low oil warning light came on and the engine needed 4 litres of oil to top-up!
  2. The benchmark for all-wheel-drive. Only one other marque comes close: Audi. But their system is more complex and less reliable. And Subaru has been making nothing but AWD nearly forever. Forget the rest, at least in heavy snow. The Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system is so flawless and seamless, you never know when it’s actually saving your life. I was speaking with a Mercedes-Benz salesman about the GLK 350. He knows I have a Forester. He was singing the praises of his SUV for luxury and comfort. I asked him about the 4-Motion system on the GLK. He looked at me and said, “It’s very good…..but it’s not as good as Subaru!”.
  3. Very comfortable especially for bigger people. I sat in the supposedly equivalent Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4 and they felt very cramped by comparison to the Forester.
  4. Car-like drive comfort and handling.
  5. Power from the non-turbo version is more than adequate if you’re a reasonably good driver. Don’t listen to the power/torque bullshit from automotive industry writers. And again, if you don’t know how to merge on a highway on-ramp and need 300 hp to do it because you wait till the last second to build speed….you probably shouldn’t be driving!

Cons:

  1. Some quirky driver and passenger amenities, e.g., cup holders, heated-seat switches, power plugs, etc. These are all located in strange places that require you to be somewhat of a contortionist to get at. I’m told that these have been corrected in the latest models.
  2. Gas consumption. There’s a substantial penalty for the full-time AWD, although it’s well worth it, IMHO, from a safety perspective. Don’t listen to the test numbers the manufacturers provide; they are all bullshit. I got combined city/highway of 11.5 litres/100 km (22MPG US) over the course of the 65K km that I put on the car. That’s not too bad for an SUV.
  3. There are some mysterious and completely dysfunctional cargo hooks in the trunk that I was never able to make work, nor figure out their design logic.
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