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| || ||1997 Subaru Forester Review, Brian Dolezalek, From Aurora C|
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Subaru Forester L
| ||Model||Subaru Forester L|
| ||What things have gone wrong with the car?||-anemic Clarion stereo system|
-high cost of accessories, particularly the Bose subwoofer
-2.5-liter engine not quite enough; could use a 2.8 or so
-tough seat cushions, at least for the cloth seats
-brakes; mushy and not very predictable
-pillars make for a blind spot on drivers side
-windows fog up to a fault in cold weather
-the dealership I bought it from (we won't go there!)
| ||General comments?||(1997 Model) - Wow! The first review of my car on this site? Quite an honor! It's gonna be a good review, too. Let's start with the bottom line, then work our way down: I'd say the Forester would be a fine choice for a family of four or fewer; bigger families should probably look toward the Durango or some other full-size SUV.|
I'm a single guy, making $40-50K a year, and when I went car-shopping I wanted a small to mid-size SUV with maximum utilitarian value, and I must say the Forester, at $23,000 with tax, was a perfect choice. I'd owned a 1984 Honda Prelude up to that point, which was a great car but was somewhat lacking in overall usability. I'd never bought a new car, and I figured if I was going to spend that kind of money, I wanted get the maximum amount of value out of it. Believe me, I did!
Where do I start? Cargo space, I guess; the Forester has as much as I've ever needed. If this gives you any idea, anything smaller than a major appliance (dryer, stove, etc.), and shorter than a pair of skis, should fit without a problem. The rear seats fold down, of course, offering a completely flat space. The shortfall, though, comes in the form of vertical depth. The full-size spare sits underneath the floor of the cargo area; do the math. I've found it to be just right for me; anything smaller would make me wonder why I bought an SUV, anything bigger would take away from the car-like ride.
Make no mistake; the ride is indeed car-like, resembling that of a Taurus or Camry more than an Expedition or other SUV. The size couldn't be better for me, but I'm of medium build; I heard a larger fellow at the dealership commenting that there didn't seem to be enough driver's-side room for him, and he'd be right. Plenty of room for me, though, up front. The back seat is another matter; most of my passengers have BARELY sufficient legroom, and for some I have to move my seat up a notch or two. A related complaint: the styrofoam feel of the seat cushions. The leather seats might be a different story, but the cloth seats don't offer much give. I had to ride about an hour in the back seat one time, and I exited the car with a moderate case of numb-butt.
The Forester's instrument cluster is simple but effective, no suprises, no frills. Seats are fairly easy to move, and the driver's seat gets lumbar and upper-leg support (no such options for the passenger, unfortunately). Four cupholders keep you hydrated, and the passenger seat can lean all the way back for sleepy passengers. There's a myriad of handy little storage spaces, including an overhead space for your glasses. I recommend having the simulated woodgrain installed; it makes for a more handsome, high-end feel to the overall interior.
Another nicety: the interior cloth on the seats and headliner can be had with cool patterns, as opposed to simple monotone cloth. The aesthetics of the black dashboard-top left me cold, but the tan-color velour protector for said surface handily remedied that problem.
Accessories for the Forester are bank-breakers for the most part, and I've only found a few worth having. The Clarion stereo sounds uncannily like my old My First Sony, and upgrades are a joke. Under NO cicumstances should you mess with the Bose subwoofer; $400-plus, and I challenge anyone to detect any significant bass-response improvement. My advice: scrap the whole thing and get a good Sony deck with Infinity or Polk drivers. You can get side runners, a trailer hitch, and a tire