2015 Subaru Forester

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You can learn some important stuff about cars by taking note of who buys what – and how the cars are used.'15 Subaru lead

And whether they stand up to the uses to which they’re put.

Texans, for instance, know trucks. Forget the TV commercials and advertising flapdoodle. Check out which makes/models of pick-up are popular in Texas – especially rural Texas – and you’ll have a good idea about which truck you ought to buy.

Shifting gears a little – you may have taken note of the fact that there are lots of Subarus (all kinds, including ancient Brats) running around places where it snows a lot and gets really cold a lot.

This is what they call in law enforcement a clue.

Subarus are not popular because they’re sexy – not superficially sexy, anyhow. They are popular because they’re almost as unstoppable as a King Tiger tank in the Ardennes in the winter of ’44.

And it’s not just because they’re all-wheel-drive.

Lots of new cars have all-wheel-drive. But Subarus come standard with it. Most others don’t. Also, Subaru has been selling AWD longer than pretty much everyone. And when you combine standard AWD with a low-slung flat four (as opposed to the common inline – and upright – four) which does for the car’s center of gravity (and so, its traction and its balance) what steroids did for Mike Piazza – it’s not hard to grok why these otherwise less-than-lookers nonetheless get taken home by lots of people.

WHAT IT IS'15 Subaru off road

The Forester is Subaru’s entrant in the compact crossover segment. It’s a two-row, medium-small five-door hatchback in the same general class as the Ford Escape (base price $23,450), Mazda CX5 (base price $21,795), Honda CR-V (base price $23,445) and Jeep Cherokee (base price $23,095), among others.

While it’s similar in general shape/layout to those rivals, the Forester’s the only one of the bunch that comes standard with all-wheel-drive and a horizontally opposed engine (cylinders laid flat, in pairs, “boxing” each other across a common crankshaft). This layout has a number of objective advantages over traditional (upright) engines – and Subaru’s street cred as being one of the first major automakers to mass-market all-wheel-drive is another point of difference between the Forester and its competition.

Oh, and there’s a third thing.

The Forester is one of an increasingly dwindling number of small crossover SUVs that’s available with a manual transmission (the Mazda’s one of the very few others that also still does). '15 Forester dash

MSRP is $22,195 for the base trim with the six-speed stickshift, 2.5 liter boxer engine and AWD. Opting for the same basic package with a continuously variable (CVT) automatic kicks the sticker price up to $25,095.

You can also replace the economy-minded 2.5 liter engine with an optionally available turbocharged 2.0 liter boxer engine. This more powerful mill is paired only with the CVT automatic and is available only with the higher-end Premium ($28,495) and top-of-the-line Touring ($33,095) trims.

WHAT’S NEW

A rearview back-up camera is now standard equipment and 2.5i Touring trims get larger 18 inch wheels.

WHAT’S GOOD

Standard AWD (it’s optional in competitors).'15 Subaru manual

Lower starting price than FWD competitors.

Boxer engines – two of them, your choice (turbo’d or not). Several competitors offer just one engine (and none of them are boxer engines).

Available manual transmission (becoming extremely hard to find in this class of vehicle).

A veritable sled dog when it snows.

Class-leading cargo capacity.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

Not much of a looker.

Some of the “safety” features are preemptively nannyish and their flashing dashboard lights and insistent chimes are annoying and distracting.

Luckily, these features are still optional.

Can’t pull much (max trailer rating is just 1,500 lbs.)

UNDER THE HOOD'15 Forester 2.5 engine

Subarus are the only vehicles – other than Porsches – that feature boxer, or horizontally opposed (or “flat”) engines. They are lighter, typically, than upright engines – because they don’t need heavy balancers and they give the cars they’re installed in a lower center of gravity, which helps with traction and handling.

In the Forester, you’ve got two to choose from.

Standard equipment is a 2.5 liter four (not turbocharged) that produces 170 hp. This is competitive with the Ford Escape’s standard and also 2.5 liter (but upright and in-line) four-cylinder engine (168 hp) and the Honda CR-V’s standard (and only) 2.4 liter (also upright) four (185 hp).

The Jeep Cherokee comes standard with a similar (184 hp) 2.4 liter four (again, upright).

However, none of the above – none of the others – offer a manual transmission to go with it. The Forester does – and it’s standard.

Or, go with the optional continuously variable (CVT) automatic.'15 Forester AWD graphic

Either way, the Soobie comes standard with something else – all-wheel-drive. Not only is AWD optional in rival vehicles like the Escape, Cherokee and CR-V, you’ll pay more for the FWD-equipped versions of those vehicles than you would for the AWD-equipped Forester.

Also worthy of mention – in the Subaru’s favor – is the fact that the AWD-equipped Forester accelerates to 60 in roughly the same timeframe (8.8-8.9 seconds) as the FWD/base-engined versions of its rivals.

Fuel economy is pretty good, too: 24 city, 32 highway with the CVT (which is more efficient than the six-speed manual; mileage in that case droops a bit to 22 city, 29 highway). The Honda CR-V does slightly better – 27 city, 34 highway – but the Fun Factor is decidedly lower. And the FWD/base-engined Ford Escape does slightly worse: 22 city, 31 highway (same numbers for the base-engined/FWD Cherokee).

The Forester ‘s optional engine is a 2.0 liter turbo four carrying a 250 hp rating. Consider it a WRX on the down low.

Which it is.'15 Forester 2.0 engine

So ordered, the 0-60 time declines to just over six seconds flat – almost three seconds quicker than the base/2.5 liter-equipped Forester and all of its optional-engined rivals. This includes the V6-equipped Cherokee, incidentally – which has a higher hp rating (271) but carries more curb weight: 4,016 lbs. vs. 3,624 lbs. for the turbo’d Soobie.

Gas mileage remains high, too: 23 city, 28 highway – slightly better than the AWD/V6-equipped Cherokee (21 city, 28 highway).

There’s one hair in the soup, though.

The Forester’s not much of a puller. Max tow rating – with either engine – is just 1,500 pounds. The Cherokee with the V6 can pull 3,500 pounds.  The Escape with its optional turbo four can pull the same.

ON THE ROAD'15 Forester road 1

If you go with the 2.5 liter engine (and either transmission) the Forester is a superlative A to B appliance. It is not quick – but neither is it slow. Like any new vehicle – trade secret being revealed here – there’s more power/performance than you can legally use anywhere in the United States. Meaning, you can rock it up to 80, 90 MPH and still have plenty more to go.

How often do you drive faster than 80? How about 90?

Ok, then.

And with the gearing advantages (steep overdrive gearing, to be precise) any new vehicle can comfortably hold 70-75 all day long. Meaning, without the engine buzzing like a run-amok chainsaw and sounding like it’s going to spit parts all over the road at any moment.'15 Forester boxer

What sets the Soobie apart is not speed but grip. Remember – standard AWD. Optional in the competition. And even when they’ve got it, they still don’t have the traction advantages of that laying-flat engine, its weight split evenly down the car’s longitudinal centerline.

The six-speed manual version is definitely the fun choice. Plus, you’ve got more control. In deep snow, for example, you can gear down to leverage (and modulate) the boxer engine’s output through the AWD.

Unfortunately, Subaru is not willing to sell the six-speed with the optional WRX-on-the-down-low 2.0 turbo engine. Maybe because that would cannibalize WRX sales as people who want a hot rod but need a more practical hot rod turned the Forester’s way. Still, CVT or not (and the 2.0-equipped Forester gets a more aggressive version of the CVT with eight “stepped” and driver controllable not-really-gears but kind of feels like you’ve got ’em) the turbo’d Forester is one hell of a sleeper. I’d almost (almost!) rather have it than the be-winged and air-scooped WRX, which is just a bit to obvious for serious wet work.'15 Forester road 3

The ride (quiet/well-damped) is emphasized over rally car (WRX-esque) handling. But – again – the fulsome scurvy truth is that almost any modern car’s threshold of traction – the point at which you begin to feel as though the car’s getting close to the edge of adhesion, tires beginning to squeal, lunches on the verge of being lost – is now far higher than the average person will ever experience or even approach experiencing. We car journalist test driver types natter amongst ourselves about such things but only because we operate at felonious speeds, counting on luck and media credentials to get us out of trouble. Note that most road tests are done on test tracks. It’s a party, but not reflective of street driving at all.

Here’s something that is – close-quarters maneuvering.

The Forester excels at this real-world task because it has a much tighter turning circle than its rivals: 34.8 inches vs (wait for it) 38.8 for the Ford Escape, 37.6 for the Jeep Cherokee and 36.9 for the Honda CR-V.'15 Forester in snow

The Subaru’s ability to ford through deep snow, meanwhile, is much-assisted by its 8.7 inches of ground clearance – the same as the “rugged” Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk and more than the base Cherokee and both the Honda CR-V (6.8 inches) and the Ford Ecape (7.9 inches).

And, don’t forget: all-wheel-drive is extra-cost in all of those models.

AT THE CURB

Normally, I use a truck to pick up and haul drywall. But circumstances left me truck-less during the week I had the Forester and I needed a sheet of it.

Subaru to the rescue!'15 Forester cargo

Now, it did not fit all the way in there – a fourth or so was hanging out of the open tailgate. And it did not lay flat (I had to angle it in). But the take home point is I was able to take home a full-sized sheet of drywall in the Forester. And probably could not have done so in most of the Forester’s competition.

Because the Forester has more room to work with than they do: 74.7 cubic feet with the second row down vs. a diminutive 54.9 for the Cherokee and 68.1 for the Escape (which is close in terms of volume but less usable because of the sexier-looking Ford’s lower roof and thus, vertical space). The Soobie even has more cargo room than the vaunted Honda CR-V, which tops out at 70.9 cubic feet (and which does not offer either a manual transmission or a WRX-on-the-down-low turbo’d engine). The Forester’s rear doors also open to 90 degrees, maximizing access and easing entry/exit.

One caveat: If you choose the available panorama sunroof, total capacity drops to 68.5 cubic feet and you’ll lose some of that vertical space.'15 Forester cut away

Touring models feature one-touch folding rear seats – and theater-style seating is standard on all trims. The Forester has very good – though not class-best – second row legroom: 38 inches vs. the Cherokee’s exceptional 40.3 (and the Ford Escape’s less-than-exceptional 36.8 inches).

The dash layout is simple and functional – big speedo and tach, a few secondary LCD readouts. Oversize rotary knobs for the AC, fan and outlet settings. Unless you choose the optional touchscreen, which complicates things.

A nice little bonus is that manual-equipped Foresters come standard with an All Weather Package that includes heaters front seats, windshield washer de-icer and heated outside mirrors; otherwise, these are extra cost (on the lower trims). Models with the turbo engine, meanwhile, get a performance exhaust upgrade, metal-trimmed pedals, sport instrument cluster, an 18-inch wheel/tire package and leather trim.

THE REST'15 Forester 6

My only beef is with the (thankfully, optional) Driver Assist Technology Package, which bundles Land Departure Warning and Collision Mitigation. The former issues an annoying beep (and flashing yellow light) whenever the Forester crosses a painted line. In theory, it’s supposed to help the driver avoid wandering into the opposing lane of traffic (or off the shoulder). In practice, it does that… and also beeps and blinks when you make a a routine lane change, or other maneuver that involves treading over a painted line.

The latter – Collison Mitigation – issues an annoying beep and a flashing red light when it detects an object in the Forester’s path. Problem is, it also detects berms and trees by the side of the road – and will squawk and flash frantic warnings during normal/reasonable thread-the-needle passing (as in heavy traffic) if you get within a car length of another car… which is very distracting and thus, arguably, at cross purposes with the stated intent of this technology.'15 Forester last

Luckily, they can both be skipped – and turned off. Though not easily. The “off” buttons must be depressed and held for several seconds before the computer – grudgingly, it feels like – turns the gizmos off. But they come right back on again the next time you start the car – and must be turned off manually again, each time you want to avoid being harassed by the chimes and lights.

Pop the hood and you’ll find  the oil filter’s right there, on top of the engine. Completely accessible. It can be replaced by hand, with no tools necessary. Subaru deserves credit for making a real effort to ease the DIY-serviceability of its cars.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Forester has beauty that is more than skin deep. It may not be a looker, like the Escape and Cherokee.

But it’s the keeper – as opposed to a one-night-stand.

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42 COMMENTS

  1. I have a 2010 Legacy. I bought it with 38k miles. It now has 113k. I picked it because of its maintenance friendly layout. I can get to everything including the spark plugs. I also picked it because of the simple suspension. Many modern cars have multi link setups, which in todays Houston roads, cost a fortune to fix when components go bad. All you really have to replace on a strut based car are the struts and the mounts.

    The 2010 Legacy is slow and drony with the CVT. Manual transmissions are a rare sighting in Houston, so I couldn’t really find one of those. I am not too worried about the CVT, however. CVT replacement seems to cost less than a conventional automatic and I bet their durability is good. There are far fewer moving parts.

    That said, I found the stock suspension in mine to stink. I replaced the front and rear sway bars with 26mm and 19 mm units. I had to replace the struts and springsat around 100k miles because they were starting to fail. I am optimistic that my firmer setup will take me well over 100k miles this time around.

    The only thing I don’t like about this car now is that it’s overdue for a timing belt. Timing belts are an unnecessary waste of time. I don’t know why they are not usng chains. I guess they need to give dealer techs something to do.

    This car has never left me stranded.

    I look forward to the day when I can get a Legacy or an outback with that 2.0L engine and a manual, although I can live with the CVT.

  2. My 2010 Forester has the oil filter high and inside the exhaust manifold loop–always fun to change when the engine’s hot. Moving the filter is a good thing. It’s been a good, bland car, and one of a few Foresters that had gas tank pressurization problems when it was driven through snow. (Try filling the tank a cup at a time, no cruise control, and a panoply of dash lights lit up constantly.) Parts replacement by the dealer didn’t work. The final solution was a mechanic cutting up an old tin can and covering the works under the car.

    A 1910 solution to a 2010 problem.

    My Forester has the 5 speed manual, which I highly recommend. Fluid change cost is less than half that for the automatic and heaven knows how much less than the CVT. In the long run, given its lower maintenance cost and presumably much cheaper repair/replacement cost over the CVT, the manual is the only way to go.

    The biggest beef is with the AWD, which all AWD cars share: after so many miles, if you waste a tire you have to replace them all. My family has a knack of gashing sidewalls and what not, so I’ve probably got $1200-1400 tied up in tire changes without a single tire (other than the damaged ones) ever reaching the end of its useful life. At 65,000 miles, that’s a lot of tire money.

    The AWD Subie also performs poorly in deep snow compared to my big 4WDs, but is superb on slippery surfaces. All in all, I think I’ll avoid AWD on any make and stick with 4WD for bad weather driving.

  3. Eric,

    Nice write up. Subaru has improved their driver’s seat over the years. The 2001 version was uncomfortable (for me) after a short while. The 2010 Forester version was much better. Good cars that — while not flashy — are good at what they are.

    My only quibble would be the Mike Piazza comment. There have been some hinted rumors of PED use by Mike. However, to my knowledge, there has not been any evidence of PED use by Mike. (You could have made a better case with Mark McGuire (sp?) or Barry Bonds instead of Mike.)

  4. Foresters are awesome vehicles. Thankfully the designers have maintained the good all round visibility of the previous generation models

    • Wind, you don’t know what you’re missing unless you live south of Kansas or west of Texas where snow on any driving surface is not an issue. The Subaru Forester will walk or run away from anything and I mean anything on any configuration of wheels, tracks or feet when snow and ice are at best treacherous on cold wintery cement or asphalt here in the Midwest. As a professional licensed driver of any type of vehicle up to 80,000 lbs. who works for the Dept. Of Transportation, I’ve seen and done most of it all myself up to and including driving as though the roads were dry in rush hour traffic to and from work, in my Forester it’s like watching all the other vehicles driving in slow motion while I cruise by as though the roads were dry as burnt toast. Eric you’re the Man

  5. As my Tacoma sits at the deal in wait for a new frame, I want to know which truck is the one the rural Texans drive. It makes sense to me that they’d know what’s what.

    • Tim, why does it need a new frame? As for a brand of truck, the type of “truck” would greatly figure in there. No need to show up for a lightweight bout with a heavyweight truck…..or vice versa. I can tell you from driving past the graveyards every day which pickup is tops there and the manufacturer with the longest lived pickup advertises it.

      • Frame rot is a common problem on certain year Tacos. If it gets bad enough, Toyota will buy the truck back at 150% of book value (happened to my Dad). I think those trucks are somewhat overrated….

        • My dad’s ’06 tundra has 320k miles on it an has only ever needed to replace a cv boot after a corn stalk went through it. And all that “routine maintenance” that you should do? He has barely done any of it and the truck has had zero issues ever.

          • As someone who only ever buys used cars (almost always from private sellers), having the frame rust to the point of the leaf pack(s) falling off isn’t too desireable. It wouldn’t necessarily stop me from buying one but I would make damn sure it was solid first.
            On toyotas in general, I give them props for the way the interiors are put together (i’ve owned one and worked on many), not like a gm where you break $30 worth of plastic clips taking the door panels off. It’s also very nice that they will buy it back at more than book value if it proves unrepairable (but will they do this for one purchased from a private seller?). They seem to build good trannies too.
            Dad’s Taco with the 2.4 and automatic was such a dog from 0-25 mph that I couldn’t stand to drive it and it only ever got 24 mpg highway – about the same as my 95 Roadmaster btw. My last S10 had a carbureted 350 transplant with about 10:1 CR, comp 292H cam, 4.10s and a 700r4. Made north of 350hp I’m sure (would boil the hides until shifting into 3rd around 80 mph) and would still get 17.8 mpg highway cruising at 70 mph. I’m told that doing a V8 swap to a Taco is a no-go due to the frame being weak – even when they’re not rusted through.
            Really depends on what you want the truck for but i still stand by my claim that the Tacos are slightly overrated due the the mediocre mpg, observed lack of power in the 4cyl. models (also not super impressed with the small V8 – 4.7L? in the Land Cruisers), and the frame rust issues.

      • Eight,

        “Longest lasting full-size pickups on the road”. If Toyota had been building full size pickups since the 70’s they’d be advertising longest lasting pickups on the road.

        I hate to break it to you, but my 2008 Tundra is superior in every way to a squeaky squawky Chevy. I was a Chevy guy until I bought a Toyota. I will never go back. I still like Chevy’s but not enough to not buy a Toyota. And I can be satisfied that no union faggots built my truck.

        • ancap, I need the best pickup I can get. I need a 3.4T or 1 T 4WD that will do the dirty all day every day and do it way overloaded. Toyota doesn’t fit that bill to which Toyota admitted in 2009. I knew it already from all the people I knew that bought one due to the hype, Jap is better. Evidently not since that year and every other year I can think of GM has bested Toyota in every way, torque, HP, fuel mileage and towing. GM’s ride better, have better HVAC’s, handle better and are more reliable. I’m getting vague on how Toyotas are better…..certainly not from the cheap plastic interior, the seats nor the gauges or the sound deadening.

          • Where’s your proof of the test showing everything you say Eight? I’d live to see some documentation on just two if them.

            • ancap, the proof is in the pudding. I work in the patch every day and see Toyotas and Nissans occasionally……hauling people. Small frames, small springs(really small), thin wheels and thin sheetmetal combined with so-so differentials. I don’t study anything about pickups I don’t learn up close and personal. I don’t ask anyone to give me specs, just what sort of mileage, power, pulling ability, reliability, etc. people get from every brand.

              Friday week I was at a quarry getting a load of rock and see a co-worker in his Pete standing by it with a Mack pointed the other way right behind him. I stop to see what was going on and he’s been sideswiped and nearly run over while he was cranking his tarp by a woman truck driver looking at her phone. So the guys from the quarry come down, both driving Tundra crewcabs, one with a regular bed and one with a workbed. The workbed pickup allowed me to see the tiny(compared to the big 3)springs and how only a Bobcat welder, two bottles of gas and a toolbox on that bed(no gooseneck hitch since it would be useless)had the springs flattened almost to the point of turning back.

              I asked the guy driving the other pickup how they were working out. They’re both 5.7L’s by the way so I assume they have power. This employee goes into a spiel about what POS they are. He points to his pickup and says “This POS has had the front end rebuilt completely 4 times in a bit over a year, every sensor in the 4WD system replaced 3 times and 3 bent wheels replaced(and man, they were thin too). So I ask him what they do with them. He says nothing really, just drive around the quarry and while it’s sorta rough, it’s nothing like the territory most of the pickups run over I see every day companies using the Big 3 products. I say this is not good and he says it’s worse than that. Then he tells me they had a 2013 350 Ford diesel for a year and had 3 engine rebuilds so they are about to get some new pickups. Then he says “We have an ’06 Duramax that’s been used and abused and done things pickups were never supposed to do(this at a quarry where you might try to drag some huge loader or a big bucket or extremely heavy trailer)and it’s outlasted two fleets, one of Fords and one of Toyotas and it hasn’t had a problem yet”. Then he tells me management is about to buy some new pickups and he hears they’ll be Duramax’s.

              I hear stories about light trucks on nearly a daily basis so I can’t give you some specs, just the unadorned stories of what people tell me. I told the company truck mechanic about it. He drives a ’98 12 valve Dodge Cummins and while he loves his Dodge, he said to me “I’d like to have a Duramax but I can’t afford one. They’re tough, they’re beasts”. Well, he works on everything from 3/4T to big rigs every day so he probably has some insight I don’t. It’s not just him either. I hear this from guys everywhere. Ford still hasn’t got a good engine, Dodge has good internals but the “peripherals” as eric calls them aren’t worth a damn so that leaves GM pickups to take a lickin and keep no tickin. I know pipeline companies use them and abuse hell out of them but they keep on going. Japanese pickups are not in the running.

              I don’t doubt a Toyota is a good “truck” for people who drive back and forth to work or haul washing machines or nothing at all but all you have to do is look under one and everything becomes clear…….they ain’t up to it work wise. Like the mechanic said when I told him the quarry story “Overhead cam engines in a work truck, shit!”. That’s what’s killed Ford in the work truck place too, since ’97 when they went to “modular” engines and are famous for dropping cylinders with piston problems….among other things. If Ford didn’t have a diesel(and they continue to be mighty iffy)for a work truck, they’d be absent in the work place. Every day I see more pickups than I could count and the ones that are being worked hard are Dodge and GM. The rest are just posers. I don’t bother with statistics, I live it and drive it(my pickup I drive to a big rig is an ’05 Chevy 3/4T 4WD that’s been abused like hell, even had the rear bumper jerked off by a jerkoff and just keeps on keeping on. It handles better than any of the other brands and does more work at the end of the day. BTW, on the way to drop off the mechanic, the Dodge went to idle, typical. I’ve seen it so many times I want to scream. So he says “Shit(just as I said same)WTF is up now?”. One thing I have learned about the Cummins Dodge is that cycling the electrical system 5 times will reset(most of the time)that fuel feed problem they have. I tell him and he does it and it responds to using the fuel pedal again. The wind was blowing hard as usual and I herded it to the yard. It was a 3/4T 4WD ext. cab just like the Chevy I got into to go home in. The Chevy drove with one hand and no white knuckles and the a/c worked fine(not on most of the older Dodge’s…..like the one I’d just got out of), the cruise worked fine and the seat was milestones ahead of those horrible Dodge seats. I was thankful to get into that old beat up pickup. Like I say, I live it. Even one guy I work with traded his Duramax for a Dodge Cummins and now says he wished he had spent the extra for another Duramax. But the main point is, there are only 3 brands of light trucks that will do the duty these trucks do day in and day out…..and none have Japanese names although one brings out a joke about Tony quite often.

              • Funny that I pull a 12,000 lb 305 Cat Mini-Ex and 7000 lb Cat 236 B Skid Steer all the time. 113,000 miles and never replaced a part on the front end until a Clover backed into my front tire and bent the knuckle on the wheel. My brother replaced bearings once at 100,000 miles on his 2500 Dmax and did a total front end rebuild at 170,000 miles. Transfer case at 140ish? He just traded it in for a 15 3500 DMax.

                You are doing just what I expected you to do. You are listening to stories about how much better 3500 DMax pickups are than 1/2 ton Tundra’s are. I owned a 2004 2500 6.0 Chevy. Nothing wrong with the engine…….But I changed the transfer case in it at 120,000 miles. It didn’t have the torque or hp of my 07 Tundra(which had 75,000 trouble free miles and I only traded it for an 08 because I wanted a long bed) nor the handling or ride. It squatted a little less with a load–again we’re still comparing a 3/4 ton to a half ton.

                I’m not going to argue over head cam engines vs. pushrod. I like chevy engines fine. I have owned several chevy’s and been around dozens more of families’ chevy’s. I am also around Fords and Dodges all the time. What I have found is in comparing 1/2 ton Dodges, Fords, Chevy’s, and Toyota’s–there’s actually no comparison at all. You have to compare a Tundra with a 3/4 Ton from the big three to even start comparing. The leaf springs are the only thing that beats the Tundra in that class.

                The funniest thing about you beating up on Japanese trucks is that what you–and most others–love about Chevy is their Duramax diesel–a Japanese engineered Isuzu engine.

                Many of the best diesel engines come from Japan. Isuzu, Hino(Toyota), Mitsubishi. The majority of all construction equipment in this country is from Japan, operating with Japanese Diesel engines.

                I’m an excavation contractor. I live it too. People always ask me how I deal without having a 3/4 ton diesel–some people think my Tundra is a 3/4 ton. They ask because they know what it’s like driving a Chevy/Dodge/Ford half ton compared to a 3/4 or 1 ton. My response is that they are using the wrong half ton, obviously.

                Not to be a jerk, but the reason i asked you about a test proof for anything that you said being true or backed up is because it seemed like truck stop, coffee shop bullshit. Your response of truck stop, coffee shop bullshit confirmed my belief.

                An aside, Ford owns the construction/mining business here in Idaho and Western Wyoming. The farmers are about an even split between GM/Ford. GM might have a slight edge.

                • ancap, I just listen to owners/drivers and what they say about their equipment. Everything I hear is on job sites from the people using them. I don’t do truckstops/coffeeshops. I either fuel at a cotton gin or or a 1,000 gallon trailer, but when I fuel at the gin, I often speak with people fueling big rigs or light trucks and when at the convenience store fueling(key)gasoline pickups speak to those people. They are a mix of construction/farming/ranching people so I get a good feedback just fueling a great deal of the time. I can’t own them all or drive them all so I take the owners/operators word for each type of light truck. I find it’s a much more reliable method than reading about “tests” since those can be highly biased, esp. when one manufacturer is obviously throwing some big bucks to the testers.

                  Glad to hear you have good service from your truck.

        • Hi Ancap,

          A big problem with Japanese trucks is they’re not available in as many configurations and do not offer diesel engines (here). The Ford, Chevy and Ram trucks have their issues, I agree: But they’re also available in so many different combinations (and with a variety of engines) that they can meet a wider variety of needs as a result.

          • eric, an aside to all this. Did you see here a month or so ago Toyota announced plans to can their oldest US plant in Ca. and move to Texas? In the same article it was noted that 3.1% of productive people have moved from Ca. to Tx., the highest rate on record. Wish I had saved a link to that article but I was really sick at the time. There were a couple more instances mentioned of emigrating from one state to another but that was far and away the highest number.

            I work with people who originate from everywhere with home offices in many other states but they’re all moving the bulk of their operations to Texas simply because it’s a work friendly state. Most of these companies already exist in a fairly work friendly state anyway.

            • People who love freedom hate California. Texas, while far from perfect, is much better.
              Back around 1980 many companies such a American Airlines, headquartered in NY and similar places, moved to TX, due to lack of a state income tax. There got to be so many “I (heart) NY” bumper stickers on the LBJ (I-635 in Dallas) that the Texicans came up with a response – “Love NY? Take I-30 east!”

              • Not all of the Californians moving here fit into the Texas culture. We have had new arrivals in Austin call up the city and complain about the noise from the bars (in the town known for being the live music capital of the world). There is now a 10:30pm decibel limit on amplified performances, enforced by the police.

                And even worse — they’re calling up and complaining that smoke from the local BBQ restaurants is coming into their open windows. Saying bad things about brisket are fighting words in this state.

                • Yes, we have similar issues here in MD, though not to that extent. Fortunately the legislature passed a ‘Right to Farm’ act, so when the folks trying to get away from DC move next to a pig farm, they can complain all they want about the smell, LOL, but it won’t do them any good.
                  Another of my favorite phrases from when I lived in the Republic of Texas is “He’d bitch if he was hung with a new rope.”

                • A good brisket is a thing to be worshipped. I’ve been in joints that weren’t fancy – block building in the parking lot of a strip shopping center – but you could cut the brisket with a plastic fork. Now THAT (cue Alton Brown) is Good Eats.

                  • Well, maybe not worshipped, but it sure beats a golden calf.
                    Still, a thing of beauty and a joy forever, or until it is gone.

                • Steers and ____, nowhar but Austin.
                  Are you saying the steers are native and the immigrants are something else?

                • Yeah…. Methinks the cops would serve the public better by throing those SOBs out the window, so they can be in the fresh air instead of exposed to all that BBQ smoke…

                  Watch that first step to hell – it’s a long fall…

                • Texas will be like California before long, in fact it is looking more like calli every day!!! The best place for calli’s is 400 miles due west.

          • No argument there Eric. its just amusing to listen to eight. it reminds me of my dad and brother. Always comparing my Tundra to their 3500 duramax diesels.

            Eight wants to compare the same apples and oranges comparison. Torque and hp is slightly better on a 6.2 Chevy. But in the half ton you get small gears in the 3.50 range. my 4.30 rearend is better than any half ton out there. For Chevy to best my Tundra in any way outside of gas mileage you have to move to a 2500……watch the gas mileage evaporate. The seats are opinion. IMO seats have gone down hill since the 90s. Best seats ever are my 98 Chevy buckets. My dads and brothers 2015 dmax seats aren’t special at all.

            Bottom line, I will grant the configurations. Outside of that they aren’t superior in very much if anything when you compare apple’s to apple’s.

          • Here in Australia almost all Jap pickups, or utes as we call them, have diesels in their lineup. And that 38 inch turning circle. How does Subaru do that?

      • my ’06 Tacoma has a frame rust recall and I’m driving a lump of a rental.

        My ’99 Tacoma had a frame rust recall and I got 150% of tits value which amounted to me getting my purchase price back after 130k trouble free miles.

  6. Interesting how popular Subarus are among the counter cultural, granola bunch. Is it because of the virtues Eric mentions? That can’t hurt. But there’s got to be more to it.

    Perhaps it is because of their plain, non glamorous, “automotive earth shoe” image. Subies are very practical appliance cars. Their owners don’t have to suffer any inferences that their cars reflect egotistical, materialistic self esteem.

    Maybe that’s why they felt compelled to inflict CVT only on that sweet, 250 horse boxer turbo. Otherwise, it just might be “too much fun.” 😉

    • Yep: First thing I had to do when I bought my 95 Legacy (in 2007, and it’s still running good!) is remove the Kerry/Edwards, Bob Marley and pro-Abortion stickers on it. But it has been a great little car!

  7. Mom has one of the previous generation Foresters, and she really likes it.

    Primarily because of the driving confidence she gets from it. AWD means there’s no wheel-spin when pulling out into traffic, with accompanying loss of traction. She sits up a little higher, so she’s able to get in/step out of it easier (important for older people), and she’s able to see above regular cars (’cause, CUV) so she can predict what traffic might do.

    She took it in for routine service the other week at 63,000 miles, and had to replace the spark plug tube seals, but she’s still on the first set of brake pads (they’ll get replaced next oil-change interval). Compare that to the Pontiac 6000 she used to have, which was a money pit and ate brake discs like they were Girl Scout cookies.

    It’s an excellent vehicle. Not the most refined, but pretty much guaranteed to get you where you need to go.

    • I always liked Subarus but they never had enough power for me till they got hot-rodded and by then I had too many 4WD pickups to afford another car even though I would have loved to have a WRX.

      I recall back 25 years or so ago they had an off-road class of racing and had the contenders turned up to 600+hp. One year so many people got killed they nixed that class. I hated to see it but it was started over a couple hundred ponies down where it stayed about one season and then it kept growing so it’s back to where it once was. Back then it wasn’t the cash cow it now is.

      Since you rarely saw the cars racing, the manufacturers didn’t push it too much but nixing that class caused such an outcry that it renewed interest and garnered more interest and factory support. That’s all it took. I’ve been straightening out back roads my whole life in old pickups or anything else I could get my greedy, speedy little hands on. My best friend in school and I started racing pickups nearly daily when we were 12. He was Jim Hall and I was Fireball Roberts. Later in life he said one reason I won so many races was being the most aggressive driver he ever saw. Well, I didn’t come to dance.

      4 of us had been fishing one day and I was driving his dad’s crewcab Binder and had it matted on a evil little road. At a particularly notorious(to us)S curve I lost it and it went into a deep barditch grown up thick in Johnson grass. I never said never though and kept it matted and popped up in the middle of those curves after we’d been blinded by all the Johnson grass I swathed but couldn’t keep it up on the road and went through the barditch on the other side, cutting more grass(too bad we weren’t pulling a baler) but managed to get it back on the road and kept it there. There was Johnson grass stuck everywhere and we couldn’t quit laughing. It was always funny when you didn’t noticeably tear anything up. Of course back then, the sheetmetal was really sheet metal. Those old pickups were tough as hell.

  8. “My only beef is with the (thankfully, optional) Driver Assist Technology Package, which bundles Land Departure Warning and Collision Mitigation.”

    I’ve been on a few single track mountain pass roads in Subarus where a land departure warning might be a handy thing to have. As long as the boulders don’t get too big, they’ll go anywhere. Especially the old ones with the push-button 4DW transmission.

    • Car cuts through shoulder ‘fence’ and is plunging down mountainside. GPS is screaming ‘recalculating.’
      BTW Eric, no comment about the 18″ reeums? Or are you burned out on that?

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