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Subaru Forester MPG-Real World Numbers



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Seriously, with a sweet fleet like that, you're not allowed to complain about anything. ;)
  • Hello, Everybody--

    I have an '09 automatic X LTD with fewer than 11,000 miles on it. The deciding factor that made me buy a Forester over a RAV 4 was the safety features--I had just been in a really gnarly accident and was a bit freaked out. I drive VERY conservatively in town and non-aggressively but a little fast on the highway--70 to 75 mph. Even at that, I try to drive behind semis so that I can use their wind blockage. I drive about 3/4 of the time in-town. I have been incredibly disappointed in the mileage that this car is getting, as I'm very concerned about my comsumption of fossil fuel. Over the life of my car, I've been averaging about 20 mpg and lately have only been getting 17-18 mpg. I thought that certainly the mpg indicator was to blame, so yesterday I took it to the dealer (by the way, I have serviced my car only at Hunter Subaru in Hendersonville, North Carolina). This is what the dealer told me yesterday:

    --The mpg indicator is not meant to be exact (ummm...why not? Is Subaru incapable of manufacturing more precise technology?)
    --But, that said, I probably AM getting 17-18 miles per gallon and this is fine because the lowest acceptable mpg for this model Forester is 15-16 mpg. They suspect that I am getting this low mileage because:
    1) That is just what my car gets;
    2) We live in the NC mountains and you get lower gas mileage in mountains (aren't there mountains all over the US? Furthermore, aren't our mountains far more rolling than any of the mountains out west?);
    3) I should try buying premim gas;
    4) The cross bars on the roof (no bike racks or kayak gear on the bars) are causing wind resistance and so I can't expect to be getting premium mileage;
    5) They recently had a woman in complaining of the same problem with her Chevy, but when the guy from the dealer drove it around for 50 miles, he got much better mileage than she does and now, "She's happy as a clam." I believe that I was supposed to take a lesson from her example and be happy with what I had and understand that my low mpg must be my own fault.

    Anyway, no satisfaction at all.

    I would like to make two side notes:
    1) I was so angry when I left Hunter Subaru that I drove straight to Jim Barkley Toyota, which is where I got my last vehicle (I love this dealership), handed the guy my keys and asked him what he could offer me for a trade-in. He said about $18,000. Appletree Honda said the same thing. So, after owning my Subaru for little over a year and having driven it only <11,000 miles, it had depreciated over $8,000.

    2) My previous vehicle was a Toyota 4WD Tacoma TRD with a V-6 engine, big tires, the Off-Road package, and a lot of giddyup. It got about 20-22 miles per gallon (As I said, I drive conservatively). This figure includes all the gravel/composting/stone hauling I did. When I totaled the truck, I received $14,000 for it. This was for a truck that was over 6 years old and had over 100,000 miles on it.

    So. Could somebody please give me some feedback and advice? Am I being unreasonable? What should I do?

    Thank you so much. I'm so upset that I'm crying as I write this.
  • samiam_68samiam_68 Posts: 775
    Are you relying strictly on the MPG computer or are you calculating MPG manually (miles driven / gallons to fill tank)?

    Having said that, the Forester is not super fuel efficient. It's very boxy and has poor aerodynamics. The 4-speed automatic is also archaic and needs at least one other gear. Subarus with the new CVT transmission get much better mileage. AFAIK, both Edmunds and Consumer Reports got about 21 MPG overall for their long term test Foresters.

    I have an older Forester, and it has averaged about 20-21 over 7 years and 62,000 miles, but it's a turbo and manual transmission, so not exactly apples to apples comparison.

    As far as resale value, any car depreciates the most during the first and second years. Also, I'm sure you can get better than $18K if you sold it privately instead of trading in.

    The Rav-4 V6 is currently the best rated small SUV in some comparison tests, while the Forester is lagging far behind.
  • Sam--

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. The Kelley Blue Book value of my Subaru is in the low 20s, so it appears that you are absolutely correct about being able to get more for it in private sale.

    I had taken for granted that the mpg indicator on the dash would be accurate (I still can't understand why that technology isn't more refined). I am now embarking on a do-the-calculations-by-hand study. *shrug* That's the way I used to do it, so I don't see why I can't do that now.

    I am very sorry that I didn't buy a RAV 4. Maybe next time.

    Best to you.
  • samiam_68samiam_68 Posts: 775
    You're very welcome. Perhaps, when you calculate your MPG manually, you will see a higher MPG - maybe the computer is way off. Although, usually, the case is the opposite - the computer shows higher MPG than manual calculations.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I don't really agree with the dealer's list of reasons.

    1) your mileage may vary, but that's nowhere near what our Forester gets (09 PZEV Limited automatic).

    2) uphill you do worse, but you make it up going downhill, so the total effect should be minor

    3) do no use premium fuel, it's tuned for 87 octane so don't waste your money

    4) cross bars may have a small effect, you can remove them when not in use

    5) each driver's mileage will vary, sure

    I suspect the real reason right now is the bitter cold. I'm farther north than you but even my Miata is only getting 250 miles per tank before the low fuel light kicks on. My mileage is probably down 20% or more due to the severe cold we've had lately.

    We get around 22-24 in the city and 27-30 on trips, but we're not going as fast as you on the highway (you said 70-75, we do 60-65 usually).

    I'd try slowing down a bit, if that's practical, and try combining trips/errands so that the engine is already warm. During warm up your fuel efficiency is dismal.

    Try this experiment - zero the trip odomerter on a cold morning. Drive off. It will tell you your mileage after 1 mile. I bet it's 12 mpg or so while the engine is still cold.

    Then zero the trip odometer again, while driving on the highway. Keep your speed steady at around 55mph (safely, of course). I bet after a mile it registers 30mpg or so, if the engine is already warm.

    So there is your minimum and maximum range - about 12 to 30. EPA is 20/26 IIRC but you can do a lot worse (with a cold engine, city driving) or a lot better (cruising on the highway but not too fast).

    Good luck. I'm sure when the weather warms up you'll do better.

    We usually hit our peak late spring or early fall, because we're not using A/C, but it's not really cold, either.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Elizabeth, your disappointment with the mileage after 11,000 miles is understandable. I have a 4-month-old 2010 with 7500 miles and my average right now is 24, with most of its miles coming during winter months (in Fairbanks Alaska) that bring with them (truly) bitter cold and poor mileage. I have seen tanks as low as 18 mpg, but those were primarily very short trips (5-6 miles one way) with significant idling and cold temperatures (well below zero). I also navigate hills, but they are nothing major.

    The Forester has two trip meters - A and B. Recently, my wife accidentally reset the "B" meter, which I had on running total since new. It read 24.3 mpg. My manually calc'd spreadsheet indicated 24.26 about the same time, so once the miles rack up, the trip computer is pretty much dead on. Tank by tank, it is usually optimistic. I have had a few tanks where the trip meter was lower than the calc'd economy, but I'm sure some of that has to do with circumstances (when the pump shuts off, etc).

    Even now, during the cold months with winter blend fuel, etc., I have yet to have a month where our average fuel economy is lower than 20 mpg. Some tanks, yes, but not on average over a month. Mine is a 2010 Premium PZEV manual.

    A couple things I have noted about my car:

    1. It loves speeds between 40 and 50 mph and can get upwards of 40 mpg. Speeds under 35 (which requires a drop in gear) or over 50 are significantly worse (about 6-8 mpg). For city/suburban driving, try to maximize the amount of time you are in that sweet spot to make up for the start/stop cycles.

    2. Speeds over 70 also cause a substantial drop in fuel economy. When driving it home from Seattle in September, it was giving me 28-31 mpg when driving mostly between 59 and 68 mph, but the few times I pushed it over 70 the readout would start dropping .3 mpg every couple of minutes. I did not drive a full tank over 70 so I am not sure how low it would have gone, but I was definitely taking a hit.

    As for driving behind tractor-trailers, you may not be doing yourself any good unless you are riding right up behind them. By the time you are a safe distance behind, you are likely pushing through the turbulence created by their passing and may be hindering your fuel economy to some extent.

    All of that said, I still think 17-18 mpg seems low unless you are making a lot of very short trips. Setting your tire pressure at 35 psi may help a little as well.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I agree about the slower speeds.

    We drive from DC to the eastern shore, and the country roads have 50mph speed limits most of the way. Those are our best tanks.

    We can break 30 if we're trying.
  • robm2robm2 Posts: 53
    > The deciding factor that made me buy a Forester over
    > a RAV 4 was the safety features

    Then stop crying over gas mileage. You should have bought a Hybrid, if fuel economy is worth crying over.

    > The cross bars on the roof (no bike racks or
    > kayak gear on the bars) are causing wind resistance

    You will get terrible gas mileage with the cross bars on. Take them off if you want better mileage, (partricularly on the highway ... probably gain 2 MPG just from this).

    > My previous vehicle was a Toyota 4WD Tacoma
    > TRD with a V-6 engine, big tires, the Off-Road
    > package, and a lot of giddyup. It got about
    > 20-22 miles per gallon

    I seriously doubt this.

    Regardless, you said you were averaging 20 MPG, and you were happy getting 17-18 MPG, (perhaps you meant un-happy?).

    Let's say you drive 100000 miles. The difference between getting 17-18 MPG and 20 MPG at $4/gallon equates to $2856 extra gas. The difference between getting 17-18 MPG and 22 MPG equates to $4674 more in gas.

    Assuming it takes you 5 years to drive that 100000 miles, selling your vehicle for an $8000 loss to save $2856 doesn't make much sense.

    Stop worrying about fossil fuels. There is plenty to last your life time. Stop worrying about so-called "global warming". We will eventually run out of fossil fuels which will also solve that potential problem.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Tell us how you really feel, don't hold back. :D
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Very good point regarding the cross bars, Rob. I completely forgot to mention that factor, which is very significant on the highway. I have cross bars for mine, but only mount them (which only takes a minute or two) when they are needed.
  • i've put about 1000 miles on my 11 sub forester, a/t and i last filled up 14.4 gals and logged only 220 miles. my current average fuel consumption indicates an output of 12.2 mpg. its pretty disconcerting, but i think its the sub 0 temps. most of my trips are only about 7 miles long.

    i would also like to get set up to load one pair of ski's and one bike on my rooftop. ive got the roof rails currently, so i look at cross bars, feets and ski/bike attachments. i will probably hold off on the ski's holder for now.

    should i go with thule or subaru cross bars? the subaru bars look most aerodynamic, but would they be as sturdy and allow easy interfacing of feet/attachments with locks?

    i am also concernced with the total load weight on the bars. my bike is kona mt bike, which is pretty heavy. the hardest part will be hoisting it up there (i dont like the fork mounts).

    i also have the moonroof. my hope is to be able to conveniently remove as much of the rack stuff as neccesary when not in use.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    7 miles means short trips - it takes 2-5 miles just to warm up. So you're hardly ever reaching peak efficiency.

    Try combining errands if possible, so that you're starting with a warm engine.

    Another option is the Subaru OEM engine block heater. You'd use a little electricity, but it would more than pay off in fuel savings, provided you time it properly.

    The roof rack is rated for 150 lbs, FWIW.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Hahahahahaha; engine block heater. I guarantee that Rusty's car has that plus at least a battery heater and oil pan heater.... Those things really aren't optional here. ;)

    Okay, so the battery heater is, but not for a stock (weak) Subaru battery.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    To me 60 degrees is cold! I'm from Brazil, man!

    A Canadian buddy told me he saw negative 20s this past week. Brr.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    I hear ya! It is -25F in Fairbanks right now, which is up from yesterday! :surprise:
  • i am going to start saving my receipts now and logging my miles .. i just filled up again with 13.9 gallons and i logged 201.1 miles. i was 220miles previously for 14.4 gals. its been cold, but i have tried to not be excessive with my autostart.

    only 18 below today ....

    my breaks suck. i cannot rely on them if i need to stop quickly. a guy ran me off the road two days ago so i could have let him hit me, or i could have gone off the road and hit a HUGE, dense snow hill in front of beaver sports. i chose the latter. i busted up my front end.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Do you still have the stock tires on the car? If so, that's the problem right there. I have a set of Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice on mine for winter driving and I have to work to get it to break loose. Even during the "Icepocalypse," I was getting out to drive as much as possible because that car handled it so well. That, and I love inclement driving (which was made so much better by the abandoned roads!).

    Sorry to hear about the car; doesn't it seem to happen more often that stuff like that occurs just after you buy a new vehicle?! :mad:

    I was literally run off the road once (intentionally) several years ago on Chena Pump. I managed to avoid the other car but mine ended up being a total loss, which came out of my pocket even though I was able to identify and locate the other driver/vehicle. I won't make that mistake again. If another car would otherwise contact me, I'll take the contact before I take the ditch just to have physical evidence that the other car was present.
  • stock yokohama's. they are horrible. what/where do you recommend for winter tires here in fairbanks?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Also of note, on the MPG, it takes almost 8-10k miles for subaru engines to really get up to their optimal MPG. Another factor is that the diffy fluid is going to be much thicker at cold temps, this will put more drag on the system, lower MPGs.

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