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Turbo or No Turbo?

windowsillwindowsill Posts: 5
edited April 2014 in Subaru
I'm selling my 2000 Jeep Wrangler and going with a more practical car.....the Subaru Forrester.

We are trying to decide between the Turbo or not. Wondering if any of you have some thoughts on the pros/cons of the two.

Our decision has come down to the turbo...which would be the XT or getting the X Limited with Navigation. I'd love the navigation....but can't afford it if we go turbo.'s turbo or navigation. Is the turbo going to be that much better than the regular engine? I am used to driving the wrangler, which has a pretty powerful engine, so I'm a bit worried to go non-turbo.

Is it true that the navigation can only come with the limited's?

Thanks for all your advice!


  • robm2robm2 Posts: 53
    If you test drive both, back to back, you will likely find the XT a no-brainer over the X Limited. The 4EAT auto tranny mates quite nicely to the turbo, but feels gutless with the 2.5i NA.

    I test drove both, back-to-back, last weekend, as did my wife. Both of us agreed the XT/Turbo performed and felt much better than the NA engine. We bought one, that day, (DGM), and we pick it up on Wednesday, this week!!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    There's no doubt the turbo performs a lot better, especially at high altitudes, but I think the base engine is at least adequate.

    It's incredible that we think 170hp is not enough nowadays, remember when the original Suzuki Sidekick Sport (with the upgraded engine) had just 120hp? Base engines in there had 96hp, IIRC.

    0-60 falls in the 9-10 second range for the non-turbo, and about 6 seconds for the turbo (C&D quotes 6.2 seconds). So it's not that the base engine is slow, it's that the turbo engine is ridiculously fast.

    You mention you can't afford a turbo with the NAV, so you should also consider fuel costs. The turbo prefers premium fuel, and more of it. It is geared taller, so the difference is not as big as it used to be, but still, it'll cost $303 per year more for gas per the EPA estimates.

    Here is what I would suggest:

    Option A: turbo, but get a Garmin Nuvi 200W portable GPS, mine was just $199 delivered.

    Option B: X Limited, but get a PZEV model. For $200 or so extra, you get a cleaner PZEV vehicle that makes 5 extra HP to boot, for 175hp total.

    Even with option B, I would conside the portable GPS alternative, which will save you a bunch. Subaru's GPS is not the best out there, and Garmins are easier to use, IMO.

    Either way I think you will like the Forester, we love ours (Limited PZEV).
  • robm2robm2 Posts: 53
    Sure, 170 (or PZEV 175) is "adequate", but if you're going to drop 30-40k for a car, I would hope it would be a bit more than "adequate".

    Since he's posting on here, he has the internet, so he has mapquest to find directions. Navigation's not so important.

    For just a bit more, the turbo mates so much better to the 4EAT. At least in Canada, the XT also comes standard with the rear spoiler and cargo mat, which we would have added on as options on the X, making the price difference even smaller.

    If you never drive the turbo, you might feel fine not knowing the difference, but if you drive an X first, then an XT immediately afterwards, I think you will notice a significant difference well worth 5% more total cost of ownership.
  • bears2bears2 Posts: 14
    I also test drove both and the turbo is like a completely different car. I agonized over the decision to go turbo or non-turbo. Crunched the numbers and decided that the $300-400 per year for premium fuel and the 2 MPG less for the turbo was worth getting the superior vehicle. I figured the awesome deal I got on the XT (non-limited) at Heuberger Motors ($24,300) will somewhat make up the difference ...and I've given up Starbuck's lattes! But the fun of the XT is well worth it. Plus, for mountain driving in Colorado, the turbo comes in really handy (the non-turbo labors getting up the inclines).
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423

    a. The XT has more than enough power for any situation and will put a grin on your face every time you mash the accelerator.

    b. The XT will still get better mpg than your Wrangler


    a. Frequently mashing the accelerator isn't going to do anything for your mpg

    b. The X Limited will get even better mpg than your Wrangler

    c. If you're the type that paying 20-30 cents extra per gallon for premium is going to bug you, then the XT is a bad choice.

    Here's my recommendation, take a test drive in the X Limited first. As Juice pointed out, 170-175 hp really is adequate for almost any situation. If you're satisfied with its acceleration, go ahead and get the X and feel good about owning a vehicle that is so fuel efficient and practical at the same time.

    For many people, once they've driven the XT, the adequate acceleration of the X suddenly seems a lot less "adequate" ;)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    In the US my 2.5 X Limited was only 25k, far below the average new vehicle price per NADA, and it's loaded. Our GPS is aftermarket but that's it. We have the world's biggest moonroof above us and heated and perforated leather seats below. Heaven.

    If you never drive the turbo, the X doesn't feel slow, at least for its 4 cylinder class. It gets the job done and never complains, and we've seen 34mpg during steady highway cruise.

    It's not just the $300 extra per year, but also the range you give up, so you'll also fill up more frequently. I kept my last Forester for 9 years, so that adds up to a few thousand dollars over that time.

    If you haul heavy loads frequently, or live at high altitudes, or just want a fast car, by all means go for the XT. You will enjoy the extra power SOME of the time, when you can go fast. That's not very often around here with all the speed cams.

    For normal use, which is all most people need anyway, ours doesn't feel lacking in any way, and the luxury options pamper you ALL the time.

    The secret is this - just don't sample the XT! :D
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    LA Times wrote:

    "The leather in our upscale test vehicle could have come out of an Italian cobbler's shop."

    I can't find the other review I'm looking for, but they basically said that Subaru stole a batch of leather intended for Rolls Royce for the Forester Limited.

    We didn't like the cloth on the lesser models, though I'm not sure if the XT gets better fabric (it probably does).
  • tinycadontinycadon Posts: 287
    Nope, I have the XT cloth, it's the same as the X cloth, I didn't like it either, but I like automatic climate control even less so I chose to put up with the cloth to control my own temp.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, I have to agree. Last night I set the temp at around 75 degrees, and for some strange reason it alternated blowing cold and hot air. It seems to function better at extreme temp settings, i.e. very cold or very hot.

    Having said that, what I like to do is set the temp low and then use the heated seats. :shades:

    We took a long trip and my wife drove up, while I drove back. We had a friendly mileage competition.

    She got 30.0mpg on her leg, but I only managed 27.0mpg coming back on the same route. Oddly enough I had less traffic, but I think my average speeds were higher, so that's why she beat me.

    Not bad, though. Even with my less efficient driving, we could go more than 450 miles on a full tank of gas.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    She got 30.0mpg on her leg, but I only managed 27.0mpg

    Oooohhh!!!! Good luck living that one down :P Especially considering how you've bashed her in the past for having a lead foot :shades:

    Regarding the auto climate control, I refuse to use it in either of our cars. The fan revving to high speed everytime I start the engine just drives me crazy. I normally just leave the temp setting at its lowest and then manually adjust the fan speed.

    Oh and yes, you can get aftermarket leather for about $1200. When I did my 04 Forester, the aftermarket Katskinz leather was a better quality than the factory's and you had a large selection of colors to choose from (I chose a two-tone with perforated inserts).

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, I may never here the end of it. Especially since she beat me by a full 3mpg.

    I don't think she's slowed down, it was traffic I tell ya! ;)

    Two-tone looks great, I'd love that, but I do think the OE leather is a lot better than it used to be, so no regrets.
  • well..........we went and drove the X.........then......drove the XT......
    and all of you were turning back....we are picking up our 09 XT this week!

    we're so excited! can't wait to get it! thanks again all of you for your ideas!
  • bears2bears2 Posts: 14
    HA! Welcome to the club. I don't regret getting the XT for a second. Enjoy the car...and save money some other way!!!
  • tinycadontinycadon Posts: 287
    :P the curse of the XT, got me too!!! One of my co-workers asked to take a look at my new car last week, so I showed him. He chuckled: "you got a wagon!" I said: hop in, let's go for a spin. I dropped it into the sport shift, floored it off the light in 1st, got up to 2nd and 3rd before he said: holy****! Not only wasn't he giggling afterwards, he couldn't stop talking about it to other co-workers. :shades:
  • robm2robm2 Posts: 53
    My wife & I picked up "her" 2009 XT, last week. Several times each, we test drove a 2.5i X, and 2.5i XT. The XT is soooo much better, and soooo much more fun to drive.

  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Really, nice sharp looking vehicle. Almost makes me want to get one. :shades
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,798
    Very responsive, not much lag.
    Plenty of power for passing.
    Bigger / wider tires help handling

    Premium gas is required (lower grades can trigger "check engine" light)
    Oil changes are more frequent
    Throttle tip-in is a bit aggressive
    Turbo may not be covered by extended service plans.


    Wrt auto AC, I pretty much leave it in manual mode except on hot days. Auto fan's a bit aggressive and goes to maximum speed too easily. A broader temperature range would help.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Turbo may not be covered by extended service plans.

    Huh? What makes you think that? :confuse:

    FYI, the turbo on my 04 XT is still going strong at 66k miles.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I saw a price list for extended warranties and the turbo models carried a 50% surcharge.

    So you can get one, but it'll cost you 50% more.

    You drive the XT, you'll buy the XT. I knew it.

    We bought the 175hp PZEV engine, in Limited trim so it's an auto. It's perfectly fine.

    I simply refuse to drive an XT. :D
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    In shopping for my 2008, I drove an XT 5MT and decided against it because:
    1. Initial cost.
    2. Premium gas cost.
    3. Lower mpg, even lower if driven enjoyably.
    4. More frequent maintenance required by Subaru.
    5. Possible problems with turbo after warranty.
    6. More power than I needed, would only use it because it was there, waste gas, get tickets.
    7. Clutch and shifter were not pleasant. The plain X 5MT was easier. My Scion xB is even better.

    I ended up with an LL Bean 4EAT. The power is adequate 99% of the time. There have been only a few 2-lane passes in 6000 miles where I needed the power of the turbo. The NA 4EAT gets me 25 mpg in city/suburban and 29 mpg on the highway, which is more important to me and shows that an XT would be wasted on my driving style.
  • I was interested in the Turbo. I already have two naturally aspirated automatic transmission Foresters and the family really likes them, but we all wish they had better acceleration. It is not just that the na engine has less torque and less horsepower. It is also that the automatic transmission has a high downshift lockout speed. This is the speed above which the transmission will not allow you to drop down to a lower gear. In most cars the downshift lockout speed is about 5 to 10 mph below the maximum speed in the lower gear. In our Foresters it is between 15 and 20 mph below the maximum speed in first gear. So if you are moving at about 15 mph and stomp on the gas pedal or yank the a/t gear lever into 1 the tranny will not shift down. Acceleration in 2nd gear at around 15 mph is virtually nonexistent.

    So, we wanted a third vehicle and we were enthused about the Forester Turbo. We went to the service department at the dealer and asked our mechanic and the service manager independently about the Turbo. Both of them said if we were going to keep the Turbo for no more than 3 years, it was great. If we were going to keep the car for more than three years we would be looking at some significantly expensive repairs. This ended our interest in the Forester Turbo.

    Before you buy, ask people who have had the car for more than three years if they have had to do any expensive repairs related to the Turbo. If you already have one, make sure your extended warranty covers the Turbo model and save all your maintenance and repair receipts.

    I hope that the recent changes to the Forester included correction of whatever problems the mechanic and service manager had been seeing over the past few years. It is a great car and we'd really like to be able to buy a Turbo model one day.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    That's odd. I've been working on Subarus since 1998, and we've probably worked on 500-700 different WRXs over the years. While I've seen bad turbos, most of the time it was due to user error or a highly modified car that the turbo caused an issue.

    Change your oil every 3k-5k with synthetic and the turbo cars do not require anything more than a non-turbo car in terms of maintenance.

  • robm2robm2 Posts: 53
    I believe there's 5 years warranty on the powertrain. Shouldn't be any expensive repairs on the turbo for at least 5 years. Get an extended warranty, and you can push that to 6 or 7 years.

    I rarely keep cars for more than 6 or 7 years. For me, reliability trumps longevity. Means I spend a lot of money on cars, but also means I have some peace of mind.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Before you buy, ask people who have had the car for more than three years if they have had to do any expensive repairs related to the Turbo.

    Well I've had my XT for 4 years 8 months and 66k miles and have had zero issues with the turbo :)

  • I took delivery of 2009 2.5X Premium, automatic, non-turbo Forester last week. Power is totally adequate so far, especially compared to my previous Ford Ranger 4WD pickup with the 4.0L V6. We live in area of hills, small mountains, and flat areas. The Forester does downshift when climbing some grades. My other vehicle is an 05 Camry V6. The Camry is smoother and quicker.

    I was not willing to have to use premium gas for an XT model along with the increased maintenance.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm still trying to figure out the "extra" maintenance that folks talk about.

    The difference in gas price for an average driver is about $200/yr.

  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    I think they're referring to the mandated 3k oil change interval as opposed to the normally aspirated engine's 7,5k interval. Of course plenty of owners change their oil every 3k regardless but even for those who are used to following the manufacturer’s 7,5k recommendation, going to a 3k interval only means two additional oil changes a year which is what, another 50 bucks per year? That's less than a single fill-up.

    However for some people, it doesn’t matter how logically the facts are presented to show that compared to all the other costs of owning a vehicle, the annual $ penalty for having a turbo is really quite small. Bottom line: If you're the type of person that always searches for the cheapest gas and the thought of having to pay extra for premium at every fill-up really bothers you, then you should steer clear of the XT (or any other high performance engine for that matter).

    And FYI, I’m one of those who is always on the lookout for cheap gas and always try to use stations that only charge 20 cents extra for premium. But… I long ago came to terms with the fact that you have to pay to play and that since premium is recommended, that’s what I need to use. Plus when I do think about it, I just remind myself that it’s only costing me 3 bucks more per 15-gal tank of gas. That’s just a 5% surcharge at today’s fuel prices.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I know it's not much if you look at a monthly outlay, but over a period of say, 8 years, the extra oil changes and fuel surcharges add up to about $2000. Plus it costs a couple of grand more to begin with.

    I looked one up, at Fitz it's $2200 more for an XT Ltd vs. and X Ltd.

    That's $4200 so far, plus you pay more for insurance every 6 months. I didn't get a quote but let's say that's another $100 every 6 months, so $1600 over the 8 year ownership period.

    We're talking about maybe $6 grand or so in additional ownership costs for the face-distorting acceleration.

    Oh, and when we add the extra speeding tickets, it's more like $8 grand. :D

    A speed cam just nabbed me in my minivan (!) doing 46 in a 35. C'mon, I'm like the slowest car on the road. This is getting ridiculous.

    I will put up a caveat - if I planned on using our Forester to tow, or for trips on mountainy terrain, there's no doubt I would have paid the extra for the XT.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    By the way that comes out to $62 more per month over the 8 years if anyone's wondering. I doubt that will sway any people who fall in love with the XT's acceleration.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Ha! You're skewing the numbers to help your argument. Of course it will vary depending on the individual but in my case the additional annual costs:

    Premium fuel surcharge = $122 (avg of 13,4k miles per year @ 22 mpg)
    Additional oil changes = $50 (2 x $25)
    Insurance = $0 (If you're insurer charges extra I'd change companies!)

    So the total additional annual cost is $172.

    IRT the initial aquisition cost, yes the XT costs $2,200 extra but it will also be worth more when you sell it. According to Edmunds, an 04 XT is worth $1,200 more than an 04 XS. So a $1k difference in cost amoritized over 8 years comes out to only $10.42 per month! :P

This discussion has been closed.