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PZEV Considerations

ron106ron106 Posts: 4
edited April 2014 in Subaru
I'm looking at the 2009 Foresters and have the option to buy one with PZEV engineering. I'm not in a state which requires that technology but would probably get it just on principle unless there are significant drawbacks to it (mileage, power, etc.)

Any information on the trade-offs between the two engines?




  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    We have a PZEV and so far we're happy we spent the extra $200 or so to get it.

    You actually get 5 extra horses, or 175hp total.

    Throttle response is immediate even at low revs. Acceleration on the highway is much more responsive than the 165hp 2002 Legacy it replaced, and that Legacy had the advantage of being a manual transmission.

    My wife and I drove out of town on Wednesday and had a friendly competition - she averaged 30.0 mpg driving up, while I only managed 27.0mpg coming back, though I think my speeds were higher. So we're quite pleased with the fuel efficiency we're getting, too. High so far was 34 mpg, with a low of 22mpg in city driving.

    Besides the 5hp, another potential benefit is that all the emissions equipment is designed to last at least 150,000 miles, because in PZEV states (NY, CA) the emissions warranty is that long.

    I'm not sure if the regular, non-PZEV engine is all that different, but these and the obvious green benefits of the PZEV upgrade were well worth it to us.
  • ron106ron106 Posts: 4
    That's great news. I couldn't find much information on google but you certainly confirm what the salesman said. I brought the car home yesterday and the mileage rose from 14 at the dealer's lot to 24 when I got home. I think I'm sold!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They let you take it home? Nice dealer...or did you buy it already?
  • I have read that the PZEV engine will increase horsepower and miles per gallon. A subaru salesman I spoke to recently wondered why that would be since most of the time stricter emission technology decreases performance. Any responses?
  • ron106ron106 Posts: 4
    I bought it! Going on the first 100 miles.
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    It depends on how the stricter emission policy is met. If an engine can be made more efficient then it makes better use of the hydrocarbon fuel ingested, and this means more power and cleaner exhaust. With the technology today, mostly computers and faster-acting electronic controls this can be done more easily, especially if just fine-tuning an engine design that is already pretty clean.

    In the older days this was not possible, so the engine ended up being detuned which hurt power. Things like lower compression, ultra-lean fuel mixtures, and retarded timing caused lower performance, poor economy, and a lousy running engine in general. In those days the fine tuning was done by adding extra controls each designed to handle certain things, and many times they didn't all work very well together.

    On paper, if an engine could be 100% efficient it would get fantastic power output and fuel mileage, and truly be zero emissions. Since this is not possible there will always have to be something like a catalytic converter to clean up what does come out the exhaust pipe. The combination of fuel economy standards and emission policies has driven the technology to a great place.
  • Thanks for the explanation. So does the Subaru Forester PZEV increase the miles per gallon as well as the horsepower?
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    My guess is it could, but probably not measurable. The changes made to get 5 HP should not be many or large, I would think just some of the calibration settings. 5 HP is not much of a change but as the old saying goes, better to have it than not. I would expect that the window sticker for the mileage is the same, so you would be better off watching the reports of mileage that come in here. Most of what I have seen here are better than the sticker anyway.

    Juice has a PZEV and it is not broken in yet, but he is already getting great mileage... although his wife does better. :)
  • I live in Minnesota where the Subaru dealers do not sell PZEV vehicles. I am considering purchasing an 09 Forester in the next few months. Do you think it's worth ordering a Forester with PZEV and waiting for the order to come in instead of getting one off the lot? In your opinion, does PZEV make a big enough difference in the performance of the vehicle to do a special order?
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    That is a hard question to answer because it is mostly a personal decision, but I think there are other things to consider too. Since you don't plan to buy for a few months you could figure out just when you want it and order it ahead of time so there would be no real wait for you. In addition, you can usually get a better deal on an ordered vehicle since the dealer doesn't have to pay floor-planning charges to store it until it is sold. You might save the additional $200, or more, and get the PZEV for free.

    When you get ready to buy you may find out that what is on the lots is not exactly what you want anyway, so you might have something on a vehicle that could also cost $200 extra but not be the engine. When one has the luxury of being able to wait it is always nice to get exactly what you want via ordering one.

    Also, "greener" is always a good thing so in a small way you would be helping the environment. Don't forget that the PZEV has a longer emission warranty too, 15 years or 150K miles. I don't know if Minnesota has any emission testing, but if so it can't hurt to have the buffer of a cleaner vehicle.

    Here in MA we have no choice since we have used the CA emission policy for a lot of years. My wife and I have had 5 Foresters and have never had any complaints on how they run. My current one is an 06 with the 173HP and it is definitely noticeable over the older 165 HP ones, including my wife's 05 Bean.
  • Thank you, bigfrank3, for all your responses! I appreciate it!
  • I have about 7,400 miles on my 2009 PZEV and have had no problems or regrets with vehicle performance. I purchased my Forester in Massachusetts and had no choice but to purchase a PZEV if I wanted a new Forester. After the sale, I researched the PZEV designation and found little solid information. Seems that PZEV is largely a bureaucratic designation and MAY indicate that the vehicle has a larger catalytic converter, a more effective evaporative canister and more robust fuel lines. The lengthy emission warranty is also government mandated for PZEV certified vehicles. In the case of Subaru, the extended warranty will only be honored if the PZEV vehicle was purchased in a Cali-emission state. Still, I'd rather have a PZEV than not due to possibly more durable emissions components.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Juice has a PZEV and it is not broken in yet, but he is already getting great mileage... although his wife does better

    I may never live that down. :D

    Actually, we have passed 1000 miles, so we're officially broken in now.

    The other day we took a highway trip about half hour each way, and round trip I managed to get 31.2mpg.

    The average is always divisible by 0.3mpg, so it goes from 30.0mpg to 30.3, then 30.6, 30.9, 31.2, etc.

    The EPA numbers are the same, PZEV compared to non-PZEV. Some people with non-PZEV models and manual transmissions have been besting our numbers routinely, so I don't think the PZEV is any more efficient.

    I'll take the 5 extra HP, though.

    As for should you or should you not, think of it this way - if you order one you'll know nobody ever test drove it. You can pick a color and customize your options, to get exactly what you want, untouched, untested, just for you.

    Worth it IMHO.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    The NPR Car Talk guys had a column recently where they discussed the difference between the various emission designators. Their conclusion was that PZEV was essentially ULEV with a longer emissions warranty and that a PZEV engine didn't burn noticeably cleaner. Of course that was a general observation and some manufacturers may make more substantive changes to their PZEV vehicles.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I certainly don't claim to know more than Click & Clack, but we have noticed a few differences in idle speeds and in throttle response with the PZEV models.

    2 examples: warm up RPMs seem to be higher, and when you let off the throttle abruptly the RPMs don't drop as quickly as they seem to with non-PZEV models.

    I'm sure at least the throttle mapping is different.

    Plus, I doubt Subaru could claim a 5hp gain with no changes. These are SAE horses.
  • I have had a 2009 Forester with the PZEV for 3 weeks now. Non-turbo, automatic 4-speed.

    1. I hear brief engine pinging when accelerating while moving at lower speeds, especially going up hill or an incline. The pinging doesn't last long, I think the knock sensor kicks in. This occurs at lower RPMs. If you downshift using the accelerator the pinging doesn't occur. The dealer will check this next week when I bring it in to install an optional trim thing.

    2. The A/C compressor cycles more frequently than I have experienced with other vehicles. This depends on the outside air temperature. I can measure (and feel) the outlet air temperature rising and falling. The dealer checked the cooling system and said the system was OK.
  • I have the same vehicle - no problems. Are you using 87 octane fuel?
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Here's a link to the Car Talk Column

    I'd forgotten that the column was in response to a Subaru Drive reader's question about the meaning of PZEV :)

  • robsisrobsis Posts: 162
    Thnx for the link!

    My wife and I just bought an '09 Legacy PZEV. We do notice a slight difference in warm-up to her older non-PZEV Forester with the same 2.5L engine; however, once warmed up, there appears to be no difference in idle at all. Performance seems on par or slightly better in the new vehicle, which I would expect. As to mileage, can't say since we are comparing two different vehicles (Legacy vs. Forester); however, the new car already does get better mileage than the older one...


    PS: We already are getting comments about the 'green leaf' PZEV badge on the back (we live in AZ, where it is not required) and people seem pleased that Subie would offer this as an option here in our also makes us feel that we are contributing, if only somewhat, to cleaner air.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Ours does not ping so I'd have that checked out. We use 87 octane only.
  • Yes, I only use 87 octane.

    I called Subaru Corporate Customer Service. Waste of time. The customer service person said all they do when an owner calls with service, operation, mechanical concerns is for Subaru to call the dealer's service manager. I made an appointment for next week to bring it in so that not only can the service writer drive with me but also the service manager.

    Subaru apparently doesn't have a system for logging problems, they rely on the local dealers.
  • From what I understand you may not have a choice about PZEV depending on where you live. Here in the more populated areas of the North East they only sell PZEVs now.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    I called Subaru Corporate Customer Service. Waste of time.
    Subaru apparently doesn't have a system for logging problems, they rely on the local dealers.

    Actually, your issue was logged (as are all calls). Subaru (like all manufacturers) wants to resolve any problem at the lowest level, hence the reason they referred you to the local dealer. However, if the dealer is unable to resolve your problem, it will be escalated to the district/regional level and then finally to corporate if necessary.

  • I'm a little confused about the PZEV cars. I know NJ only makes PZEV cars, but if I decide to purchase out of state, do I HAVE to buy a car that's PZEV if I'm registering it in NJ?

    Thanks for the help - my internet research has not been helpful!
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    Here in Mass. we also have PZEV certification, and I can tell you that you cannot get a non-PZEV vehicle registered in this state. We have had the Calif. emission certification for a number of years and this has been true for every brand. Early on you had the option of bringing the vehicle up to Mass. standards but this would be too complex and cost prohibitive nowadays.

    If you check with one of your emission testing facilities I bet it is the same in NJ.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I saw that, too. Very timely.
  • Thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I'm in NJ and asked the Subaru dealer about the PZEV warranty and he said "Warranty? There's no warranty for that." I knew there was one but just didn't know if it was applicable in NJ until now.

    Now, if only the dealers had any clue....
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