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Considering a non-Subaru car; talk me out of it!

brc2004brc2004 Posts: 14
edited April 2014 in Honda
I've had a Subaru Forester for the last 3 years and have been pleased with it. I'm a very short person and the Forester is one of the few cars that has a comfortable seating position for me, and great viewing angles. On the other hand I feel very guilty about owning an SUV, even a small one, because it does use a lot of gas and I am usually driving it solo. It's definitely bigger than I need most of the time.

This last weekend I was visiting Virginia and rented a Nissan Versa. I was surprised at how much fun I had driving it! Like my Forester, it has a boxy shape with great viewing angles, comfy "upright" style seats, and actually I felt that it was slightly more powerful at accelerating. I had a blast driving it around the hilly country roads of rural Virginia. I considered the idea of switching to a small car like that. Back when I purchased the Forester in 2005 I had been torn between getting a super-compact and an SUV (for some reason both car shapes appeal to me, perhaps because of the seating styles and viewing angles).

Then I returned to my home in the snowy hell that is New England and remembered why I bought the Forester in the first place. The Subaru is great because I've never had to think twice about the weather -- if I feel like going out I do so, regardless of the snow situation. I've become used to backing up over snowdrifts and making three point turns on our icy driveway without bothering to shovel myself out first. Would it be a huge adjustment to switch to a small car? Would I feel that I'd made a mistake? Would my Versa disappear into one of the cavernous potholes in my neighborhood, never to be seen again? I'd like to hear from someone who drives both a Forester and a small car (i.e., Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, Toyota Echo/Yaris, Scion xD). Bonus points if you are from New England or somewhere comparably snowy.


  • robm2robm2 Posts: 53
    Gas is cheap ... enjoy it.

    If the Forester is too big, why not a smaller Subaru, like the STI, or WRX. Lots of fun to be had, and still AWD.

    Don't buy the Versa ... you'll have some serious buyers regret if you do.
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    I don't know what you consider using a lot of gas, nor do I know how many miles you drive a year, but with the 5 Foresters my wife and I have had between us we always got low to mid 20s for mileage in all-around use. We both consider that pretty good, especially considering the overall versatility of the vehicle. When you need the space it is there.

    We live in Massachusetts and, like you, love the go anywhere anytime feel we have with the Foresters. With the 2 storms we have had recently we have been reminded of how much we like them. I have owned a LOT of cars in my life, and the Forester is clearly the best for our snow area. Before the Foresters we never could get out of our driveway without shoveling, because of the hard piles of snow left by the plows. No more, we just drive through and over it.

    Some of the other cars I have had were quite good in a few inches of snow, but the problem is one of ground clearance. If the snow is deep enough to pack under the car, the vehicle gets lifted and looses traction. The vehicles you mention don't have the clearance of your Forester so if you go that way be prepared to get stuck with your snow drift maneuvers. At that moment you may curse your decision to replace your Forester. You will have great fuel savings when you can't go anywhere. :)

    Since it seems you also don't NEED to buy a new vehicle remember that it will cost you significant money to buy one. That money will buy a lot of gas, even when the prices go back up.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    While the Versa may be a practical little car, trying to compare it to a Forester is really apples and oranges. Regardless, since you have concerns about driving in the winter, you should think long and hard about getting rid of your Forester.

  • brc2004brc2004 Posts: 14
    Thanks. It is not really the cost of fuel that bothers me, since I don't fill up that much, but the fact that I have to refuel more frequently on long trips. By comparison, members of my family that drive Honda Civics or a Toyota Echo hardly ever need to stop. It's not a problem usually, but still it would be nice to be a little less dependent on finding an open gas station. But then, every time I hit a snowstorm I am grateful for the AWD, so I guess you can't have it both ways.

    bigfrank3, that was a very helpful description of the practical differences. I doubt I'll actually trade in the Forester, it was just an idea I had to think through.
  • I'm not sure I should talk you out of this, but I'll share some thoughts.

    I spent 7 months test driving cars before I bought my Forester this fall. This is my first winter with AWD, and I really do like how it handles on the snowy roads here in Vermont. I drive only 5,000 miles a year, so I worry less about the cost of gas than many people do.

    I test drove a Nissan Versa twice and was seriously considering it. It's a nice little car. I finally ruled it out when I looked at the reliability data for them and read a lot of online reviews by Versa owners. They seem to require a lot of repairs, relative to Honda, Toyota, or Subaru.

    If you are serious about a smaller car, you should look at the Honda Fit and the Toyota Scion xD. They are comparable to the Versa but are both better built. And both are fun to drive!

    Ultimately, I went with my driving comfort in the snow and chose the Forester for the great visibility and the AWD. So far, I'm happy about that. The ground clearance in the snow is nice, too.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    My brother has a Versa. He is ambivalent about the car and its CVT transmission. There is nothing wrong with the car, but he isn't crazy about it.

    I have a Classic (06) Scion xB with 5MT that I absolutely love driving. It has the same weight and power as a plain Mini. But it has little tires, no side bags, not much frontal protection, and its suspension is a little bit too lively for relaxing extended trips. So I got an 08 Forester LL Bean 4EAT for a safer, luxurious, comfortable, rugged, all-weather traveling car with some towing and rooftop capacity. It gets 7 mpg less than the xB.

    I would hate to part with either of them, but if I had to make the choice that you are asking, I would let the xB go and keep the Forester. I would give up the fun of the xB for the additional substance, safety and utility in the $10K extra cost of the Forester.
  • halflabhalflab Posts: 10
    Both cars are very, very different. The Subaru was designed as any easy to handle, go almost anywhere vehicle that is very safe. The 170+ HP and AWD mean that you will consume more gas than a 2 WD vehicle. The mileage efficiency of the Forester is on par, if not slightly better than comparable AWD vehicles.
    Sub-compacts on the other hand sacrifice power, safety and AWD for fuel efficiency. I would heartily recommend a more fuel efficient car if you lived elsewhere.

    BTW, I used to own an 06 Civic which would easily fetch upwards of 35+ MPG, but it was totaled. It was replaced by a used 06 Forester X Premium and I have not regretted the purchase at all.
  • jacksan1jacksan1 Posts: 504
    Hi. I am writing from Minnesota.Our household has a 2001 Forester as well as a 2007 Fit. This combination works very well for us, and it is our intention to always have our household vehicles divided this way (1 crossover/AWD and 1 economy car). Our Fit, that has a lifetime average of 32 MPG over 50k miles, is the workhorse (clear from the high cumulative mileage) of the household. When the weather gets rough, however, the Forester comes marching out, and it gives us a great sense of security to be able to switch to the Subaru, knowing that it just plows through most anything without braking the bank (we have averaged 23.5 MPG over 100k miles.

    We love our Fit-Forester team. :)
  • We live in a snowy climate and are convinced that the AWD on the Forester is great. However, comfort is important to us as well. Can anyone comment on seat comfort eg. lumbar support ? Are the seats comfortable on long trips? We are considering the Forester XT (turbo).

    Thanks for any advice.
  • w8ifiw8ifi Posts: 78
    I would suggest you read the comments in the "Forester 2009" thread in this Subaru section. You will find a lot of comments on all things in the new Forester.
    However "one size fits all" is an individual thing because we are all built different. The only way you can get an individual accurate appraisal is to drive one. Some owners are 5" tall and some are over 6'4". Some small frame, some large, and inseam length is different for everyone. The majority of comments on riding comfort are favorable but you can't please everyone. :D
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I was excited to hear the base transmission was a 6 speed manual, but the suspension simply isn't set up for enthusiastic driving.

    Since then Nissan lowered the price with some de-contenting, but I doubt the interior will be as nice.

    I guess it's OK, but as a fuel miser it's not the best, and it's not the most fun to drive, so nothing makes it stand out, I suppose.

    They're dirt cheap, though, so I guess that's fair.

    I guess I'm an enthusiast at heart - buy a car you love, something best-in-class. I do think the Forester is the best compact SUV. I do not think the Versa is the best sub-compact. It may not be in my top 3 actually.

    So as an emotional decision - I say no. As a rational decisision, purely from an economic stand point - I say I'm glad I'm not poor. :D
  • robm2robm2 Posts: 53
    It's very comfortable for my wife, (5'11"), but it's a little squishy in the leg-room dept. for me, (6'5"). Plenty of head-room, even for me. Leather seats are comfortable, but I wish the heated seats got hotter.

    Three things I would change, on the vehicle,
    1) more front-seat leg room, (length)
    2) limited slip differentials
    3) manual climate controls; the auto-controller sucks in the winter
  • jiromojiromo Posts: 3
    I went from a 95 Camry 2dr 2.2 to a 05 Corolla 1.8 to a 07 Impreza 2.5.

    My Camry had 188,000 miles on it when I got rid of it. My Corolla had 60,000. I could not stand having a 1.8 engine. I hated driving it on the interstate. There wasn't enough power to drive 75 mph and have the AC on. I had to make it crawl up snowy and icy hills/curves by rocking the steering wheel to get to work.

    I wanted an all wheel drive SUV to replace my Corolla. But with my commute and the gas prices at the time, I felt I should be more fiscally responsible.

    I ended up with the 07 Impreza. It's fabulous on snow. The only regret I have is not getting a bigger vehicle. The Impreza's backseat isn't useful for adults. I test drove the 08 Legacy before I bought the Impreza. I thought that the Legacy didn't have enough power for my wants and I wasn't about to be unhappy with a car again.

    My last visit to the dealership, I checked out the 09 Forrester. I would love to have it.

    Make sure you sit in the backseat of whatever vehicle you are looking at purchasing. Also, check out the truck size. And, drive it at the normal interstate speed with the AC on to make sure it still has enough power to accelerate.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you trade up to a Forester you won't regret it - ours is just the right size. Roomy enough inside but still compact outside.

    Here's a funny factoid - the Forester is shorter overall than a Chevrolet Cobalt coupe! Yet inside it feels mid-sized.

    The Forester is also shorter than an Impreza sedan, FWIW.
  • 204meca204meca Posts: 370
    A Forester & a Fit - that is exactly the combo I am aiming for with projected new car purchases over the next 2-3 years! Nice to know it has worked well for you.

    We currently have 03 Forester 5 spd & an 04 Audi A4 (CVT non Quattro). Forester mileage is consistantly 23-25 city & 28-32 highway. Overall about 27 with 75% urban driving. The A4 gets about 27-29 city & 32-36 highway (with pretty tame driving & mid-grade fuel not premium). I would estimate lifetime average of 30 mpg with 70% urban driving. I find that pretty amazing given its get up & go factor! :D

    If the original poster wants a best of all worlds,(comfortable, sporty, AWD & relatively small) consider an 08 A4 Quattro. You would get the safety of AWD & mileage that is not too far from what some Fit owners report. The potential drawback to the Audi is that it tends to be less reliable than Subie, but probably is as good or better than the Versa. Our A4 has been pretty trouble free for 55K, but not as trouble free as our Subie at 48K..
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    While I agree that the Audi A4 is a nice vehicle, somehow I doubt too many people cross-shop the A4 with the Versa (or Forester for that matter).

This discussion has been closed.