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Subaru XT Turbo Forester



  • tinytootinytoo Posts: 6

    I'm sorry if my comments sounded like an "extreme characterization." I do appreciate the vast knowledge and experience that has been shared in these discussions. It was just distressing for me to continually read about the XT's gearing gap from 1st to 2nd rather than how much fun the MT is to drive! I was feeling as though I had purchased the wrong car, and that is a terrible way to feel! I guess all I have to remember is which car, the MT or AT, made me grin wider. For me, it was the MT. :)


    Thanks for the congratulations and for your advice on "driving before signing." Again, it's nice to know that someone hasn't had a real noticeable experience of the gap between 1st & 2nd, though it obviously does exist. Hopefully, my XT will be a smooth shifter too. I'll keep you posted.

    When are all these new XT owners going to post some photos??
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    Do you think the 5-speed XT gearing was to maximize acceleration or to minimize turbo lag? I'd say it was the latter and the benefit being the former.

    As for the dipstick, the most repeatable way to measure it is to pull it out after you park and leave it out until you're ready to measure.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687

    I don't think turbo lag minimization had much if anything to do with the 4.44 axle or with putting the wider-spaced (1st-to-5th) WRX ratios into the XT. XT turbo lag was already guaranteed to be substantially reduced (compared to the WRX) simply by putting the relatively small WRX turbo onto the 25%-larger-displacement STi-derived engine. An undersized turbo on a 'large' engine, other things being equal, will always have much less lag than the reverse. In addition, the STi's/XT's variable intake cam timing (absent from the WRX) also contributes to excellent and quick response to the throttle, across the rev range.

    Another way to put this is that the XT can show positive boost 'right now', with hardly any lag, even at only 1,400-1,500 rpms! This contributes to quick power regardless of whether you're in 1st or 3rd or 5th (so long as you're at or above that modest engine speed). So, regardless of gearing, the lag has been carefully (and very effectively) designed out. 10% taller gearing wouldn't change that at all, any more than you experience significantly more turbo lag in an XT in 3rd gear than you do in 2nd. All you experience is a proportionately lower rate of acceleration, overall, reflecting the differing mechanical advantage inherent in the taller gears.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Obviously some folks are tired of my harping on the huge 77% step between the XT's 1st and 2nd gears. At risk of inflaming, I'd like to provide some context.

    With the advent of the XT, the Forester became (by just about any yardstick) a legitimate high-performance vehicle. Speaking generally, widely-spaced transmission ratios are not associated with high performance machines. I recognize that the WRX has the exact same gaps, but it's a special case to which I'll return.

    In '56-57, GM introduced an all-synchro 4-speed. In the Corvette, it's 2nd gear was just 33% taller than 1st. Even in GM sedans, the gap was only about 40%. Same goes for the 4-speeds that Ford and Chrysler designed for their '50s and '60s musclecars. High-performance cars having a lot of power and torque per pound of car have (with a few exceptions) usually provided closer-ratio gearsets than their more-pedestrian brethren. It was a rare high-performance machine whose 2nd gear was more than 55-60% taller than 1st.

    With its light weight, the XT has the power (and, equally important, the broad, flat powerband) to accelerate with nearly any of those cars. Yet the gap between 1st and 2nd in the XT is 77%. The rev drop going from 1st to 2nd is, comparatively speaking, huge. I've never said it's fatal, but it is at best awkward, and it's certainly unnecessary and sub-optimal. An owner of a turbocharged Forester in another forum described his experience after installing the transmission gearset from a (foreign-spec?) 5-speed STi, where the gap between 1st and 2nd is just under 50%. He raved about the improvement, both in daily street driving and on the strip.

    You expect widely-spaced transmissions on underpowered econoboxes. You don't typically expect them on any car that has the power-to-weight to approach 100mph in the quarter. Even the plain-vanilla regular Forester's 67% 1st-to-2nd gap, together with 4.11 or 3.9 axles, would be a big improvement.

    Back to the WRX: With it's comparatively small-displacement, highly-tuned engine and a turbo sized such that it doesn't start to kick in until you build some serious revs, the WRX is unarguably 'soft' on low-end torque. Add the fact that it has tenacious all-wheel-drive (hard to break loose to keep the revs up on launch to prevent bogging down), and you have a car that would be a slug off-the-line UNLESS it had a stump-pulling first gear. Ergo, even though I don't personally care for the WRX's wide ratios and low 1st gear, a case can be made that on that car, with that engine, it was necessary.

    The XT is completely different! Thanks to more displacement, a relatively-smaller turbo, different tuning and ECU management priorities, variable valve timing, and so forth, the XT probably makes 50% to 70% more torque than the WRX at 1500-2500 rpms. That's a huge difference. With only a slight increase in weight, the XT flatly does not need such a low starting gear in order to deliver stunning first-gear launches off the line. Hitting the redline at barely over 30mph - in slightly over 1 second - is incompatible with top-caliber driveability in a car with this level of performance. Indeed, it might even be counterproductive. A properly-geared XT might actually beat ours to any speed above 30 or 40 mph. It also would be a lot more pleasant overall.

    Everyone but me apparently loves the super-low first gear and doesn't seem to mind the giant step to 2nd at all. Or the 3100rpm at 70 cruise. I'm genuinely glad you're happy. As for me, I've driven a slew of fast cars with much better-chosen gearing, and I'm not thrilled. I think it was a major blunder that significantly impairs the experience of living with this car long term.

  • akasrpakasrp Posts: 170
    jb most cogently states: With the advent of the XT, the Forester became (by just about any yardstick) a legitimate high-performance vehicle .

    I can only add, and most certainly deserves a coat of San Remo Red!

    my 2¢: a Hot car deserves HOT paint!

  • notwithstanding the big step from 1st to 2nd, the 4.44 final drive ratio is just a massive gas-eater. the impact at low speeds is more readily apparent , in terms of acceleration potential, than at 4th and 5th gear, but cruising at over 3000 rpms is just unnecessary, esp on US roads. i am disappointed that subaru has put this differential in the XT and has apparently put it in the next generation Legacy turbo, as well. i am glad they put conscious attention into pairing the new engines with drive trains that can stand up under the increased torque loads, but this is overkill.
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    It's hard to be sure what final drive will wind up in next-gen Legacies bound for the U.S. market - but this much I know: I am very seriously considering one for my wife' next car. If Subaru is dumb enough to repeat the XT error by giving Legacy buyers no choice other than the 4.44, our dollars will go elsewhere. They might make the same blunder twice, but I won't.

  • according to the specs, is 4.44. no info posted on the japanese or new zealand sites , yet, on the NA 2.5 or 3.0 H6 versions which havent been released yet.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    those are all 2.0 engines. The 2.5 models could be geared differently. Also, remember the automatics will be 5-speeds with the SportShift feature.

  • Hello everyone!

    Proud new owner here of a red 5spd XT. I have been lurking here for a few weeks and would like to thank everyone for their comments. This vehicle is the best kept secret on the market today. Is Subaru even promoting it? I’ve seen Lance Armstrong promoting the WRX but nothing on the XT.

    My criteria for choosing a new mini-SUV was:
    1) Safety
    2) Good acceleration
    3) Able to go moderately off-road to get to fishing areas and trailheads for hiking
    4) 20+ mpg
    5) Quiet highway ride
    6) Manual transmission

    The XT was everything I was looking for. Actually, it wound up being a tough choice between the WRX wagon and the XT, but in the end I opted for a little extra ground clearance. Plus I thought the XT was better in delivering its power than the WRX. If you like that kicked in the pants feeling of the WRX each time you rev above 3K and enjoy excellent handling, that’s probably the car for you. Very little turbo lag that I could notice in the XT. I liked the tach in the center of the console on the WRX. Subaru needs to do that with the XT. This is the first vehicle I’ve had that has the 'drive by wire' throttle, and it can be a little on the sensitive side. It takes a little effort to learn to accelerate smoothly from a stop.
    I drove the auto XT for comparison, and have to say that if I had been looking for an automatic mini-SUV, it would have been a tough choice between the XT and the Tribute. Luckily for me I’m not married yet, so the choice was easy to get the 5-speed.

    In summary…
    XT weaknesses:
    * Appearance – a tall looking station wagon (although an advantage in that you won’t draw much notice from the local police)
    * You don’t sit up high as in a true SUV
    * Rear hatch takes some effort to close securely since it’s made of lightweight aluminum
    * Tach tends to get lost in the shadows in bright sunlight
    * Drive-by-wire throttle takes some effort to learn to accelerate smoothly
    * Optional armrest may get in the way when shifting for some people with a manual transmission (try before you buy)

    XT advantages:
    * Great safety ratings
    * Comfortable seats and nice interior
    * Sports-car like acceleration
    * All-wheel drive system inspires confidence off-road
    * Full-size spare
    * Hill Holder
    * Puts a smile on my face each time I get in it

    I achieved 21.4 mpg on my first tank of gas, about a 50/50 mix of city and highway miles at 5000 to 6000 feet elevation.

    I'm looking forward to many happy miles in my new Subie!
  • corkfishcorkfish Posts: 537
    I guess that's why everbodys different. I would not have bought the XT if it didn't have the 4:44 to 1 gear ratio
  • lbhaleylbhaley Posts: 91
    I think that Jack and corkfish have summed it up very well. What bothers one person to the point of distraction is but a minor annoyance to another. The XT 1st to 2nd gap is a case in point. To Jack it is a major fault in what is otherwise a great car. To me it is at most a minor annoyance that I only notice when I am accelerating very hard in 1st. The same is true with the 3000+ cruise rpms. Although the tach reads over 3000 at 78 mph to me the engine feels relaxed and happy at those revs. Others will undoubtedly find it annoying. Different strokes for different folks.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    While our various individual priorities are all over the map, I find statements like "I would not have bought the XT if it didn't have the 4:44" astonishing.

    Play along with me on a scenario.

    Fact: The very first, very tantalizing more-or-less official indication any of us had as to the XT's performance was Subaru of Canada's claimed 0-100 kph in 6.1 seconds. That translates to 0-60 mph in about 5.8 seconds - and in large measure, that's what sparked the intense early interest in the XT, long before there were any actual first-drive or test-drive reports by automotive writers or by prospective buyers. That SOC performance claim is, in large measure, what set the expectation and feverish early interest in motion.

    Now suppose the XT arrived with 3.9 gears instead of 4.44. Even with the taller gears, the torquey, high-output, lightweight XT still would easily have equalled or bettered 0-60 in 5.8. That would be a sensational number by any definition for a moderately-priced all-wheel-drive crossover SUV.

    Then the EPA ratings would have come out, probably around 20 city / 25 highway. Dare I say that these numbers would have been much more in line with the expectations of at least some of us?

    Then, those of us who took XTs out on early test drives would have written pretty much the same glowing reports, validating the growing realization that NO other small crossover AWD SUV could come close to matching its performance or bang-for-the-buck quotient.

    In due course, Car & Driver would have put one through a road test. Even with 3.9 gears, they would have achieved and reported 0-60 in (oh, let's say) 5.7, with the standing quarter in maybe 14.2 seconds at 94-95 mph. These numbers would have been FULLY CONSISTENT with the initial claim made by Subaru of Canada.

    I find it incredulous, almost to the point of disbelief, that more than a microscopically tiny number of potential XT buyers would actually have refused to buy one SOLELY on the basis that its acceleration (0-60 in 5.7-5.8 and QM in 14.2 at maybe 94 was somehow insufficient!

    With the possible exception of the XT's stablemate (the WRX), what other AWD crossover station wagon/SUV costing under $25-30,000 could you have purchased instead that delivers faster acceleration?

    But assume, for sake of discussion, that some miniscule number of bona fide buyers actually would have snubbed a 3.9 XT because those performance numbers are somehow too slow. I submit that for every single sale lost for that reason, at least one or two more would have been sold thanks to the better overall balance delivered by still-class-leading performance PLUS 20-25 mpg EPA ratings and longer-legged highway cruising capabilities.

    So: Would Subaru have experienced a net loss in XT sales because Corkfish and a few others say they would not have bought an XT with 3.9 or 4.11 gearing?

    I think not. I think the reverse would have been far more likely.

  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    I've lost count of the number of posts you've made complaining about the gearing in your XT manual. Why don't you bite the bullet and pay the bucks necessary to fix what you perceive to be the problem?

  • once_for_allonce_for_all Posts: 1,640
    I find myself agreeing with you on this one. Years ago, I was keenly interested in the VW Rabbit GTI--until my first drive, it spun at 3000 rpm at 55 in 5th gear. NOT for me anymore.

  • corkfishcorkfish Posts: 537
    Sorry. I grew up with muscle cars. I remember the old Dana 411's and the way you could launch them. That's what I like about it. I'm not criticizing anyone else about what they want out of a car, all I'm saying is the fact that this thing does the quarter mile in the 13's and is still very innocuous looking is the reason I bought it. If I wanted something with lesser performance I would have bought a Murano or a regular Forester. I just drove it 360 miles on my vacation at 80 miles an hour pretty much the whole way. It was smooth as can be and the engine was very much at home at 3200 rpms. I have no complaints.
  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    My first car was a 1967 BMW 1600: 4.11 gears, 4-spd trans, and tiny 165/75-13 tires. Top speed was redline in 4th gear: 99.5 MPH. Maximum recommended cruising speed (per owners manual) was 95. That translates into 6200 RPM.

    I took it easy though... I usually cruised at 85. My grandad, who loved American V-8s advised me to go easy on the freeway, "cause them little furrin' motors will blow up if you drive 'em fast." My reply was, "it's ok... they're made for high RPMs"

    I think Subies are too.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    The invoice price of the rock-bottom cheapest AWD Murano is a whopping 20% higher than the XT's...and (according to Car & Driver) the Murano reaches 0-60 in 7.5 seconds and the quarter in 15.9 at only 88mph. Those numbers are FAR slower than an XT with 3.9 gearing would achieve - for a LOT more money! If a just-slightly-slower XT with 3.9 gearing would actually have been unacceptable to you, as you say, then how exactly would a 20% more expensive car that takes nearly two seconds longer (than a 3.9 XT) to run the quarter be more appealing to you?

    As for 80mph at 3200 rpm, my 5-speed XT spins at nearly 3,500 at that speed.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687

    Having already spent 24 large on my XT, I'm not exactly anxious to spend a couple thousand more to correct what I regard to be a significant design flaw. If Subaru will share the cost to correct the problem, that would be acceptable.

    As for your BMW, most if not all German cars are engineered to maintain near-maximum sustained speeds on the Autobahn. Nothing like that exists in North America or Japan or any of Subaru's other major markets.

    It may well be that Subaru's engines can withstand high sustained revs - for awhile. The question is, how long? Anybody want to make a case that an XT engine spinning 3,500 rpms at 80mph will last as long as the same engine turning 3 thou at the same roadspeed would?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Go with bigger tires, Jack. Put the spare outside on a hitch mounted kit, I've seen Jeeps that way.

    I didn't mind the gearing at all. Rev it in first, and in 2nd the engine is not bogging because low-end torque is good. The XT felt fast at any rpm, in any gear.

    Since I didn't sense any "valley" in the power delivery, I think gearing is OK.

    The GT has much small diameter tires, so I doubt it'll get the shorter final drive.

  • corkfishcorkfish Posts: 537
    Jeez. Buy something else will you? I wanted a Neon SRT in the worst way, but the styling was ridiculous. Therefore, I buy something else.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If I don't like the big 7 passenger SUW I may take it off your hands in a year or two, Jack, especially given how you've taken care of it.

  • ace1000ace1000 Posts: 151
    Has anyone seen 0-30,-40,-50,-60 test results for the AT? I'm guessing that the AT is at most 1 second slower to 60 and maybe not very much slower to 40 than the XT.
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    I disagree that the 4.44 final drive as well as the gear spacing was chosen purely for acceleration. Using your same argument, Jack, the XT would still have shown strong 0-60 numbers with different gearing. If it's not turbo lag, then it's something else that prompted Subaru. I just can't imagine Subaru putting so much emphasis on pure acceleration especially with the Forester.

    And I echo juice's comments about the 1-2 shift not really being an issue (to me). I think it probably has to do with the fact that our 98 Forester 1-2 does have quite a big gap to begin with so perhaps we were already used to it.

    What I did find was that it was easy to lurch the XT from a dead stop because of the massive torque and short gearing. There was one stoplight where I jerked across like some manual tranny newbie!

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    "Jeez. Buy something else will you? I wanted a Neon SRT in the worst way, but the styling was ridiculous. Therefore, I buy something else"

    What's ridiculous is your absurd solution. The buy has obviously already occurred. The 4.44 gearing blindsided all of us who already owned XTs before that became known. Perhaps you're in the fortunate position to blithely walk away from a $24K investment. I'm not.

    Adios, folks. Until recently, it's been mostly fun.
  • lark6lark6 Posts: 2,565
    Wow, things are getting a little touchy in here.

    Could it be for once that I'd do better by going with the automatic? The tradeoff would be between the MT's better torque distribution and the AT's better gearing. Hmm...why not put the 4.11 in the MT and VTD in the AT and make everyone happy?

  • OK, so he REALLY doesn't like the way the MT is geared, but I can live with those rants to hear the rest of the story as well. It is vital for us potential XT buyers to hear this, as well as any Subaru eyes and ears who might also tune in. There have been some really mystifying decisions on the Forester for 2004, and some really great improvements. I guess it would be nice if Subaru themselves could shed some light on some of this for some incredibly loyal owners (hey, I'm a Macintosh user, so I know em when I read em!). Thanks to all of you, including Ballistic, for all the info you have given us on the XT, both good and bad.
  • njswamplandsnjswamplands Posts: 1,760
    my wife was more than upset about the low mileage in this light of a car. it is just that we felt there was no other competition in this price range ( feature set that it has and performance ) and she is more of a torque goddess than a mpg princess.

    she insisted on the AT and to me it is a bit laggy out of first gear, so i want to rant about a 5 speed auto please. when the AT gets to the middle of 1st gear it is torque heaven from then on. but then again, since i am in the break-in period, maybe it will be different in the the AT 1st gear low end?? after having my odyssey barely moving the rpm guage at highway speed, it is difficult adjusting to the higher revs.

    ok now back to my life in rain flooded nj... this car is incredible. i just cant believe what i have missed by not having a subie before.

    when i bought the xt i thought the xt 2nd row was adequate. now having those beasts in the 2nd row kicking my back cuz they can reach the rear of my seat is wearing thin. anyone know of a mod so that i can put them where the dog would go? hehehe. but seriously this car is too small for a people hauler and we use the odyssey for what it does best, haul stuff to the dump and shuttle people around and not have kids kicking me in the back all the way there.
  • corkfishcorkfish Posts: 537
    Anyone check the drive ratios on the competition? Don't most SUV's have similar final drives? The Honda Pilot? The Nissan Murano? What is everyone else running? I know Jeep charges extra for the higher ratio option. Also, anyone experiencing any detonation under aggressive acceleration? Apparently the STI is having a problem that warrants attention. I've noticed that mine does ping, but not consistently. Oh, and absurd? I guess if I bought a car without researching it.
  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    Certainly you took an XT MT out for a spin before signing the final papers? You would/could/should have seen the rpm's at 55, 65, felt the 1st-2nd jump in gears, etc. You certainly saw the monroney sticker with the gas mileage, right?

    If you're unhappy with something, isn't CONTACTING the best way to notify the manufacturer? Call Subaru and let them know! We (as townhall members) know how you feel here but obviously can't do anything to help your situation.

This discussion has been closed.