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2009 Subaru Forester



  • sgloonsgloon Posts: 323
    Thanks to both of you for comments.

    Kurt, are the AUTOSOCKS like chains?
  • AutoSocks are tough fabric bands with mesh sides that fit over the wheels like wheel covers (installing them takes around a minute or two at most per wheel). The fabric has a very high friction coefficient on snow and ice, generating traction. They're not quite as good as chains in really deep snow, but otherwise work well for winter driving enhancement. They come from Norway but are sold by TIRE RACK and other auto part retailers.

    Size match to tire is critical, though. Too small and you cannot slip them on. Too big and they'll wander over the wheels and possibly jam up the wheel well. They can be driven for short distances on dry roads, but it's not recommended.

    For the Forester XT, size 745 seems to work well for the 225 x 55 x 17 Nokians I have on it.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I remember build-up on my old rims, and what helped was cleaning and even waxing the rims themselves. When I rotate the tires I do that, because it's easier. That keep the wheels balanced (ice is heavy and can throw them way off balance).

    The wheel wells are harder, though, because you can't wax plastic. I do recommend keeping them clean. Use a power washer for the wheel wells and undercarriage each time you wash the Forester. Any car, really.

    I wonder if a light coating of lithium grease in some problem spots would help, so the ice would not stick on? WD40 is oil based and might harm some plastics and rubber.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,908
    AutoSocks - I had never heard of those before. I think I will check them out!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Putting any kind of lube (wax, grease, etc) in wheel wells raises the potential of that stuff getting mixed in with snow that then, when it falls off, ends up lubricating the tires with wax or grease, destroying their traction.

    Unfortunately I know of no spray-on Teflon coatings or something that will stay put in a wheelwell.

    Meanwhile, the first big winter storm is socking Portland OR tonight. We should have snow tomorrow - adventure beckons. :surprise:
  • Do any of the expert Subaru folks here have an explanation for why there is such a wide variation of opinion regarding the '09 XT handling?

    I compared the '09 Forester XT with the '08 Outback XT and found the Forester leaned way less in turns. In my driving, it only leans if I turn really fast (like a hard turn at 50 or 60 mph). In normal driving, changing lanes, etc., it leans less than the Outback or the Mailbu Maxx I used to drive.

    Yet when I read reviews, some claim the XT heels over like an old barge or something in turns. Granted, with nearly 9" or so of ground clearance, I would expect some lean in really hard cornering - the XT is not a racer.

    Given that many car magazines /web sites actually test mules / pre-production samples, might it be the pre-production samples had different suspension calibration than the actual production run?
  • volkovvolkov Posts: 1,306
    At one level it didn't make any sense to me either. Having driven both the 09 Forester and the Rav4 for example it seemed strange that the Rav4 wasn't slagged universally for its handling given the comments on the Forester. I wonder if it's being held to a higher standard being the "performance" model. There is no difference between the handling of the XT and the top tier X. If the WRX was simply an Impreza with a 265hp engine, it would be vilified for its handling and rightly so. Mabye they are comparing it to the old model which was more settled and certainly moreso than the competition. Seems unfair though.
  • Another web site, TheTruthAboutCars, felt because the XT has a turbo, it's supposed to be a track demon, then slammed it because it behaved more like the practical CUV it is. Their favorite CUV's the Acura RDX, which handles and rides like a go cart. To each their own, I guess :blush:
  • The older XT's handling was much more sporty. I'm referring to the 04-05 models. Then Subaru softened them up, and that carried to the 09. I personally prefer the more sporty handling, with very little leaning and wallowing - the car feels very tight and nimble.
  • sgloonsgloon Posts: 323
    Hi, Kurt,

    Just thought I would check to see how the snow is coming down in Oregon. It has just started snowing here and they expect the storm to stick around til Wednesday(with really cold temps :sick: ) looks like a pretty big storm on the satellite.
  • The snow is here and more is coming. I-5 is already closed by a truck wreck. Apparently the rain froze and snow fell on top of it....worst possible surface.

    That artic cold front's really's doing a zig zag over Portland and the main bulk of it's not over us yet. It will be and will get very cold for some time.

    I'll be going out to play in an hour or so, but want to let those who had to leave the apartment complex leave first. It'll be no fun playing tag with those summer tire tuners in the apartment parking lot. :sick:
  • I've been driving the '09 XT awhile in 1 - 2" snow and some ice, mostly in deserted parking lots and roads to get the feel of this car in winter.

    What I learned wrt XT's winter weather driving:

    1. Accelerate hard in a corner and the XT will swing its tail out. Drive easy and it stays pretty neutral.
    2. Brake in a corner and XT just drifts (assuming wheels all have equally bad traction). If ABS turns on, it's remarkably quiet.
    3. One side of car on asphalt and other side of car on snow did not induce wheel-spin during acceleration. In fact the drive system seemed pretty much seamless unless I pushed it hard per above.
    5. The WRG2's work well on snow, less well on ice ( XT definitely slid a bit when there was ice underfoot). However wheel spin was brief - the car never failed to start or stop moving.
    6. Snow and Ice build up fast in the mud flaps and front/rear edge of wheel wells.
    Some other cars I saw were much worse.
    7. Snow melts on the hood.
    8. Wipers, defrosters and defoggers do a good job keeping mirrors and affected windows clear.
    9. If you have the rear bumper guard cover, you will have to be careful about keeping snow buildup off of it or you will not be able to open the rear hatch.

    I'm trying the Prestone Snow block spray to see if it helps keep stuff off of those problem areas.

    After my drive, I learned that ODOT had for today mandated chains be used on ALL Portland OR roads !! :surprise: I did not have chains on the Forester (though my trusty Auto Socks were ready if needed) and I did not see chains on other vehicles save tow trucks and ambulances. At least those Nokian WRG2's are winter rated !

    By comparison, my former '04 Malibu Maxx FWD with GW tripletreads in winter:
    1. Ran wide if accelerated in turns
    2. Spun its front wheels a lot
    3. Went nowhere if both its front wheels spun on ice.
    That car would have probably gotten stuck today. Not the XT. :D
  • Forgot to add: The VDC/TC was on all the time. The VC definitely did not stop the tail from sliding when I briefly accelerated hard in a turn on a vacent Icy parking lot (nooooo, I did not try this on a road !!!).

    Possibly, if I had kept up the acceleration (I only let XT accelerate 1-2 seconds) , VDC would have cut in. I saw no warning lights flash during this test.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,908
    Nice review.

    Out of curiosity, is snow melting on the hood not something you experience with other vehicles?
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • There's no insulation under the XT's hood so I am not surprised snow melted once it got warmed up.
    My Malibu Maxx did have insulation under its hood.

    Should also add the XT warms up pretty quickly compared to other cars I've owned.
  • volkovvolkov Posts: 1,306
    I noticed that with the WRX when I first got it in 04. Turbos of course run hotter and the turbo increases temps as it compresses the air, but in addition, there is basically a run of a couple of feet of exhaust piping sitting in the engine bay pumping out heat that a NA engine doesn't have.
  • Good to know.
    Another reason why I change oil frequently and use a proven additive (not that STP stuff) to reduce friction and oxidation. Coking turbos are not for me :surprise: !!

    FYI my servicing dealer told me that at 7000 miles, switching to Synthetic would cause more oil to be burned. Not sure if that would foul the plugs or not, so for now it's high grade conventional and the additive.
  • sgloonsgloon Posts: 323
    Thanks for a comprehensive review, Kurt! :)
  • For those jumping in here:

    Continued adventures on Oregon Roads in winter with '09 XT.
    Nearly all the roads were a sheet of ice covered by windblown snow in places.
    Temperature was 32 - 24 degrees. Tires were Nokian WRG2.

    If the ice was wet, I would loose traction on one or more wheels momentarily, but the Forester XT never got stuck, including on a 10 - 15 degree hill with that wet ice.
    I got up to around 5 - 10 mph and was still able to stop reasonably well if I was gentle. Jack rabbit starts or stops would definitely break the wheels loose.
    This is the worst case I can think of.

    If ice was typical (shiny but no visible water) or covered with snow, the traction was much better. There the XT started and stopped without trouble provided I was gentle with throttle and brakes.

    The Prestone anti-ice spray seems to be helping keep slush from freezing in the wheelwells.

    Tomorrow come the big hills due a trip I have to make. :surprise:

    How are others fairing? The winter tire forum commented on the Michelin X-ice tires and found them wanting.
  • bpraxisbpraxis Posts: 292
    Happy Holiday's everyone and I hope that you are having fun with your Subaru.

    Do you all feel that for 2010 Subaru will increase the horsepower on the Forrester Turbo to match the WRX which moved to over 260 horsepower for 2009?

  • Given Forester is big seller now, there __might__ be enough sales to justify bringing back the 5S MT XT version all the enthusiasts complained about Subaru dropping.

    If Subaru also added the power boost to that model, that would further goose sales.

    Then again, the Forester's not a track car. Subaru would have a fair bit of suspension revision to do, including lowering heigth.
  • This time came the big hills around Portland OR. We have several subdivisions built on Bull Mountain that have numerous winding, hilly streets.
    Most of those streets were covered with snow-swept ice, occasionally sprinkled with a few cinders. Some hills approach 20 - 25 degrees.

    One hill's lack of traction had sent a Jetta and a small MiniVan down their slopes. A number of FWD cars were spinning wheels as they tried to get going.

    The XT with Nokians, in all but one case, just went up and down the hills. As before, speeds had to be kept low, but the XT stopped and restarted on any hill, and stopped when going down the same hills. The worst case was when the ice was wet - the ABS definitely kicked in for those braking situations. Accelerating, I did not see any VDC/TC warning lights but felt some of the wheels alternating traction. There was little hesitation and no violent spinning of wheels.

    The only time XT lost it was doing a fairly sharp right hand turn at about 5-10 mph over a small hill which was covered with wet ice. At the hill apex XT slid for 1 - 2 seconds before it recovered. My guess is the momentary loss of weight on the tires allowed them to skid - once the vehicle got over the bump, traction came back.

    With the WRG2's and careful driving, the XT seems up to the challange of most Oregon winter roads.
    How are folks with Geolanders doing in similar situations?

    There are at least two more massive storms heading for us this week, so the fun is just beginning!
  • capitanocapitano Posts: 509
    We got our first major snow here in the Kansas City area this week. I noticed the rear end sliding out around some turns, particularly when the front end was on the plowed road and the rear was going through a small berm created by the plow. In these slides, the VDC light never came on.

    I did get the light to come on once this morning going over a railroad crossing. I felt some wheelspin and the light came on briefly.
  • We've got snow, ice, and very low temps here in MN last few days. Brought my new X Premium home last night and VDC coming on regularly (granted I may have been a little enthusiastic with my new toy!). Notice a lot of drifting with any acceleration into a turn. Again, very slick conditions yesterday and today. While Forester still handled terrifically, I've heard the stock Geolanders aren't the best for these conditions.

    Also, noticed ABS kicks in a lot quicker and more frequently than on my old Toyota Sienna.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,908
    Yes, with ABS and the spin, the culprit is most likely your tires.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Interesting...

    The Forester is supposedly FWD biased even though it's an AWD car. Yet when accelerating on snow and ice, the '09 swings its tail out rather than understeer severely (as my former FWD cars would do on bad roads).

    Perhaps for '09, Subaru changed the balance of the AWD system to be more rear end biased?
  • capitanocapitano Posts: 509
    It might just be that the rear end is lighter (44% vs 56% up front). My old Pathfinder used to slide around in 2WD. 300lbs of sand in the back took care of it.
  • billwvbillwv Posts: 48
    Do you have the 4AT? My understanding is that the VDC will send more power to the rear on acceleration -- and more to the front (engine braking) on deceleration.

  • PanosPanos Posts: 14
    From what i've been reading, for automatic foresters, the AWD system sends 90% of the power to the front and 10% to the rear in D in normal conditions. Switch it down to manual mode in gears 1 and 2 and you'll have 50/50 front and rear. For manual transmissions you get 50/50 in all gears. Once the AWD system detects slipping it will send more power to the wheels that have traction.

    I've bought a set of dedicated wheels and winter tires for my 09' Forester 2.5X Premium. I ordered them from I got 16" alloy wheels with 215/65-16 General Altimax Artic tires. I wasn't even going to bother with the oem Geolanders during the winter months. My previous SUV with its all-seasons was a nightmare in the winter. If it wasn't in 4wd it wasn't moving! If you want maximum traction in winter weather, a dedicated winter tire is the only way to go.

    This was my first set of winter tires and so far they have been great, i've gone through heavy rain in 40°F weather to wet roads at freezing temps and the forester drove like the pavement was dry. I tried taking some quick turns and fast take offs on wet pavement, but i haven't been able to break them loose. I still haven't tried them out in the snow, but were going to get a good amount of snowfall here in New England on Friday, so i'll get to test them out! :)
  • The '09 XT only comes with an automatic (4 speed).
    Perhaps the '10 will re-introduce the 5 speed manual (it was dropped after '08).
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