Subaru Forester MPG-Real World Numbers

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAMember Posts: 9,372
With the price of gas being what it is, your real world mileage is becoming more important than the estimates on the sticker. This is the place to talk about your real world on the road results!


  • carlv1carlv1 Member Posts: 2
    I'm a little disappointed with my new Forester's mileage. I'm on fill up number three and I get a little over 18 MPG in the city. Does that seem right?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    That's low, however the engine is still very green. Note that I didn't hit my peak mileage until I hit 15,000 miles!

    My average improved by about +3mpg after a year or so, that would put you in the low 20s at least.

  • tifightertifighter WAMember Posts: 3,296
    That sounds low. The mostly city/some highway tanks on my 06 X (almost 2500 miles now) has been 25-26, with a high of 29 for mostly freeway. First tank, which was near all city, was 25 right away. But mine is a manual so that may make a difference.

    Stop racing those CRVs :P

    21 Tesla 3 Perf / 21 Tesla Y LR / 20 BMW M2C 6MT / 11 BMW Z4 6MT / 03 Montero Ltd

  • smittynycsmittynyc Member Posts: 289
    I'm a little disappointed with my new Forester's mileage. I'm on fill up number three and I get a little over 18 MPG in the city. Does that seem right?

    Let's define "in the city," first -- are you talking about going 95%+ of a tankful driving on actual city streets? You know, stoplights at every intersection, rarely traveling above 30 mph, lots of idling?

    If that's the case, I'd actually be pretty happy with 18 mpg. I live in New York City, and on those occasions where we go a whole tankful w/o ever leaving the city limits, driving exclusively on local surface streets (no intracity jaunts on the highway), I've gotten as low as 15-16 mpg in the summer (AC).

    I have a 2004 Forester, which lacks throttle-by-wire and a couple of other refinements that yours has, so I wouldn't imagine you'd ever end up that low. But if you're talking about extreme conditions like the ones I outlined above, then 18 mpg doesn't shock me.

    FWIW, I get about 27-28 on all-highway driving (rare for us) and 23-25 on "mixed" (almost every tankful we drive will be at least 50% hard-core urban mileage). I had one tankful just over 30 mpg, driving 45-55 on rural back roads in Ohio. EPA for my model is 22/28.

    Hope that helps. I'm not thrilled with my urban mileage, either, but I think it's got more to do with the conditions than with the car.
  • jeqqjeqq Member Posts: 221
    I also have an '06 LL Bean. Only has 1,000 miles on it and filled it up three times. So I'm getting 15 MPG on hilly rural back roads. I'm hoping MPG's gets better after break-in.
  • nhnissaninvanhnissaninva Member Posts: 13
    I just bought a 2006 Forester, automatic, premium. I've been a little disappointed too on MPGs, about 21 on a daily commute that is 6 miles, 3 being open hiway, 3 45 MPH streets, usually hit 2 or 3 red lights per trip. Funny thing, after the second fillup I drove it very mild for the next 200 miles and it seemed like mileage worsened just a bit, to 20.0 mpg.

    I think an engine should be fully broken in within 2-3000 miles, really there isn't that much lapping/wear-in happening. I'm not unhappy with the 20-21, was just hoping for 25ish with careful driving.
  • growler5growler5 Member Posts: 67
    A 6-mile trip is barely enough to get the engine and other moving parts warmed up. If you kept on driving, you'll see the MPG go up, but you'll have to drive a long distance to make up for the poor MPG from the first few miles. Do keep in mind that the EPA numbers assume the car is already warmed up. They are not cold-start numbers.

    Two real-life examples:

    I have a commute that occasionally goes 28 miles one-way. In my prior car (an old BMW), I could see the difference in economy by watching the range (miles to empty) number during the commute. This number would drop steadily over the first 10-12 miles, then start holding steady and then increase slowly over the second half of the trip.

    Wife has a Prius with an LCD display with MPG charting capability. It shows the MPG in a bar chart. Each five minutes another bar pops up with the previous 5-minutes measurement, and so after 30 minutes you'll see 6 bars showing the MPG for each 5 minutes during that span. The first bar always shows about 25 MPG, the next one is about 40 MPG, then each succeeding bar shows 45-55 mpg depending on the terrain. Should it be any surprise that said wife gets under 40mpg for her 2-mile commute when I get 50 or better on weekend jaunts over longer distances? (EPA for '02 Prius - 52 city/48 hiway). Granted, the Prius is an extreme example since the gas engine doesn't run all the time, so it should take a bit longer to get to maximum operating efficiency. (It runs for a minute or two at startup to heat up the cat converter, then it runs as needed afterwards.)

    Bottom line, you really need to be driving longer distances in order to see MPG numbers approaching the published EPA numbers. Say, 15-30 miles at a time, not 6 miles.

    Break-in. 10,000 to 15,000 miles is a more realistic break-in period. You'll see a gradual rise over that time, I'd say about 1-2mpg, eveything else being equal.
  • nhnissaninvanhnissaninva Member Posts: 13
    Cool, so us Forester newbies can count on better to great MPGs with breakin and more hiway in the mix.

    I love this car, it just feels unusually solid and smooth. When your biggest gripe is that the radio blanks for a half second coming off "scan", I'm really having to stretch to find anything to not like :-)

    The big moonroof, feel like I'm just a notch down from a convertible.

    First few days with the new Forester, had this weird feeling that I could almost forget that it needed to be driven. The old 92 Loyale never felt that way, kept me on my toes.

    Do boxers minimize thermal mass, standing coolant in the engine? Warm up time is amazingly fast, the old Loyale was great that way too.
  • growler5growler5 Member Posts: 67
    Dunno about the thermal mass, but yes, the Forester does warm up rather quickly if you are watching the temp gauge. I have a 1-1/2 mile drive to a highway on-ramp, and by the time I go up the ramp, the gauge is ready to hit its normal position, and in cold weather I'm ready to dial in some heat.

    The car it replaced (old Beemer 525i) took an extra 2 miles to get to the same point. Dunno why, I'm thinking the Beemer had a bigger radiator. 2.5 liter engines in both.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Mine warms up fast. Within 2 miles of driving it produces enough heat to make me comfortable. My Miata takes about the same distance. No complaints with either one.

  • erikwierikwi Member Posts: 71
    I'm seeing an average of 26 to 28 mpg on my 06 Forester premium with 2500 miles on it. First tank was 22 but after I crossed 1000 miles on the odo, it jumped to 25. Now I'm consistently seeing 27 to 28 with it barely broken it. 90% highway driving for me, 80 miles a day.
  • p0926p0926 Member Posts: 4,423
    Or was the Subaru Crew MPG-Real World Numbers topic not specific enough for you :P

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAMember Posts: 9,372
    Breaking it out by make/models ;)

    It's a Tuesday, how could I be bored???
  • p0926p0926 Member Posts: 4,423
    50 posts in a year hardly qualifies but I suppose you're trying to make the forums easier to search.

  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059

    tidester, host
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    25.1 mpg lifetime average.

    Peak of 30.4 mpg on a trip.

    Low of 17.3 mpg while towing a 1500 lb trailer the entire time.

  • growler5growler5 Member Posts: 67
    '05 FXS, manual 5 speed, 31k miles in 19 months. Usually 380-410 miles between fill-ups, wait for low-fuel light to go on.

    October thru April - 28 mpg
    May thru September - 30+ mpg
    (difference due to seasonal temp variation (eastern Pennsylvania) and winter gas additive changeover at refineries)

    Best mpg - 32.3 on 440 miles (same tank of gas) mostly long distance. Last month.
    Worst - first tank, at 24.5
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Sweet, the EPA rated yours at 23/30 and it looks like those numbers are definitely possible.

  • subearusubearu Member Posts: 3,613
    Averaging about 20 miles per day or about 7,300 miles per year. Mostly short trips, but I make my commute a bit longer to allow the engine to warm fully. Steady diet of 92 octane from Super America. Reformulated fuels and winter oxygenated blends (10% ethanol year-round). Shifts almost always between 3-4k rpm and not afraid to let the rpm's go higher if/when necessary.

    best: 26 mpg (all highway at 75 mph)
    worst: 18 mpg (winter)
    average: 21 mpg

    Average mpg up until this past winter was 1 mpg better than my Outback. Partial thanks to winter fuel, no doubt.

  • subearusubearu Member Posts: 3,613
    (my first Subie and was prior to my '04 F-XT)

    Averaged 26 miles per day, or about 9,500 miles per year. 87 octane from Super America. Reformulated fuels and winter blends both with 10% ethanol.

    best: 28 mpg (highway trip)
    worst: 17 mpg (again, winter)
    average: 22 mpg

  • cinemod1cinemod1 Member Posts: 1
    Never did better than 21mpg, whether I go 65 or continuous 85mph.
    - 80 miles per day 95% highway.
    - - Use 87 octane, with that lousy ethanol.
    - - Tried all brands of gas - no difference.

    Tried Octane booster to a tank of gas, new special, copper plugs - drove 65-70mph - 20 mpg.

    Winter milage is even worse.
    My '92 Legacy LS Wagon got 25 and it's >= 400 lbs heavier.
    ( It's still on the road BTW )

    How are you achieving those type of numbers?
  • subearusubearu Member Posts: 3,613
    Both of my Subies were not driven lightly, I would allow it to rev into the 3-4k rpm range normally and even higher when necessary. Doesn't require a lead foot to do that either. I do run Mobil-1 in my cars though, which may help 1mpg or so.

  • joseph50joseph50 Member Posts: 235
    Just for the heck of it, during a day on the turnpike I was curious to see what it cost to run the AC. (2001 Forester S, AT.)
    Filled up, then took it down to exactly the first quarter tank mark. 108 miles without AC.(It was just cool enough to run with windows closed.)
    Upon next fill up, I did it again, but ran the AC on number 2 setting. 86 miles to the quarter mark. Pretty significant, I say.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The fuel guage isn't really that precise, I doubt the actual different is that pronounced.

    Try a full tank, and even then, just one tank isn't really significant.

    I track my mileage, and I've found that in the summer my average dips about 1 mpg, likely due to the A/C. the winter, my average dips about 2mpg, due to having to warm it up longer is my guess. So the A/C puts less of a burden overall than having to warm up from freezing temps.

  • gouldngouldn Member Posts: 220
    I've had my 01 Forester (S+ Automatic) for 102K now, and am getting 24 MPG.

    I did notice that mileage improve markedly after ~7500 miles or so.
  • growler5growler5 Member Posts: 67
    How are you achieving those type of numbers?

    Not by driving 85mph. Speed kills gas mileage. The sweet spot seems to be about 45-55 MPH for most cars.

    The FXS isn't going to win any prizes for minimum air resistance either.

    It's too bad the EPA doesn't do an experiment with the MPG test by doing the standard test for highway speed, and then repeating the test at a higher speed, say 80-85 mpg. It would be interesting indeed to see the MPG difference.
  • jim314jim314 Member Posts: 491
    The EPA test wouldn't allow a comparison of the difference in fuel use between moderate and high highway speeds because the EPA test is done on a dynamometer with the vehicle stationary relative to the air. The air resistance is accounted for by a calculated correction.

    The air resistance is proportional to the speed cubed so it rises strongly with increasing speed. But this doesn't mean that the proportionality factor is 1. Link.
  • tidestertidester Member Posts: 10,059
    The air resistance is proportional to the speed cubed ...

    That's actually the power required to balance the force of air drag - which varies as the square of the speed.

    tidester, host
  • jim314jim314 Member Posts: 491
    Thanks for the correction.

    That third power bothered me, but I didn't think it out. In the past the usual reference has been to the retarding "force" of air resistance, which for simple physics problems I thought was proportional to speed, so power (speed times retarding force)should be proportional to the second power of speed. But in air, and with turbulence, etc. the retarding force must be proportional to the square of the speed in order to give a third power dependence of the power. As I recall the old statement was that the "air resistance" at 70 mph was twice that at 50 mph, which fits with the force being proportional to the square of the speed since (70/50)^2 = 1.4^2 = 2.0.

    The power (metric unit of power is the Watt, where 1000 W = 1 kW = 1.34 HP) is the energy consumed per unit time, but what we usually want to know is energy consumed per unit distance travelled. In Europe this is the litres of fuel consumed per 100 km travelled, but in the US we use the reciprocal, that is, distance travelled per unit of fuel consumed (mi/galUS or simply "mpg"). FYI the conversion between the European and US measures of fuel economy is y mpgUS is related to the equivalent z L/100km by yz = 235. That is, you divide whichever one you have into 235 to get the other one.

    But the point is that to get the extra vol of fuel consumed per unit of distance caused by driving faster we should divide the vol of fuel consumed per unit time by the speed (distance/unit time). So it would seem that the extra fuel per unit distance required to go faster would be proportional to the square of the speed, or maybe proportional to the square of the increment in speed, or maybe proportional to the difference in the squares of the speeds. You'd need to do some algebra to get it exactly straight. But as I said the proportionality factor is presumably much less than one. The formula given in the link could be used to calculate the factor for a given vehicle.

    But for any given vehicle, the best way to determine this would be driving different steady speeds (40 mph, 50 mph, . . .80 mph) and recording the instantaneous mpg values (or L/100 km values) shown on the fuel mileage computer display. I think these are pretty accurate, aren't they? Then you would just subtract to get the benefit from driving slower and the penalty from driving faster than the posted speed. To get the actual fuel and money saved you'd express the fuel use as gal/mi not mi/gal as we usually do in the US.
  • jim314jim314 Member Posts: 491
    I don't have a car with a mpg readout, but if anyone wants to do this here is some madeup sample data to show how it would be done, assuming level ground and the tranny in top gear:

    Speed(mph)..mi/galUS.....galUS/100mi....Fuel-Std 70mph*

    45..........35...........2.86...........-0.71 gal/100mi

    So if you want to know how much fuel you'd save on a 500 mi trip at 65 mph as opposed to 80 mph,
    Fuel saved = (0.78-(-0.24)) x 500/100 = 1.02 x 5 = 5.1 gal
  • jim314jim314 Member Posts: 491
    RE post #18:

    It would be much better to use the average mpg function of the computer, if it can be reset. The one computer I have seen in action is in my nephew's Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd. As I recall the instantaneous mpg display is to the nearest mpg which is not really good enough precision. The ave mpg though is reported to the nearest tenth of a mpg. So you would estblish a constant speed and set the cruise control. Then reset the average mpg and then read it after a minute or two. Then go to the next speed, reset the ave mpg and read it after a minute or two, etc.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You'd have to make sure the road was perfectly level, though. Hills really throw the numbers off.

  • kavoomkavoom Member Posts: 181
    I have an 04 X Forester manual. I have gotten as high as 31 highway mostly just above 29 mpg and generally in the 23 - 24 mpg range for other driving.

    I tow an 18 to 1900 lb pop up and have generally been at 21 mpg for three 3000 mile trips and almost 24 for one trip. Don't ask me. These are virtually all highway miles. I do know that the first three were through states where we were getting 10% ethanol for probably 2/3 of the gas.

    The last trip we also did a lot of driving without the pop up trailing behind.

    Not bad for these days.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Not bad at all.

  • anne23anne23 Member Posts: 4
    I own a 2003 Forester and get approx. 26 MPG. I love the vehicle and have had no prolems with it at 51,000 miles.
    The only issue was the mechanics who changed my oil didn't know that the o ring should be replaced when an oil change is done. It is in the book but I never read it! I had a small leak until I called Subaru and they made me aware of this.
  • jacksan1jacksan1 Member Posts: 504
    I have tracked my 2001 Forester L (AT)'s mileage for the past two years. It has recorded a low of 20.27 and a high of 28.46, with a two-year average of 24.59 MPG, under an approximate split of 50/50 city/highway driving. The car has just about 90,000 miles now.

    The low of 20.27 MPG came about when it was 100% short city trips. The high of 28.46 MPG was a 100% cruise-set 55 to 65 mph driving.
  • mshelleymshelley Member Posts: 4
    In doing my homework to decide between an XT or XS Premium Package I keep having nightmares about lousy gas mileage with the XT. I live in the Boston area and the "get up and go nature" of the turbo is almost a life/death highway merging necessity ... but at what price? Is the XT's gas mileage really that much worse than the XS? I also noticed that 91 octane is required for the XT (ouch).

    Any cheap "real world" advice out there?

  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    Ask a dealer about renting the L. L. Bean edition for a weekend, or an extended test-trial. Some dealers will do it.

    For city driving, the non-turbo certainly doesn't lack power, and I also do a fair amount of mountain driving with it, from Reno to Lake Tahoe, a 40 minute trip. And it uses regular unleaded. ;)
  • mshelleymshelley Member Posts: 4
    Thanks Terryl,

    I test drove both models yesterday and yes I was very impressed with the power on the XS. My previous 4 cylinder experiences include Ford Bronco II & Ford Pintos (ok stop laughing) ... so I was curious to see how far the 4 cylinders of today have come. Today's 4 cylinders are not those of the mid 80s for sure. But then I drove the XT and oh my gawwwwwd (I used to have a Turbo Trans AM as well) it was extremely impressive and I've seen its 0-60 ratings at around 6 seconds. I'm trading in a 6 cyl Grand Cherokee for a Forester and like I mentioned before, Massachusetts drivers are known as Massholes (sorry) for a reason ... they don't let you merge onto the highway ... you have to earn your way onto the road or :sick: else.

    Thanks again!
  • lfdallfdal Member Posts: 679
    Afraid so.. I live just north of Boston and on average I get 14-16 mpg in traffic, 24 on the open road (when I keep it under 80, BTW - that's very hard to do in an XT) ;) . My wife's 03 OBW in the same situation gets 18 and 27 respectively.
  • subearusubearu Member Posts: 3,613
    While mine is an '04, I average 21mpg overall with only about 8k miles per year. Short trips, but I do try to make my 1.5 mile commute longer by taking the long way to work and allowing the motor to warm up properly. Lowest MPG comes in Dec/Jan during the real cold spells, 17mpg a couple times. Highest during the summer on the highway in Chicago, 27mpg.

    Shifts on the MT are most always at 3k or so rpm

    For reference, the same work commute and other driving conditions in my '00 Outback yielded 22mpg overall.

  • mshelleymshelley Member Posts: 4
    Thanks to everyone for the feedback. I ended up going with a 2006 XS Premium Package. Nice year-end incentives on the '06. The various MPG comments told me that the XT is basically the same MPG as the Grand Cherokee I'm trading in ... yet even the Cherokee only requires 87 octane.

    So, hopefully the 173 horses under the hood of my XS will suffice for merging onto the highways around Boston!

    Thanks again for the various comments!
    Much appreciated.
  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    Congratulations! :)

    Do you mean you bought the 2.5 X? I don't know what the XS designation means..... :(
  • mshelleymshelley Member Posts: 4
    2.5x Premium Package. My mistake. Just picked it up 2 hours ago. Can't wait to see how the pickup does tomorrow morning merging onto the highway.

    Family just loves the huge moonroof ... I'm a weather nut ... love the WB (weather band) on the radio. Agggh it's the little pleasures in life that get us by. :-)

  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    Like with most 4 cylinder cars, you do have to put your foot down hard, but it does respond.

    Enjoy it and keep us posted! :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Yeah but the Cherokee isn't nearly as quick and it might break down a few times during that trip. ;)

  • kavoomkavoom Member Posts: 181
    8K miles per year...

    Sheesh, you won't wear that puppy out until about the middle of the century...
  • subearusubearu Member Posts: 3,613
    Yeah, when the lease is done in '08 on it, the next owner is going to get one well kept and cherry XT.

  • kloson123kloson123 Member Posts: 2
    In case anyone is interested, here is what I got for my Subaru over a four-month period. The high mileage numbers were mostly highway and the low ones mostly city. Overall, pretty good mileage.

    Date.............Miles.....Gallons.....MPG....Cumulative MPG
  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    Good records! Thanks for sharing your real-life experience with mileage. It mirrors my own with a 2006 Forester..... :)
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