Some love for the 04' Forester XT?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Some love for the 04' Forester XT?

    Been shopping for a used 02-04 WRX and came away a little unimpressed. Firstly every single one had syncro issues. One example crunched going into first from a complete stop, everytime. And yes the clutch was all the way in.

    Stock power was pretty lackluster, cobb stage 2 felt nice, but still useless around town coming out of tight corners in second gear.

    So we tried a 04' Forester XT, and to my surprise it "felt" at least as powerful as a stage 2 wrx, but that power was readily available just off idle.

    Got home and did some research and this little monster has the VVT 2.5 engine from STI, but with a smaller IC, turbo and different ECU. And it's built on the impreza chassis. Basically it's (almost) a jacked up WRX with a higher roof line and a lot more cargo space. It only weighs about 100lb (IIRC) more. The VF-39, Intercooler and ECU from the STI all bolt on.

    Sure the handling could use some fine tuning, it looks butt ugly and it sucks down the gas, but it also has low insurance, sleeper factor and a 0-60 of 5.3 sec stock. And typically they haven't been beat on like the WRX.

    Of course the 06+ WRX's now come with the 2.5, but if you don't have the scratch the 04/05' XT's are worth a look and are around the same price as an 04' WRX.

    At any rate I'm rather surprised to see that it doesn't get much attention amongst the MTB crowd.
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  2. #2
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    Forester XT is among the best ski and mtb cars ever

    I have an '04 Forester XT and nothing hauls 3-4 people and bikes from Denver to Moab faster.

    Put a 20mm rear sway bar on it from an '04 STI and that will pretty much fix the handling. Put some EBC Red brake pads on the front and that will mostly fix the braking (still really does better with 4pots, but for the money, the EBCs are good.)

    My buddy took the in-car photo because he wanted documentation of just-how-fast we were going on UT128, but for some reason, the speedo didn't show up in the pic, but suffice it to say that we obeyed all regulations at all times.
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  3. #3
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    Nice mota Tony! how may bikes do you have then???
    You must ride like a Professional to become one!

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  4. #4
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    I think you're discounting the WRX a little too much here;

    Most forresters are automatics, and that right there is a big drag for someone that may be looking at the WRX and forester XT. The WRX is going to have a higher performance edge, bottom line. The forester is going to have more interior room and possibly be a better vehicle for someone that is a mountain biker, but in that same regard the WRX wagon ain't bad.

    The performance aspect of it is that the 2.5L engine has more torque than the 2.0. The 2.0 likes to rev higher though, and there are people who like both. This isn't really a model thing, but a year-thing, the WRX went to the 2.5 block in 2006. On the subject of turbos, sure you can "bolt" a VF39 to a forester, just like you can bolt it to a WRX, but realize that in both cases it means more lag time with everything else being equal, so some people like the smaller turbo that spins up faster, because it's more "fun" for them. The WRX has a higher tune than the forester, and the WRX will go faster, faster still with more tuning and a few bolt-ons. You're right that you can get similer straight line peferformance by going with a downpipe, TBE, and some sort of tune like an access port, but then you'll be more held back by tires, suspension, brakes, drivetrain components (which is a big deal when you start upping the HP with these tunes), and so on.

    The suspension/body-roll with the forester was something I could never stand when I drove em. The XT is better, but it's still a forester. This is one of the several things that you'd chock up as "not an WRX" where it will simply not perform or drive like a WRX.

    That said, I've had a lot of hate for those early foresters with excessive body roll, but the newest body style (in black!) forester XT is a pretty nice looking vehicle finally. I'm happier with my wrx wagon, but the forester XT is a solid choice for a mtber, no doubt.

    BTW, the milege on any of these cars isn't exactly great with AWD and the ability to built boost (and ram lots of gas down the pipe). Go for a hitch rack if you get either car, and you won't have the bikes adding tons of drag in the airstream. Also avoid the 02-03 WRXs because they had a "glass" transmission. Yes, shifting to first isn't exactly a no-brainer, I've adapted and I know how to do it smoothly and reliably, but it took a little learning. There is no syncro for rear, but the 04 tranny is stronger and deals with the power better.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Parts
    Nice mota Tony! how may bikes do you have then???
    Thanks, I think of the Forester kinda like a pug dog. Mostly ugly, with a veneer of cute.

    I'm sure I have fewer bikes than many folks, but I have 5 bikes. Only riding 2 with any regularity, so for me, I have way too many I keep wanting to sell or part them out, but I am too lazy.

  6. #6
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    Upgraded brakes on my wife's automatic (she can't drive stick) 05 Forester XT with Premium Pkg (she also insitsted on Butt-Warmers):



    These are Racing Brake 4-piston calipers. They came with the slotted rotors. I put on Hawk pads on all 4 and replaced the lines with Goodridge Stainless Steel braided teflon hoses.



    Day and night difference with the stock brakes. Much better feel than my dearly departed 02 WRX and close to my EVO.

    She loves her car wagon. LOVES IT.

    BTW, the rear hatch will hit our Swagman hitch rack, so you can't open it without getting the bikes off of it and folding down the XC2. Probably the same with almost any hitch rack.

    tk

  7. #7
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    Here's the 09. The XT looks even better.


    <img src="https://www.tuningnews.net/news/071225/subaru-forester-2008-09.jpg" border="0" alt="" /><br />
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    old modded:
    <img src="https://webpage.pace.edu/ii71490n/1_L.JPG">



    forum here:
    https://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/


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    </pre>
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by francois
    Here's the 09. The XT looks even better.
    It's about time Subaru updated that thing, even though the new one is kind of bland looking. I still like it though.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony
    Put a 20mm rear sway bar on it from an '04 STI and that will pretty much fix the handling. Put some EBC Red brake pads on the front and that will mostly fix the braking (still really does better with 4pots, but for the money, the EBCs are good.)
    Nice looking XT Tony. I'm not normally a fan of champagne gold cars, but Subaru did a nice job with the gold on the XT.

    This is the wife's commuter car and the family week-end car, so I think we'll keep it stock for a little while until we're sure it's a keeper. However STi rear sway, swift springs, new pads and some more power are on the list.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    I think you're discounting the WRX a little too much here;

    Most forresters are automatics, and that right there is a big drag for someone that may be looking at the WRX and forester XT. The WRX is going to have a higher performance edge, bottom line. The forester is going to have more interior room and possibly be a better vehicle for someone that is a mountain biker, but in that same regard the WRX wagon ain't bad.

    The performance aspect of it is that the 2.5L engine has more torque than the 2.0. The 2.0 likes to rev higher though, and there are people who like both. This isn't really a model thing, but a year-thing, the WRX went to the 2.5 block in 2006. On the subject of turbos, sure you can "bolt" a VF39 to a forester, just like you can bolt it to a WRX, but realize that in both cases it means more lag time with everything else being equal, so some people like the smaller turbo that spins up faster, because it's more "fun" for them. The WRX has a higher tune than the forester, and the WRX will go faster, faster still with more tuning and a few bolt-ons. You're right that you can get similer straight line peferformance by going with a downpipe, TBE, and some sort of tune like an access port, but then you'll be more held back by tires, suspension, brakes, drivetrain components (which is a big deal when you start upping the HP with these tunes), and so on.

    The suspension/body-roll with the forester was something I could never stand when I drove em. The XT is better, but it's still a forester. This is one of the several things that you'd chock up as "not an WRX" where it will simply not perform or drive like a WRX.

    That said, I've had a lot of hate for those early foresters with excessive body roll, but the newest body style (in black!) forester XT is a pretty nice looking vehicle finally. I'm happier with my wrx wagon, but the forester XT is a solid choice for a mtber, no doubt.

    BTW, the milege on any of these cars isn't exactly great with AWD and the ability to built boost (and ram lots of gas down the pipe). Go for a hitch rack if you get either car, and you won't have the bikes adding tons of drag in the airstream. Also avoid the 02-03 WRXs because they had a "glass" transmission. Yes, shifting to first isn't exactly a no-brainer, I've adapted and I know how to do it smoothly and reliably, but it took a little learning. There is no syncro for rear, but the 04 tranny is stronger and deals with the power better.
    My experience was that XT's are pretty hard to come across vs the WRX and about 1/2 of them (XT's) were auto's. However out of all the WRX's I tried, there was only one that I considered and even that one (modded with a vf-39) had 3 to 4 syncro issues. Both the Foresters I tried were perfect mechanically.

    At any rate, I'm not dissing the WRX, just pointing out that a lowered XT is really the WRX's long lost cousin and they are more attractive from a used perspective since they're usually not beat on (the 50year old guy I bought the XT from replaced it with a Hybrid Camry). Apparently they have wider gears in the tranny than the WRX.

    If I were buying 06' or newer and I didn't need the space I'd pick the WRX over the forester for sure. But neither the 2.0 WRX or XT are perfect. Personally I'm at the point in life where a high strung car is less appealing. If I was living somewhere with no traffic and a bunch of windy roads, then a 2.0 WRX might make more sense over the FXT. However I live inner city and the FXT is great in traffic. It looks like every other car on the road so no one wants to race you, yet you're in the 12th fastest production car from 0-30mph. Getting ahead of traffic so you have room to 'play' has never been easier.

    On a side note, the 04' & 05' XT's have lower gearing than the WRX and have the VVT (variable valve timing) engine from the STI which is different from the 2.5 in the 06+ WRX, OB XT, FXT and LGT which lack the VVT.

    Anyway, I'm starting to sound like an XT fan boy again. Obviously the 2.0 WRX has a lot going for it and has more appeal in many regards.

    Oh yeah and one last thing, the forester can tow 2400lb.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tk1971
    Upgraded brakes on my wife's automatic (she can't drive stick) 05 Forester XT with Premium Pkg (she also insitsted on Butt-Warmers):

    These are Racing Brake 4-piston calipers. They came with the slotted rotors. I put on Hawk pads on all 4 and replaced the lines with Goodridge Stainless Steel braided teflon hoses.

    BTW, the rear hatch will hit our Swagman hitch rack, so you can't open it without getting the bikes off of it and folding down the XC2. Probably the same with almost any hitch rack.

    tk
    Nice! Did you do the brake job yourself? I heard the brakes are super easy to work on.

    Don't know what we're going to do for a bike rack but my riding buddy (wife) is out this year since she's 6 months pregnant, so it's a mute point for now.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by francois
    Here's the 09. The XT looks even better.
    You do have the best job ever Francois!

    No manual for the 09' or so I hear, which is a total deal breaker for me. At any rate it's morphing into something that will be more appealing to general public.

    Is it still based on the Impreza chassis?
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  12. #12
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    Yep, put those suckers in myself. Had to make sure I had speed bleeders first. In general, I think all Suby brakes are easy to work on. Very logical and everything is easily accessible.

    Yeah, the stock hitch is only Class I, so it is limited to like 200-250 lbs tongue weight. If you need to carry more bikes, you can always carry two in the back and two on the roof.

    tk

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