Monday, September 23, 2013

Used Car Review - Subaru Forester (2008-2012)

Myk Belmonte invites you to revisit the merits of the previous model of a popular compact SUV.

2008-2012 Subaru Forester

How does a car achieve mainstream status in the Philippines? Well, the top (and only) requirement is that it must sell well. The Subaru Forester, once an odd name, earned mainstream status since it sold well (but not to Toyota or Mitsubishi levels) when the redesigned model was launched.

Launched on Christmas day 2007 in Japan, the third generation Forester - with platform SH - grew in size and appearance (more on this later). First available in most markets in 2008, the Forester still utilizes the Impreza underpinnings. This generation gained an option for a diesel engine, plus a 2.0 horizontal engine with turbo for Japan. The third generation model propelled Subaru sales to a positive note, and survived the economic crisis that happened in late 2008. As they say, all good things must come to an end. And the end for this generation was in 2012, with the SJ Forester being launched.

Motor Image Pilipinas brought in the SH Forester back in July 2008 in both normal and turbo flavors. If there is one reason for the expansion of the Subaru brand, this is the one. It was discontinued to make way for the SJ model, introduced in March 2013. Variants include the XS (no turbo) and XT (with turbo).

Value and Costs
With the introduction of an all new model, previous gen Forester prices fell more. For as low as P760,000, one can get something that is fun to drive and at the same time, secure thanks to the standard all wheel drive system.

Going for one wouldn't drain your resources, with cost of maintenance identical to Japanese brands albeit higher. Better leave the spark plugs to the professionals, since replacing them needs effort.

Exterior and Interior
Wagon no more, better thank Subaru's Chief Designer Mamoru Ishii for that. It saw an increase of 3.5 inches in its wheelbase, 3.0 inches for the length, 1.8 inches in the width, and 4.3 inches increase in height. This generation ditched the trademark frameless windows, but it looked more mature and less funny. A 2011 brought a different grille, and XT models come with a hoodscoop. A moonroof is made standard for all variants. Subaru must have sent the Forester to the gym and took a diet.

With the increase in exterior size, the interior was rewarded with more space for people and materials. Fold the rear seats and you get a huge cargo compartment for anything you wish to place. Materials used are definitely fitting of the vehicle's price, but the aluminum bits tend to scratch.

There are two engine choices available that pleases both sides of the spectrum. First is the EJ20 1,994cc which has 150hp at 6,000rpm and 196Nm at 3,200rpm for those who wants less. Going on the upper range is the EJ25 2,457cc with turbo that packs 230hp at 5,200rpm and 320Nm at 2,800rpm. There is nothing wrong with the 2.0 without turbo. It has the pace when puttering around town, but load the Subaru to the max (read: full load of passengers and cargo) and it will struggle unless driven in the higher revs. On the other hand, the 2.5 turbo is blistering fast and without any lag, power is being continuously supplied. Never a dull moment behind the wheel. To the next paragraph.

Driving Impressions
With the Impreza based underpinnings, the Forester begs to be driven hardly. Handling is spot on, braking is excellent (although mushy), the standard all wheel drive keeps things stable, and the suspension absorbs the bumps the country has to offer. If you have the turbo, remember the following sentences. The turbo enters in a quiet manner, but remains the rush when pushed hard. Fuel economy isn't to be happy about, but you'll enjoy the moments behind the wheel.

Sure it may be old, but definitely a future classic. The SH Forester grew larger but retains the core values of its older generations. Who wants something practical and at the same time a pleasure to drive? You. So hunt for a good unit now.

The Good:
  • More mature looking
  • More interior space
  • More traction
The Bad:
  • Some cheap interior trim
  • Outdated 4-speed automatic
  • Can be expensive to maintain
The Pick: 2.5 XT, for sheer fun

Engines: 1,994cc EJ20 naturally aspired and 2,457cc EJ25 turbo H4 gasoline
Power: 150hp @ 6,000rpm (2.0), 230hp @ 5,200rpm (2.5)
Torque: 196Nm @ 3,200rpm (2.0), 320Nm @ 2,800rpm (2.5)
Fuel Consumption: 5-7km/L (city), 7-9km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent double wishbone

Price (New): P1,275,000-P1,758,000
Price (Now): P760,000-P1,300,000
Rivals: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Mitsubishi ASX, Mitsubishi Outlander, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Chevrolet Captiva
On Sale: 2008-Early 2013

Subaru Greenhills - (02) 727-3687
Subaru Global City - (02) 822-4389
Subaru Alabang - (02) 519-7123

Photos from

No comments:

Post a Comment