This town was once crawling with gen1 Foresters. They were everywhere, including the one in our driveway. But the numbers are finally receding some, although these folks appear to be enthusiastic owners of the breed. These still go down in my book as just about the ultimate CUV, in terms of their packaging. So compact, yet with a tall roof for plenty of headroom, and enough ground clearance to get to those remote trailheads. My only complaint was that back seat legroom was a bit lacking, a reflection of the Impreza platform it sat on.
We had a dark green one, and there were so many of them, that one owner even put on a homemade sticker on the back of his that reflected that fact: “Another Green Forester”. And I caught it on the road one day:
Just like our old one.
Here’s the story of ours, in terms of the cost of ownership over 12 years
And here’s the tale of its comical final sale and a final tally of costs over 15 years
Foresters were interesting in that they were slightly shorter and wider than the quite similar Legacy (Outback) wagon. Cheaper, too. It was a shrewd marketing play on Subaru’s part and one thing I really liked was the big, non-panoramic sunroof.
We also had a green 2002 Forester with the cold weather package. It’s versatility, ground clearance and traction were amazing! I loved driving it in inclement weather!
However it was plagued by oil leaks, wheel bearing, and electrical issues, and the Check Engine Light was always on. We’d pay to make it go away and then something else would come up. Still, it never left us stranded. I tried to buy another Forester but the local Subaru dealer was not as cooperative as the Honda dealer.
I never got to own a Forester, but I always loved them from afar. I did own several Outbacks (’99, ’05, ’06), and they were great cars until head gasket issues caused me to cut and run.
Sadly, both the Outback and Forester got really generic looking once they drifted from the original wagon design.
A Gen 1 Forester would be a great scrappy beater to have in the PNW which, I guess, is why still abound, even if we’re seeing far fewer than we once did.
I always thought they bridged the gap between wagon and CUV nicely.
I see exactly one around my home.
A purple one. I taliked to the owner once as I wanted to get a used one a few years ago. Of course it has had recurring head gasket issues like all the ones for under $4K on local Craigslist. So I never got one.
These almost have a Popemobile-height greenhouse compared with most everything now on the road.
There is one around the corner from me that has been sitting for a while, has developed 2 flat tyres, it’s lost its registration plates and now has a sticker from the local Council – I’m expecting to see it disappear soon.
I’ve had a string of three Foresters – ’99, ’00 and ’01. All had head gasket issues and related CEL and catalytic converter woes, and not a one of them had a clock that worked. But each one took me to 180K – 200K miles before all those issues really had to be addressed, and at that point I’d just buy another used Forester instead. They are great cars and very useful in a variety of situations, from hauling drum sets to camping off road. I spent many years organizing outdoor music festivals and Foresters were perfect for this. Finally sold the last one seven years ago, as I prefer my modern daily driver to actually be more or less modern. But if Subaru still made first generation Foresters, I’d still be happily driving one. I don’t really like the current Forester, it went from an honest AWD wagon to something oversized and tacky that doesn’t even have a cassette player anymore!
Love my 03 XS 👍
Can’t wait for the snow
I currently have 2. An 02 and a 99. Both are S models and both are 5 speed. My 02 is far from stock. Everything JDM you can think of. My 99 is titled as an S Limited. Packaged with so many OE options. I love them both.
I ,on the other hand, never liked Forester or outback until the redesign of 2009.
I thought that these were total ugh when they came out. I truly appreciate them now. Windows that you can see out of and no digital nannies! Sometimes we dont realize what we had until its gone!
Ther seem to compete with BMWs here for lawn ornament status and are fewer and fewer on the roads now though once very popular especially as used imports with all the turbo bells and whistles, keeping them going seems to be the biggest problem but that is Subaru all over they get thrashed and die.
We had a 1998 5 speed Forester into which we transplanted an early ’90’s 2.2 engine. This engine “freewheels” if the timing belt fails (no bent valves ever) and also had the reputation of being nearly indestructible, with no head gasket woes. The combination was perfect for us and was closing in on a quarter of a million miles before unrepairable rust got it. It had evidently been a flood car and rusted both from the outside in (New England) and the inside out. But for that I would have driven it for the rest of my life. I loved it!
Three Outbacks have graced my home fleet, the most recent and still remaining one is my 2007. I’ve test ridden several Foresters, but the Outbacks always felt more comfortable to me. I have to concur with the post about oil leaks and head gasket issues. Mine has had its engine out several times to address them, and is scheduled for what should be its final refurbishment (it has 310,000 miles on it) before I send it off to the recycler.
Outbacks & Foresters of all types are abundant in South Carolina. The originals certainly had their faults, but the new ones aren’t immune either: my brother’s 2017 Forester XT has already needed repair to the sunroof due to an accident when installing a THULE kayak carrier (visible in photo) on the roof rack. And because it’s a daily driver, an early-morning or late-night deer hit was inevitable too. This happened twice (too many!) on my ’96 Ford Aerostar & now once on my 2011 Ranger also. Luckily the Forester & Ranger were fixable and are still on the road today. It especially helps in the Ranger’s case when that basic bodystyle was produced for 18 model years. A ton of older Rangers are still out & about too.
Bullbars only belong on ladder-frame chassis vehicles, and even then, only if needed for winches. On monocoques (Pajero, Kia Sorento, Forester), they are merely a way to bugger up the car and pedestrians more completely in the event of a collision. The risk of injuring and killing a pedestrian because you fitted a bulbar and hence ruin any pedestrian protection rating your vehicle had is not worth the risk or the years of regret. seriously, the TJM test involved a ford ranger with a bull bar, a LC200 with a bull bar and an old Excel with no bull bar, hardly a fair comparison is it. Note all vehicles incurred damage, so its only the towing cost that will be the difference. I ll take my chances without a bull bar cause I rarely drive on country roads at night.