Out With the Old, In With the New


Goodbye Black Forest (er)

Sue, my wife, got a call from the Subaru dealer this morning. Her new Forester had arrived at the dealership and was ready for pickup.

The lease on her 2011 Forester would be up in February, and they were anxious to get her into a new car. I was ready to get rid of the black funeral wagon even though it was still shiny and only had 31,500 miles (50,000 km) on the ticker. But when your time’s up, it’s up.

In the three years Sue drove the Forester she had experienced zero problems with it, no different than the 2008 Impreza she had had previously. The 2008 and 2011 were capable long-distance cruisers (both had the same 2.5 liter engine and 4-sp auto) and we made a number of trips to Oregon and Washington state in both.



Hello White Knight

The 2014 Forester is a bit different than the 2011. For one thing it’s bigger, both inside and out. Paul and his wife would not recognize it as having come from the same manufacturer; it’s that much bigger than a 2000 Forester. It is also chunky (by my standards) at 3450 lbs (1565 kg). I tried to interest my wife in an Impreza or a Crosstrek, but since we already have one of those in the driveway, she wasn’t biting. As a painter with large canvases, she wants hauling capacity.

My Impreza, in comparison, tips the scale at 3050 lbs (1384 kg). I have the 2.0 liter engine, hers is the 2.5. Both have CVT transmissions. I believe that her engine is from the same family mine is, the new FB series which dispenses with a timing belt in favor of a chain which never has to be changed. There are those pesky tensioning devices that can put that theoretical improvement in the ole dumpster, but for that to happen on a 42 month lease is unlikely, especially since all new Subarus run synthetic lubricants from the factory.



The Interior – An improvement, but still no trip to Paris

Subaru interiors are particularly uninspired. You basically have two choices, black or beige (ecru, off white, light sand, ennui). For some reason or other, Sue decided that this was the year she wanted leather. Apparently enough other Subaru customers feel the same because next week, a leather interior will be installed by a local cut-and-sew shop that both SLC Subaru dealers use. That means that the seats and door panels will get the cowhide. I’ve seen such conversions and the colors used are much more interesting than what Subaru offers. We also get to play with stitch color and other minor details: whoop de doo! Whether we will get all-leather or only leather seating surfaces is yet to be determined. I would love to get red leather.



Malcom Bricklin’s Masterpiece

While waiting for Sue to complete her paperwork, I took the opportunity to walk around the dealership. The dealer, Nate Wade Subaru in Salt Lake, had this restored Subaru 360 in its showroom.

That’s Sue’s Forester, soon to be abandoned, sitting outside.



This thing was show quality. Better than factory? You bet. I remember these sad little things sitting outside a gas station on Rte. 7 in Wilton, CT in 1971. They sat for what seems like an eternity, slowly returning to whence they came.



Can this thing break wind?

Also restored to beyond factory condition was this Subaru van, undoubtedly powered by a 360 cc Subaru engine. The Commentariat, I’m sure, will be able to identify it. I just couldn’t work up the energy to find out what it was. There’s a photograph inside the front driver’s side window showing this, or a similar van, in the bed of a full-size Ford pickup.

The only time I have spent in the new Forester was on the way home from the dealer. It was snowing heavily and the streets were sloppy. Not surprisingly, the new car didn’t skip a beat. There even seemed to be less road noise but that could be because new tires are generally quiet. The CVT is even more transparent than it is in my car. Sue’s car doesn’t have the paddle shifters mine does, not that they really add to the driving experience. Sue doesn’t even know what a CVT is, so I doubt that she will miss them.

Sue does her own car buying. My suggestion that she drive a Chevy Volt was politely ignored. She wasn’t compelled to look at the competition and I can’t blame her. Honda CRV? Toyota RAV4? Meh. Even my older son, who drives a 2013 Escape 1.6 Eco-Boost, said that he preferred my Impreza. That was surprising; I quite liked his Escape. Familiarity, as they say…