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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
If you have good luck with them, why break precedent? I agree that red leather would contrast nicely with the white paint.
Happy New Car!
That little Su-Bar-u! Wow!
Make that Su-BAR-u For-EST-er.
The van is a Subaru Sambar, which Paul wrote a CC on a few months back:
Nice choice! And I assume you meant Impreza or the Crosstrek, not the dreaded Accord Crosstour…
What was I thinking? Correction made.
Nice looking vehicle! I like Subaru and have enjoyed driving them but live in an area with only one dealership so I would never buy one. Dealers around here that have no competition take great advantage over customers. Not only Subaru, the rest of the one only stores are just as bad.
I feel the same way about Subaru interiors. They’re probably the biggest reason why I’d never look at anything Subaru currently offers. That’s great that you get to do a little personalization to the interior though.
I really think that for my next car, leasing is the way I’ll go. I like the idea of getting a new car every 2-3 years, plus I keep my cars in immaculate condition and currently average less than 10,000 miles per year.
For AWD giggles I spec-ed out an Impreza 2.0i Premium with heated seats and the manual transmission. The only available interior color? BLACK. Quite depressing. I didn’t think of paying for custom upholstery on a new car, seems a little bit like overkill.
I can’t stand black interiors. Stark, and you roast in the car in the summertime. At least you can get red interiors in some Audis, BMWs and the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger/Charger. Also, dark brown leather is available on the Lincoln MKS and new Silverado/Sierra. A friend recently got a ’14 Sierra in burgundy with brown leather, and it really looks good.
I like that Black and Ecru interior, looks like my old Audi. It’s boring when it’s ALL tan or ALL gray, the contrast light to dark is good. At least all black makes sense for a Subaru since the presumption is that you’ll be tracking dirt, water, mud etc into it from your “adventures”. All black is immensely kid-friendly as well until you start to think about it on a microbial level…
One of the current Chrysler minivan variants has a nice set up with black carpet, black seats, black dash but a lot of Ecru plastics and accent pieces that would be easy to keep clean. Looks classy, and very easy to take care of.
I don’t understand why so many car guys despise black interiors. You say stark; I love it, it keeps your eyes on the road! I really hate two-tone interiors, they just look so gaudy to me.
My current car has a bland light gray interior which reminds me of what cat puke must look like. My next car will be all black interior, no two-tone!
That burgundy with brown leather pickup sounds beautiful. I wish GM would put a little more red into their burgundy though; I miss maroon!
I used to agree fervently with Tom. Black interiors were gloomy, and felt small. Once I was given a Mustang as a rental. All-black, with small, low windows, it felt so claustrophobic that I refused to drive it further than home, then back.
Then, a year ago, I bought a MKV GTI. VW sets the rules: because I want a cheery white exterior, I had to accept an inky-black interior. Surprisingly, I’ve come to like it- especially the black trim on the A-pillar and surrounding the windshield. That really does help your keep eyes on the pike, Yanns. The plaid seats keep the whole thing from seeming too solemn. What redeems the interior from gloom is the sunroof, which I wouldn’t be without. Even with the tint, it admits as much light as would reflect off a light headliner. Good thing the windows are large. Factory glass is pretty dark, and it does a fine job of rejecting solar heat, so that’s less of a problem than I expected. So I’m down with black, but I would go back, for the right car.
What I’d prefer is a mid-toned interior color. My SAAB 9000 with leather was perfect, with subdued but colorful browns and tans. And loved the way that the dashboard top met the hood at the same plane, not higher or lower. That really linked the interior of the car with the exterior and let the feng shui flow, baby!
Same here. And this used to be the other way around… all the cool cars from the 80s had black, black/red or black/grey interiors.
Actually, according to the cars101 site, only one of the standard 2014 Impreza paint colors (Quartz Blue Pearl) requires the way-too-black interior. This situation is much improved over the previous 2008-11 generation, which had three or four exterior colors that required the black interior and about as many that required beige (“ivory”). Apparently one 2014 paint color gives you a choice of black or beige interior, and three other paint colors now come with gray interiors.
Well according to the “Build Your Own” feature of the SUBARU USA website you can only get black interior in an Impreza 2.0i Premium. I’m just happy you can get the manual trans with up-level features like heated seats. Many manufacturers won’t let you do that.
I just built one and there are three colors with an available tan interior.
Nice looking car. I have really been interested in Subarus lately, and they seem to be quite the bargain, especially the lease deals. I have been considering trading my GTI and CRV for a CrossTrek as it seems to meet all my needs very well. What stops me is the fuel economy. My wife likes the Escape because she loves the Ford-only feature of a keypad lock on the doors. But the turbo and funky Ford DSG-like automatic worry me; those are the main reasons I am considering getting rid of the GTI.
But the turbo and funky Ford DSG-like automatic worry me; those are the main reasons I am considering getting rid of the GTI.
Worry me too. Ford Focus owners have been having fits with the DSG, and their “ecoboost” turbos have been recalled how many times lately?
I really like the Jetta wagon, and the next generation, due out next fall, looks great, but it has a turbo with plenty of “innovations”, and apparently a DSG. The new 1.8T is available this year in the Jetta sedan and Passat, and is drawing rave reviews, but, with VeeDub’s reliability record, I just worry. May pull the trigger if I find a nice one with the old 5 cylinder, as they seem to have gotten most of the kinks out of it.
Just to clarify, my VW has been basically flawless mechanically, and the DSG is a joy in almost every situation, so I really cannot complain. But I have this constant dread that someday something really expensive will fail. The other thing is, after the initial thrill of playing with the DSG wore off, I find I just stick it in drive and leave it there… good performance but no fun.
My biggest issue with VWs in general is they are kinda delicate. The interiors do not seem to wear well and I do not abuse cars, I am very careful. But still the plastic coats flake off, the rubberized knobs get melty, the cloth trim loses is glue hold, etc. I always say to people who ask: VWs are best to be leased not purchased.
There is nothing inherently unreliable about a dual-clutch transmission. People’s complaints have centered around how the software shifts at low speeds (easily fixable), or how it feels too jerky like a manual transmission (which it is). People should know the technology behind what they’re buying.
Complaints on functionality have nothing to do with reliability. I am familiar with the technology. There is nothing inherently unreliable about any part of a car, we have been building them for decades, yet they still break down, some more than others. And I have no problems with how it functions, it drives like a dream in nearly every situation unless I really confuse the computer.
My problem with a DSG is that it is expensive to fix or replace, and not something easy to work on yourself. It has a lot of complicated electronics and “mechatronics” units, and it wears, like a clutch, but isn’t serviceable, like a clutch. So how in the world can you say there is nothing unreliable about it?? VW has trouble making any part of the car reliable past 100k miles. Ford is notorious for designing components to last exactly as long as the warranty. Independent mechanics don’t want to touch them, and the dealers don’t fix them, they replace them. The VW DSG is something like $3500+ to replace plus close to a grand in labor, I don’t know what the Ford costs but I bet it isn’t cheap. I would much rather gamble on a regular manual and plan to replace the clutch when its needed. Or lease a DSG.
In theory, a DSG seems like double the parts, double the trouble eventually. But there’s a theoretical benefit to the design that ought to benefit durability, too. With DSG’s controlled timing of clutch and shift timing with engine speed, there should be no botched shifts, no slipped clutches, and fewer chances for any moments of excessive friction and wear.
VW forums I visit aren’t brimming with DSG horror stories, except for the pricey 40K mile fluid changes. A manual will always be cheaper to replace but the DSG is the first autoshift box I’ve been happy with. My left leg may feel neglected, but I’m happy!
You do know that “DSG” is not synonymous with ‘dual-clutch’, right? DSG is the name of VW/Audi’s, but Ford’s is not called that.
PS my girlfriend has a 2001 Jetta with 100k+ miles that is perfectly fine.
Yes I am completely aware that DSG is the name of the VAG dual clutch transmission. In my original post I mentioned the “DSG-like” transmission in the Ford. DSG just keeps it simple for our discussion.
And you do know that your girlfriend’s 2001 doesn’t have a DSG right? So really doesn’t matter if its fine or not, its a regular automatic. But that car is from VWs darkest days reliability-wise, so I am glad it is still going strong. I would keep a healthy chunk of change in savings for when it does eventually grenade, I hear those transmissions aren’t cheap to fix either and past 100k is when the problems start.
The Escape does not have the dual-clutch transmission.
Good to know thanks! But the turbo still bothers me, I love the power in my GTI but it is just so hard to get decent MPG out of it and the long term reliability of the turbo worries me too.
and the long term reliability of the turbo worries me too.
Yup. My worries start along the lines if “if I turn off the engine as soon as I stop, the turbo is still spinning, and with the engine off, there isn’t any oil pressure, so what happens to the turbo’s bearings?” The ’15 wagon apparently compounds this with an auto start/stop engine that shuts down at traffic lights. That would be the first bit of automation I would turn off, and if it didn’t have an off switch, it would be a deal killer.
In one of the articles I read about the 1.8T, the writer asked the VW engineer “Ford tests it’s turbos for a mean time between failure of 150,000 miles, what is the MTBF for the VW turbo?” The VW engineer said they don’t test for mileage, though he insisted “it will be durable”
The 1.8T has the exhaust manifold integrated into the head, where it is water cooled. The same writer asked the same VW engineer “what if the water pump fails? isn’t that an invitation for a cracked head?” The engineer assured him “there is a valve, it will be OK”. Not confidence inspiring in my book.
VWs are best to be leased not purchased.
Yup. I have heard the gripes about things like the rubber stuff peeling off the radio knobs. I really hate dealing with car salesmen, so, when I find a ride that really suits me, I tend to keep it, like the 98 Civic I had for 15 years…nearly a curbside classic itself. But noone, other than VeeDub, makes a decent hatchback or wagon anymore. I try the Impreza wagon at the auto show each year, but, for some reason, I can’t get the steering wheel high enough to get my leg under it to press the brake pedal. The remaining choices are a teenzy buzzbox, or an SUV, or hope I get lucky with a VW.
@Steve — the Mazda3 hatch is gorgeous, and Subaru makes a variety of hatches and wagons to choose from besides the regular Impreza, perhaps another model’s seats would fit you better (you must be tall!). I would get either of those over another VW. Ford makes hatches too, so does Hyundai/Kia. Hatches are hot these days, I am sure Honda will get back in the game soon too.
@Steve — the Mazda3 hatch is gorgeous,
My 85 Mazda GLC was bulletproof. I would have bought another Mazda without a thought, but they didn’t make a hatch or wagon in 98
I loved the Protoge 5, but my Civic was only 5 years old then, much to young to sell.
Wasn’t too fond of the Mazda 3 until they cleaned up the grill around 07, but the 98 Civic was still too young to part with.
I ran away from the grinning 3 as fast as my feet could take me.
The Detroit auto show opens to us proles in a week. I’ll be checking out the new 3. My concern is that Mazda has gone to a sloping beltline on the wagon that looks like it restricts vision out of the back of the car. I really like the styling of the Jetta wagon, and Golf, because the visibility out the back is so good. I also like the old school insturmentation, the body structure and the suspension control.
re the cost to replace a VW DSG: I have a Ford Taurus X for road trips. Having followed the owner’s feedback on the Ford, is seems these things start to fall apart at 60-70K, and the price for every repair is in four figures: $1,000 for a water pump, $2,000 for a power steering pump, $1,000 for a steering rack, $4,000 for a transmission (conventional six speed) Consumer Reports used to recommend the T-X, then it fell off their recommended list, and now it’s on their “used cars to avoid” list. I haven’t had a speck of trouble with mine, but I only have 42K on it.
The Impreza is wierd. I am not that tall, only 6 feet, but, no matter how I adjust the seat, I seem to be too long from knee to foot because the wheel prevents me getting my foot on the brake. I try the Impreza at the show every year, but this generation just doesn’t fit in that one dimension.
I love the looks of the Focus hatch, except for the vision out the back. The owner feedback is terrible. Even the people who go with the lower trim to avoid the “My Ford Touch” system and the DSG, still have gripes with rattles
Oh I forgot about rattles… my GTI rattles like a 80s F-body, and drives me bonkers as my roads is at the perfect resonance to amplify the rattles, so every single day in and out I get annoyed by it. And everyone else I know with a VW says the same thing, though it doesn’t bother everyone the same. I hate rattles.
I had a Protege5, was a wonderful car, I still wish I had kept it. But it wasn’t gorgeous like the new Mazda3, which looks like an Alfa to me. I don’t think my GTI is all that great with rearward visibility but I tend to get used to any car like that, doesn’t bother me. And the Mazda I believe has a rear camera standard, which helps.
Your T-X has very low miles, too soon for most problems. My DSG is wonderful even at 70k, I have no reason to be concerned that anything is wrong with it. I just can’t help but worry that past the 100k warranty my mechatronics unit will fry and there is a $2k repair. With VW it isn’t the mechanicals that worry me, its the electronics.
But it wasn’t gorgeous like the new Mazda3, which looks like an Alfa to me.
I liked the new one at first too. Then took a closer look. Compared to the first Gen Mazda3 wagon, the back window of the new one looks tiny, and I’ll bet that the part that is actually transparent is a lot smaller than what the window appears to be from the outside. The current CR-V looks to have a good sized rear windown, but when I look closer, the glass is overlaid over tailgate structure by 3 to 4 inches on each end, top and bottom, so the part you can actually see through is tiny. I doubt the TV camera is any help merging into a freeway. I can see through the rear side windows and tailgate of my T-X easily, but the Mazda3 is probably just as blind as a Focus hatch. I’ll check it out throughly at the auto show.
Additionally, I don’t like the insurment cluster on the wagon, with a huge tach, and a dinky digital speedo, nor the big display screen sticking up from the top of the dash. I much prefer VW’s old school simple analog gages, along with it’s lower, nearly horizontal beltline and larger windows. To my taste, a much easier car to live with, if it stays out of the shop.
As for European electrics, remember, I had a Renault. I’ve had enough of Marchal alternators and Ducellier wiper motors.
My Volvo dealer also sells Subaru, and the last time I was there they had a black Crosstrek in the showroom with tan leather. It really looked nice.
DSG transmissions have been in trucks for some time now and work reliably now that tech has reached passenger cars it shouldn’t give trouble they just don’t drive like a slush box which freaks people out.
Not in the US, I don’t think there is even one truck with a DSG-style transmission. Unless you are talking about some kind of commercial vehicle?? I haven’t heard of anything like that but I would guess a commercial design like that would be very different from the performance-oriented one in cars like the VW.
Yes trucks real trucks Tractor units Scania in particular owned by VW uses a DSG type 12 speed transmission behind 700hp V8 diesels and they don’t give trouble in service and VW performance orientated really?
Can I ask why you’re leasing? Generally a better deal for the mfr than for the consumer.
My wife considered buying rather than leasing this time around but the numbers just didn’t work out. Subarus have very high residuals here in Utah which helps to keep the monthly lease cost down. Plus, as another commenter stated, he likes getting a new car every three years or so. Even with our trips to the Pacific Northwest we rarely come close. The new one is 12k.
I see, thanks.
I was going to thank you for supporting the Indiana economy, but discovered that these are built in Japan instead of in Lafayette. So instead, go to hell. 🙂
Seriously, this is a nice looking car. My sister is trying to decide what she wants to do about her car, and I have suggested that she check out both the Forester and the Outback. And another vote for red leather. Or maybe turquoise?
I support the Indiana economy. My wardrobe comes from the Haynes bookstore at Notre Dame. Got some spiffy new sweats.
The lease on her 2011 Forester would be up in February,..still shiny and only had 31,500 miles (50,000 km) on the ticker.
Three years old with 31K miles? That’s the kind of car I usually look to buy.
My wife’s lease vehicles, be they Camrys or Subarus, have generally been sold before she gets to the dealer to trade them in. Dealers love her stuff.
3450 lbs actually isn’t much more weight than the old Foresters. I would assume construction materials have gotten much lighter, more aluminum, etc.
The curb weight of the old-proportions Forester (1997-2008) topped out around 3200 pounds for a non-turbo automatic, and the last ones (2006-08) did use aluminum hoods and tailgates. In any case, one sits so much higher in a new-type Forester (which also has a considerably longer wheelbase: 103.9″ versus 99.4″ for an ’08) that it’s hard to imagine having much fun in quick maneuvers, even if the weight hadn’t increased at all. An unhappy tradeoff for a few more inches of rear-seat legroom…
When Stephanie reads about the red leather, she’s going to have a visceral reaction.
We’re still mulling over the various choices. My original goal was to get the old one to 15 years, but that might not happen. But except for the head gasket that has started leaking now (to the exterior) rather late for us, and a couple of of rear wheel bearings and a front axle shaft, our 2000 Forester has been superbly reliable.
Feed it some liquid glass apparently that fixes the headgasket issue nearly permanently
Shades of C4C!
I’ve got the prior generation Forester and my wife loves it. The newest Forester has a lot of interior space. My coworker is 6 feet 6 inches tall and a former college football player. He found that the newest Forester is the only CUV that he fits comfortably; his prior car was an Escalade.
As a passenger, I find the interior of the ’14 Forester to be huge. I can’t remember where I read the comments of long-time Forester owners, but more than one asked why the vehicle had grown so much. They were happy with the previous iterations. Probably has something to do with how CRVs and RAV 4s have also ballooned. Gotta keep up.
The first dealer to take on Subaru where I grew up was also Dodge and AMC. He offered a new Sub 360 in the bed with every Jeep Pickup. Free. Theoretically. Who assumes the capital cost of the leather in your lease contract? The last car we had with red leather was my Mother’s 1956 Cadillac convertible with red and white two tone. That was a beautiful automobile.
The cost of the leather upgrade is rolled into the lease cost. So, we’re paying for leather, we just don’t have it yet. Next week. Photos and commentary at 11.
You know I have always been impressed with Subaru for years. They make a good quality vehicle at a good price(there is no mark up due to having a Honda or Toyota badge on it) If I recall during the Great Recession of 2008-2009, Subaru was one of the few making a profit. I briefly had a 1993 Impreza that I bought for cheap with over 100,000 miles on it and every panel on it was scratched or dented and it still purred like a kitten. I gave it to a friend who needed a vehicle. But i am still on the look out for another(perhaps with a stick)
The car you just got is a winner, I myself would have opted for the black cloth(I hate leather and the light colored cloth stains to easy). I do disagree with the folks that think having black seats makes the inside of the car too hot because most of the time the rest of the interior is black also. Case in point, when I had a 2010 Kia Forte, it had tan(stone) cloth seats but the rest of the interior(such as door panels, dash, center console etc) were black so it was hot as hell every time I got into the car in the spring and summer. By contrast that old Subaru Impreza I owned at the same time, had black seats but a tan interior and it was usually pretty cool when getting into(there were days of 90 degrees and it was going to be hot no matter what you had in the car)
Well anyway, enjoy the new car, I dare say that you will be using its snow fighting capabilities quick enough
Is it indecent to ask how much the leather work costs (in your market)? I truly have no idea what that adds up to for a car that size. Kevin, if you don’t wish to divulge, can some others testify to such costs for cars they’ve owned?
Sally, I think that the cost is $1250. Yeah, that’s a bunch, but the way many carmakers today set up such enhancements today, leather is packaged with a lot of other stuff, some or most of which you may not want, and the package may be a bunch more than $1250. Plus you have to go with the automaker’s idea for leather color, which in Subaru’s case, for my taste, is still too light. Update soon, we meet with the leather house on Monday.
I got brown leather in my Outback as part of the Special Appearance Package, along with a few other non-regular-Outback available items like memory seats, turn signals in the mirrors and off-color door handles. It’s a sweet looking package.
That said, I didn’t even think about adding leather…it’s a great idea to get the exact color you want.
I much prefer dark/black interiors. I have light-sensitive vision and black helps keep the distractions down.
I really like the new Forrester….they were just hitting the sales lots when I bought the Outback After sitting in one on the sales floor last week when my OB was getting it’s oil changed, I realized I should have looked closer before I bought. The Forrester has the upright seating position and panoramic sunroof my Trooper did. An office mate bought one and she loves it.
Speaking of the Volt, last night I saw one in limp-mode crawling along the emergency lane of the beltway. Thankfully there was a charging station at the Walgreens at the next exit.
How MPG figures yet?
Nothing but short in-town hops so far. My wife has a propensity let the car idle as she scrapes ice from the windows so gas mileage ain’t gonna be great this winter.
Congra on your new Forester, red leather will be so nice.
I was debating Forester vs FJ cruiser vs Grand Cherokee —— just took delivery of a ’14 FJ, I’m sure for all the wrong reasons. Forester would have been the most logical choice, so I’ll follow your experience with intrigue.
Congratulations on your Forester. It’s always a choice I would consider again. But my 2012 test drive turned sour when I headed up a steep road (about 8% grade). The car just got stuck at 35 mph, stranded between gear ratios, despite 8-10 seconds of full throttle! The saleslady told me to shift the CVT myself, but that was little help, and beside the point. This car needed to be able to pull a one-ton trailer up hills like that, which my ’04 4-speed Forester did ably. This time, we bought a Tiguan instead.
I hope the new Forester has more power, or smarter gearing. Have you driven it uphill under load yet?
My experience is mostly limited to my own car, an 02 Outback LLBean edition, but my interior is quite nice. It’s medium-dark brown and tan, and seems to be quality soft touch materials throughout. Definitely a cut above most of its contemporaries, and it’s not gray. The only weak spot is the inside door handles, which have gotten soft and sticky (and thus black with grime) over time. Well, there is one other weak point now that I think of it: though in many ways Subaru is sort of a Japanese take on a Volvo, that doesn’t extend to the seats. I do not find them comfortable for longer trips – too short, and somehow they set of my lower back sometimes too. Oh well, everything works great at 145k miles, so I can’t really complain.