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Dangerous Flaws in an otherwise decent car

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 6/15/2016 Steve

I owned a 2014 Forester for nearly 3 years and 36,000 miles. This was my second Forester having liked my 2010 so much, but it's also my last Forester and likely my last Subaru.The Forester provides a balanced package of performance, utility and price. As car shoppers we should understand the cost benefit analysis and the compromises inherent in every automobile we purchase. For the Forester, in my experience, the benefits include Subaru's AWD system, good safety ratings, relatively good reliability and decent driving dynamics... all at a decent price point. Downsides include poor interior design and fit and finish, noisy highway driving and lousy electronics.My ownership of the 2014 revealed that this redesigned model comes with something else: terrifying handling in sub-optimal driving conditions. At highway speeds I found the driving stability lacking, and very noticeably worse than my 2010 model. The car felt top heavy and unsteady when executing lane changes or navigating exit ramps. Also, highway driving in windy conditions or very wet roads was less than confidence inspiring and the car often felt poorly planted. I attributed these handling defects to the taller profile compared to my other Forester. The first winter I owned the car I was driving on a highway with less than a 1" layer of slush. I am 53 and have driven in winter conditions my whole life and I had my family in the car with me so I was driving even more cautiously than I normally do. Up ahead was a car on the shoulder so I slowly made a change into the left lane and then it happened... the car started to oscillate and the rear end felt like it wanted to come around. It was like driving with no traction at all and I struggled to get the car back under control for what seemed like an eternity... honestly, I am amazed we didn't go off the road. Yes the conditions were not great, but no other car on the road seemed to have problems driving and in all my experience driving I have never had a car handle that way. I attributed the incident to an unwise decision to switch lanes exacerbated by the truly horrible Yokohama OEM tires Subaru puts on these cars. Needless to say I got rid of my nearly new OEM tires and bought a set of top rated Continental True Contacts. The new tires helped the handling a bit, as did a dealer performed alignment, but the car still felt skittish and I again experienced the loose rear end feeling, albeit not as bad as the first time. Meanwhile I was growing tired of the endless rattles that the dealer could not address, frustrated by the awful Subaru navigation system and bluetooth that could not make outgoing calls and alarmed by the extended warranty issued for excessive oil consumptions (a problem for many Subaru owners, but not for me personally). As I casually started researching cars I found that the handling problems I had were not unique. There are countless cases of the same DANGEROUS handling flaws for the Forester and the mechanically very similar Crosstrek. Just search for "Ghost walking" or "dangerous Forester" or "Forester slush problem", etc. and you won't believe the extent of problems out there. And that's with most people, like me until I researched, thinking they did something wrong to cause the problem. I am now convinced that there is a serious design flaw (not sure if it's the suspension, AWD, chassis design, or some combination of these factors) with these vehicles that can render them an accident waiting to happen. I traded in my Forester (and it has not held its value well... depreciation is much higher than for Subaru's I have owned in the past) for a new Volvo XC60 and couldn't be happier and I feel much safer.It's a shame really. Subaru makes a decent product and it pains me to write such a scathing review. This Forester has been reliable, yields very good fuel economy, offers lots of second row and cargo space, had great visibility, relatively comfortable seats, and offered good maneuverability. I like my local dealer and have had generally good ownership with my four previous Subarus, but the dangerous aspect of this car has shaken my faith in the brand and I am not likely to ever purchase another Subaru.

Average Rating : 1

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