Thursday, January 03, 2013

Initial Subie thoughts...

I had some time behind the wheel of Robin's Forester last time I was up in New Hamster, and was impressed with its performance on sloppy dirt roads, so I wasn't coming into this car totally cold.

There are some notable differences, though, between the two: The newer Forester I had driven around Upper Cryogenica sits higher, more like an SUV, while the old '99 model is a lot closer to its "tall wagon" Outback roots. The low seat height and high roofline make for an almost bizarre amount of headroom, as C&D noted:
The Forester fits in this group like a silk slipper at a clogging match. Yes, it has the foul-weather agility of a full-time all-wheel-driver and the roofline towers over most cars'. But you sit down low, eyeball to eyeball with all the other auto pilots, with lots of air overhead, perfect for the chef who wants to dress and then drive to work. What we have here is a Subaru sedan with a backward choptop: Height was added. 
Of course, compared to the Zed Drei which has been my sole ride for the last decade, even the older Subie feels tall and wobbly, but so does my neighbor's Accord coupe.

The lower seating position and manual transmission make for an altogether more car-like driving experience than the newer Foresters, although all that car in the rearview is going to take some getting used to, considering I'm used to being able to just about reach back and pop the trunk latch by hand if the top's down.

Even on the sleazy department-store tires it's currently wearing, this thing is amazingly dogged on the skating rinks we have by way of side streets here in Broad Ripple right now. I'll bet on a good set of winter tires you could put it in first and putter up a frozen waterfall.

I'll be taking it for a highway shakedown cruise some time today, doing a lap around I-465, seeing how it does at freeway speeds for an hour or so straight. I think this is a prudent thing to do before taking a high-mileage vehicle on any roadtrips....


Ed Foster said...

Welcome to the pseudoSUV club. And the huge overhead is a good thing, especially for Celtic Monkeys like me. Extreme alpine build, very long in the torso and short thick legs.

I literally can't move the seat forward enough in a Mazda to reach the pedals without having to cock my head to clear the roof. I miss my Saturns, with a roofline as high as any, and a seat that left your tailbone about "yeah high" above the road.

Freakish turning radius on the Tucson. They stuck a slipjoint on the drive side of the front U-Joints and mounted the things on a cam plate. Sucker can almost pivot on the inside rear wheel. Dynamite in a tight parking lot.

It will be interesting to see what tribal affiliation bumper stickers you put on the little girl. I have a bumper sticker business, so anything snarky send to me and I'll set you up.

Old NFO said...

Smart move, and check pressures and temps when you get back. Also any 'burning' smells...

Joseph said...

I think this is a prudent thing to do before taking a high-mileage vehicle on any roadtrips....

Agreed, along with a full service if it is a particularly long trip. In fact, any time I buy a used vehicle, that's the first thing I do before any serious driving. Kind of like detail stripping a used pistol, I like to know what I got.

RE: the headroom, some of us need that. I drive a VW New Beetle just for that very reason. 6'6" with a long torso is a tough fit for normal cars.

Anonymous said...

Let us know how well it gets to merging speed on the highway.


perlhaqr said...

I think this is a prudent thing to do before taking a high-mileage vehicle on any roadtrips....

Generally so, yeah. Is your AAA up to date?

B said...

You didn't give it a good run on a highway before you bought it?

Tam said...

"You didn't give it a good run on a highway before you bought it?"

I took it on the interstate, but not for an hour-long drone.

Tam said...


" Is your AAA up to date?"

My what, now?

How are you supposed to have adventures if you have AAA? I had a hard enough time being talked into taking a cell phone on roatrips... ;)

og said...

Also good to put it on a rack and check for falling off bits

Boat Guy said...

+1 on the rack-check for "falling-off bits" but you likely put it on a rack before you bought it anyway...

Tam said...

Boat Guy,

No, this was a pretty rushed purchase. I absolutely needed a vehicle for doctor's appointments and suchlike coming up, and I only had so many days with access to somebody who had a car to take me someplace.

It was a bit of a crapshoot, but with the CarFax, test-drive, and a quick crawl-around, I'm reasonably confident I'll get a couple-few winters out of it.

Matt G said...

I will say that buying my '06 Outback with 123k on it felt like I was buying a New Car. I fully expect it to go and go and go.

hearthtender said...

I love my Scoobydo, I try overlooking it's hippie overtones because it's such a I need a bumpersticker that says "I don't drive a Suburu because I'm a greenie wienie, I drive it because it is a SnowEater!" ;)

Anonymous said...

Just for S&Gs, might be a good idea, after the high speed run proves out, to replace all fluids and filters and grease what needs greasin'. Folk tend to forget much of the untidy stuff underneath. Chance to see what seeps and leaks at the same time.

B said...

Might want to fill it up with gas and add a can of HEET or other gas line antifreeze as well, and run it nearly empty. Get rid of any (or most) of the water in the tank. Before you have really cold weather.

Save yerself the trouble later by being proactive now.

Shrimp said...

My wife and I own a 99 Forester. No real complaints. We had a 98 also. I've had very little bad to say about the Forester, except that the Japanese seem to think Americans are all a little over 5'8" tall. So they fixed it by adding plenty of headroom, but I still have trouble climbing in and out of the driver's seat because my legs are longer than the legroom they designed into it. Oh, and they suck for cup holders. They placed them in weird spots or they're too small.

Not bad if my biggest complaints are cup holders and leg room, though.

And you're right about the snow tires. We have a set, but we hardly ever use them, because honestly it handles beautifully without them.

Anonymous said...

Couple things to look out for, Tam. From a 314K mile, '97 Outback wagon owner: if it's the 2.5L, make sure the timing belt gets changed around the 100K mark and watch out for a stuck thermostat. Mine failed "closed" and I lost the head gasket (my fault on that one). Other than that, run 'er till the wheels fall off - which will be somewhere past 314K miles.

mariner said...

If a new Forester had fit my budget in 2004 I'd have bought one; there were no used Foresters for sale (I considered that a good sign). I didn't know until a couple days ago they're hippiemobiles.

The 2004-2005 models were just about perfect for me; every year since they've become less desirable.

Anonymous said...

As for Indy Camo, check out the stickers at Pegasus - nice mix of Left, Right, and Geek:


Anonymous said...

As for tall and wobbly -- Subaru bloodlines run through rally car racing, where suspension travel is not a bad thing. My experience is that the handling balance was actually pretty good, and it was much better on the bumpy stuff(New England back roads) than something low & stiff.

Everything's a tradeoff....

Tam said...

Anon 10:13,

"My experience is that the handling balance was actually pretty good, and it was much better on the bumpy stuff(New England back roads) than something low & stiff."

I know; it's absolutely a perception thing (that's what I was attempting to allude to by saying my neighbor's Accord coupe felt tall and wobbly, too...)



Able said...

As you no doubt are aware over here the Forester and Outback are the motor-carriage of choice for the well-heeled aristocracy (that and rural professionals, vets in particular) - remember Clarksons review some time ago?

They tend to go on forever and so, following Sam Vimes law of boot economics, Lord and Lady (and even those dreadful upstart oiks The Honourable Mr and Mrs) Muck tend to buy them in droves.

So, when do we start hearing about your retiring the old collection and start with the matched pairs of Purdeys or Holland & Hollands? (That and changing the combat boots and foot gloves for some sensible Green Hunter Wellies, with matching Barbour jacket).

One will have to change ones terminology unfortunately as 'road-trips' are so uncouth. I look forward to hearing about your next Safari or Grand Tour.

docjim505 said...

Tam - Even on the sleazy department-store tires it's currently wearing, this thing is amazingly dogged on the skating rinks we have by way of side streets here in Broad Ripple right now. I'll bet on a good set of winter tires you could put it in first and putter up a frozen waterfall.

I suspect that this prose won't have Subaru beating down your down to write ad copy for them, but it's about as good a testimony to the car's suitability for winter driving as one could well wish.

Blackwing1 said...

Put a good set of Nokian all-season radials on it and you could plow 3 feet of snow (if you could figure out how to mount the plow to the front end).

T.Stahl said...

Tam, are you going to remount the twin Spandaus or will you get a pair of Type 92s?

Will said...

All that head room will allow you to upgrade your chapeau from ball caps to something with a proper full brim. I'm thinking maybe Aussie style would look good on you.

Bram said...

My wife has a 328 with the Sports package (tighter steering, lower suspension, etc...). I have a CX-9.

When I drive her car after a long break, it feels like my ass is an inch above the road.

After a road trip in the Bimmer, the SUV feels like I'm a mile in the sky, the steering wheel isn't connected to anything, and I'm going to tip over at every corner.

Rob K said...

Re: all that car in the rear-view, pop one of these ginormous mirrors on that rear-view and really get an eyeful:

A friend had these on all his cars, and after driving his Dodge Ram with one I was throughly sold. I have them on all my cars now. Pretty much eliminates the blind spots and gives you complete coverage of your interior. Really, really handy in a minivan full of kids (not that that is a selling point for you).

Anonymous said...

My wife has an '02 still running good, needs an oil change, sigh. Subaru doesn't bother to make replacement plastic parts. Some kid up in Jax crunched the front of his WRX and it's still sitting on the lot a year later waiting for something to die from behind. The dealer cured the rattle in her engine compartment by pulling the broken plastic engine cover. No replacements available. Sigh. Punched across the Pennsylvania Turnpike in a blizzard through a water leak across an on ramp that stopped a GMC Jimmy (Large model) Runs down sandy tracks NP. Geoff Who notes his wife lets him drive it to the shop.

Jim Dunmyer said...

Several people have alluded to taking the car in for service, and I'll second the notion:

Find a mechanic who is familiar with the brand and ask him to service it in accordance with recommendations based on mileage and his experience. Timing belt is very important, if it's due, and things that are known to be problematic.

When we were looking to buy a GM minivan for my wife, we consulted with our mechanic who warned us of the intake gasket that would leak at about 80K miles and ruin the engine if you didn't catch it. We found a nice Pontiac Montana with right at 80K miles that had no sign of coolant in the oil, but hadn't had the gasket changed. As I knew the job cost about $700.00, I insisted that the seller drop his price by that number. After buying it, we took it to my guy and had him change the gasket and all fluids, plus check it out underneath. Turned out that the rear brake lines needed replacement, along with other minor stuff. Spent $1200.00 all-told, but we had nearly no trouble from it until she went deer hunting (using the car, not a gun/bow) 4 years later. Even at that, the driveline ended up in a Chevy Ventura that she's driving today.

Best of luck with your Suburu!

Yrro said...

I consider this thread required reading for all Subaru owners:

Matt G said...

So, road trip this fall to BR-V? You can bring more ammo, more long guns.

Anonymous said...

I like how a Subaru is considered a hippie/greenie car in the US.

Here in Europe (especially in the Great People's Republic of France) it's considered an evil baby seals killer because they usually burn more than 10L/100km (that is doing less than 23.5mpg).

My brother has an old 2000 Impreza STI. The interior trim is on par with my 1987 Peugeot but it's light, has decent power and torque and the old school turbo gives a somewhat nice "kick".

Very fun to drive on snow with 4 winter tires in the Vosges.

If it weren't for the dreaded yearly tax on company cars, I might have gone for a Mitsu Evo X or a sedan WRX STI with it's offensive rear wing / picnic table (ha ha ha !). I settled to a BMW 330D Touring F31 which will be my first diesel car. :-/

Well ... at least it will have 560Nm of torque.

Anyway enjoy your new toy, Tam ! :)


Anonymous said...

Looks like son will be buying the Jag X from the lady in the salon next to our shop tomorrow. I drove it today and it is really a pleasant ride, clean carfax, and clean as a whistle with 84K miles...and at under 5 g's, a pretty good deal.

He doesn't "need" the AWD here in fla (unless he can find a spit of beach not occupied by a condo to go four wheelin' on), but if wife's former Audi quattro is any guide, he'll enjoy the handling aspects of simultaneous pushin' and pullin'.

We'll have the shop look it over and give it a service and then he'll take it a few hours southeast to West Palm Beach on mostly 60-65 mph two lane roads as a shakedown.

Then we can compare notes, and I'll try to link a might not go a quarter mil miles like your Subie will (or has?), but it sure will look classy on the side of the road.


Justthisguy said...

I rented a Subaru to drive up to Atlanta and attend my Dad's funeral.
My impression of the car, with its AWD, and all, was that it was fun to drive, but if you tried to drive it really hard, you would be disappointed. I mean, I had no idea how close I was getting to the limit of adhesion with that thing. It did have a really nice flat-six motor, though.

You do know, Tam, that if you drive a Subaru, people will think you're a Lesbian. Just sayin'.

Tam said...


"You do know, Tam, that if you drive a Subaru, people will think you're a Lesbian. Just sayin'."

1) Or a hippie. Or a SWPL. Or a mountain biker.

2) Do I look like I give a fuck what other people think? (And if I did care what other people think, would I continue to let you comment here?)

perlhaqr said...

How are you supposed to have adventures if you have AAA? I had a hard enough time being talked into taking a cell phone on roatrips... ;)

I dunno, you might be smarter than me... (I didn't have AAA when I took my '72 Satellite on a 2,200 mile roadtrip either.) ;)

When I got my '93 Legacy, and replaced the worn out suspension bits, I used parts off later model cars, which gave me a lot more suspension clearance. I finally found a set of 15" steel wheels in a junkyard, and now I'm looking at some taller All-Terrain tires for it.

I was going to go with really super knobby Mud-Terrain tires, but nobody makes any small enough, sadly. I thought that would look nice and growly. Also, good for sand.

Anonymous said...

"Timing belt is very important"

AMEN. Say that again please? Very nasty repair if that fails.

Unless you plan to do a lot of snow driving, a nice set of Michelin 4 (I like Michelin's) season tires will do you fine in 99% of the weather in Indiana.

If you put winter tires on it you will be able to go places and drive on nasty roads that will shock you and probably void any warranty.

If I lived in Montreal, where they got 17"/43cm of snow in 5 hours the other day ( with 60mph winds),or I lived somewhere where snow clearance is called "the sun" I'd bother, otherwise no.

I'd recommend draining the window wiper fluid and putting in the good stuff, I had some jerk at the garage put in the weak stuff and had the fluid freeze on my windshield on the highway at night at 70mph. So very not good.

Also make sure you have rear window sprayer is adjusted to work both at highway and standing still speeds. The rear wiper can rust up so work it a little with some WD40 in the spring and hinge and it'll work MUCH better.
Also run i the back washer once a week to push new fluid back there.

New wipers if there's any doubt.

Test the heating and each position of the ventilation, make sure the A/c is working so you can defrost the interior. Test the locks all lock and unlock as expected.

I recommend a cargo net for the rear area. To quote a friend: "if you flip a car, everything that's loose will hit you in the head. twice. Everything that's stowed will try to come loose."
In a station-wagon that's very bad.

Also an old wool blanket or two so you can hide your stuff from prying eyes is a good idea. Also, useful for protecting your car from what you are carrying - and you can carry ASTONISHING amounts of stuff in a Forester.

Also I highly recommend taking the car out to large empty snowy parking lot and "maneuvering": straight acceleration and panic stops, and starting to turn tighter and tighter until the wheels let go at various speeds. ( I know my old legacy wagon had a LOT of grip and the rear wheels would let go in what could only be called an apologetic manner if you over turned for the amount traction, so it was a very polite car to drive.)

Have the battery tested.

Justthisguy said...

Aw, Tam, I still luvya, I just thought somebody needed to make the obligatory Subaru-Lesbian joke.

Anybody who knows much about you at all knows that you are in a category of your own, all your own.

Justthisguy said...

P.s. I'm an old bandsman, who used to play the clarinet. We get homo jokes all the time, and have learned to joke right back.

As in, "So, you're a saxophonist? Can you prove that? I need to see a mug shot and a rap sheet."