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Cheap Thrills: 2004-2008 Subaru Forester 2.5XT

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On: Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 9:56AM | By: Teddy Field


Cheap Thrills: 2004-2008 Subaru Forester 2.5XT

The Subaru Forester is a sort of a 'Diet SUV', designed for those who like to worry about the planet... and puppies. Needless to say, the second-gen Forester struggled to compete in the SUV-crazy world of the 2000s. It did, however, find a devoted following in snow-covered hippy communes like Colorado and Washington state. So they added a WRX-esque turbo-4 to provide adequate power at high elevations (*cough* *cough*, pardon the pun), and unwittingly created the fastest SUV on the market...

Now, contrary to popular belief, the engine in the 2004–2008 Subaru Forester 2.5XT isn't from the WRX STi. It's simply a modified Forester engine, with variable intake valve timing, an electronic throttle, and an intercooled Mitsubishi turbocharger. It also has a reinforced block, a steel-core main bearing cap, forged pistons, and heavy-duty connecting rods. Oh, and that big hood scoop is even functional too. All of this fiddling resulted in 210hp/235 lb-ft, which was enough to hurl the little trucklet to 60 mph in an official time of 5.7 seconds. But Car and Driver tested one in 2003, and found that it could do the deed in just 5.3 seconds. Spend a little money, and you could easily make it go even faster.

As with all Subarus, the Forester 2.5XT came with their famous Symetrical AWD. But there were actually two different systems, depending on which transmission was fitted. 5-speed manual models got a viscous coupling center differential to vary the 50/50 torque split based on wheel-slip. And 4-speed automatic versions got an active AWD system, with an electronic continuously variable transfer clutch to divvy out power based on a number of sensor-based parameters. Both systems work great on pavement and snow. But expect both to be rather pricey to repair.

With freight train acceleration and car-like handling, the Subaru Forester 2.5XT is the sports car for people who own mountain bikes/skis/big dogs. They came pretty well equipped too, with bespoke sporty trim, beefy 16-inch wheels, and leather upholstery on Limited models. With prices ranging from $7,500–$12,000, the 2004–2008 Subaru Forester 2.5XT is definitely a Cheap Thrill. But evaluate the engine and AWD system thoroughly, because repairs ain't cheap.

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