Subaru (Foresters): Edit: Make That Outbacks. Say "Yes" to some and let the other ones ride?

The Ugly
My 28 year-old son was stopped in traffic late last week, saw a car bearing down on his rear, just before he had a distracted woman total his 2009 Impala (only car) out from under him. She was issued a citation and was 100% at fault.

The Bad
His $$$ Mountain Bike was in the back of the car (rear seat-back folds down) and is in need of a $300 wheel rim replacement).

The good
My son was not seriously hurt.
While waiting for the insurance adjuster to offer a settlement, he is car shopping. He is strongly considering a Subaru and asked me for advice. He does have a Subaru dealer not too far from his house. I mentioned that I believe they generally have very good safety ratings, great traction, explained the matching tires things, and told him if that’s what he wants to go for it.

He and his girl-friend have very active life-styles, bicycling, camping, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, skin diving, hauling stuff from Lowe’s and Home Depot, etcetera, and going by what he texted me, he thinks he’d like a Forester (Forester X ?), but maybe not the extra cost of a Forester X Premium, just the Forester X. He’s thrifty (inherited trait) and even likes the less expensive sized tires on that model. Is this a good choice?

He will probably get a 1 to 4 year-old used vehicle and cash out on it. Good idea?

Which Subaru (Model/Model-Years/Engines/Transmissions) should he avoid and which are desirable? Weren’t there some with head gasket problems and some with oil consumption complaints? Do any have timing belts? CVT?

Any advice would be appreciated.


Have him check because I think the bike wheel should also be covered by the other persons insurance.
As to the Subaru-anytime All Wheel drive is involved I advise new with warranty and possibly not getting all options. Not knowing where he is here in NW Oklahoma used car prices are crazy high.

The improved heads plus timing chain instead of timing belt came out with the 2011 model, I’d want that for sure. In 2014 they went from a 4 speed AT to a CVT, so the 2011 - 2013 would be ones I’d look at. Or a base new one.

Edit - make sure they take a long test drive, some folks complain about the seats.

Thanks, there’s a bit of sparring going on over bike being covered (Her insurance is national internet company and laws vary by state) and he’s told he can’t collect for rental car. His brick and mortar insurance agent is helping him. He Googled the young woman who hit him and found she paid fine and got jail sentence last year for Driving While Impaired, according to a local newspaper article. I was wondering about Small Claims Court to recover bike damage and rental car…

Good advice on warranty. I recommended to him a certified car or one with some factory warranty remaining.



That’s info he can use once I translate for him (He’s not into the nuts and bolts as much as we are).

2011 - 2013 sounds good. Wonder if there are any with some warranty remaining or certified. I don’t know what warranty they came with when new.

Long test drive is great idea. I personally like the over-night, return it the next day, test drive that I have often pulled off in our rural, more relaxed than normal, areas. Are those some seats with weird (uncomfortable) head rests?

Not big on CVT, eh? I don’t know anything about them or how problematic they can become. An old friend with an Audi had his go to hexx in a hand basket.


Good idea to check what Consumer Reports says about that vehicle, and its reliability. If you can find their Reliability Rating book, it will tell you about any major recalls, known design problems, problems discovered which have caused them to extend the warranty, etc.

Sorry your son had this happen. It’s pretty disturbing, at least it would be to me. I’m always a bit of a worry wort when my mt. bike is on the back. Somebody behind pulling up behind at a stop light, checking their cell phone messages, or otherwise not paying attention could cause a lot of damage to the bike. Just today I was going up a narrow winding road and I see a big construction truck coming the other way, so I pull all the way to the right as far as possible and stop, my right tires bumping up against the side of a steep hill in process. And that darn truck driver – probably behind schedule – just ignored me, didn’t pull over an inch, almost side swiped the bike tire which pokes out a bit beyond the edge of the car. Missed maybe 3 or 4 inches. Whew! I would have definitely been cranky!!


Thanks, I’m sure he’ll want to check that CR book.

I hear you on distracted drivers. I sometimes must ride my mountain bike outside the fog lines on our rural highway (no trails). I’ve got a rear-view mirror, front and rear flashing strobe lights and a bail-out plan.


I have a '15 forester and am happy with it (base model). The CVT seems OK, and gets great mileage, 30-35 MPG highway, 20-30 city. Cost about $22k.

A bit noisy and the suspension is not great, however.


Thanks for the helpful candid comments. “I have a '15 forester and am happy with it (base model).” Looks like overall the plus features outweigh the minus ones.

My son will have to evaluate ride, noise, comfort, etcetera for himself.


Glad to hear your son’s alright. He should consider getting an MRI (on the other driver’s nickel) to check his neck and back.

Ed B.

Following a motorcycle accident (18 Oct 12) I was sore, but no big deal. I went to the ER the next day, and as soon as they heard “accident” they started with the x-rays and MRIs. Being retired military, this was all being done at a military facility (best care, anywhere, I think), so the cost for the insurance company was way, way down on what any civilian hospital would charge. They still balked at the cost, until I laid a little math on them.

However, that’s not the point. The point is this: It was almost a month before I started noticing difficulties using my hands in certain positions (washing certain dishes held in a certain way at first). It’s been getting steadily worse for me, and two years on, it continues.

He needs to get checked out - thoroughly. Any part that he even thinks might be related, get checked. These things can take months to fully turn into something, and by then, it may be too late. Don’t settle too early, either. They normally have a year to pay out, and part of the negotiation paperwork almost certainly includes a clause that any further doctors bills are on him.

I’ll hit one year tomorrow with my 2015 Forester Premium (one step above the base i model) and have been extremely happy with it. The Ride could be smoother but that also applies to many other compact SUV’s on the market. On most city/highway pavement it’s just fine but it all depends on what you’re used to. My dad has a 2007 CRV which rides basically the same.

I know a pretty good size group of late model Forester owners, a co-worker just upgraded from a '15 Impreza to a new Forester to get a little more room.Another couple bought their i (base) right around the same time as me and couldn’t be happier with it.

The base trim should work just fine, I wanted the eyesight package so the Premium was the entry level for me.

We bought a 2016 outback and I was really against the cvt. I must say that I’m impressed the way it drives and the gas mileage is great. I belong to a Subaru forum and I haven’t see any problems with them. Also, they are highly rated on consumer reports.

My son’s Altima was rear ended in June. It had bumper, trunk and minor left quarter panel damage. The other person’s insurance offered $6500 to total the car. HIS insurance company (State Farm) offered $8800. Guess which one he took. State Farm will subrogate against the other company, and eventually he will get his $250 deductable back.

The rest of the story is, his insurance company even paid for a child seat that was in the back seat of the Nissan. Seems once a child’s car seat is involved in an accident, it is deemed unsafe. My granddaughter wasn’t in the car, but that’s State Farm’s rule. That said, I can’t see why the insurance company involved in your son’s accident would balk at paying for the damaged bike.

Knowing others who have been involved in accidents with online companies, I am completely unimpressed with their settlements. They MAY have lower rates, but Flo doesn’t tell you why.

Company may offer a settlement, but you don’t have to accept it. I’ve negotiate settlements before. One time I was rear-ended waiting at a red light. Ins offered me $1500…After a couple of weeks of back and forth talks…they wrote me a check for $2,500.


Thanks. At the urging of his girlfriend and his mother, he went to the doctor and got checked out… so far, all is good.



Thanks guys. That’s very helpful info straight from the horse’s mouth, actual owner/operator’s. I will forward info to my son.

@MG McAnick

Thanks for taking the time to help out.

Having had 3 of our family cars hit by others while our car was stopped, and each one a total loss, based mainly on car value rather than unbelievable amounts of damage, I did negotiate more than fair settlements. in each case I kept the cars, repaired them, put the collision insurance back on after the agent checked them and took pictures, and never had it reflect on the cars’ titles. Everything I did was legal and had the blessing of the insurance company.

Since I had this experience and my son hadn’t, I advised him to do his homework while awaiting the adjuster and a settlement offer. Plan for the worst, expect the best. He found 2-3 very comparable cars (similar model, model-year, miles, options, condition) for sale at dealers, got prices, and saved the information.

Turns out his insurance company gave him a fair settlement the first time offered. They deemed his car “excellent” condition, added in sales tax, title fee, etcetera, that he would pay to replace his car and were prompt and very polite in the process. They were on target with my son’s homework research.


CSA - only thing I’d add is that, if I was looking at a new Forester, I’d also look at a new Mazda CX-5. Folks seem to like them, too. But the Forester does look like it has better rearward visibility, a big plus.

Subaru Tire Rotations And Mismatched Tires:

I don’t think my son believed me when I told him that Subarus are particular about having their tires rotated often (about every 5,000 miles ?) and if a set of tires has some wear and one needs to be replaced then the owner will possible have to replace all 4.

My wife knows a Subaru owner who advised that he rotates tires at every oil change.

He questioned my questionable advice and I told him to call a Subaru dealer and discuss this with a seasoned Service Advisor and to download a copy of an Owner’s Manual. Also, I mentioned there could be special procedures for towing the car, perhaps as easy as removing a certain fuse.

Am I full of bologna or giving him semi-accurate information?