Huh? Go to a dealer and NOT be charged a cent? What is this sorcery? Oh wait, it's just what comes with any new Subie. As my dealer, Pacific Subaru, explained during my 7500-mile visit, my first four services are completely free (at least, here in California). That means 30,000 miles of no-cost maintenance. Brilliant. My two previous long-term vehicles – our 2011 Nissan Juke and 2013 Mazda CX-5 -- didn't come with such a great offer.
I've visited two dealerships for my scheduled services so far. On both 7500-mile intervals, six quarts of 0W-20 synthetic oil, a fresh oil filter, and an inspection and refill of all fluids and tire pressures were required. The 15k stop added a tire rotation and an interior cabin filter replacement. Yes, if you're wondering, synthetic lube is required for the Forester's non-turbo (like mine) and turbo 2.5-liter boxer engines.
I've come to truly appreciate my Forester's versatility these past few months. One occasion in particular stands out: It was my 6-year-old niece's birthday and we had a party to prep. My girlfriend and I shoved a good amount of supplies, pizza, and gifts inside the Forester's 31.5 cubic feet (34.4 cubic feet without a moonroof) trunk, drove up a rocky mess of an access road to get to the party site, somehow spilled fruit juice all over the cargo area's extremely useful rubber mat (which we later simply scrubbed and hosed off), then post-party, stuffed everything back inside the trunk and drove back down the rocky path. At the end of the day we had two new passengers in the second row, who, by their accounts, were completely comfortable. One event, multiple scenarios, random terrains, and diverse cargo loads. The Forester performed like a champ.
Fuel economy has been of championship caliber as well. Seeing more than 400 miles per tank at 30-plus mpg combined is a smile-inducing, bank account-padding experience. Regular grade is all it needs, which makes filling up an even better proposition. Admittedly (and unfortunately, I must add), the Forester has rolled atop miles and miles of straight, smooth highways. Cultivating impressive single-tank ranges on these roads is as easy as toggling a few switches on the steering wheel and letting EyeSight, the adaptive cruise control, do its thing.
EyeSight has its ups and downs. The ups: It's a decent camera-based system that dutifully tells me when I'm out of my lane with a beep and flash of an indicator light on the dash. Its twin cameras are the "eyes" that judge the appropriate distances I should keep from the car ahead when using the adaptive cruise control. Get too close and it applies the brakes. Get too far away from a bumper ahead of me and it gives the Forester more gas. Aside from the cruise control, it also is a pre-collision braking system, which is always a plus.
The bads: Well, it doesn't like direct sunlight, and usually flashes errors and sounds alarms indicating that it's not functioning properly. In this case, the cruise control function will work, but the adaptive part of the equation won't. I've found that EyeSight is slow to react when traffic moves in and out beyond my nose. I haven't needed the pre-collision warning/braking while EyeSight was being finicky on account of the sunshine, so I can't describe with firsthand experience its reaction in such a circumstance.
Other items that have me shaking my head include a hyper-sensitive throttle and a painfully slow power rear hatch. The throttle is one of the touchiest my right foot has ever rested upon. That isn't to say our 2014 SUV of the Year isn't safe or unpredictable. But at the slightest of toe-ins -- a mere millimeter or two of provocation -- the Forester jumps forward, usually throwing my passengers' heads back. It's annoying. The hatch is just plain slow. I don't need a turbocharged liftgate, but when I find myself opening the rear door, folding the seats down, then loading the cargo area quicker than it takes the gate to swing open, I know for sure the power gate is a slug.
For a CUV that's equipped to the nines for soft-roading with all-wheel drive, 17-inch all-season tires, roof racks, and rubber mats, I'm OK with jumping into my Forester after a long day and sitting in some notorious L.A. traffic. It's a comfortable, quiet, cushy cocoon (save for that damn throttle). The goods, so far, outweigh any bads. And I'm loving it.
|Service life||5 mo/7990 mi|
|Average fuel economy||25.0 mpg|
|CO2 emissions||0.78 lb/mi|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ||23/28/25 mpg|
|Energy consumption||135 kW-hrs/100mi|
|Maintenance cost||$0 (oil change)|