Subaru Forester XT: The WRX Wagon That Your Dad Always Wanted

Remember when Subaru Turbocharged Everything?

The 2004-2007 Subaru Forester XT is the car that your dad always wanted to buy but just ended up with the base model.  The Forester XT came out at a time when your Dad was going through a bit of a crisis and it seemed like Subaru was too. Subaru slapped a turbo on just about every car they had in their lineup. The 2002 the Subaru WRX kicked off their turbo binge.  In 2004 the Forester XT debuted. Around the same year the Subaru Legacy (sedan and wagon) was turbocharged.  Subaru went as far as to turbocharge the Baja.  THE BAJA!  Oh yea, and the Subaru Outback was even turbocharged (bet you didn’t know that).

The Subaru Forester XT was a turbocharged compact SUV that was unlike anything the world had seen before.  The closest competitor was 15 years earlier and it was called the GMC Typhoon.  The special sauce of the Forester XT was its 2.5-liter turbocharged engine – it was the same engine as in the WRX STI just detuned.  If you choose the five-speed manual transmission it could hit 60 mph in five seconds.  And in 2005 that was unheard of for a SUV – even today that will smoke most hot hatches on the market right now.

Track Dad Bro

The Subaru Forester XT is the Ultimate Sleeper Dad Mobile

Take the Subaru Forester XT to a Cars and Coffee and you won’t be left alone by enthusiasts.  But if you drive your Subaru Forester XT on main street you won’t get one double take from anyone.  The Forester XT just fades into blur of Camry’s, Corolla’s, and compact SUV’s.  But will blur right past you while you are struggling to get up the hill in your Subaru BRZ.

The Subaru Forester XT is great because it’s practical yet fast as hell.  And when Subaru debuted the base Forester in the United States it was a smash success.   Subaru wanted to add a turbocharger to the Forester because families in higher altitudes (Colorado residents) complained of a lack of power when trying to get to ski resorts.  Subaru remedied it with their 2.5 liter flat four – producing 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque.  This thing was so quick it could beat a Subaru WRX.

You dirty car you…

But can the Subaru Forester XT be your track day bro?

Ok – handling isn’t the Subaru Forester XT’s strong point. The Subaru WRX has it beat there all day.  But let’s be honest with ourselves here.  How much does that matter? How often are you really at the track? And does one second at an autocross really matter that much?  You can add some go fast bits – like the WRX STI’s steering rack, sway bars, and upgraded suspension to make it handle better.   But the point of the Subaru Forester XT is to blow the doors off of the punk in a 1995 Honda Civic with a two-foot wing on the back and a five-inch muffler that sounds like a dying cat.

Great handling or not.  The Subaru Forester XT is one hell of a great car.  And no skid pad numbers can deny that. If you are on the market for a car that can do it all – take a look back at Subaru’s from 2004-2007.  Just about every damn one of them was turbocharged and they are all rockets.

  1. Modern Forester XTs share their drivetrain with the WRX rather than the STi – and CVT only, I’m afraid. Still, I’m hoping to get my hands on one to compare to my WRX and see if it’s still this awesome.

    1. The Modern Forester XT isn’t nearly as good as the first generation in terms of speed and handling. But it’s a totally forgotten car in today’s market.

  2. My 10-yr old 2013 with the hood scoop is the only one of those I’ve seen in the almost 7 years I’ve had it. And it’s not just the punk in the 1995 Civic that it will blow away. I’ve smoked so many Mustangs that there’s wanted posters up at the Ford dealers. ( OK, maybe I exaggerate for effect ) This thing is awesome, and at 105k miles, it still doesn’t burn or leak any oil. It’s a durable little monster. My total repairs over 7 years equals one worn out wheel bearing set. I recently had all the fluids in the car changed out; no problems found whatsoever. Looks like it’s good for another 10 years of stump-breaking Hondas.

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