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Old 11-18-2012, 12:30 PM   #32
Back Road Runner
Scooby Guru
Member#: 60082
Join Date: Apr 2004
Chapter/Region: MWSOC
Location: Minnesota
2004 Forester STI


Heated seats are not intuitive. If you haven't had them before, they're weird and can be off-putting. Once you've used them a little bit, you sort of warm up to them (har). To have or not to have is so-so. It's most nice on very cold days where they basically are your only source of heat for 10-15 minutes, you know...when it's -20F outside. I'll agree that they serve far less use right now when it's only around freezing. They're also a much bigger deal with leather or vinyl seats versus cloth.

As far as getting disappointed with a car, the heart wants what it wants. You will often never completely love a car. There will always be something you want different. There are cars you enjoy riding in that are comfortable, plush, quiet, etc. There are cars that are a ton of fun to drive that are nimble, quick, and powerful. There are cars and trucks that you purchase specifically for utility, work, hauling things. None of these cars really give you everything, so it's extremely difficult to buy one vehicle and magically have it all.

I bought a Forester (02 Forester S) because it offered some of the best utility. It had a good engine, good space, light weight and pretty nimble on the Impreza chassis, and it was priced well. The seats were comfortable, the interior pretty quiet, and the ride was quite compliant for my back washboard and pot hole strewn gravel roads. A lot of things fit well. I began getting into racing with auto-x and rally-x, modded that Forester a big to get it to a state that I felt was competent for the task, and it did fine. I more recently bought a moderately modded FXT to take over the duties. However it could have very well been a STI, EVO, or any other pretty fast car. I still preferred the utility, awd for winter, etc, so the Forester platform is still very good in that it can target a very large spectrum of use competently without significant compromise. These days I drive a distance to work, work enough hours to dig into and inhibit some of my racing hobby, and I find myself craving a more plush car, a more economical car, and having both NA and turbo with over double the power, I don't specifically crave the big power or find much use for it on a regular basis. Same can be said for handling performance and the type of ride that has to come along with that performance. I find myself wanting to split to two cars to again cover that same spectrum. If I had to stick with one, my choice may vary depending on the situation. Subarus are still quite good, but the modern car selection is quite significant. Many companies are coming out with a lot of very good cars that are finally worth buying. Plus some old, great cars are getting super cheap to buy.

I do think Subaru could do some small things. They've done a LOT to improve their interiors versus older generations. The fit and finish is significantly improved. However, it's still a ton of plastic, often soft touch, textured materials, but felt/carpeting trim is nice. It's nice to have that soft feel on things and we mentally link that to warm, comfortable environments. Jaguar has an excellent approach to this idea where they treat every surface as if someone's going to touch it, feel it, and judge the car by the sensation.

Subaru's been hit or miss on seats, some good, some bad. My 02 Forester has the same seats as the 02 WRX, well better since they're actually adjustable. I still really, really like those seats, excellent design. My 04 Forester had terrible seats. All of these seats are not suited for any sport suspension (way too soft and springy). I eventually grabbed some JDM STI Spec-C seats to get some actual bolstering back as well as much firmer foam. The result is a much nicer seat and one that's still very comfortable as long as you're not too wide at the hip (I'm 200 lbs, wear a 34 pants snuggly so not that bad really for being able to fit a range Americans). I think Subaru needs to go back to the 02 design much more closely and step to the firmer foam. I think it's a better package and a package that suits a wider range of suspension setups without turning your seat into a trampoline. Unfortunately I have been in very few new cars. I've sat in some, and the seats were better. I think the seats like they have in my 04 Forester was about as bad as they ever got.

The new cars have lost a lot of their durability. I miss the steel panels in my 04 Forester. The aluminum doesn't rust (yay) but it's oh so fragile. It was understandable what they did, but it took away some toughness of the car. The new generation with all its plastic again took away toughness from the car. You can no longer touch anything with the car without breaking something or tearing parts off. A lot of guys in rally-x are seeing damage from their cars with ripped bumpers and plastic undertray or wheel well bits, things they did not experience in the previous gen cars. If Subaru is a brand of utility, it needs to retain its toughness, and I see that going away from the company in order to target a broader customer base.

Long, long story short, I'm content with the Subarus I've owned. Personal preferences change over time that can eventually force changes in cars. Also, I think Subaru has done great to expand their customer base and market their cars well to create a lot of sales, BUT I think they've evolved these cars away from some core ideals of a Subaru. The utility, toughness, go anywhere, and do anything attitude needs to stay, but now these cars just break parts doing the same thing the old ones could do without fuss.
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