Subaru foresters

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Subaru foresters

Postby Tekker76 » Fri 30 Nov, 2018 7:40 pm

Bit of a different subject, anyone out there own one? I am between vehicles, using an inherited Suzuki jimny for about a year which is a great little offroader but small for toting goods about town. Looking to get something on the used car market to cut costs.I can't buy new cars these days, having lived overseas where they pay half the price we do I just can't bring myself to drop 50-75k on a 4wd. Anyway I notice the pre 2013 I think foresters still have the dual range AWD and you hear some folks take them all the way up the Cape. Probably not something I need to do in a forester, though some mild 4wd access to trailheads and dirt road journeys would be on the cards. Thanks for any opinions, testaments or otherwise.
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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby lseries92 » Fri 30 Nov, 2018 8:33 pm

My last three cars have been Subaru's - an 92 L-Series, a 2001 2.0L Forester and a 2015 2.5L Forester. I have found them all very reliable although I have not done much offroad in latest one (my 2001 did a heap - around Australia twice and up to the Cape once).

Personally low range is not going to get you much as my transfer case on the 2001 model had only a 1.2x. If you are doing mainly dirt roads and fire trails a stock Forester will be more than enough plus it will be much nicer to drive as you will be on the tarmac 99% of the time probably anyway. If you are going to take if off road a bit more than that, you are better served by putting on some All Terrains tyres that will provide a little more grip and are slightly more puncture resistant (stronger sidewalls etc).

The later automatic Forester's have X-Mode which is partly marketing but it does provide some help such as hill descents etc which also means that the transfer case is less important. To some extent, the electronics on a lot of the smaller 4wds do make a difference for light off-road duties so other models also may be worth a look (although Subaru and Suzuki have always been seen to be better offroad in the small 4wd market than the others).

If you have your heart set on a Subaru, also take a look at the XV - they have a smaller engine so are less powerful but they may also do what you need for a lower entry price on a later model vehicle. I have not driven one but I can only assume that it has a similar pedigree ...
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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby Tekker76 » Fri 30 Nov, 2018 9:56 pm

lseries92, thanks for the comprehensive post. I was looking at XV as well, Ill need to check out the cargo space on them. Any chance you want to talk about your cape trip in the forester in more detail, here or by PM? I spent a bit of time up there but mostly fly in fly out.
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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby Mark F » Sat 01 Dec, 2018 9:23 am

I have a '14 Forester Diesel which I am happy with. It has a six speed without a Hi/Lo transfer case. Its been along plenty of tracks in Tassie, NSW, Vic and Central Australia, many labelled 4wd. The one that was closest to the limits was a few km down a creek bed in Central Australia to get to Roma Gorge (sand and loose shingle) The main thing is to just take it slow and be careful with your line though obstacles.
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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby michael_p » Sat 01 Dec, 2018 10:51 am

2016 Forester 2.5 petrol here. Great on dirt roads (Scandinavian flick a corner with confidence :lol:) . Not done any "4wd" driving in it but it certainly feels capable of some light off-roading, I have heard of people taking them to some surprising places.

Newer models are cvt. Which has been implemented well (cough...not like the poor implementation by...cough...Nissan). Great fuel economy even when towing a small camper trailer and a car full of gear.

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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby lseries92 » Sat 01 Dec, 2018 11:36 am

Not sure how much you have had to chance to see when you have flown in but I have done the Cape twice - once in 2004 in the Forester and once in 2015 in a stock Mazda BT-50. In 2004 it was a lot more rough than it is today (although I dare say it was a lot more civilised than in the 80's and 90's and earlier especially before the Wenlock had a bridge). They have really put a huge amount of bitumen since then - I can only imagine a lot more has now gone in since 2015. I do remembering at the time that I saw a lot more smaller 4wds (including some Foresters) than I certainly did in 2004.

In 2004, I went up via Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield Track and then onto Cooktown. I then used the Battlecamp Road to get out to Lakefield National Park. We hit the main spots in here but really did not do anything difficult (like head out to some of the coastal spots some of which can be a little challenging). We then headed to Musgrave to connect with the Peninsula Development Road and then up to the Telegraph Track as far as the Bypass Roads. The Forester really is not up to doing a great deal on the Telegraph Track (but it is worth heading in for a little look on the bypass tracks to see what the bigger 4wd are doing - especially at Gunshot Creek) but the main spots I really wanted to see was Fruit Bat Falls and Eliot/Twin Falls both of which do not involve too much difficulty. Eliot Falls does have a deepish creek with a bit of a climb on the northern side but the Forester was able to manage it). I even took the Forester down to Captain Billy Landing for some nice camping on the ocean ...

Once on the other side of the Jardine, I actually based myself at Punsand Bay (which is a beautiful spot on the beach just south of the tip - pity about crocs!) and did day trips out of there to Somerset, to visit the WW2 wrecks, the Tip (of course) plus a day trip to Thursday Island which I do recommend (not sure where you have flown into - if was Horn Island I am sure you have been here). On the way back I did try and go into Lockhart River but the road was absolutely horrible that year and I had to turn back after "turtling" the poor Forester a couple of times due to deep ruts - I was told by others that even if I had got through that, the mud further up would have stopped me. Since then the road has been realigned a bit and has been mostly sealed. This was really the only problems I had in the Forester but then again I did not go looking for (much) trouble.

We also skipped going via Lakefield on the way back so we could check out the rockart around Laura however we went home via Black Mountain, Cooktown and down the Bloomfield track again. If I had my time again I would make some time to walk into Cedar Bay (my friend's are not hikers unfortunately so this was a bridge too far).

In 2015, I took the same route in a friend's BT-50 except we did more of the Telegraph Track although certainly not all of it. While most of it would have been ok for the Forester, the real issue is handling the crossings which sort of bars the way to some places further on. In a lot of places you do have access tracks from the Bypass Roads into various points of the Telegraph Track so in some cases you can avoid dodgy crossings and still see key sites. The extra things I did in 2015 were:

* Actually get into Iron Range National Park and out to Lockhart River and Chili Beach (where we camped) - we went all the way up to Portland Roads which is the end of the line. As this has a lot of bitumen out to the Lockhart River and reasonable gravel road thereafter there is no issue aside from the depth of the crossings for the two major rivers on the way which I would not think would be a problem later into the dry season. You need to book ahead for Chili Beach and fuel is available at Lockhart River (surprisingly cheap too as it comes in via barge). It is quite a way in from the main road so it is not a place

* Went out to the WWII Radar Station at Mutee Heads east of Bamaga - whose mast was still standing defying the fact it was probably comprising 90% of rust, it is a pity more is not being done to preserve it. There is a still a fair bit of WW2 history up here including both around Bamaga and around Iron Range.

* The real Telegraph Track - took the bypass road in on the northern side of Gunshot (where we spent a morning of watching people do the crossing) and then headed north through Cockatoo Crossing and then up as far as Canal Creek before turning back. Some of these crossings would definitely be too much for a stock Forester - Forester's used to have a fair few aftermarket parts like lift kits etc. It would not surprise me some people from the various Subaru clubs have got a fair way through some of these places.

* We also took bypass routes off the Northern Bypass into see Nolan's Brook which can get quite deep - and Sam's Creek which was a gem! The swimming in the tiny little gorge below the waterfall at crossing is amazing plus there were pitcher plants everywhere. From memory Sam's is no problem for a Forester to get to using the diversion road off the Northern Bypass Road. This was every bit as good as Fruit Bat and Eliot/Twin Falls and a lot less crowded!

I used the book Cape York - Travel and Adventure Guide by Ron and Viv Moon which gave a fair good description of what was possible and what was probably out of the question in the Forester. These days most things are very accessible to the smaller 4wd and it would not surprise me that they will start to have some serious overcrowding problems due to the improving state of the roads. I stayed at Punsand Bay again in 2015 and even though the dirt road was still ordinary, it was pretty much packed (but then again it is a nice spot with decent amenities even if it is not as central as places like Seisia/Bamaga). That said, there are heaps of places to free camp if you like something quieter ...

P.S. One of the things I loved to do is camp at Archer River crossing (east side of the crossing itself, southern bank) - the river here is wide, clear, and very shallow. Lovely to lie in at the end of the day. Of course the added bonus is you can walk up to the Archer River Roadhouse and get an "Archie" burger for dinner. I managed to "engineer" our itinerary to stay there up and back both times I have gone to the cape :D - pretty much the most expensive "free camp" I have stayed in as those burgers are not cheap.
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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby wildwanderer » Sat 01 Dec, 2018 12:17 pm

:lol: whenever I see a subaru forester (or similar subaru) I suspect bushwalker.. Its like waving a flag.
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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby warnesy » Sat 01 Dec, 2018 12:58 pm

Really like my Forester. Always surprised at the places it can get.


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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby Tekker76 » Mon 03 Dec, 2018 4:36 am

lseries92 wrote:Not sure how much you have had to chance to see when you have flown in but I have done the Cape twice - once in 2004 in the Forester and once in 2015 in a stock Mazda BT-50. In 2004 it was a lot more rough than it is today (although I dare say it was a lot more civilised than in the 80's and 90's and earlier especially before the Wenlock had a bridge). They have really put a huge amount of bitumen since then - I can only imagine a lot more has now gone in since 2015. I do remembering at the time that I saw a lot more smaller 4wds (including some Foresters) than I certainly did in 2004.

In 2004, I went up via Cape Tribulation and the Bloomfield Track and then onto Cooktown. I then used the Battlecamp Road to get out to Lakefield National Park. We hit the main spots in here but really did not do anything difficult (like head out to some of the coastal spots some of which can be a little challenging). We then headed to Musgrave to connect with the Peninsula Development Road and then up to the Telegraph Track as far as the Bypass Roads. The Forester really is not up to doing a great deal on the Telegraph Track (but it is worth heading in for a little look on the bypass tracks to see what the bigger 4wd are doing - especially at Gunshot Creek) but the main spots I really wanted to see was Fruit Bat Falls and Eliot/Twin Falls both of which do not involve too much difficulty. Eliot Falls does have a deepish creek with a bit of a climb on the northern side but the Forester was able to manage it). I even took the Forester down to Captain Billy Landing for some nice camping on the ocean ...

Once on the other side of the Jardine, I actually based myself at Punsand Bay (which is a beautiful spot on the beach just south of the tip - pity about crocs!) and did day trips out of there to Somerset, to visit the WW2 wrecks, the Tip (of course) plus a day trip to Thursday Island which I do recommend (not sure where you have flown into - if was Horn Island I am sure you have been here). On the way back I did try and go into Lockhart River but the road was absolutely horrible that year and I had to turn back after "turtling" the poor Forester a couple of times due to deep ruts - I was told by others that even if I had got through that, the mud further up would have stopped me. Since then the road has been realigned a bit and has been mostly sealed. This was really the only problems I had in the Forester but then again I did not go looking for (much) trouble.

We also skipped going via Lakefield on the way back so we could check out the rockart around Laura however we went home via Black Mountain, Cooktown and down the Bloomfield track again. If I had my time again I would make some time to walk into Cedar Bay (my friend's are not hikers unfortunately so this was a bridge too far).

In 2015, I took the same route in a friend's BT-50 except we did more of the Telegraph Track although certainly not all of it. While most of it would have been ok for the Forester, the real issue is handling the crossings which sort of bars the way to some places further on. In a lot of places you do have access tracks from the Bypass Roads into various points of the Telegraph Track so in some cases you can avoid dodgy crossings and still see key sites. The extra things I did in 2015 were:

* Actually get into Iron Range National Park and out to Lockhart River and Chili Beach (where we camped) - we went all the way up to Portland Roads which is the end of the line. As this has a lot of bitumen out to the Lockhart River and reasonable gravel road thereafter there is no issue aside from the depth of the crossings for the two major rivers on the way which I would not think would be a problem later into the dry season. You need to book ahead for Chili Beach and fuel is available at Lockhart River (surprisingly cheap too as it comes in via barge). It is quite a way in from the main road so it is not a place

* Went out to the WWII Radar Station at Mutee Heads east of Bamaga - whose mast was still standing defying the fact it was probably comprising 90% of rust, it is a pity more is not being done to preserve it. There is a still a fair bit of WW2 history up here including both around Bamaga and around Iron Range.

* The real Telegraph Track - took the bypass road in on the northern side of Gunshot (where we spent a morning of watching people do the crossing) and then headed north through Cockatoo Crossing and then up as far as Canal Creek before turning back. Some of these crossings would definitely be too much for a stock Forester - Forester's used to have a fair few aftermarket parts like lift kits etc. It would not surprise me some people from the various Subaru clubs have got a fair way through some of these places.

* We also took bypass routes off the Northern Bypass into see Nolan's Brook which can get quite deep - and Sam's Creek which was a gem! The swimming in the tiny little gorge below the waterfall at crossing is amazing plus there were pitcher plants everywhere. From memory Sam's is no problem for a Forester to get to using the diversion road off the Northern Bypass Road. This was every bit as good as Fruit Bat and Eliot/Twin Falls and a lot less crowded!

I used the book Cape York - Travel and Adventure Guide by Ron and Viv Moon which gave a fair good description of what was possible and what was probably out of the question in the Forester. These days most things are very accessible to the smaller 4wd and it would not surprise me that they will start to have some serious overcrowding problems due to the improving state of the roads. I stayed at Punsand Bay again in 2015 and even though the dirt road was still ordinary, it was pretty much packed (but then again it is a nice spot with decent amenities even if it is not as central as places like Seisia/Bamaga). That said, there are heaps of places to free camp if you like something quieter ...

P.S. One of the things I loved to do is camp at Archer River crossing (east side of the crossing itself, southern bank) - the river here is wide, clear, and very shallow. Lovely to lie in at the end of the day. Of course the added bonus is you can walk up to the Archer River Roadhouse and get an "Archie" burger for dinner. I managed to "engineer" our itinerary to stay there up and back both times I have gone to the cape :D - pretty much the most expensive "free camp" I have stayed in as those burgers are not cheap.


Thanks for that lsseries, it was a great read, you ticked a lot of stuff off. I lived in the cape previously but never made it right to the top. Back in the region these days, well a bit south ,Cairns area and looking to do a full trip. Always wanted to see the ww2 stuff at the top too and check out TI. A decent condition forester sounds like it will make it then, though I'll try and get it when the roads are okay. Regards the crossing do you mean those with water flowing? I assume you wouldn't want to push the wading depth too much in these.
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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby lseries92 » Mon 03 Dec, 2018 6:34 am

In the dry season many of the crossings are only mildly flowing so there is no danger in being swept away or off crossings (at least for the ones I have been to). The fording depth of the Forester is not that great. Most the the places you want to visit normally do not pose a problem and a guide like the book I mentioned normally gives a very good account of what to expect. It used to be updated yearly from memory and I do recommend it if you intend to head up that way as it gives an excellent coverage of everything to see and the conditions to expect when trying to get in and out.

As the Bypass roads are now being well maintained, you will not have a problem getting up to the top in the dry season - both times I have been up there was in July.
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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby potato » Mon 03 Dec, 2018 8:58 am

Also have a look at the t30 or t31 series X-Trails. I’ve had a couple of Foresters and an L-Series, which are great cars, but I think I’d get X-Trails again as the boot space was slightly more useable and the 4wd system was more useful in slippery conditions as it could (nearly) lock-up the centre transfer providing equal torque to front and rear wheels if required. The petrol engine is also used in a range of Nissan vehicles so there is no shortage of parts and knowledge.

Good to know the limitations of these vehicles… the dual range, ground clearance, traction control, wheel travel etc is a bit of a joke compared to my Hilux or a real 4wd but with a sensible approach you can go far. My L-series crossed the Simpson twice (but that was well before the bogans with trailers found it) and survived the Gunbarrel… I wish they were still in production.
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Re: Subaru foresters

Postby Tekker76 » Mon 03 Dec, 2018 2:41 pm

Thanks fellas I'll take a look at those suggestions. I'm a pretty conservative driver, don't actually like vehicles( as a hobby) to be honest and see them as the minimum to get me to where I can start walking :)
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