Subaru Forester e-Boxer 6 months ownership comments

In some rare cases when you purchase something expensive, you might get “shopping hangover”. Maybe there is a proper word/saying for that in English but meaning that you regret your purchase afterwards. I have experienced it few times but did it come also with the e-Boxer? Read on! Here’s the comments after 6 months and 7 000 km.

I am a car enthusiast. Not only Subaru but I follow other brands also what they are doing. Specially SUV type of cars. So far I have not found proper alternative for Forester. But luckily there is no need for alternative. New e-Boxer seems to be good enough. Not a perfect car but a very good one.

Fuel consumption and powertrain performance has been discussed many times before in this blog (and also elsewhere). In short these areas might be the weakest points. Not bad but something that driver needs to be aware of. Average consumption depends of the driving style. In my case it is around eight litres per 100 km. During winter bit more and at warmer weather bit less.

And what comes to available power, there is enough for passing slower traffic and to merging to highways. Not fast car by any means but for everyday traffic certainly enough.

Maybe it is my imagination but there is something exceptional when driving Forester. Short and longer distances are joy to drive and now after 6 months of driving car feels even better than it was in brand new. Or maybe it is sum of so many positive features that makes exceptional feeling.

Feels like I could go to road trips everyday. Except I can’t right now for few reasons. It will get better over time and then I am able to provide road trip updates as well in the future.

Likes

There’s a whole lot to love in this car. Here’s top 11 (+one hidden bonus item) list I came. Not in any specific order.

  • Apple CarPlay
  • All around visibility
  • Spacious cabin
  • Quiet ride
  • Comfortable ride
  • Moon-roof!
  • H/K sound system
  • Comfortable seats front & back
  • Cargo space
  • Performance
  • Steering responsive headlights

Apple CarPlay

What ever car you choose, make sure there is either CarPlay or AndroidAuto. It just makes life so much easier. Google Maps for example is unbeatable navigator. Car manufacturers have so much to learn how to develop apps. Specially in user interface. But luckily CarPlay frees them from this misery.

For Google Maps it is enough to say street name where you are going. Google then figures out rest. Though make sure always that it picks right city, if there are alike labeled streets in nearby cities. Once I was going to wrong to wrong city.

Or you can also handle all SMS texting via Siri while in-drive. Handy! Ot does not show messages on display but Siri reads those and you can also respond by voice commands.

There is not that many CarPlay compatible apps available but luckily most important ones works very well. Besides Google Maps I use Spotify constantly. Design your playlists at home computer and they are all available in car immediatelly.

All around visibility

Less stress when driver is able to see what happens around the car. Pedestrians, bicycles other cars etc. Helps also to maneuver in tight spots.

Here’s a bonus “like” also, specially combined to this visibility. Small turning radius, makes life even easier. Compared to other similar cars Forester’s turning radius is the smallest. Making U-turn in narrow road requires some ability. Or just parking to bit older mall garage requires benefits having these features.

Spacious cabin

After you get used to Forester’s cabin, other cars starts to feel claustrophobic. Now I don’t want to drive my wife’s car any more.

Once I got Forester in January, I didn’t visit many other cars for a long time. I just drove with brand new Subaru. But when I next time went to other car, it felt odd. So little space available. And I can’t see from here.

Quiet ride

Finnish roads are really rough. Forester absorbs vibrations surprising well. Whole family benefits when you are able to speak to each other effortless during the road trips. Not sure is this true or not but someone once said that Renault sent group of engineers to Finland to check why there was so many customer complaints that cars are too loud. Conclusion by the group was that fix your roads, nothing wrong with the cars. I can easily believe that, our roads are rough.

Comfortable drive

e-Boxer ride is not too soft but not tight either. Just good. One reviewer said that the Subaru Global Platform is as good as Mercedes have on their cars. All I can say that SGP is very good indeed!

Steering wheel has good material and it is nice to grip. Plus it is heated! A real benefit during colder times. Steering is in general quite light but not too light in my opinion. If you have experiences of older Subarus, you’ll notice difference right away.

Driving in storm is quite fun too. Forester goes straight even in harsh conditions.

Moon roof

Right! During hot summer day it is so nice to open large moon roof. One passenger once said Forester feels much like a convertible. I guess that feeling came partly because of the all-around visibility.

Big top window also brings tons of more light to the cabin. So this is very welcome feature. Sadly it is available only on top tier models.

I’ve had once sun roof before. It was my first own car. Toyota Corolla, MY88. Did not remember that opening roof can be so much fun.

Of course if you require cooldown cabin quickly, it is better to use air conditioning only. Moon roof is more loke gimmick. Who would not love toys?

Harman/Kardon sound system

H/K cannot compete with custom built audio system with many large subwoofers and external amplifiers. But in it’s own category H/K system is not bad.

Some cars audio system is so bad that barely radio news are the only category you can listen to. This is way ahead of that category. It is actually quite pleasant to listen to. If not custom high-end audio system or concert hall but better than many other default systems.

Comfortable seats front & back

Good seats are mandatory for longer trips. Not only front seats but back seat comfort is on good level. Makes ride more enjoyable for all passengers.

So far I have had only one longer trip with the car and based on that driver’s seat is wonderful. Over 600 km during one day and my back did not notice anything odd. Of course it is so personal if the seat is good or not.

It is also good to know that the driver seat is missing lumbar support. For me it is OK since it does not hurt my back but for someone else it might be a very important thing.

Cargo space

Forester has enough space to carry all belongings of weekend or any longer trip. Plenty of space at least for family of four.

Power tailgate is fast but once my kid came on the way when tailgate was closing. I put my arm between tailgate and his head and boy it had torque. Not sure if there is any safety mechanism but in that case it did not activate. Which is bit odd for safety oriented brand like Subaru.

Performance

This might be a bit surprise to be on likes list. I have quite peaceful driving style in general. Not over-speeding and passing only when needed. Most likely I have used to the power reserves car has and I have learned it’s limitations. Rather than pushing it too hard, I keep rpm’s where it is still pleasant to drive. There’s even some pickup time-to-time. Maybe when the battery is fully charged? Sure more power would be welcome but I am happy with this one too.

If they bring Forester XT back, would I consider it? Possibly but luckily we do not need to dream of that. EU regulations takes care of that for sure. But who knows if the up-coming electric Subaru would be better in performance vise.

Steering responsive headlights

Steering responsive headlights are really useful feature. At least in dark countries like Finland during winter. Low beams turns in real. Not like some manufacturers does “cornering lights”, basically lights up other fog light for a moment.

This feature lights up corners and gives better view to road. In my opinion good lights are also a safety feature.

Dislikes

There is always dislikes, otherwise it would be the perfect car. Right? Again, not in any specific order. Some dislikes are quite minor things but then one bigger item, which could be a potential problem in the future.

  • Cupholder position
  • Center console does not extend
  • Transmission sometimes jerky
  • GPF issues
  • When I disconnect phone, radio comes on
  • Driver Monitoring System

I couldn’t make it to eleven (with a bonus) as with the list with likes. There is not that many features which I don’t like. Hopefully I don’t either discover dislikes more.

Cupholder position

It’s in awkward place, little bit too behind to put there any bottles. Or at least try to reach them during driving. Not a big deal really but something I noticed. Specially after reading someone else to complain about it first. Then it started to bother me too!

In this same category I could mention that there is quite small area to put phone. For example iPhone 11 sticks out bit from there. Hope cup holders and place for phone would be redesigned for upcoming models.

Center console not extending

I am pretty sure that MY13 Foresrer had extendable center arm rest. Bit longer rest would give better place for arm. My previous Toyota had it too. Positive thing is that center console has at least enough cushion.

There is also plenty of storage available inside the box. Although usually I keep it empty.

Transmission

Subaru’s CVT is one of the best. At least so they say. I don’t have experiences of other CVT’s than Toyota’s hybrids, which are technically very different than in Subaru. In my opinion Toyota is far ahead in this area. Subaru’s transmission can be jerky in some situations. Specially in slow speeds when you need to reapply throttle (e.g. slower car ahead).

In comparison, if you have tried DSG, this CVT is much smoother than that even on those jerky moments.

However fake gears works fine and is better than having constant rpm, al though it might not be that fuel efficient. Fake gears almost feels like real gears. This also fades out the fact transmission is actually CVT.

GPF issues

I didn’t realise beforehand that gasoline car would have similar particulate filter than current diesel cars. I learned that some days after my purchase, when reading owner’s manual.

I’ve had two times already GPF issue warning. Both times I managed to do forced regeneration procedure and it solved the issue. If you drive a lot short distance driving, this can be a problem. Certainly I will report here on this blog if it will be a big problem for me or not.

Disconnecting phone

When you shut engine off, audio keeps playing. In my case, I mostly listen Spotify. Then I disconnect cable from the phone and radio comes alive. It would be just better to default off audio in that situation. Again not very big problem but something I notice every time.

Driver Monitoring System

Nice idea to recognize driver and adjust settings accordingly. Or make sure that driver drives car and not doing anything else. Compared to Apple’s FaceId system, this implementation is maybe 30% of it in reliability.

In reality system fails to recognize driver too often. It also fails to detect if driver is doing something else. Often car beeps and says “Keep eyes on the road” and that was exactly what I was doing. Looking straight to the road.

To reduce unnecessary beeping you can disable completely some of the alerts and for the rest volume can be turned down through the menu system.

Other comments and talk

Next some other comments and experiences which does not really fall in to likes or dislikes category. General thoughts of various aspects.

Start/stop system

MY13 Forester had really annoying start/stop system but luckily it was controllable with brake pedal. Depress brake faintly and start/stop never engaged. Harsh vibration made it annoying. Whole car shakes when it started engine.

E-Boxer Forester start/stop system is not controllable by brake pedal. I fully understand it, otherwise it would loose benefits of being a hybrid car.

Luckily e-Boxer start/stop system is way more sophisticated compared to MY13 version. It does still shake car bit when standing still and starting engine but not that much. Experience is now that good, that it won’t annoy anymore.

Hybrid system

According to Subaru, e-Boxer can save up to 11% fuel compared to non-hybrid variant. This estimation seems to be quite close to the reality.

However car is quite expensive and you cannot save that much in fuel costs. So that alone does not justify hybrid.

Usually hybrid is connected to the fuel savings. But what it also does is that it brings more pleasant drive by giving some extra torque. For me this is a real benefit of having hybrid.

It is possible to get less than 5 litres per 100 km with e-Boxer Forester. However, please note, to get that it will require “laboratory like” environment. Once I drove in good weather, slow road with light gas foot and achieved 4,9 litres per 100 km. Although trip distance was nearly 60 km. So the result was real.

In more normal everyday driving consumption is around eight litres per 100 km. Including short and long distance driving and all kind of temperatures.

Switching between power sources is quite smooth also. There are some situations when you can notice switch from electric to gasoline but specially in higher speeds switch is seamless.

Subaru advertises e-Boxer as a mild-hybrid. And that it is really. Driving experience is more like regular naturally aspirated engine. Electric motor works as kind of “mini turbo” if you will. Giving some boost when it is most needed.

Symmetrical All Wheel Drive

Wish I had more to say about already legendary AWD system. Really hope that winter 2021 brings us real winter with snow. Now I have tested AWD system in one 10 degree gravel hill. See photo below, it is not fake. Forester’s hood was pointing to the sky. Still car climbed little obstacle forward without any wheelspin.

Then other example is maybe our weekend trip to the summer cottage. By then weather was quite bad and cottage road was partly in bad shape, covered with puddles and mud. Forester went forward as it would in normal summer day.

I am very confident that Subaru’s AWD is way more than I will ever need. However I have noticed that now there is real purpose for X-Mode and I have used it already few times. E.g. when needed to go over steep curb. X-Mode seems to give more instant torque so there is no need to apply gas that much. Light press on accelerator is enough in most cases.

Then when I exited from place where title photo for this blog was taken, I needed to go steep incline for a short period of time and then back to road. It was easier to engage X-Mode for that moment. I noticed that otherwise it would take bit higher rpm’s in that moment. So I decided to try offroad mode for a while. And it worked well in that situation.

Accessories

So far I have added floor mat to cargo area and back seat protectors from Subaru. Included tapes for back seat protectors was quite weak. It seems that those keeps falling all the time. I need to replace tapes with better ones some day.

Then the best investment so far has been Weathertech floor liners. Really recommend to buy these over Subaru’s floor mats. Day and night difference.

Honeycomb front grill is very tempting investment also. Maybe when next maintenance service is coming. Let’s see. At least default front grill looks bit boring. Honeycomb grill would add bit sporty look.

Oil burning

MY13 Forester did burn oil during first 15 000 km. I needed to add oil before the first service. Although I did drive at Autobahn quite fast on free limit sections. It is possible that it affected also.

I have checked e-Boxer’s oil level once during 6 months ownership time and so far no signs of oil burning or excessive oil consumption.

Some Subaru engines are reported to burn oil but good if e-Boxer FB20D engine is free of that issue.

Any problems then?

  1. Sure! As mentioned in dislike section after 2300 kilometres driven GPF light was lit. And then again after 5000 kilometres. More you drive short distance driving, more easily GPF filter needs regeneration procedure. Short distance can be defined so that if engine does not get to it’s normal operating temperature. Then it is short distance.
  2. At beginning CarPlay was disabled time to time but now that issue seems to be gone. Maybe latest Starlink updates have fixed that issue.
  3. Then I got TPMS error when summer tires was changed. I got car delivered with winter tires. That was not really Subaru’s fault. Dealer forget to code summer tires for that car. By the way, it is really good that nowadays driver can check tire pressures straight from the dash. Makes life so much easier. I like to keep tire pressures in correct settings.
  4. Driver Monitoring System has gone crazy three times. Beeped constantly “Keep eyes on the road”. Restarting car solved issue.

Other than that 7 000 kilometres has passed quite nicely. Fill up gasoline and travel continues. Nothing major as it should with new car. And if there ever will be something, there is guarantee to cover issues.

Gallery

Here are some photos of Forester, taken from various trips or places. Sometimes photo locations are as exotic as parking area of grocery store or next to cafeteria. Every so often it feels that I cannot have enough photos of this car.

How about you?

In conclusion it seems that I still have pretty much same feelings as when I received car. Many liked features and characteristics are same and thoughts are pretty much same. GPF issue is something I need to monitor but I guess and hope it won’t be a bigger issue than it has been so far. Great car in many ways and happy to drive it every time. Shopping hangover never did come.

I would love to hear your experiences of the e-Boxer so far. Have you similar thoughts of the car as I do? What is your list of likes and dislikes? And if there is XV e-Boxer readers too, please comment as well!

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