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Cool Car Spotlight: 2004-09 Subaru Forester XT

Chris Kaiser

This month our Cool Car Spotlight shines on the turbocharged Subaru Forester XT.

We Can Have Nice Things

2005 Subaru Forester XT - carsforsale.com

2005 Subaru Forester XT – carsforsale.com |  Shop Subaru Forester XT on Carsforsale.com

Car people tend to look to Japan with envy because so many cool cars made by Japanese manufacturers have never made it to US shores. American fans of JDM cars have been forced to wait the requisite 25-years to finally import performance cars like the Nissan Skyline GT-R or kei car classics like the Autozam AZ-1. The tale of the Forester XT begins with similar case of a car too cool for the US.

Back in 2004, Subaru decided to take the WRX STi’s 2.5L turbocharged flat-four and toss it into the (then) new second-generation Forester. And thus, was born the Forester STi, and of course, it would be sold exclusively in Japan. But Subaru wasn’t going to totally disappoint its US fans entirely. Rather than the Forester STi, Subaru decided to build a slightly less radical, yet still exciting, turbocharged Forester XT for America.

“Re-Tuned” Not Detuned

2005 Subaru Forester XT 2.5L H4 Turbo - carsforsale.com
2005 Subaru Forester XT 2.5L H4 Turbo - carsforsale.com

The idea of a turbocharged Forester is a master stroke in pleasing both sides of the Subaru fan base. The WRX-inclined get a rumbling turbo under the hood while practically minded suburbanites get a swift grocery getter with AWD. In some ways, the Forester XT is the perfect crossover vehicle, equal parts fun and functional. Oh, and you could get it with a five-speed manual.

The Forester XT didn’t get an exact port of the WRX’s 301 horsepower engine that the Forester STi did. Instead, it got a “re-tuned” turned version of the turbo 2.5L (don’t call it a detune). Still, the XT’s turbocharged engine was a significant step up from the base engine. The Forester XT’s DOHC 2.5L turbocharged flat-four (the EJ255) made 210 horsepower and 235 lb.-ft. of torque and came paired with either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. The torque number is especially significant as it’s 42 percent higher than the base model’s 166 lb.-ft. and is the reason why reviewers at the time found its highway passing abilities so impressive.

Scoops Mean Scoots

2005 Subaru Forester XT - carsforsale.com
2005 Subaru Forester XT - carsforsale.com

Of course, one does not simply put a turbocharged engine in a Forester and call it a day; it still needs to look the part. That’s why the Forester XT shares the same (functional) hood scoop as its WRX sibling as well as other performance upgrades like sportier 16-alloy wheels, updated headlights and front facia, a rear spoiler, and a chrome tailpipe.

Top 10 Compact Crossovers of 2020

The Forester XT is fast and stealthy at the same time and has all the right ingredients of an awesome project car. Most used examples run between $5,000 to $6,000 depending on condition with around 120,000 to 150,000 miles. A few considerations include the higher compression ratio added in 2006 for a boost up to 230 horsepower. And if that still isn’t enough, you can join all the WRX faithful and bolt on all manner of STi upgrades for even more performance.

Not Long For This World

2005 Subaru Forester XT - carsforsale.com

2005 Subaru Forester XT – carsforsale.com |  Shop Subaru Forester XT on Carsforsale.com

Sadly, the performance-oriented Forester XT would only last until the end of the second generation. While the Forester would continue to offer turbocharged engines and an XT trim level until the current fifth generation, the subsequent Foresters XTs would never match the original XT’s 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds or it’s super-sized-WRX character.

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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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