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New Subaru Legacy Gets Turbo, If Outback Gets 2.4XT Why Not Forester?

The all-new Legacy sedan gets a new turbo and the 2020 Outback should also get a 2.4XT, so why did Forester 2.0XT get axed?


Subaru axed the sporty 2.0XT model when they redesigned the all-new fifth-generation 2019 Forester and fans aren’t happy. Performance enthusiasts want a Forester with more than the newly-redesigned 2019 Forester’s 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated Boxer producing 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. It just doesn’t excite Forester enthusiasts. And the new 2019 Forester Sport trim isn’t much more than an appearance package.

As for dropping the sportier Forester 2.0XT turbocharged model and coming out with the 2019 Forester Sport, according to Subaru, only 5 percent of buyers were opting for the turbo model, so it was not a profitable model to keep building. Subaru Corp decided to ax the 6-speed manual gearbox for the same reason; slow sales.

According to a report from Motor Trend, Subaru of America COO Tom Doll told them in an interview at the Chicago Auto Show, Subaru won’t be bringing a Forester turbo anytime soon. Doll says it's because demand for the newly-redesigned Forester SUV is too high right out of the gate. He says Crosstrek is also selling too well for the Japanese automaker to offer a turbo version. But it doesn’t mean the door for a Forester turbo to return will be closed forever.

Doll told MT, "You could argue, and some people do, that for the Crosstrek we should have a higher-performance engine in that car, but on the other hand, we're selling as many as we can get. We haven't really hit the top with the Crosstrek yet. Same thing for the new Forester. The new Forester is a sensational car, and it's a home run, particularly the Sport model that you see over here. We just can't stock it. I think both of those car lines have a 20-day supply or less."

So why did Legacy sedan get a new 260-hp 2.4-liter turbo XT model? Sedan sales have been slipping for a few years now as customers make the switch to Crossovers and SUVs. Subaru needs to keep the interest high for Legacy and the XT trim will definitely get the excitement back for the all-wheel-drive sedan. Subaru is not going to ax the Legacy sedan as other automakers have, pairing down their car lines in favor of going with an all-SUV/Crossover lineup.

It doesn’t mean Subaru will never bring back a Forester turbo in the future. Tom Doll went on to say, "In the future, if we need to hit additional volume targets or if the sales wane a little bit, as a way to try to get additional interest in the car, offer a higher-performance engine. That's quite possible."

So if Forester fans want Subaru to bring back a turbo XT trim, customers need to stop buying the all-new 2019 model and especially the Forester Sport trim. Subaru is selling them almost as fast as they arrive from Japan.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


John Goreham    February 15, 2019 - 4:16PM

Your angle is correct - capacity. At a Subaru meeting I attended that was pretty clear. The next special Forester will get the 2.4 Turbo and it will rock (my speculation). Subaru needs a US factory for the Forester. That would change a lot for the model.

Brian (not verified)    February 16, 2019 - 3:43AM

I have a high-mileage 2008 Forester XT with manual transmission, which I will have to replace in the next few years. Absent a turbo option on either the Crosstrek or the Forester, they're simply too nerve wracking during merging or passing maneuvers on the highway. And both the Outback and the Ascent are too large for convenient city use. And the WRX hatchback is currently unavailable in North America. Basically, Subaru seems to be doing its absolute best to oblige even long-time Subaru customers to look at other brands for a hatchback or wagon that is both small enough to be useful in the city and powerful enough to be safe on the highway. I thought safety and utility were hallmarks of the Subaru brand?

david r (not verified)    April 17, 2019 - 5:21PM

In reply to by Brian (not verified)

i have a similar problem, have multiple outback and forester xt's manual from 2005-8
i want to get a new car but without any options for a large turbo engine and manual transmission, i will have to keep repairing my car to keep it on the road
and was hoping a crosstrek sti mt would come around but looks doubtful.
with the new outback 2,4 XT coming out i hope they offer a mt and i'll buy in a heartbeat
sti 209 i can only imagine how expensive it will be since only 200 coming to North America
how i wish they would bring back a hatch sti

dbones (not verified)    April 18, 2019 - 1:36PM

In reply to by Brian (not verified)

I'm with ya. Have a 2005 Forester XT manual, and love it, but would also love to replace with another similar vehicle but none exists. Keep putting money into it to keep it humming and on the road. Would buy a new Forester (or Outback for that matter) in a heart beat if it were offered in a manual turbo option. Until then, keeping my 2005.

Bob Loblaw (not verified)    February 16, 2019 - 11:46AM

As a Forester owner, this news isn’t good. I’ll be trading up to an AWD Tesla Model Y. The Forester engine just doesn’t have enough.

Don Caputo (not verified)    February 16, 2019 - 3:44PM

The only reason that I have not ordered a new 2019 Forester is because they don’t offer a larger engine. It is woefully underpowered. It takes 9.5 seconds to go to 60 mph and that’s not fast enough to merge onto today’s high speed highways.

Lorraine Dorkney (not verified)    February 22, 2019 - 10:53AM

I'm quite interested in a 2.4T Outback.
If they can make it do the run in under 7 seconds, I'll be impressed and interested in about 3 years.

Shawn (not verified)    March 12, 2019 - 5:35PM

The first forester had a proper 5 speed and sporty handling and hood scoop. This thing did 0-60 in just over 5 seconds. The last xt lost the hood scoop, lost the manual tans, gained over 500lbs and has a 0-60 of over 6 seconds, if you’re lucky (unpredictable CVT). It handles like a boat and you can’t even disable the traction control. No fun. Subaru almost methodically took away the character and performance true car enthusiasts wanted and then cite poor sales when they axed the xt model. Just as other compact suvs add turbo/performance models, subaru decides to do the opposite. Makes sense.

Vito (not verified)    April 17, 2019 - 1:47PM

We have a 2014 xt which we love because of the turbo. Don't think we'll be looking at the Forester when we replace this one.

Nate (not verified)    April 20, 2019 - 11:42AM

To all of you upset regarding the speed or underpowered nature of the new Foresters, have you driven one?

My wife and I just purchased one and it merges on the highway just as well as any other car. It’s also capable of easily overtaking a slower vehicle.

No, it’s not “fast”, or even really “quick” by today’s standards, but it’s certainly not so slow as to be “unsafe”... The idea that you need to measure the safety of a vehicle by its ability to accelerate quickly is kinda silly. I mean, c’mon guys. There are TONS of vehicles out there with average acceleration figures.

I understand from an enthusiast perspective that it’s not as fun, but let’s not spread misinformation regarding safety as a way to support that argument. It makes us sound like we don’t know what we’re talking about.

Ronald Seymour (not verified)    April 25, 2019 - 11:59PM

I have a 2014 Forester XT Touring with Turbo. I was waiting for the 2019 Forester and can't tell you how disappointed I was when I found out that Subaru eliminated the Turbo on the Forester. How stupid! I do a lot of highway driving and take road trips out west quite a bit. The Turbo got me out of many bad situations with trucks and stupid drivers. I test drove one and it's a pig. 0 to 60 takes almost 9 seconds. My 2014 does 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds. That difference could cost you your life.

Jacques (not verified)    April 29, 2019 - 7:29PM

In reply to by Ronald Seymour (not verified)

I agree...
My XT 2015 It's so much fun to drive and I want to change for a 2019 when the dealer say no more turbo I say I keep
my 2015 and waiting for a new Forester with turbo. I agree The Turbo got me out of many bad situations with trucks and stupid drivers.

Louis Halvorsen (not verified)    April 30, 2019 - 3:01AM

I have a 2009 Forester XT and I really want to replace it with another Forester, but not without the Turbo. Any Subaru manager that parrots the "we aren't going to offer it because we don't have to" is sounding like they work for GM. To bad...I really liked the 4 Subies I have owned, but I guess it's time to move on.

Michael (not verified)    May 4, 2019 - 11:42PM

The difference with a 2.4 Turbo on the Forester is the 87 octane fuel requirement. For the customer like myself who would like a better performing but even more practical Forester it's a winner. The old Turbo appealed to a much more limited market of "performance enthusiasts" who want a small boxy SUV. I think the real reason it's not offered is Subaru doesn't want to erode sales of it's higher end models. Historical Subaru moves engine/Trans upgrades down the food chain over time. Hopefully the 2.4 makes it to the Forester in the next two years before trade in time.

Myth (not verified)    May 14, 2019 - 10:33PM

In reply to by Michael (not verified)

I tend to agree. I was wanting to buy the last Forester XT, but held off because of the uncomfortable driver seat and I didn't want to pay for premium gas. Also the interior was rather of plasticky. Felt like an economy car. The combination of the new Forester with the new 2.4 liter turbo running 87 octane, that's a different story. Much more luxurious and comfortable. With the new turbo they just added to the Outback, it would be home run hard to resist. I understand that Subaru can currently sell all the Foresters they can make. It may be a few years before they offer the turbo in the Forester. My guess is 2022 model year. They may lose some buyers to other AWD models in the meantime like the Mazda CX-5, Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

Lou Stevens (not verified)    May 30, 2019 - 9:18AM

It's interesting to me how when the bean-counters hold sway, great companies stop doing what made them great. Isn't performance what made the Subaru brand? And boy, can they shoot themselves in the foot. The high price premium for the Forester XT was certainly a large factor in limiting sales, but can they just write off 5% of Forester buyers? My 2017 XT is due back off lease in a year, and now I see so many better options. My next car is likely a CPO Porsche Macan, for just a little more money than the Forester I now have, and I'm never coming back. They might be selling all the Foresters can make, but I won't be clamoring for a new one.

Lou Stevens (not verified)    May 30, 2019 - 9:28AM

I should have added: The 5% of Forester XT owners they are chasing away are customers willing to pay a premium price to get the vehicle they want to drive. I don't mean to exaggerate my own importance by any means, but I believe I make a valid point. My wife drives a 2018 Outback, to me the driving experience is like night and day, and I would not even consider an Outback XT.

Chemist83 (not verified)    July 1, 2019 - 1:32PM

In reply to by Lou Stevens (not verified)

I traded in my 2017 Forester XT to finance a 2019 so I can stop worrying about miles. I was tempted just to buy it out but I wanted a newer car. I test drove the 2019 and was disappointed. Didn't know the power difference was so bad. I had my eye on the Legacy for many years but traded my 2015 wrx for the Forester because of my new born at the time. I didn't realize that the Legacy was slightly roomier. I missed my WRX so this car kind of fills the void. 3.6 and 2.0T feel so much different. I remember my WRX had so much lag from a stopping position. The Forester XT wasn't so bad but the 3.6R has a lot of power from stopping position. I like how the power from the 2.0T kicks in on the freeway. I have yet to experience freeway driving on the 3.6R. wondering how the 2.4T will drive.

Luis Villani (not verified)    July 1, 2019 - 7:30PM

I bought the lease on my 16 Forester turbo because Subaru i not offering any new Forester better than my old one.....

batikwoman (not verified)    July 17, 2019 - 10:12PM

I had a 2014 XT that I purchased in 2016 with 18,000 miles on it. Loved the car but discovered the rpevious owners had damaged the undercarriage so I traded it for a Subaru Certified 2017 XT. 2017 had to go in for an oil leak from the timing chain so I drove the Forester Sport for 5 days. Hated it! It was sooo slow compared to my 2017 and 2014. Plus the orange accented trim made the interior look cheap . I'll keep the 2017 XT, thanks.

No_name (not verified)    August 12, 2019 - 7:06PM

I had a ‘14 forester XT which I really loved, the lack of a turbo in the new model was a big turn off. I looked around at wagons and crossovers that still had turbos and AWD and opted for the Audi allroad which I took ownership of last month. Subaru lost a sale from someone who has owned only Subaru’s for the last 20 years. Basically, Subaru turned their back on me so I returned the favor and did the same to them.

Peter Hodges (not verified)    August 26, 2019 - 5:26PM

We have a 2002 Forester Turbo GT. It now has 305,000 kms on the clock. It doesn't miss a beat and is still a pocket rocket when needed. The gearbox and clutch has never been touched. It was an expensive car when we bought in 2002 but you get what you pay for. It has been brilliant car and the right size for battling supermarket parking. Can't believe the turbo model has been dropped from the line up!

Terry Quinn (not verified)    October 5, 2019 - 12:33AM

I was going to upgrade to a 2019 forester from my 2015 XT turbo until i found out that it was not available. I would put up with the bland appearance of the 2019 model but without the turbo it was a no buy situation . I would love to by a new forester but until the turbo is reintroduced i will be looking elsewhere, stupid idea Subaru

Louis-Yves (not verified)    November 24, 2019 - 9:58PM

Subaru Forester need the Turbo Engine fast. Subaru Image is going down....

The Forester is the money maker model for Subaru. That can change really fast for people who want/need power to enjoy!

John h (not verified)    April 15, 2020 - 12:55PM

Subaru dropped the ball on this. Made cosmetic changes to the Forester and now it is just another underpowered suv that is not that good looking. I'm looking at the Mazda CX-5, they just added a 2.0 turbo for 250 hp, plus the CX is a much sleeker looking vehicle. Loved my XT, but time to move on...

Arthur (not verified)    June 10, 2020 - 4:24PM

My wife just transferred from a Forester to a plug in hybrid Prius as Subaru doesn't make plug in hybrids.
I have a 2026 Forester XT and as I don't like the longer Subaru vehicles and Subaru is giving up on my 5% segment, it is likely going to lose me.

Both my wife and I were longstanding Foresters owners and had no other cars for the last 15 years. Had Subaru come up with like cars, we would have stayed with Subaru.