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Subaru Gives 3 Reasons Why They Axed Popular Forester 2.0XT

Subaru says there are three reasons why they axed the popular Forester 2.0XT. Will loyal Forester XT enthusiasts buy the explanation?

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The Subaru Forester XT is well-loved by automotive enthusiasts around the globe because it offers the utility of a small SUV, all-wheel-drive off-road capabilities, matched with Subaru’s 2.0-liter turbo-boxer engine for sporty performance. It’s a great combination for driving enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it’s gone forever after the 2018 Model Year.

Loyal owners and fans were not at all pleased when Subaru Corp decided the all-new fifth-generation 2019 Subaru Forester will no longer be available with a turbo option. It’s a niche product, but slower sales are not really the reason why Subaru is axing the popular Forester 2.0XT.

A report by Top Gear Philippines says at the 2019 Forester’s regional launch in Taiwan, Subaru Corp executives explain why the Japanese automaker chose the non-turbo route. They say sportiness does not necessarily mean having more power. Tomohiro Ishitobi, Subaru Corporation’s senior general manager for sales and marketing division says, “Our interpretation of sportiness does not rely on engine power.”

Sportiness is not about more power

Ishitobi says expressing sportiness in the Forester is more about synergy and how the engine responds to driver inputs and its overall driving dynamics. “There is a way to express the sportiness of the SUV, and that’s what we think we have accomplished with the new Forester. We have prepared a different type of engine, not just the 2.0-liter that we’re launching this time. But regardless of engine displacement, we focused on engine response, it’s the key thing we focused on.”

By the numbers

All new fifth-generation 2019 Subaru Forester trims get the newly-upgraded 2.5-liter boxer engine. The new power plant comes with direct injection, higher compression, along with active valve control system (AVCS) on the exhaust side. The new engine produces 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, versus 170 hp and 174 lb-ft in the previous-generation Forester. It’s quite a downgrade compared with the XT’s 2.0-liter turbocharged FA20 Boxer producing 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

READ: All-New 2019 Subaru Forester Sport vs. Forester 2.0XT Comparison


We know the new Subaru Global Platform (SGP) will change the new Forester’s driving dynamics because the newly-redesigned Impreza and Crosstrek prove that. It’s the next reason why the 2.0XT is gone. Glenn Tan, managing director of Motor Image parent company Tan Chong International, said “It’s really something that makes the new Forester handle completely different from other SUVs,” Tan says his favorite feature of the car is its drivability.

All Foresters have new eyes

A big reason why the Forester 2.0XT is gone is so Subaru can move forward with having all models in their lineup come standard with their EyeSight driver assist safety system. The Forester 2.0XT with a 6-speed manual gearbox won’t work with EyeSight. One of Subaru’s core values is safety, and they won’t compromise it for anything. It’s also about reaching a new consumer who has never purchased a Subaru product before. Tann goes on to say, “I believe that EyeSight created a whole new bunch of customers for us.” when talking about strong sales of the new-generation Crosstrek.

Subaru Corp says they axed the Forester 2.0XT because sportiness does not rely on power alone to achieve it, the new SGP offers improved driving performance, and standard Eyesight across their entire lineup is more important than having a 2.0XT with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Reaching a customer who has never purchased a Subaru Forester before could be another reason. We will see just how sporty the all-new 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i is when it arrives this fall. Stay tuned.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA

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Peter Benjamin (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 9:41AM

I have owned 3 Subaru Foresters. One XT. My current ride is a 2017 XT Touring with every option. I can afford to drive much more expensive rides. I chose my XT for greater driving joy after owning 2 Forester 2.5 Limiteds with just adequate power from an ancient engine. The 2.0 turbo is Superior by every measure.
The biggest reason XTs are not big sellers is because they are not available at dealers to test drive and compare and wooo prospective customers. Each is a custom order and the wait from order to receive can be up to 4 months...
I will enjoy my XT for as long as it serves my needs with reliable go anywhere transport....
Hopefully, a new XT will be before us then... when my need arises. Otherwise, Other Manufacturers’ alternatives surely will be there.
I really hope Subaru realizes every Engine will be turbo and Electrical Assisted or combination and that the 2.5 will be completely inadequate against the competition. Keep the Forester Relevant.

Ed B (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 11:33AM

In reply to by Peter Benjamin (not verified)

Totally agree! I had to order mine as well - but it was worth the wait. Subaru did not really market the XT very well. They just showed it as an option in their marketing efforts as Peter notes. Acura finally woke up and totally revamped the RDX, bringing back the turbo and super-handling all wheel drive. Subaru is digressing with the new Forester and just trying to appeal to the masses - not having a premium performance model is just folly on their part.

Peter Benjamin (not verified)    August 15, 2018 - 9:23AM

In reply to by Ed B (not verified)

I really hope Subie understands that enthusiasts-performance drivers-are major buying customers who by word of mouth, go off/on road, adventure and also rally drag race, mud, mountain, snow, ice and do it better than others driving other manufacturers’s vehicles...are free advertisers! They purchase upgrades from Subaru and they purchase aftermarket parts that greatly expand the performance capabilities and further the Legend Ethos of the Brand.
WRX and STi drivers are huge enthusiasts and spend countless dollars and countless hours caring for and showing off their vehicles. Those same customers also drive and move up to Forester XTs that offer more room for families, friends and gear and the same power experience and shared engines and performance parts and upgrades...
The Ascent is for larger families and created to keep customers in the Brand that would otherwise shop elsewhere. The Forester XT is the STI performance SUV that keeps enthusiasts from shopping elsewhere.
Please Subaru, develope a competitive power plant engine or learn from the aftermarket and rally cars to greatly increase horsepower and add this engine to the WRX, STi and Forester! Please see how other manufacturers generate competitive horsepower because Subaru is losing this race badly. Mercedes, Audi, Ford, VW, BMW and Porche all have 4 cylinder engines that generate 350 plus horsepower. That is the measure. Don’t forget your free paying customers who enthusiastically provide you free priceless passionate advertising.

Greg (not verified)    September 26, 2019 - 8:33AM

In reply to by Peter Benjamin (not verified)

The 4 cylinder turbo engine in my Hyundai Sonata is so much more fun to drive and provides a safety margin when needing to pass it works with all cars

Ed B (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 11:28AM

Sorry, I don't buy their rationale. Sportiness versus Power? Give me a break!Apparently, they're dismissing enthusiasts and looking to just expand the Forester foot print with drivers that don't care about performance. A slower vehicle doesn't make for a more engaging one. You can recalibrate the faux CVT gears all you want to mimic active shifts, but power is power.That's all well and good, but their reasoning for pulling the turbo XT is just "marketing smoke and mirrors"...

Craig Sherwood (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 8:34PM

In reply to by Ed B (not verified)

Absolutely agree. The XT wasn't available with a manual in the US and Eyesight was an option and STANDARD in the rest available: Premium and Tiring respectively.
Toyota pulled the same crap with their Corolla years and eventually pulled it as a model, turning it into a sorry appearance package because it didn't sell as a model.
With every other manufacturer offering sport model with a bump in performance, at least in this size segment, they're gonna lose sales. Maybe not in the short term, but they will in the long term

Steve (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 2:56PM

This article needs some fact checking. In America you can't buy a 2018 Subaru Forester XT with a stick shift. You can buy the 2.5 motor with a stick.

Jon (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 3:34PM

"Eyesight across their entire lineup is more important than having a 2.0XT with a 6-speed manual gearbox."

So Subaru is saying they are incapable of mating an automatic transmission to a tc'd 2.0l? Really?!?
I think Subaru has been brainwashed by Toyota's 86 crew.

RB (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 3:38PM

I've owned MY 2009 and 2014 Forester XTs and loved them both. I've moved on from the Subaru brand since they axed the Forester turbo. Would've loved more power in a 2019 MY turbo, but no go says Subaru. Oh well... I'm now the proud owner of a 2018 Audi Q5! Yeah, baby!!!

Pstone (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 3:51PM

So the Ascent built on the SGP that has a FA24 turboed engine. It has a beefy CVT and eye sight standard. Your telling me the FA20 from the WRX can't fit in the same spot the FA24 dose?

Brian Randall (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 3:57PM

The real reason they are cancelling the turbo is the gas mileage of the turbo (24 mpg) brings down their mpg standard, making it harder to comply with US regulations. The replacement is supposed to be rated at least 32 mpg.

russypt (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 4:09PM

I don't care about power (drive a 2018 Crosstrek) but the turbo is necessary for adequate performance in the Colorado mountains. Suppose I could get an Ascent for the turbo to scavenge O2 but a lot of those old donkey trails are narrow and bigger vehicles have a bit of a disadvantage.

Dan G (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 4:23PM

I barely see "the 3 reasons" why they axed it. I'm glad I have my '15 XT here in Utah. When loaded down with all of my outdoor crap.. getting up and over the mountains and/or onto the highways is a breeze.

Brandon (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 4:31PM

Okay, if the 6mt doesbt work with eyesight then dont sell the 6mt version of the XT. In fact, why not give the forester xt the same drivetrain as the ascent and same towing capacity without the extra size? People would be all over a smaller more sporty SUV with 5k lb towing capacity that runs in regular.

Give me a break subaru.

Brandon Allen (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 4:32PM

My guess is that for 2020 they'll put the ascent 2.4l turbo in the forester and possibly wrx. More power but runs on regular and they are just making excuses so people still buy the inferior current model vs waiting.

FXT4ME (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 5:03PM

Subaru lost me as a buyer. I bought a Forester XT for the power. They lost the sportiness when they chose not to have a hood scoop. They took it further by making the new Forester even bigger. If the time comes that I need a new vehicle and Subaru doesn't offer the turbo, I will sadly be moving on.

Scott Shaeffer (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 5:07PM

Another poor excuse from "the top" at Subaru. 6 speed? I thought the eyesight would work with the CVT automatic? Wife had a '04 XT loved it, but thought we needed something a bit bigger so bought a '16 FTX and she loves that as well with the CVT. Reason we went with Forester vs Outback or Crosstrek is BECAUSE of power available on acceleration.

It's pretty common for corporate executives, owners etc to become "detached" from the consumer. Focus groups never tell the whole story either. Curious about the comments about having to wait for a XT to come in by special order. Always seemed available around my parts. I think Subaru could have easily sold more of them if the ADVERTISED they were available. With all of Subaru's ads I never once saw one for the FXT.

thomas lee hayes (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 6:32PM

I have a 2010 XT Premium and I bought it for that now missing Turbo I wish mine had the six speed stick wasn't an option or I'd have it too. I could care less about the eyesight system. I can see well enough for myself. Aka I don't look at my phone while I drive! Anyway Subaru won't listen they have a safety rating to uphold in a generation of the phone obsessed who can't be bothered with looking out the window and screen themselves

Mike Schmidt (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 6:42PM

They Should get rid of a car that when you need a new headlight bulb it will cost you $77.00 to replace . They will rip you off on other bulbs and spark plugs too .They will give you a one year warranty on the headlight bulb.

John Mandel (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 7:28PM

Sorry, sportiness is power. All the flashy chrome and fancy wheels are nothing without the zip to get down the road. And not having a manual transmission option was a major busy as it is, but no turbo is a joke. All of the whiz, none of the bang. I had to drive almost five hours each way to buy a six year old used xt and I would do it again for the turbo model. The level of performance is worth it at every stop sign, traffic light, and time I have to pass someone. All of this in one of the safer cars with all wheel drive is a no brainier. I hope they change their minds. I don't want to have to change my car.

Jdmm72 (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 7:37PM

"The Forester 2.0XT with a 6-speed manual gearbox won’t work with EyeSight."

Other than the fact they haven't offered a manual Forester XT since, oh, 2008, and my 2015 Forester XT had eyesight, but whatever.

Nicole (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 7:44PM

The Mazda CX-5 adds a turbo for 2019 and Subaru takes it away. The Mazda handled like a dream, but definitely lacked pep, and now Subaru will trade places. Almost every vehicle in this class offers a turbo option. I'll test drive it to give it a chance like the Mazda, but I'm not holding my breath.

Mike Gentry (not verified)    August 14, 2018 - 7:52PM

Is Subaru still having problems with oil burning and having to add 1 quart of oil every 2000 miles.