Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Subaru Launches Mid-Grade Forester: the 2.0i-Premium


Always been wanting a Subaru Forester, but find the 2.0i-L a bit bare and the XT a bit too expensive? Well, you’re in luck. Motor Image Pilipinas has quietly introduced (official debut is slated at the 2014 Manila International Auto Show on April 3), a new variant of its best-selling Forester crossover dubbed the 2.0i-Premium. Essentially, it’s got 90-percent of the XT’s goodies at a much more affordable price point. Sounds good? Read on.

With an introductory price of P 1,558,000, the Forester 2.0i-Premium commands an additional P 160,000 over the base 2.0i-L. However, you do get a lot of stuff for the extra cash. Take note though that this isn’t as apparent outside as the only way to spot the 2.0i-Premium over its lesser 2.0i-L sibling is through its two-tone black-and-silver alloys shared with the XT. Like the XT, the 2.0i-Premium wears 225/55R18 tires on all four corners. Other than the rims, the rest of the 2.0i-Premium’s exterior is pretty much identical to the 2.0i-L.


Inside is where the biggest change happens. The most common complaint with the P 1,398,000 2.0i-L is the relative lack of luxury features. The 2.0i-Premium addresses that by adding everything but the kitchen sink (and the Harman/Kardon sound system). In short, for the additional cash, the 2.0i-Premium gets you leather seats, a push-button start/stop, and a sunroof. And that’s not all; the 2.0i-Premium also gets powered driver’s seat and even a powered tailgate. In fact, the only differentiating factor of the XT is just engine, the premium sound system, and the back-up camera. This makes the new 2.0i-Premium such a great deal.

With the introduction of the 2.0i-Premium, it brings the Philippine Forester line-up to three: 2.0i-L (P 1,398,000), 2.0i-Premium (P 1,558,000), and XT (P 1,868,000). Currently, the 2.0 i-Premium is available in four colors: Satin White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Venetian Red Pearl, and Dark Grey Metallic and is available at all Subaru dealerships nationwide.

75 comments:

  1. Sir Ulysses.....Do you think that there is a chance that Motor Image PH will bring the XV Hybrid

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    1. No. Given the limited popularity of the hybrids here plus the fact that the XV Hybrid gives only a slight improvement in fuel economy, there's little chance we'll get to see the XV Hybrid here.

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  2. Motor Image should bring the 2.5 liter NA Subaru Forester to the Phil. IMHO, people are shunning away from Subaru Forester because the 2 liter turbo Forester costs an arm and a leg and the 2 liter NA Forester is just underpowered.

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    1. Actually I don't agree.

      The 2.0 is more than enough for city driving. Granted it's not really a drag strip car, it's okay for the typical mommy mobile duties.

      See review here:

      http://www.carguide.ph/2013/07/review-2013-subaru-forester-20-i-l.html

      You have to understand that the 2.5 brings its own set of challenges, headlined of course, by the bigger engine which in most cases result in not too good fuel economy.

      That and I see potentially cannibalizing sales from the 2.0 XT.

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  3. What about the multifunction display? Is it the same as the XT's?

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    1. No. The 2.0 i-Premium doesn't come with the multi-function display of the XT. It still has the "calculator" display of the 2.0 i-L.

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  4. High price for a sloppy dash board sobra lambot ng plastics made you think not a japanese brand....mr subaru pls fix this gayahin nyo your toyota brothers para next tym matuloy na ako... peace

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    1. I think the soft dash makes it feel more premium. The most common complaint with older Subarus is that the plastics feel hard, hence cheap. The newer models, starting with the Impreza, XV, and now Forester actually feel better than some of its Japanese competitors.

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    2. Subaru's dashboard material, for me, feels and looks premium. Its not shiny and smooth like most japanese brands but more like the European brands like Benz. The dashboard material doesnt reflect light onto the windshield resulting in glare which is a major distraction when youre driving during the day.

      I find it appalling that to some people the interior material can be a deal breaker when buying a Subaru and not look at the driving dynamics. Its a performance brand not a consumer car. You want an ordinary japanese car, get a toyota. You want performance, buy a Subaru. Enough said.

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  5. does it have paddle shifters too? thank you

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    1. No. As confirmed by Motor Image, the 2.0 i-Premium doesn't have paddle shifters.

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    2. its bad news! do u expect they will bring a with manumatic option or not cause if will affect sales of the xt?

      main reason for the manumatic liking is when overtaking in highway and uphill, how does their CVT with sport mode act/perform during this situations, request your best opinion. many thanks

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    3. It's not necessarily bad news. I've driven both variants and the 2.0 FB20 (non-turbo) engine is more than good enough for city driving whether you put it on Intelligent or Sport mode.

      Overtaking on level highways, the FB20 and CVT are perfectly fine. You might find the power a bit lacking however once you hit curving uphill roads such as those going up Baguio or Sagada. When I took the Forester there, I simply put the CVT in 'L' and the SI Drive to 'Sport'. It worked like a charm. It won't do wonders on your fuel consumption though. This is where the turbo advantage comes in.

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    4. Hi Ulysses, Noted and thank you for your prompt and useful reply. my ONLY option now is the Mazda CX-5 AWD and this Forester. We usually travel to Baguio with 5 ave. adults on board, requesting yr personal opinion if which would you buy (performance wise). Thank you in advance for yr usual kind assistance.

      fyg, my liking for the manumatic is you can squeeze the max HP & Torque since you control the shifting

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    5. Okay...here's the lowdown.

      Though Mazda is touting its CX-5 AWD as a Sport variant, the way it delivers the power isn't explosive having just 184 horsepower and more importantly, just 250 Nm of torque. In comparison, this is just 34 more horsepower and just 52 Nm more torque than the Subaru 2.0 i-Premium or 2.0 i-L.

      If you really need the power and performance, pay the extra money and go for the 2.0 XT. The 240 horsepower and 350 Nm (that's 100 Nm more) is noticeable--especially since the power is available lower and over a broad rev range. Take note...the CX-5 AWD you're considering is P 1.66M~...that's just P 200k shy of a Forester XT.

      Now, given you're budget is just P 1.7M, okay...I'll look at things in another way. The Forester has a bigger interior with bigger luggage space. Given you're bringing 5 adults to Baguio with luggage, you're better off with the Forester. Trust me, they'll complain in the CX-5's rear accommodations.

      If you're traveling alone or just with one companion, the CX-5 MAYBE worth the consideration, but as an overall package, get the Forester. That's partly the reason why it's the Philippines's best-selling compact crossover now.

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    6. Hi ulysses, you got me there. with money in the bank and all goes well, the purchase will be for the Forester premium. Again thank you for your useful insights.

      Btw, still love our Montero sport gt-v (purchase was helped by yr dec2011 report)

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    7. Hi ulysses,

      Please assist to explain what the L mode is for. can i use it upto speeds of 80 KPH or is it like the 1st,2nd&3rd gear into one (L mode). Thanks

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    8. Also try the santa fe if your budget is around 1.7M anyways :)

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  6. is the rubberband effect of CVT's still noticeable in this model?... like driving pedal to metal that shoots up the RPM to redline without any felt acceleration or delays in speed?..thanks

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    1. No. The rubber band effect you're talking about isn't true with any of the modern CVT transmissions, most especially the Subaru Lineartronic CVT. I find the Subaru Lineartronic to be quite responsive and well-mated to the engine. It's a bit noisy when cold (it's a chain drive after all), but after it warms up, it's all good.

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  7. sir, do you.know the fuel consumption of the current forrester xt ?

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    1. http://www.carguide.ph/2013/05/review-2013-subaru-forester-xt.html

      Read it here.

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  8. Hi Ulysses. I'm a little bit concern on parts and labor cost. How much would it cost compare to other brands like toyota or honda?

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    1. The costs of owning a Subaru is more or less equal to that of Honda but more expensive than Toyota. You'll only need to bring a Subaru in for PMS every 10,000 kilometers or 6 months.

      However, because it is all wheel drive, a lot more fluids and lubricants need to be changed at 40k intervals and this is the most expensive service of any Subaru. Expect something like 20.

      Collision parts are also expensive on a Subaru so it's best to keep it insured with comprehensive insurance.

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    2. I meant P 20k for every 40k PMS service interval.

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  9. How does this Premium model compare to the RAV4 4x2 full option? I'm leaning towards these 2 options at the moment.

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    1. Hope you can give your input for this comparison

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  10. How is the 2.0i compare to Kia Sorento 2.2LX? I am undecided between the 2. Forester 2.0i seems better equip (feature wise) than Sorento, but Sorento seems to perform better (power and fuel economy).

    Appreciate your opinion and advice.

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    1. Oh wow...these two are different models altogether. Though the Sorento is great value, it's not exactly cutting-edge in terms of engineering. Can't beat the space and diesel fuel economy though. As for the Forester, it's definitely more of the driver's car between the two crossovers. Both are winners, but you must know what you're looking for in a SUV before you buy.

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  11. Hi Ulysses! help me decide, which one is better, 2.0i-L or 2.0i-Premium? The problem with the premium is I can't add the AVT navigation because of the power rear gate while the problem of i-L is the "luxury" aspect. I can't go with XT because of its price.

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    1. Honestly, it depends on you.

      If I could afford it, I'd go XT because it's actually more fuel efficient on highways and not that big of a difference in the city.

      However, between the i-L and the i-Premium I suggest you go with the i-Premium. If you just want the AVT navigation and cannot install the head unit, you can always get a portable one. AVT sells tons of that. Why sacrifice the luxury features you want for something that you can easily get aftermarket.

      Imagine this: you can't get the push-button start/stop, power driver's seat, power tailgate aftermarket? As long as you can afford the price difference, the i-Premium is worth it.

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    2. Thanks for the input! :)

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  12. This is good news for non-xt buyers... but doesn't this make the xt even more less value for money? now it's 300k more from the premium just for engine upgrade, paddle shifters and multi-info display? I really want to buy an xt, but this kind of makes it harder to justify it to myself...

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  13. If it only got at least parking sensors, my wife would be getting this in a couple of months...

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  14. Hi Ulysses, can you comment on the CVT of the Subaru? How does it perform when overtaking? How do you downshift on a CVT anyway (compared to a geared automatic where you just jab the accelerator)? Any idea on the reliability of their CVT? How long do they last before needing major repair?

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    1. One of the best things with regards to CVTs is that there are fewer moving parts than a conventional automatic so there are less parts that can potentially break down. In fact, all car makers from Subaru to Toyota to Audi to BMW all use CVT transmission in order to give better fuel economy with sacrificing performance.

      Subaru uses a steel chain connecting pulleys that vary in width in order to adjust for acceleration or top speed. In fact, the company has been using CVT transmissions as early as 1987 and it's been adopted by Nissan that now forms the basis of their own CVT, XTronic.

      The beauty with CVT is that it keeps the engine revs at the optimal range meaning it will keep the engines at lowest possible rpm to keep fuel consumption down. If the car detects that you need power, it can likewise keep the engine at the peak horsepower or torque to give you the extra grunt. This is very beneficial with the turbo engine since the CVT will keep the turbo spooled for even better performance. For example, the Subaru Impreza 2.0i equipped with a CVT can accelerate better than the Subaru 2.5 equipped with a 4AT.

      In order to downshift, you can simply jab the pedal like a conventional automatic. Likewise, you can put the selector to "L" or if the car is equipped with paddle shifters, flick the virtual gear lower using the paddle shifters. These actions will make the pulley adjust for acceleration.

      Subarus are known to "over spec" their transmission from their M/T, A/T, and even their CVT. This is because Subaru is a small car maker. And being a small car maker, they cannot afford to keep different kinds of transmissions in stock. Therefore, they simply negotiate for a transmission that will suit both low torque and high torque configurations and use them throughout the line-up.

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  15. Hi Ulysses, if I'm not mistaken, i-Premium doesn't come with rear camera. Do you have any suggestion for a best quality wireless rear view camera that is suitable for i-Premium? any particular brand and model? and do you have links and review about it?

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  16. Shucks, i got my Forester NA a year ago. This is the variant i was waiting for. I hope MI offers a trade in option for those who bought early hahaha or probably offer an "upgrade" package for around the same price addition. Specially want the automatic rear gate and push button start. Power seats and sun roof, i can live without

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    1. sir, how's the fuel consumption, relative to your drive route?

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  17. Thanks Ulysses for this I am finally getting my first Subaru tomorrow and was lucky enough to get and reserve one of th last white pearl units...I hope I did make the right decision taking as I chose between and among this and the CX 5, KIA Sportage Deluxe (used to be 1.7 M then down to 1.3 M) as well as the forthcoming Ford Everest. This indeed is a better everyday car and the features evidently compensate with whatever other advantages other SUV's may have. Also this may be japanese and not a euro car but it is premium definitely and its NCAP highest rating and being the 2014 SUV of the Year by Motor Trends speak for itself..:)

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  18. Hi, I have quite a noobish question. I really am rooting to get Subaru Forester 2014 but my only concern is would it be safe to drive it around the Philippines knowing that there are a lot of car nappers here. Would you still recommend me to buy Subaru Forester? Safety is my first priority. I park wherever it is safe but you can never tell right? thanks!

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    1. Any vehicle is 'carnap-able.' =)

      Though you might mean because of a premium brand, a particular model is very attractive to the eyes of car thieves. Mitsubishi's Montero Sport comes to mind (or is it still now?).

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  19. hi sir. thinking of getting this but worried about fuel consumption. use would be mostly alabang to makati area, with a few drives to other metro manila cities thrown in every now and then. should i not be too worried considering a lot of time to be spent driving in alex/skyway? or would i be better off with a less expensive diesel suv? thanks for any advice.

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    1. Compared to similar SUVs, the Forester is reasonably fuel-efficient. Our 2013 Forester makes 10 km/l driving around the city, from alabang to other parts of Metro Manila via SLEX n back. Make sure to put it in Intelligent Mode. Our Honda City makes 11 km/l ONLY with city driving.

      Last Holy Thursday, my family went to Subic and got stuck in NLEX for four hours (8am to past 12nn) on the way. We gased up full tank the night before. After 4 hours in NLEX, the gas meter lost only one bar, thats with full aircon on, 6 passengers inside plus cargo. We were expecting to use up half a tank during the traffic jam but my wife and I were very surprised and pleased.

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    2. Just over 380 km into our new Forester 2.0i-L, the car registered 8.4 L/km in 35.8 km of driving from Daang Hari to BGC.

      That's 11.9 km/L. And I think it will get better once it gets over its 'break-in' period. We're happy!

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  20. Hello! I'd like to know your take on this.

    I'm currently choosing between Forester 2.0i-Premium and Mazda CX-5 Pro. I drive only within Metro Manila. These are what I'm looking for (in order of importance): fuel efficiency, rear leg room & comfortable rear accommodations (for when my dad is in town), leather seats, nice speakers, backup camera/sensors. I don't care much about power, as I'm pretty much a "lola" driver.

    Can you please help me decide, between the two or any other crossover/mini-SUV in the market? Not considering sedans because my dad prefers bigger cars, but since I'll be the one using it 90% of the time, we decided to get a crossover/mini-SUV. Budget is up to 1.7M.

    Thanks a lot!

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    1. A similar problem on choosing which one but i mashed up the CX-5, XV, Forester 2.0i Premium and XT. We are a family of 4, doing daily drive between Makati-Valenzuela area. I am so torn between the Forester 2.0i Premium and XV, if the budget permits i wish we could get the XT. We have an existing hatchback that we plan to sell in order to get a bigger car, that will be for keeps this time.

      Your inputs will be a great help.

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    2. TS, Mazda CX-5 fits right up your alley with your budget. It's very popular even abroad, having been selected as the best when it goes against the competition. It's also the best at fuel economy.

      Having said that, I'd still go with the Forester, but the XT trim. You'd have to add another 168k, though, to fully realize your 'potential' as a (race) car driver. ;) Fuel efficiency is also good, too!

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  21. Test drove the 2.5 Forester in the US and was very impressed. The XT is just so expensive.

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  22. Yes the 2 liter Forester is fuel efficient that is why Subaru Phil should bring the NA 2.5 liter Forester here in the Phil.

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    1. What if I told you if Subaru would bring in the 2.5 engine here, it will cost almost the same as an XT? That's the reason they've brought the 2.0 model instead.

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  23. If I'm not mistaken the 2.5 liter Forester is the most fuel efficient small SUV in the US, so bring the 2.5 liter here. Filipino consumers should be able to experience the real capability of this SUV without having to pay an arm and a leg (XT).

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  24. I disagree. The 2.5 NA Forester should cost more than the 2.0 NA but less than the XT.

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    1. Well, I've seen the pricing matrix and let's just say there's not much difference between the 2.5 NA and the XT even when they brought it in. Remember, car companies can adjust their income based on models and this isn't fixed hence they can sell some models at break even and some models at a hefty profit. You don't have to look far--just look at how Ford can competitively price some vehicles compared to others.

      And remember, we are a small market. We cannot simply dictate features from a CBU plant and order, say, 100 units a month. Globally, we have to stick certain specs and given the closeness of the prices, there are some features which you cannot get on the NA that you can get on the XT. This actually makes the XT a good value crossover.

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  25. The reason is that Subaru Phil. Is afraid that the 2.5 NA Forester would directly compete and eventually decrease the sales of the XT. IMHO, this is myopic and it is not a good business strategy.

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  26. Motor Image should also bring the 2.5 NA Legacy and Outback here. Don't you want more people to be driving Subarus?

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    1. Well, we shall see ;-) Let's just say, this MIGHT happen ;-)

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  27. Hi!
    Thanks for the review.
    Btw, how is the performance and efficiency of this 2.0L Forester vs XV?

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    1. Here are the links for the reviews:

      Forester 2.0:
      http://www.carguide.ph/2013/07/review-2013-subaru-forester-20-i-l.html

      Subaru XV:
      http://www.carguide.ph/2013/03/short-cuts-2013-subaru-xv-20i-premium.html

      In a nutshell though, the FB20 engine is clearly more suited to the XV's smaller and lighter body, but that's not to say the Forester 2.0 is slow. It's actually better than the previous model in terms of acceleration and even fuel economy. But I would say that the power is more "adequate".

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  28. Hi sir Ulysses, would like to know if how much is the average insurance cost for a Subaru Forester 2.0i Premium?tnx in advance

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    1. More or less P40,000 on the 1st year, and decreases every year.

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  29. What is the difference in the engine between Forester premium and XT?

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    1. The Forester Premium uses the FB20 engine (non-turbo) shared with the base 2.0 i-L. The Forester XT uses the FA20DIT (turbo) engine shared with the WRX.

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    2. I think i can live with that, however, there is no Forester i-premium in Subari Philippines website, is it still being sold in Philippines?

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    3. Sorry my mistake, i'd look at different model

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  30. How would you compare the Forester XT with Ford Escape Titanium

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  31. Hi Ulysses, how about comparing forester premium with the new x-trail 4x4 2.5 lit engine in terms of fuel consumption and power

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  32. good day Ulysses, i need to know about your comparison between a Forester and HR-V both on their high-end specs. thank you

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  33. Wishing for the 2.0 Diesel with the CVT that AUS and UK has right now

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  34. Hi im looking to get an all new everest trend or forrester 2.0i premium, which one do you thing is a better deal performance, stability and fuel consumption? Hope you can give your inputs to help me decide. Thanks in advance.

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    1. hahahahaha im also thinking of the same thing :( torn between this 2 :(

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  35. Hi sir, can you say that fir 1.598M the subaru forester is a good deal? Compared with the all new everest trend which do you think is the better deal with regard to durability, performance, resale.value and fuel.economy? Thanks

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  36. Ulysses does the top of the line model come with powered seats

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  37. sir is XV a good buy ?

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