06-09 Forester or 03-06 Montero

Hi All,

Looking into getting a vehicle to build over the next year or so and then ship to South America to travel with during the winters. Right now I am considering these two vehicles for their relative low cost to ability ratio, but would be up for other suggestions. Looking to spend roughly 5k for the vehicle though.

The planned usage is to travel around South America with my wife and son. I would like something that has decent Offroad ability, mostly for gravel, poorly maintained, and rough roads. No rock crawling or mudding is in the cards.

While I’m not in S.A. the car will be with my wife’s family in Guayaquil and used as a daily driver sparingly. Please let me know your thoughts!


Main concern would probably be local parts/repair support, but also how much of a load you plan to have onboard regularly.
In either case, and I might be wrong, but $5k doesn't seem like much of a budget for either of those two once you figure in the items you will want to change out/add. Tires, probably looking at some maintenance to catch up on that previous owner neglected, etc.
Typical loadout would be myself, my wife, my son (he’s two now), a duffle bag each, cooler, basic recover/repair gear, and gear for ground camping now and again. I plan on staying in hostels when we trave for the most part, but would camp occasionally.

Looked at the payload for each:
Forester: 1,010#
Montero: 1,210#

I think parts availability in S.A. would favor the Montero, but I do see Subaru’s here and there. Also 5k is just the initial purchase budget. Looking to spend another 3-4K to build and perform the needed repairs. The build would be fairly simple for both: small lift/suspension refresh, skidplates, tires, lighting, and a roof rack setup.
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Well, your budget for repairs/upgrades seems to favour the Subaru. You can do heavy-duty springs to better handle loads, a small lift (2”), tires and whatever else you want - assuming it does not need anything else major. That gets you into a car that gets decent fuel economy, has lots of clearance, and will be fairly comfortable to explore in.
The Monterey mods - I'm not the one to ask about costs and what to do first. They are fairly comfy, IIRC, but will burn though more fuel. Maybe one of the Montero experts here will chime in soon.
I’ve been cross shopping suspension and protection between the two platforms and the Monty comes out ahead. But by the time I include tires it’ll mostly be a wash.

Foz suspension (springs, struts, struts spaces, and training arm spacers): about $1,295
Foz protection: $1,300
Monty suspension (adventure driven design kit): $1,200
Monty protection: $360

It’s looking like the choice comes down to 1) a smaller rig that gets better mpg, has lower cost of ownership overall, will handle the terrain I have in mind vs. 2) a larger rig with more space, more capable Offroad, great parts availability, and generally more heavy duty.

I’m not really certain which rig would be more dependable overall though. Any thoughts?


Expedition Leader
Both are good vehicles, but for 5k you will get a lot more for your money with the Montero, even more so with the later models with the 3.8 v6. When you get a minute go watch some of the youtube videos showing how well the traction control works on the Montero.


New member
Jeep-b-Montero: I was wondering what issues the third Gen Montero has? I have a fairly good idea about what to expect from a forester, but it seems problems with monteros aren’t consistent.


Expedition Leader
Jeep-b-Montero: I was wondering what issues the third Gen Montero has? I have a fairly good idea about what to expect from a forester, but it seems problems with monteros aren't consistent.
Problems seldom occur with Monteros, the earlier 3.5 motors had valve guide issues after 150k miles or so but wasn't the case with the 3.8. Inconsistent issues are usually related to how a vehicle was maintained more so than the brand.


New member
Jeep-n-Montero: I suppose you’re right about the inconsistent issues being owner related. I was just a bit hesitant after looking at the sub here and seeing the problems posted. With either vehicle i plan on performing all the scheduled services before shipping the car, so I’m sure they would both be reliable.
I’m very seriously considering the Montero as my #1 choice...I think there are enough pros to outweigh the cons of cost of ownership. I was actually thinking about those costs some more and may be weighing them too heavily in my decision. Truth be told I’ll only be driving the vehicle a month or two out of the year.

So now the question is: what to look for on s 3rd Gen Montero?
If the Subaru will be trail-worthy enough for you, I would lean that way, personally. You do get more of an off-road machine with the Montero, but seems like you'll be doing none of that. The Forester will ride better, get better MPG, and maintenance should be cheaper as well. I did a 2k road trip with the wife and kids a year or so back (in an Outback), and it was a very comfortable trip. Little off-roading on Mexican back roads and the car did great. Then it was a smooth ride back home getting 33MPG.


Expedition Leader
I really like our subarus but. The Forester is a small rig and Subaru is kinda like Toyota the used prices are stupid. $5k today gets you a clapped out half dead Forester in need of about $2000 in self done maint to make it reliable and able to haul maxed out payload to remote areas with little parts and shop access.

Call me crazy but if this were my trip I’d find an old grandpas pickup, f150 or Chevy with low miles and change fluids out, do brakes, tune up, find a used contractors cap and go!
phsycle: these were my initial thoughts when considering a forester. What kind of gear and what do you have done to the outback? Have you taken many trips?

Calicamper: I guess that hasn’t been my experience when pricing foresters. I have been looking on auto trader the last few months to get an idea on pricing and a budget of about 5k has turned up many nice examples. Albeit they are base manual models but that’s what I would like to get anyways.

Concerning the F150, it’s just not in the cards for me. I want something with a smoother ride and full cabin. My work truck is a 08 F250 5.4 with 330,000 miles on it and still going strong! But in this situation I would like an SUV.


Expedition Leader
Im on my second Legacy platform since 01. The 01 was a Legacy GT Limited 5spd built like a brick sh-t house except the cooling system. Current ride is a 2010 OB

There was a few yrs the old Legacy platform sat under the Forester you can see that in the yrs the tow rating went up. They shared the same running gear etc. suspension was a little different but struts were swapable lots of old Outback guys put Forrester struts on the OB etc.

My guess is those are the yrs your seeing possible options. The 2.5 EJ is a pretty tough engine but lots of people abuse the hell out of them and high probability you get a steaming pile of crap in that 5k price range. Subaru owners are the opposite of Lexus owners ha ha!!! Maintenance ha who does that its a Subaru they run on Unicorn farts right?

No seriously the one car I wont buy used are old Subarus unless I plan on a complete rebuild suspension, axles oem only, engine rebuild oem only stuff etc. They are easy to work on but fixing a trashed Subaru sucks.
Just sayn