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2004 XT Forester

Building the ultimate off-road forester! Take two...

This was it! A clean slate and a fresh start. I've built two off-road foresters now and have been in the game since I got my license in 2014. Its time to put all that knowledge to use and build my ultimate off-road forester!  

I know for this build I wanted to build up an XT forester and finally experience what a boxer turbo is like and my god does it transform the car! 

Being identical to my previous forester in every way other than the turbo, sitting in the forester you wouldn't know any different, but when you put the foot on the accelerator its just a different beast all together! 


Seeing as the XT was the same shape, I was able to transfer over all the essential parts from my last build to give me a quick head start. That meant the bullbar, lights, roof rack and wheels were a strait swap. 

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Building my perfect forester...

Being my third lifted Subaru build I knew exactly how I wanted to build this one up. Luckily I could swap all the good parts over from my last build but there were certainly going to be a few changes with this one as well. 

Starting with the suspension, this time round I opted for a 2" front, 2.5" rear lift kit again by Subieliftoz. Its a size that doesn't put too much stress on the drive shafts but provides a good amount of ground clearance. The best thing is that a 2" lift is also legal and as I want to use this vehicle for travel it will provide less hassle with the boys and girls in blue. To correct the alignment I again opted for camber bolts in the rear.



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The biggest modification I have made so far has been the installation of the dual range gearbox, swapping out the old 5 speed manual the car came with. 

The swap was quite the task but well worth the results as I swapped my custom off-road gearbox in. 

One of the great things about the Subarus is they are almost like lego and you can mix and match parts to suit, and this was a perfect example. The gearbox was a direct bolt on, however I did have to change the clutch type from a pull type to a push type and fit the interior trim from my old forester (luckily those parts didn't burn) for a factory looking finish. 

The only thing I didn't swap was the R160 Torq locker as I wasn't a fan of the automatic locking functions so I opted for the factory VLSD for now. 

The turbo and dual range combination has absolutely blown me away with the capability of the car and I can't recommend it enough if your going to spend big money to make a Subaru off-road capable. 

So whats next? As with any project car, does the build ever finish? We are always adapting with new needs and new mods available on the market. In my case I have identified what makes Subaru's great off-road is the small size and light weight mixed with their capable all wheel drive system. So to keep the car at its most capable I've decided to try and keep it as lightweight as possible. Now I know in the off-road world all we do is add weight by adding heavy bar work and camping gear, but this is where I want to make the biggest changes. When it comes to wheels, I want to change mine out to lighter alloy wheels with all terrain tyres to reduce the rotational mass. 

For the roof I've opted for a lightweight aluminium rack setup and for my camping gear I plan to keep things as minimal as possible.  

Subaru's are great off-road vehicles as long as you know their boundaries. They are made for adventuring so keep them lightweight and avoid tracks which require a lot of ground clearance as thats one thing these machines do lack. 


In terms of future mods I plan to do a R180 swap and install an R180 ARB airlocker so that I have a selectable diff locker in the rear. 

My current street sign skid plate does the job, but more protection is always welcome so some better underbody protection is on the list. 

As of yet I don't have a snorkel so a stainless steel snorkel with a custom intake is also on the cards as well as diff breathers front and rear.

Finally looking at performance, being a turbo model there is lots of performance potential, but the reliability factor also goes down.  Being an overland vehicle I need that reliability so a cylinder four coolant mod and air oil separator are definitely on the list as well. 

In terms of making power, its a Subaru turbo so an exhaust and a custom tune is probably as far as I will take it to keep the balance of reliability and performance.    

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The Specs/Mods


  • Engine: 2.5L Boxer Turbo

  • Power: 155kW

  • Torque: 320Nm 

  • Gearbox: Dual Range 5 speed manual


  • Subieliftoz 2"/2.5" lift kit

  • Subieliftoz 2" rear trailing arm spacers

  • Whiteline rear camber bolts

  • King Springs heavy duty standard height springs  rear

  • Whiteline heavy duty end links front

  • Sway bar removed rear

  • OX wheels OX817 5x100 15"x6.5" et25 rims


  • Kumho Road Ventura KL71 M/T tyres 215/75r15


  • ADS custom built dual range gearbox featuring:

  • 4.44 final drive swap

  • 1.47 low range kit

  • ADS 20kg centre diff

  • Cusco RS 1.5 way Front clutch type LSD

  • OEM VLSD rear

  • Whiteline transmission mount insert

  • 1-2 gears from late model impreza

  • 3-5 gears from WRX including longer 5th gear

  • Braided clutch line


  • Kap Industries Fire extinguisher 

  • LED lights

  • STI shift knob

  • Kartboy short shift kit 


  • Subaxtreme Bullbar 

  • Steet sign sump gaurd

  • Rhino Rack Vortex cross bars

  • Rhino Rack aluminium tray 

  • Adventure Kings Awning 2mx2.5m

  • Rhino Rack Spare wheel holder

  • Adventure Kings 6" LED spot lights 


  • APHN Industries Radiator Shroud 

  • Mishimoto alloy radiator

  • Battery isolator switch

  • Ebay bonnet strut kit

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