Subaru was ahead of the curve with the 2004-2008 Forester XT. Maybe too far ahead of the curve… making a ‘performance crossover’ for a buyer who didn’t really exist yet. Or at least… hadn’t matured yet. See back in ’04, the WRX & STi were the no-brainer Subarus for the import-tuning generation. But as our families & vehicular needs ultimately grew, the Forester XT became the answer that no longer existed. At least not with a manual transmission to make it relevant. Why the heck not??

Forester XT

What Subaru created with the 04-08 Forester XT…

Was simplistically brilliant. It was essentially a nimble yet utilitarian storage bin with all-wheel-drive, a boxer engine, boost, AND a manual transmission option. The Forester XT was a crossover for people who weren’t dead to driving. Think about it… in today’s car market, how refreshing would it be to have a cargo-carrying crossover that genuinely wanted to take a run at corners? Something that came with AWD, 3-pedals, and a turbocharger on the spec sheet. 

SG Forester XT

The Subaru Forester XT was an enthusiast-minded platform that can do it all… 

Lower it or lift it. Rip mountain roads, or wander mountain trails. Pull the spare tire & hit the track, or load the stroller & hit Disney World. Heck, we even have a buddy who drifts one. The Forester XT made the ‘family car’ fun.

lowered Forester XT

And here’s a thought:

Raising a family should be fun. It should raise the bar on adventure. When did parenting and/or ‘growing up’ become a damnation to forgettable, disconnected, generic crossovers? Moments are more valuable than electronic conveniences. And our time spent together in the car should be memorable, stimulating, eye-opening, & connecting. Instead though…

The modern world has adapted a commercialized, ironic, & secluded version of the word ‘connected’. One where your windows are up & your car’s connected to your phone. And your phone’s connected to your attention, and your attention is connected to anything but the road or the moment. It’s also a world where your obscenely high car payment is connected to automatic withdrawal… & your heated seats are connected to a monthly subscription lol. But the good news is…

Forester STi sawp

You can excuse yourself from that insanity…

Don’t like the game… don’t play it. If you’ve got the mechanical know-how to maintain a solid but ‘seasoned’ (older) platform, the Forester XT is both 1/5 the price & 100% more interesting than whatever the bloated new model is. And if you don’t yet have that mechanical know-how… maybe it’s time to use that phone to hey-Siri a new skill. Car culture is here to help. And these days, having the ability to maintain an older vehicle opens your options, gives you more freedom, and enriches your life behind the wheel. 

lowered Forester

This is Jonathan Holtzleiter’s 2004 Subaru Forester XT… errrr XTi:

He’s essentially transformed his XT into Forester STi with 340hp & 400tq. And – there’s more coming over the winter season. The meat of which – will be an STi 6-speed transmission so that a bigger turbo can be added to make around 500+hp. Look for this Forester XT to make an updated S3 appearance sometime this Spring/Summer.

Photos by Dustin Sparks


EJ257 STi Type RA short block

ARP head studs

Refreshed OEM heads 

Perrin turbo inlet

Custom fender-routed intake 

Ported STi intake manifold 

IAG tgv deletes 

Injector Dynamics 1050 injectors 

Top Feed conversion with 2015+ STi OEM fuel rails 

Walbro 255 fuel pump 

IAG Street air-oil separator

Cobb 3-port boost controller 

Vf48 turbo (STi turbo 2008-2019)

Braided oil lines for turbo 

2014 STi intercooler

Grimspeed intercooler hose kit

Johnson Tuning speed density kit 

Invidia downpipe

Tomei header and up-pipe 

Grimspeed turbo heat shield 

Invidia G200 exhaust

Kartboy solid extended exhaust hangers

Koyo radiator

Grimspeed radiator hoses 

07 STi expansion tank 

STi oil pan & dipstick

Killer B oil pickup & baffle 

Group N motor mounts 

Powder coated valve covers (wrinkle black) 

Forester XT STi

Transmission / Driveline

South Bend clutch – HD stage-2 street 

ACT monolock collar

Kartboy short shifter, front & rear shifter stay bushings 

Group N transmission mount 

TIC pink transmission crossmember bushings & shifter linkage 

Torque Solutions aluminum driveshaft bushings 

Kartboy rear subframe lock bolts 

JDM Forester STi conversion

Suspension / Brakes / Wheels

Feal 441 coilovers

JDM STi front upper strut bar 

Whiteline rear strut bar 

Cusco nose brace

JDM Forester STi front control arms… 

With Whiteline front bushings & caster-adding bushings 

GD STi rear trailing arms with Whiteline bushings 

Whiteline swaybars (and braces) front & rear 

Kartboy solid endlinks 

JDM STi pink trailing arms 

GD STi trailing arm brackets 

Whiteline rear lower knuckle bushing

STi master cylinder

Cusco master cylinder brace 

Goodridge stainless steel braided brake lines 

GD STi Brembo brake calipers (added since shoot)

StopTech pads & rotors

STi power steering pump 

Whiteline roll center adjuster kit 

Enkei RPF1s 17×8 

Bridgestone Potenza RE71R – 245/40/17


07 STi steering wheel 

Fastwrx mount for Cobb Accessport

05 WRX front seats 

JDM red hazard switch

05 Forester hvac controls w/ black overlays

Kenwood touchscreen headunit 

Custom weighted shift knob 

Forester XT


JDM Cross Sport frontend with Crossfire lip

Also has JDM headlights & a JDM Forester STi hood scoop

Lamin-X yellow fog light covers 

JDM Forester wing 

08 Forester X roof moldings

Mirrors, c-pillar trim, roof moldings, and rear hatch garnish all color-matched Java Black 

Kill All Wipers rear wiper delete

JDM Forester taillights 


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