The older Foresters had a 4 speed automatic transmission. They may not have done as well?
The passenger seat is lower, & that is dumb. I've never been a passenger in mine, however. Not a big deal to me.
There are some things that I really like about my 2011 Forester, but I liked my 1st generation 2000 Honda CRV LX AWD manual better. 1st generation Honda CRV was a bit quirky like a Mirage, but it was my favorite vehicle of all time. I like simple & basic. If a vehicle is not offered with a manual transmission, I lose all interest, too. Thus, not much interests me these days.