Pedders Lift Kit Makes the 4th Gen Subaru Forester More Off-Road Capable Than an SUV

Photography: Brandon Cody

  • The Australia-based suspension company, Pedders, is world renowned for its aftermarket suspension upgrades.
  • Pedders lift kits focus on improving ride quality and handling characteristics via proven engineering solutions and real-world testing.
  • The 4th Gen Subaru Forester (2014-2019) TrakRyder EziFit kit is a plug-and-play, 2” lift that offers additional wheel, tire, and ground clearance.

Intelligent design, value, and capability are deeply embedded into Subaru’s core culture. Largely, the Japanese moniker is best known for its Boxer-powered 4WD cars, some of which dominated the World Rally Championship (WRC) through the late 90s and early naughts. That’s the kind of street credit you need if you’re trying to convince consumers that your cars are up for the toughest tasks. But in 2008, Subaru shocked the world by withdrawing from the WRC. Times were tough for everyone back then, but Subaru’s decision was like the LA Lakers choosing to leave the NBA.

WAKKA WAKKA

This decision seemed to impact more than the WRC. Subaru’s cars softened too, and one of the enthusiast’s favorite platforms—the Forester—transitioned from an Impreza-based rally wagon into a sensible crossover SUV for its third time around the sun. It may have lost some “cool points” with that move, but outside of enthusiast camps, the more SUV-like Forester won over drivers who wanted more practicality, comfort, and frugal gas mileage out of their vehicles. That trend continued with the car you see here, the fourth-generation Fozzie (2014-2019). But before you crucify it, take an honest look at what Subaru offered us with its Forester reinterpretation. Each metric—practicality, comfort, and gas mileage—are all incredibly useful tools off the beaten path. All the Forester really needed was a little help from the aftermarket to redeem some of the street credit it lost a little more than a decade ago.

THE ONLY CHOICE

There’s only one name in the aftermarket where I’d start: Pedders. The Australia-based company is known for its suspension upgrades, and if you’re keen on transforming the Forester into an off-road workhorse, that’s the first bit of kit that needs to change. To make things easy, Pedders has created a TrakRyder EziFit kit (PED-919138), which is a 2” lift that offers additional wheel, tire, and ground clearance right out of the box. It may also surprise you that comfort and sharpness are also improved. Even though these metrics are on opposite sides of the spectrum, Pedders has prioritized defining and committing to a delicate balance between the two on each suspension kit it manufactures. The “Pedders feel” is a signature that the brand is proud to tout and this 4th gen Forester is another happy recipient of this upgrade. This complete lift kit includes four fully assembled strut and spring assemblies, a rear subframe relocation kit, and a rear sway bar relocation kit.

TAKE IT EZ

Pedders labels this kit as “EziFit”, which means that each unit is pre-assembled—strut, spring, boot, and strut mount—which makes it a much easier installation compared to other kits that require a spring compressor and tedious pre-assembly. “Our ‘EziFits’ make it easy and substantially cuts down on overall installation time,” said Reid Yoken, Sales Manager for Pedders USA.

METHOD MAN

The owner of this Forester decided that it was as good a time as any to install a new set of wheels and tires. Method Standard 502 Rally wheels were shod with Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail rubber in 235/65R17 all around. The set, especially in tandem with the 2” lift kit, will further accentuate the Forester’s off-road intent.

INSTALLATION TIPS + REVIEW

As usual, we called upon our friends at R/T Tuning, a speed shop in Montgomeryville, PA, to perform all the necessary work. Side by side, the Pedders lift kit is a few cuts above the factory suspension. In addition to its commitment to ride quality and performance, you could easily tell that they’ve also taken the time to consider longevity; the strut and spring assemblies look and feel well-made and the signature red coating will help the kit stand up to the rigors of on and off-road duty.

The installation process was relatively straightforward. One thing to note is that the kit is cross-compatible with the Subaru Outback. Pedders includes enough hardware to account for both chassis, so don’t be surprised if you have a couple of bits left over after you put this lift on your Forester.

RISE TO THE OCCASION

As advertised, the Pedders kit adds 2” stilts to the Forester’s heels. The extra clearance is undoubtedly useful off-road, but happily, none of that extra capability is achieved at the expense of its road manners. The Pedders-equipped Forester doesn’t feel abnormally top-heavy, nor is the lift aggressive enough to upset the factory geometry. Since this Forester will still be a daily driver, those takeaways are extremely valuable. The owner reportedly averaged 30mpg on a ~250-mile drive to Connecticut, even with the lift and off-road tires.

Pedders describes this lift kit as “Medium Duty”. This means the company’s lift is suitable for vehicles that handle occasional loads up to 600 lbs, but isn’t recommended for constant loads (i.e. rooftop tents or tire carriers). Pedders is reportedly working on a heavy-duty variant of this kit to specifically deal with those demands, but an official launch date has yet to be determined.

Don’t let that lingering news deter you from pulling the trigger on this kit; for most people, “Medium Duty” is more than enough and you’ll quickly find that your Forester—especially with a good set of wheels and tires—will help you navigate the off-road landscape with more ease than fellow mid-size SUVs on the trail.


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