1. How good is the Jeep Active Drive I?
Over on the other forum I frequent, someone took their ADI Cherokee Sport against another fellow with a 4x4 Dodge Dakota truck in loose mud in a saturated field, and the Cherokee won handily Link
I can personally only speak to ADII myself, but since I haven't had occasion to pull out the 4-low capabilities yet (waiting to retrofit the skid plates before doing anything too crazy), it works out to roughly the same thing except for the minor lift. I like the ability to directly manage power axle bias via the various terrain modes, something that I haven't seen from most of the other AWD implementations.
2. I heard about the transmsission problems. The dealer says that has since been fixed. How accurate is this?
As far as I know, the real mechanical problems were with a snap ring failure with the early 2014 transmissions that have been fixed since December 2014 forward. The rest of the fixes have all been software flashes that have played around with the shift patterns.
One of the "problems" I think most people are having is that the ZF transmission has 'smart / learning' features that is supposed to tailor the shift patterns to match the individual style of each driver, but it takes time & miles to learn the behavior, so early shifting patterns right after you pull off the lot are going to be significantly different then, say, 2 weeks later. Just speaking for myself I had a TCM flash performed with an unrelated issue, and noticed an improvement, but overall I've had no personal problems with the transmission or the general shift patterns.
3. I am also considering a Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring. Any thoughts about how they compare?
I considered the Forester during my car research period over about 6 months and I've had experience driving around a Subaru Impreza for a few years. It was a good little car, but I eventually got put off by the limitations of the 4 cylinder engine it had (too many hills on my commute with a screaming transmission and engine), and getting a genuine V6 was one of the factors that leaned me towards the Cherokee. If towing is a consideration, even the base Cherokee Tigershark I4 can still handle 500 lbs more then the turbo Forester @ 2000 lbs. If you go with the V6 & tow package, that climbs to 4500 lbs.
Just speaking for myself, I don't particularly enjoy the CVT transmission implementations, though I can't speak to the Forester directly. The CVTs seem too noisy for my taste. That's one thing the V6 Cherokee seems to excel at is handling road noise, it's very composed even under load.
4. What would be a fair price for the one I'm looking at. The dealer has taken around $1500 off from sticker before rebates and incentives.
Looking at that particular listing, I find it a bit overpriced, but not crazily so. I paid about 32k for my 15 Latitude that had most available options compared to the Limited. With the addition of the safetytech package, luxury leather / vented seats, HID lights, & the 8.4AN radio /w nav it seems reasonable. I can tell you that dealers in my immediate area are asking for 42k /w less options then what you have listed on there for versions of the Limited.