I finally figured out why the Forester feels so slow:
Here in the Northeast US, the maximum legal speed anywhere is 65 mph, less than half-scale, and typical around-town speeds hit 40 mph, barely 1/4 of full scale.
For all practical purposes, that needle barely moves during our usual trips.
I like analog gauges to represent smoothly varying quantities that you must read at a glance, but a big digital display would actually be more useful than that thing.
A 150 mph speedometer scale makes no sense in what’s basically a shrunken all-wheel-drive SUV, even with minimal off-road capabilities. Yes, perhaps the Forester could hit 150 mph, but why not have the scale top out around, say, 100 mph? Above that, you shouldn’t be paying much attention to the speedo, anyway.
The Sienna’s speedo went to 110 and, to the best of my knowledge, that needle never passed 85 mph, tops. However, ordinary (and legal) driving speeds filled the lower half of the scale, with the highest useful speeds in the next quadrant beyond vertical.
Yes, I know why the speedos sport such absurd numbers. I don’t have to like it.
There’s a servo motor (or some such) driving the needle; calibration has been a simple matter of software for a long, long time.
For whatever it’s worth, the Forester and the Sienna have both tachometers and automatic transmissions, a combination that converts shifting into a spectator sport. The Forester’s continuously variable transmission moves the tach needle in smooth glides, rather than abrupt jumps.