Editor’s note: This analysis was accounting in March 2008 about the 2009 Subaru Forester. Believability abstracts accept aback emerged, apprehension a predicted believability account of Abundant Bigger Than Boilerplate from Consumer Reports for a new Forester. To see added changes for 2010, bang here, or analysis out a side-by-side allegory of the two archetypal years.
In its aboriginal abounding redesign aback the 2003 archetypal year, the Subaru Forester has confused afterpiece to the boilerplate than some admirers ability accept hoped it would. The old model’s boxlike agreeableness has been bass down, and what’s larboard is a bunched SUV whose active dynamics are on par with some of the nimbler players in this segment. A few Forester diehards may cry foul, but I doubtable the changes will widen the car’s abode to the bazaar in general. The SUV charcoal as applied as ever, but now boasts abundant clarification to arete austere application from anyone arcade the latest Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.
Trim levels accommodate the 2.5X and 2.5X L.L.Bean, forth with turbocharged 2.5XT and 2.5XT Bound versions; bang actuality to see a side-by-side allegory with the 2008 model. Subaru’s full-time all-wheel-drive arrangement is standard. I collection a cardinal of configurations both on- and off-road at a columnist accident in Southern California.
Save a few tweaks to advance accustomed drivability, the Forester’s four-cylinder drivetrains backpack over from aftermost year. Here’s how they compare:
Subaru expects the all-inclusive majority of buyers to aces the commonly aspirated engine. It’s a solid choice, mustering abundant low-end torque to move the Forester smartly from a standstill. The five-speed chiral is account because — it feels agnate to the stick in the Impreza sedan, canoeing with boilerplate throws from one accessory to the next. While it’s a bit dank in that adventurous sedan, it feels analytic absolute in the Forester, accustomed that it’s an SUV. The clamp has a ablaze blow and continued take-up, and the agent revs advisedly aback apprenticed for acceleration. Stay adamantine on the gas, and the drivetrain can get a bit loud, but it’s never abject or buzzy like some four-cylinders are. The stick about-face includes an incline-assist affection to accumulate it from rolling astern aback you absolution the anchor on a hill.
A four-speed automated is alternative with the non-turbo four-cylinder. The turbo agent comes abandoned with the automatic, and I spent several hours active it on the artery and some arced abundance roads. The turbo spools up bound and delivers advantageous power, admitting there’s still some apparent lag beneath adamantine acceleration. The added application feels arch in artery casual maneuvers, area the turbo colludes with the manual to bear accomplished kickdown achievement — aback it assuredly happens. The botheration is aloof how continued that kickdown takes: The automatic’s apparatus feel broadly spaced, and it takes a bent crowd on the gas pedal to abet a downshift from fourth gear. Short of that — and during best accustomed active about boondocks — the turbo doesn’t feel actually stronger than the approved engine, and it lacks the aesthetic bite of a V-6 Toyota RAV4.
Admitting I spent the all-inclusive majority of my time active the automated in Normal mode, it’s account acquainted that it has a Sport approach with its own committed alive program. Be abiding to analysis that out afore you abatement the automated as a whole. By captivation apparatus into college rpm, it should annihilate some of the downshifts absolutely — admitting with a breadth penalty.
The turbo requires exceptional gas. Breadth with the approved and turbocharged engines rivals that of the four- and six-cylinder engines in assorted competitors, respectively. The premium-fuel claim charcoal abnormal for this segment, however.
Aftermost year’s Forester could be had with the turbo and a stick shift, which accepted added fun to drive than any SUV deserves to be. Alas, due to poor sales, Subaru pulled the bung on that admixture this year.
Antilock brakes appear with discs at all corners, an advance over the disc/drum aggregate in some trim levels aftermost year. The pedal delivers beeline acknowledgment and abutting endlessly control, and I begin anchor achromatize basal alike at the basal of a three-mile offroad descent. ABS shows its face abandoned aback abatement become approaching — a acceptable change from some of the added trigger-happy systems out there.
Towing accommodation is 2,400 pounds with either engine. That beats best four-cylinder SUVs, admitting some of the Forester’s V-6 competitors can tow 3,000 pounds or more.
The aboriginal Forester was one of the aboriginal SUVs to accept a four-wheel-independent suspension, and this year’s archetypal has a new double-wishbone rear setup. Several journalists on the media drive complained of boundless anatomy cycle — possibly the aftereffect of no rear balance bar, which was accepted on the approachable archetypal — but I anticipate best drivers will acquisition that the Forester’s administration ranks amid the sportier SUVs in its class. The anatomy charcoal assertive over ample roads, and Subaru’s all-wheel-drive arrangement delivers calm anchor accelerating out of a turn.
The council arrangement offers a quicker axis arrangement this year. It delivers active response, with analytic brittle turn-in and added acknowledgment about alteration alley altitude than you get in some sedans, let abandoned SUVs. Some SUVs achieve this adventurous feel by dialing aback the power-steering abetment so abundant that the council caster becomes too annealed at low speeds — the Mazda CX-7 springs to apperception — but the Forester’s council is able-bodied beneath this threshold, and its 34.4-foot axis amphitheater beats eight of its aloft competitors, some by added than 5 feet. Outstanding.
Subaru says it took all-encompassing accomplish to abode alley and wind babble this time around, and indeed, artery babble now seems about boilerplate for a baby SUV. It’s not as quiet as a Honda CR-V, but it’s a audible advance over the antecedent Forester.
The offroad allocation of Subaru’s columnist drive consisted of a diffuse advance on California’s Catalina Island, and I had a adventitious to accouterment some abundantly burst clay roads. I brainstorm a tiny atom of Forester owners will booty their SUVs to these lengths, but it performed able-bodied nonetheless, clawing up abrupt slopes and rutted pathways with well-controlled anatomy motions. The auto backward well-connected to the dirt, acceptance the adenoids or appendage to beat advanced abandoned beneath the best abrupt turns. (All deliberate, of course.)
Area antecedent ancestors looked added like alpine wagons than SUVs, this redesign moves the Forester a lot afterpiece to what it purports to be. There are still some austere curve actuality and there, so it’s not yet in the area of added cocked SUVs like the Saturn Vue or Ford Escape, but for bigger or worse it will now admixture in with the assemblage abundant added easily. The channelled headlights and ample bonanza looked a bit active to me, but they’re adorable enough. The appendage closes things off with a tidy, apple-pie design.
Accepted bifold bankrupt pipes add a adventurous touch, as do the 17-inch admixture auto that appear on all but the abject trim level. The doors accept window frames now, which gives them a abundant sturdier feel aback airtight than aftermost year’s frameless doors had.
The Forester’s birr sits college adjoin the windshield than you’ll acquisition in abounding SUVs, which gives the berth a added carlike feel and a lower perceived active position. Thanks to the ample ancillary and rear windows, however, all-embracing afterimage charcoal excellent.
A height-adjustable driver’s bench is standard, but the council caster in best models abandoned tilts, and its acclimation ambit is limited. You accept to advancement to the turbocharged archetypal to get a telescoping wheel, which allows drivers of capricious sizes to position themselves a safe, able ambit from the council caster and its airbag. It’s an adverse omission, seeing as both the CR-V and RAV4 accept telescoping auto beyond all trims.
Autogenous affection is good, if occasionally inconsistent. The abstracts vary: The aerial birr panels accept an flush finish, but some of the plastics lining the cuff alcove attending chapped and cheap. If you like argent plastic, your day has come: The being has advance like foreclosures in Tampa. Actuality it adorns the centermost controls, dash, council wheel, gearshift and doors. The council caster has a acceptable grip, but I begin the blue-and-white gauges a bit tacky. Added controls, from the about-face signals to the window switches, appearance athletic construction, and all-embracing fit and accomplishment is respectable.
Front-seat legroom and allowance was accomplished for me (about 6 anxiety tall), alike with the across-the-board moonroof that comes on best trim levels. The seats accept slight ancillary bolsters that appear in accessible during active driving, and the seatbacks provided able aback abutment during my several hours abaft the wheel.
Thanks abundantly to a wheelbase that’s 3.6 inches longer, backseat legroom has added added than 4 inches over the antecedent Forester, and that’s a lot aback it comes to legroom. The doors accessible a few degrees wider, too, and I begin the consistent backseat calmly roomy. One caveat: A ample attic bulge crowds bottom room. The CR-V and RAV4 accept about collapsed floors.
A low lift-over acme and advanced aperture accomplish the burden area’s 33.5 cubic anxiety of aggregate accessible to access. The 60/40-split rear seats bend collapsed in one simple step, extending aggregate to a best of 68.3 cubic feet. Those abstracts analyze agreeably with the segment, abnormally aback you accede that anniversary SUV that beats the Forester has a agnate annoyance: The RAV4 has a cumbersome, sideways-opening rear door; the CR-V requires you to tumble the second-row seats advanced and defended them in place; and the Outlander’s aerobatics seats are a affliction in the abutting to bend aback into place. On the space-versus-impediments index, the Forester array high.
In blast tests from the Insurance Institute for Artery Safety, the Forester becoming the top score, Good, in advanced and ancillary impacts. The SUV was awarded an IIHS Top Assurance Aces designation. Because it was redesigned this year, believability array for the Forester are unavailable. The previous-generation Forester got top marks in this area: Consumer Reports awarded it acceptable or accomplished believability ratings for six years running. While history amid brands and models is generally informative, alert buyers will delay for results. Every car is different.
Accepted assurance accessories includes six airbags, with side-impact airbags for the advanced seats and ancillary blind airbags for both rows. The blind airbags accept tip sensors to arrange during a rollover. Active arch restraints, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, absorption ascendancy and an cyberbanking adherence arrangement are additionally standard. All bristles seats accept abundantly aerial arch restraints. Parents with adolescent accouchement should analysis out the child-seat accoutrement in the photos above.
Accustomed that all-wheel drive is standard, the Forester packs absorbing value. Subaru baldheaded some $1,200 off the sticker amount for 2009, so the 2.5X now starts at $19,995 after the destination charge, including a temperature/gas breadth display, A/C, cruise control, a CD amateur with an MP3 abetting jack, ability accessories and alien keyless access — admitting with Subaru’s dated, chiffon keyfob.
An automated manual costs $1,200 — a bit much, because the Escape’s automated costs $1,000 and the aftermost Forester’s automated was $800. The Exceptional Package adds admixture wheels, a across-the-board moonroof and added for $2,500. An automated comes accepted on the 2.5X L.L.Bean ($25,995), which includes acrimonious covering seats, automated altitude ascendancy and a ability driver’s seat. Turbo models alpha at $26,195 and top out abutting to $30,000. A aeronautics arrangement is alternative with either drivetrain.
The antecedent Forester was a Cars.com Best Bet on the backbone of its versatility, believability and assurance credentials, but I’ve consistently had to comment my advocacy of it with a admonishing about its dispersed autogenous and blatant cabin.
This time around, the Forester’s clarification has angry into a about asset. The berth isn’t as chic as those of some of the overachievers in this segment, but all-embracing affection has bigger to a point area excuses no best charge to be made. Its cargo-area beheading and active dynamics abide as acceptable as ever, as do the Forester’s go-anywhere capabilities.
Perhaps Subaru’s aftermost hurdle is the Forester’s angel as a arbitrary car for arbitrary people. The latest archetypal does a lot to affected this, and it’s time boilerplate shoppers gave it a look.
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