The Subaru Forester is a compact SUV that seats five, offers good cargo capability and excellent foul weather capability. The Forester competes with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, though the Forester offers better handling than those two, on dry pavement but especially on wet pavement, snow, ice or dirt.
Subaru's all-wheel-drive system, which comes standard, gives the Forester outstanding traction and capability in foul weather and it's fully equipped with safety features. Forester achieved the best-possible five-star rating in all government crash tests, and a four-star rating for resistance to rolling over. Forester has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Forester comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with single overhead cam rated at 170 horsepower. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 20/26 mpg City/Highway with automatic transmission.
The turbocharged Forester XT has twin cams and boasts 224 horsepower. The XT is more desirable because of its superior power, though it calls for Premium fuel and rates 19/24 mpg. Forester's 16.9-gallon fuel tank can last about 400 miles on the highway.
Introduced as an all-new model for 2009, this is the third generation of the Forester, and it's the best-selling Forester ever and the best-selling model in the Subaru line. Redesigned for the 2009 model year, the Forester features a wider track and longer wheelbase than before, a double wishbone rear suspension, more cargo space, more rear-seat legroom. There's more ground clearance, a super tight steering radius with quicker steering, rear doors that swing open nearly 75 degrees, and more power for the base 2.5-liter engine.
For 2010, Forester benefits from a revised instrument cluster with easier-to-see colors, and you can choose which interior lamps light when you open a door. The 2010 Forester 2.5X Premium comes with a 10-way power driver's seat, and the optional navigation system now includes Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.
The 2010 Subaru Forester comes in three trim levels, all with all-wheel drive. The 2.5X models come with the 170-hp engine; 2.5XT models get the 224-hp turbocharged engine.
Forester 2.5X ($20,295) comes with black or platinum cloth upholstery, air conditioning with rear vents and an air filtration system, a 60/40 split rear seat, sound system with single-disc CD, height and lumbar adjustment for the driver's seat, cruise control, rear window wiper, and a trailer wiring connector, and 16-inch steel wheels with wheelcovers. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; a four-speed automatic ($21,495) is available. A Special Edition Package ($400) adds 16-inch alloy wheels and roof rails.
Forester 2.5X Premium ($22,795) adds 17-inch alloy wheels with wider-profile all-season tires, privacy glass, 10-way power driver's seat, a reclining rear seat with retractable tray, roof rails, power moonroof, and steering wheel audio switches. Exterior mirrors are body-color and door handles are chromed. There's a choice of five-speed manual or automatic ($23,795). A cold weather package ($400) includes heated seats, mirrors, and wiper de-icer.
Forester 2.5X Limited ($25,995) features perforated leather seats in black or platinum, seatback storage pockets, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, 6CD changer with MP3/WMA and six-speaker Circle Surround Sound, automatic climate control, foglights, chrome tailpipes. It comes with the automatic transmission and cold-weather package as standard.
Optional on the 2.5X Limited is a touch-screen navigation system ($1,800) that includes a stereo upgrade, auxiliary audio and video input jacks, Sirius Satellite Radio, and a Bluetooth hands-free microphone. A Navigation and Convenience Package ($2,300) bundles all of the above with HID headlights, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, one-touch folding rear seats, and a cargo cover.
Forester 2.5XT Premium ($26,495) features upgraded cloth upholstery, aluminum pedal covers, a telescoping steering column, and the Limited-level stereo. Outside it's distinguished by fog lights, chrome tailpipes, a rear roof spoiler, and a functional hood scoop. Premium comes with the automatic transmission.
Forester 2.5XT Limited ($28,495) adds the automatic climate control, leather-trimmed upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and the all-weather package. The navigation package is optional.
Safety equipment includes two-stage frontal airbags, side-impact airbags in front, and airbag curtains; active front head restraints; LATCH child safety seat system; and a tire pressure monitor. All Forester models come with all-wheel drive, Vehicle Dynamics Control with four-wheel traction control and electronic limited slip differential, and anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (which adjusts front-to-rear brake balance as the car's weight pitches forward under hard braking) and Brake Assist (which applies additional braking, based on how quickly the driver applies the pedal).