May 21, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 29 September 2011 10:52
If the 2011 Subaru Forester has any major deficiencies, the most notable of them may be a disturbing lack of deficiencies. Past Foresters, dating back more than a decade, were tough customers with character. The modern Forester’s character — the rumbling boxer engine; the firm-to-harsh ride; the relatively high noise level — have been muted to the vanishing point.
Back in the day, Subarus were fine for very small adults, but big people experienced claustrophobia, especially in the cramped back seats. Today’s Forester is quiet, refined and roomy, more like a full-dress Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV-4 than the cars Subaru aficionados have come to love during the make’s nearly half-century presence in the U.S. market.Our Forester 2.5X Premium had all the usual Subaru features, including symmetrical all-wheel drive, a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder, 170-horsepower boxer (horizontally opposed) engine, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and peerless reliability as well as an excellent safety record. Its transmission was a dinosaur, a 4-speed shiftable automatic in a time when 7-speed gearboxes are common. But that combination served up more than acceptable thrust and a respectable 27 mpg on the highway, using regular gasoline.
Redesigned three years ago, the Forester is more civilized than its predecessor but not quite as well thought out. For example, the doors feel substantial but emit a tinny sound when closed. The controls associated with the TomTom navigation system and audio system are so tiny and fussy, drivers and passengers routinely make mistakes while trying to operate them while the car is moving.
The TomTom is nevertheless a clever design. Like the GPS units in a few of the Suzukis we’ve driven, it’s a conventional hand-held, removable GPS mounted in a frame on the dashboard. The design saves money: The desirable all-weather package, including heated front seats, windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors and navigation system, adds just $1,095 to the sticker price.
Also clever and desirable is the convenient tray located under the cargo area deck. It’s a standard feature.
How civilized is this Forester? At a base price of $23,495, it has a panoramic power moon roof, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control, power door locks with remote keyless entry, power windows, exterior temperature gauge and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. Options brought our test car to $26,384. The base Forester 2.5X, also well equipped, starts at $20,495.
Foresters are noted for excellent reliability and crash protection. The new model hasn’t undergone government testing yet but has been designated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
We were amazed at the rear leg room in this compact sport-utility vehicle. A 6-foot-tall adult was able to sit comfortably in the back seat behind a similarly sized adult in front. That puts it near the top of the list of cars that will transport you and two or three of your friends, and all your gear, to a hunting or fishing cabin in the mountains.
Engine: 2.5-liter horizontally opposed Four, 170 horsepower, 174 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 4-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 3,300 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, double wishbone rear
Ground clearance: 8.7 inches
Wheels: 17-inch by 7-inch alloy
Tires: 225/55R17 95H all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 30.8 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 63 cu. ft.
Maximum towing capacity: 2,400 lb.
Fuel capacity: 16,9 gallons
Fuel economy: 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
Fuel type: Regular unleaded
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