A few years ago, my brother Bill called me from his home in Virginia. He
and his wife, Debbie, were looking for a new car. They wanted good fuel
economy, enough room for a couple of friends or some cargo on occasion,
a reasonable price, and rock solid reliability.
Oh, and they requested
safety in the occasional light snowstorm. It all pointed to one car, the
Subaru Forester. They’ve been very happy with their 2005 model.
When we visited them
two years ago we found the Forester’s one weak spot - the rear seat room
for three. Well, the all-new 2009 third generation Forester has solved
that problem. With its 3.6-inch longer wheelbase, the new model offers
4.3 inches of additional legroom, 2 more inches of shoulder room, and
even .6 inch of bonus headroom, although that spec was never an issue.
The original Forester
was really just a tall, all-wheel-drive wagon based on the Impreza
model, but that put it at the forefront of a major trend today - the
“crossover.” Today’s all-new ’09 looks slightly more like an SUV,
standing a full four inches taller. At 3,300 pounds, it also weighs 200
pounds more than the previous version. Despite this, it drives as nimbly
as before, and can be had with a manual transmission in some versions.
Models include the
2.5X, 2.5X with Premium Package, and 2.5X Limited. You can also order up
the turbo version as the 2.5XT and 2.5XT Limited. Standard models get
Subaru’s horizontally opposed 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, upgraded
from 165 to 170 horsepower and an equal torque rating. The turbo model
bumps those numbers to 224 horsepower and 226 lb.-ft. of torque.
Every Forester comes
well stocked with features and equipment, including four-wheel disc
brakes and fully independent suspension. It also flaunts a vast array of
safety features, from antilock brakes to plenty of airbags, active
headrests for whiplash protection and even five-mile-per-hour bumpers.
Inside, you get air conditioning with filtration, three 12-volt power
points, power windows and locks, cruise control, and things like an
in-glass antenna and grocery bag hooks in the back.
My tester was a 2.5X
with the Premium Package. Upgrades with this package include 17-inch
alloy wheels, a power moonroof, stylish and practical roof rails,
reclining rear seat backs, tinted privacy glass and
steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
Stepping up to he
Limited model nets you automatic four-speed electronic transmission,
10-way power driver’s seat, upgraded audio system, full climate control,
leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Fuel economy numbers
are down a little between my brother’s ’05 and the ’09, but that is
probably more a factor of the changed EPA rating system that came in for
the 2008 model year. Non-turbo models are rated at 20 mpg City, 26
Highway, with turbo models slipping slightly to 19 and 24. The ’05
ratings for non-turbo vehicles were 23 to 30. I averaged 23.7 mpg during
my weeklong test.
As far as the EPA’s
Green Vehicle Guide numbers, I found two sets. Both had a Greenhouse Gas
score of 6 - just past midpoint - but the Air Pollution scores were
either 9.5 (excellent) or 6. If you’re in California, you should be able
to claim the 9.5. Be sure to ask the dealer about it.
Foresters hasn’t changed in 11 years. They are fun to drive without
being sports cars. The flat four makes a sound that’s slight sporty.
Remember, the iconic Porsche 911 has the same layout. The shift knob
feels like it’s moving gears, not cables. The tall proportions and
expansive glass give a great view of your surroundings, and the
supportive seats hold you in place.
A welcome change is the
new interior design. There was nothing really wrong with the old
accommodations, but the new layout is more dramatic, with arching
silvery dash accents that sweep into the doors, and the plastic trim is
higher grade. The light colored cabin in my tester felt open and airy.
The huge sunroof, which sits over front and rear passengers, added to
that feeling too.
reasonably priced, starting at just $19,995 for the 2.5X. My 2.5X with
Premium Package was $22,495. The turbo models start at $26,195, with the
premium turbo model $2,000 over that. These prices do not include
shipping charges, which could vary, but were $665 at the time of this
As a cherry on the
sundae, Consumer Reports just named the new Forester its top rated small
sport-utility vehicle. It scored “Excellent” in the magazine’s battery
of more than 50 tests. They noted the comfortable ride combined with
agility, generous safety equipment and good crash test scores. And, they
made a point of the Forester’s above average reliability. But Bill and
Deb already know all that.
By Steve Schaefer
© AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: Crossover Review provided by
Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Subaru Home Page
Column Name: Forester
was one of the first Crossover models
Topic: The 2009 Subaru
Word Count: 868
Photo Caption: The
2009 Subaru Forester
Photo Credits: Subaru
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Series #: 2009 - 13
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2009 Subaru Forester
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2009 Subaru Forester