SEEING THE FORESTER FOR THE TREES
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Published on Sat, May 14, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Tree-huggers love Subarus. Maybe it’s the all-wheel drive in every model. Or the good gas mileage and compact dimensions. Subarus are the de facto vehicles for the states of Maine and Colorado. Here in So. Cal., you see plenty of Subarus up in Big Bear and Mount Baldy. Considering the tree-huggers seal of approval that Subarus enjoy, it’s only fitting that the carmaker calls its crossover SUV a Forester. Editor John-Fredrik Wright sets out to see what the tree-huggers see in the Forester. By John-Fredrik Wright When I got into the Forester for the first time, I was a little spoiled. I had just driven a very powerful sedan for a week, and had adapted to the immense, and somewhat unnecessary, power. The first day or so in the Forester 2.5XT it felt a little slow, but this was just me adapting back to a fast, but not superfast, car. Trust me, the Forester 2.5XT is powerful, and plenty fast.
It does seem like an intelligent car, a little more efficient than fast, and a little more station wagon than SUV or crossover. The cargo area has hooks and knobs to tie down your groceries, and the back seats fold down to make room for that large load you might be hauling every now and then. The Forester hauls like a truck, but rides like a car. The Subaru AWD system probably does its greatest work off-road, and unlike the siblings Legacy GT and Outback 3.6R, the Forester 2.5XT is not made for a sporty drive around town even though the rugged looks of the hood-scoop begs to differ. Instead, the ground clearance on the Forester, as the name indicates, lets this vehicle bring its A-game to the forest, rather than the freeway.
An unloaded pick-up truck will bounce a little when the going gets tough, mainly on the freeway, but also slower speeds if the road gets a little uneven. The Forester does this as well, albeit ever so slightly. With passengers loaded it rides nicely, but if there is only one person onboard, the Forester won’t be heavy enough to battle speed-bumps in a fluid motion. This is, of course, another sign of the Forester’s off-road capabilities, but can get a little annoying if you spend a lot of time alone in the car. On that note, the suspension is a little loose for my on-road taste. It rolls a little in cornering or during speedy on/off-ramp maneuvering, but then again, is this a sport-station wagon? No, it’s more of an off-road vehicle with a lot of go in it. The automatic transmission down-shifts nicely, without the clunk that sometimes occurs in SUVs and trucks, and with the extra power of the 2.5XT, it takes off nicely.
The Forester’s interior is absolutely okay. I can’t use words like “luxurious” and “elegant”, but I can say that the inside of this station-wagon crossover (which is it?) is large and will definitely not disappoint. But again, maybe not thrill either. The seats are comfortable, but personally I had a hard time finding that optimal position where I felt I could drive for hours. However, nobody else complained, so I think that might have been me. Interior-wise the combination of SUV-crossover-station wagon feelings are present. Its spacious like a crossover and has the interior ambience of a crossover, has buttons to reflect the off-road capabilities of a SUV, but at the same time does not have the minivan feel some crossovers have or the obnoxious amounts of dead space that most SUVs have. Subaru has done a good job of mating the best characteristics of SUVs, crossovers and wagons into the Forester.
The navigation system is easy to understand (as is usual in a Subaru). Some of the buttons surrounding the touch-screen are a little too close to the screen for my fingers’ liking. Trying to zoom in or out using the touch-screen “-” and “+” often resulted in hitting one of the surrounding buttons and winding up with a completely different settings-menu. Somewhat frustrating, especially considering that I am usually pretty agile with my fingers (I’m part of the text messaging and touch-pad generation) I wonder what might happen when drivers with larger and less nimble fingers try to zoom on this map. In summary, the 2011 Forester 2.5XT is a great all-around wagon with good off-road capabilities but without some of the quirks that often come with the classic crossover. The huge sunroof that continues all the way into the rear seat makes for great star-spotting, and if you get bored of that there is plenty of space to relax and enjoy the ride. Even in the back seat. All this space, and yet the Forester still manages to average 19.2 miles per gallon (even counting the less-than-gas-friendly driving when testing the acceleration). True to its name, the Forester can be driven from your garage to out into the forest, without ever missing a beat.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT A more-than-worthy combination wagon-crossover-SUV for the tree-hugger in all of us. For more information about Subaru products, go to subaru.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Touring Price: $29,995 (base) $32,368 (and as tested with option package 19; navigation) EPA fuel economy rating: 19 mpg (city) 24 mpg (highway)
Engine size and type: 2.5 liter DOHC, intercooled, turbocharged flat (boxer) four cylinder engine Horsepower: 224 @ 5200 rpm Torque: 226 pound-feet @ 2800 rpm Transmission type: 4-speed shiftable automatic Drive configuration: All-wheel drive Suspension (front and rear): • MacPherson strut front suspension • Double wishbone rear suspension • Four-wheel independent suspension • Front and rear stabilizer bar Brakes and tires: Ventilated front disc / solid rear disc brakes • four-wheel ABS • 17 x 7.0 in. wheels • 225/55R17 95H tires All season tires Dimensions Length: 179.5 in. Width: 70.1 in. Height: 66.9 in. Curb weight: 3460 lbs.