Subaru’s Forester is refreshingly effective
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After comprehensive revisions last year, Subaru’s clever Forester is mostly unchanged for the 2007 model year.
Basically a tall station wagon-style body with suitably high ground clearance, the five-seat Forester can lay honest claim to having kicked off the current car-based “crossover” trend (those with long memories will recall Aussie icon Paul Hogan — of Crocodile Dundee fame — plugging the Forester on TV as “Sport Utility Tough, Car Easy.”)
New features worth noting on the Forester for this year include an MP3 auxiliary audio input, Sirius satellite radio capability, and a new Columbia Edition that slots in between the base Forester 2.5X model and the mid-range Forester 2.5XS.
Named after the famous clothing line, the Columbia Edition uses the 173-horsepower non-turbo version of the Forester’s flat-4 boxer engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission and comes with an extra-large sunroof, a cargo cover, a protective cargo area tray and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Standard all-wheel-drive on all Foresters adds all-season ability and a good dose of driving pleasure, too — even more so with the top-of-the-line 2.5XT model that gets the turbocharged engine from Subaru’s rally-proven WRX under its hood.
You can get into the base-model Forester 2.5X for $26,995. Next up is the Columbia Edition with an msrp of $28,995. The Forester 2.5XS carries a $31,295 sticker price, while the range-topping 2.5XT will put a $37,795 dent in your transportation budget.
When it comes to our 2.5XT tester, power is king.
As indicated above, XT on the Forester nomenclature is synonymous with turbocharged. The 224 hp turbo-boosted motor also possesses a beefy torque output, sufficient to propel the XT from a standing start to 100 km/h in the low six-second range.
Think of it as the WRX of the Forester lineup — but a more versatile WRX.
It’s a sporty vehicle offering wagon-like cargo capacity, very good handling, and the possibility of being driven anywhere on something looking vaguely like a road or a path.
It earned the “hiking boot” nickname during our test.
Among other drives, it took us down a muddy gravel road early on a Saturday morning, a road washed out by a storm the previous night. It was messy, but the Forester negotiated the obstacle with ease.
It just went through the muck, and the gravel, and the water, and more muck as if it were asking for it.
All the while providing a perfect driving position, power to have fun with, and enough ground clearance to feel confident the underside wouldn’t scrape when a water-filled, wheel-eating pothole proved to be way deeper than expected.
Conversely, our Forester XT also was very comfortable and competent on normal, paved roads.
Who needs a bulky, fuel-drinking SUV? This tall all-wheel-drive wagon is the perfect antidote for ever-escalating gas prices. Plus, its rugged exterior and car-like interior make it a great weekend cottage or outdoor companion.
Subaru Forester 2.5XT