MPG-o-Matic Subaru Forester Review Summary: As a tall AWD wagon, the Subaru Forester forges its own trail amongst its peers, with a comfortable ride, roomy interior, generous headroom, and excellent visibility.
The Subaru Forester competes most closely with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Saturn VUE, and Nissan Rogue in the compact crossover all-wheel-drive (AWD) market. Subaru’s reliable Symmetrical AWD and less truck-like demeanor have won the Forester (and the brand) a loyal following.
Under the hood, the 2009 Forester is fitted with a 2.5 liter horizontally-opposed SOHC Boxer four cylinder engine, producing 170 horsepower (HP) and 170 foot pounds of torque, in the 2.5X trim levels. A more powerful 224 HP turbocharged Subaru Boxer engine is standard issue in the 2.5XT and 2.5XT Limited versions.
The official gas mileage estimates for the naturally aspirated 2009 Subaru Forester are 20 city / 26 highway miles per gallon (MPG) when fitted with the standard 4-speed automatic transmission. (The five-speed manual transmission bumps the ratings up to 20/27.)
In hundreds of miles of driving, we easily beat the official estimates with our Topaz Gold Metallic Forester 2.5X Premium test unit, scoring an average of 29.2 MPG on the Interstate highway, with 25.6 MPG combined. Test period temperatures ranged from the thirties through fifties, with freeway speeds between 60 and 70 miles per hour (MPH).
While the Forester provides a two-mode average MPG monitor, the lack of a real-time MPG display was one of our only disappointments in a very capable vehicle. We did the best we could sans a real-time gauge. With the goal of keeping the lightest touch on the accelerator, as always. The further you can drive with your foot completely off the pedal, the higher you’ll score with regard to MPGs.
Although delivery is adequate throughout the powerband in the 2.5X models, spirited drivers will likely opt for the higher horsepower turbocharged engine in the 2.5XT.
Throughout our review, we found the Forester to be quite well mannered, with handling that is far more car-like then most of the competition. The tall wagon inspires confidence on both paved and unpaved surfaces, with the Symmetrical AWD providing plenty of grip when the road loosens up.
The cabin is well designed and roomy, with a generous amount of headroom. Steering wheel controls and a center console mounted audio input jack are standard issue, with USB iPod integration available as an option. There are three power outlets, one in the console, one in the dash, and one back in the hatch.
The All-Weather Package is a welcome and well-priced option for colder climates. For just $400, the package provides adjustable heated front seats, heated mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer.
Unlike the SUVs and crossovers that use side mounted tailgates, the Forester’s conventional top-mounted hatch allows for access to the cargo area from both sides of the vehicle. The sixty/forty rear fold-down seats can be easily folded down from the tailgate, and there’s there’s no shortage of room to haul the goods. With both rear seats folded down, the Forester provides 63 cubic feet of cargo space.
Overall, we found the Subaru Forester to be a capable and reassuring vehicle to drive in conditions both adverse and not. The roomy and comfortable interior is icing on the cake.
Fuel requirements: Regular-grade gasoline is specified for naturally aspirated Foresters. Turbocharged models require premium fuel.
Assembly/Parts Content: While Subaru has a widely-acclaimed manufacturing plant in Indiana, the Forester is assembled in Ota Gunma, Japan. Both the engine and transmission are of Japanese origin. 0% of the parts are produced in North America.
– by Daniel Gray
November 26th, 2008
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