Future Cars

2009 Subaru Forester

The Forester has always had a cult following among a certain set of consumers, mainly those who choose to voice their political opinions with a liftgate covered in adhesive-backed witticisms. Owners swear by their trail-treading companions’ ability to haul recyclables and snowboards through all sorts of weather, but Subaru hasn’t paid much attention to the tall wagon, with only a couple of mild refreshes updating the car over the past decade.

The company has been trying to bring its products into the mainstream with larger, sleeker designs. The new Impreza is a good example, along with the Tribeca, which received an emergency face-lift after only two years on the market.

Subaru will finally show the Forester some love when it introduces an all-new version of the crossover SUV at the 2008 Detroit show. Like all current Subies, the Forester will tackle pavement and trails with all-wheel drive. Also standard are side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, in case the foresting gets out of hand.

Subaru didn’t miss an opportunity to allow the wagon-like crossover to grow up a bit. The Forester gets a 3.6-inch increase in wheelbase, with about three inches added in overall length.

Subaru is including Incline Start Assist on all manual-equipped models to help save the bumpers of city-dwelling Foresters, especially those in San Francisco. Satellite radio lovers can pick XM or Sirius, and an auxiliary input will please those toting MP3 players. Satellite navigation will also be available for the first time on the 2009 Forester.

Engine choices will be familiar to past Forester shoppers. The 2.5-liter boxer four will come in turbocharged or normally aspirated form. There’s no word on specific performance figures, but Subaru says low-end and mid-range torque are improved compared to current models.

We expect more information at the show in January, including trim level specifics and a better look at the interior. Here’s hoping some of those bumper stickers make the options list.

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