2009 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Limited

Since its debut some eighteen months ago, the redesigned Forester has been the little engine that could, powering Subaru sales to new heights despite the general collapse in auto sales, caused first by the $4-a-gallon gas panic and then Wall Street's wrecking of the economy.

The new Forester possesses essentially the same virtues as its predecessors: compact overall size, good fuel economy, a useful cargo hold, and all-weather capability with standard all-wheel drive.

The styling is really the biggest change, as the Forest has shed its unique if somewhat dorky proportions in favor of a blandly handsome new suit of sheetmetal. Apparently, bland handsomeness is something lots of people are OK with-as a glance at a TV newcast would confirm.

The new body also opened up rear-seat room, which probably doesn't hurt either. We do miss the ultra-low cowl of the old car, but outward visibility is still far better than the norm-sit in a Honda CR-V or a Nissan Rogue and you'll see what we mean.

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

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The Forester finished third in our driving tests two weeks ago. And that is after my mother totalled her 2004 Forester. She loved that car. The Nissan Rouge came in second with more power, smoother ride, nicer interior, but had poor visibility compared to the Forester. The Honda CRV did not place, nor did the Toyota RAV4. I had hoped we could have driven the Mitsubishi Outlander but could not find one. The Hyundai Santa Fe SE won the comparison with the best warranty, best price, more horsepower from a V6, lots of room, very good visibility, easy to drive, great ride that was smooth, lots of room, and an excellent warranty and price. The interior was also the nicest of the group.
Nobody "needs" a turbo. OK, but some of us really, REALLY like them!! We have an Outback 2.5 XT with a five-speed manual, and the car is practical and loads of fun to drive. My husband and I are driving enthusiasts, and who would have thought that an Outback could put such a smile on our faces?! The smiles are worth the extra fuel costs. Sadly, Subaru in its infinite wisdom has chosen to drop the 2.5XT from its line, so our 2006 is going to have to last us for a long time to come.
It's bland all right. I can't decide if it looks more like a CR-V or a RAV4, but it sure doesn't look like a Subaru! We long-time Subaru owners have always appreciated the brand's quirkiness and originality, and we're going to miss that. I could overlook its boring facade, but no matter how good a vehicle it might be, without a manual transmission, it won't see the inside of my garage!
Nobody needs an expensive gas thirsty turbo (XT)...and the Forester non-turbo (X) is missing the basic feature of a TELESCOPIC steering wheel. Deal breaker. It is an incompetent marketing practice to pair the TELESCOPIC steering wheel exclusively with a more expensive (yet less fuel efficient) engine.

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