2009 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Limited

The Subaru Forester is the closest thing Subaru has ever had to a home run in America. As others have already said, it's also about the most non-descript Subaru ever. This isn't a coincidence. Enthusiasts and Subaru owners may have loved the quirky looks and features of past Subarus, but the general public certainly didn't pay much attention. Now the Forester is a bit of a bore and it should be up for an award or two for improving sales so much during this economic disaster.

Why does it sell so well? Subarus are dependable, safe, affordable, and reasonably fuel-efficient given the fact every one of them is driving all four wheels all the time. There's also the backlash against SUVs for being gas guzzlers that are prone to roll over, yet a desire for the utility of such vehicles. This is Subaru's ace in the hole. With a variety of hatchbacks, wagons, and a pair of crossovers, the company has the right products at the right time. The Forester now looks like a mainstream crossover and is selling as such. The Tribeca is still a bit of an odd duck, as Don Sherman points out, and continues to sell as such. I can't wait to see sales figures for the redesigned Legacy and Outback after a few months.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

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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