2009 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Limited

Now that Subaru has for the most part shed its weird wardrobe, let me announce that the redesigned (last year) Forester is one of the more sensible crossovers on the market. When the world economy dived, Subaru sales and market share both climbed. During the first eight months of this year, the company's U.S. volume rose more than 11-percent over the same pre-recession period last year. Chalk it up to conventionality. Medium-size crossovers with all-wheel drive, ample space, and a sub-$30,000 price are hot and Subaru has excellent products for these hard times (the only exception being the still weird Tribeca). The Forester T's turbocharged flat-four engine is well behaved and reasonably potent, its all-wheel-drive system is transparent in its operation, and the interior is reasonably easy to reconfigure for a wide variety of hauling and transporting tasks. The only bone to Subie's wild days is an air and water scoop too prominently positioned atop the hood.

Don Sherman, Technical 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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