Kyle's Kars
Seeing the Forester Through the Trees
By Kyle Quesnoy
Jul 6, 2008 - 1:14:50 AM



            To enable the go-anywhere Subaru Forester to cast off its unflattering disguise as a boxy station wagon, the engineers at Subaru HQ went back to the drawing board and started from scratch. The result: the 2009 Subaru Forester crossover vehicle.


            These days the words “station” and “wagon” do not equal “profit” when added together in a vehicle marketing equation. Today consumers are drawn to the relatively new “crossover” segment, which is basically a combination of SUV all-weather/multi-terrain capability and station wagon civility. However, while previous generation Foresters did possess just as much fowl weather drivability if not more than their taller, more top-heavy competitors, the small Subarus just didn’t look the part. Unfortunately most consumers are more interested in looking rugged than being rugged.


            In order to better appeal to consumer demand and take on its rivals from Honda and Toyota, the Forester has been reinvented. Based on an all new DC3 platform, the Forester now has a much more athletic stance. A more aerodynamic front fascia emphasizes its sporting character while its slightly angled “C” pillar maintains that the Forester will no longer be considered a “square” within the automotive community.




            Inside, the Forester has been refined with increased legroom for rear passengers and an ergonomically sound cockpit designed using high quality plastics and fabrics. Our tester was a 2.5X Premium and came equipped with a double-sized power moonroof and reclining rear seatbacks as well.






            From a driving dynamics standpoint, the Forester holds its own. Subarus have always had a leg up on the competition in terms of ride and handling thanks to engineering developed through extensive rally racing. When engineers have to design a suspension that can stand up to hours of abuse, racing on surfaces comprised of mostly dirt and rocks, you can bet that same suspension setup will handle a few city potholes without batting an eye. The Forester proves this wager to be a success. Ample travel in the new fully independent double wishbone rear suspension along with a 3.6 inch longer wheelbase (now 103 inches) translates to a serene highway ride and the ability to tackle anything the horrifically neglected streets of Berkeley could throw at it.


Standard Symmetrical All Wheel Drive

            If you decide to challenge your Forester off the beaten path, rest assured you will not be disappointed. With a best in class 8.7 inches of ground clearance (8.9 inches for the turbo version), the Forester is prepared for whatever canyon you would dare throw a CR-V into and more. Furthermore, with one of the only crossovers in its class to offer a manual transmission, the Forester keeps the driver completely involved in whatever excursion he/she has in mind. Due to its boxer engine's inherent low center of gravity, the Forester can hold the road no matter what it happens to be made out of.


2.5 liter horizontally opposed (Boxer) 4 cylinder engine.

            Shortcomings are few and far between. Noise isolation is not quite at the same level as a Honda CR-V but some might prefer to hear the flat four hum away on the highway as its unusual tone is a Subaru signature. Other drivers may find the center armrest a bit obtrusive on manual transmission Foresters. However, on long road trips, the armrest's ability to extend forward will be a welcome intrusion. Most consumers, however, will have no trouble seeing the Forester through the trees.



It's easy to see the Forester through the trees

            Overall, the 2009 Subaru Forester has accomplished its mission. The new Subaru now stands shoulder to shoulder with comparable vehicles from Toyota and Honda. Its rally racing heritage and engineering advantages will appeal to consumers who favor spirited driving over silent interstate cruising.  With a base MSRP that is $1,200 less than last year's model, the new Subie has become the bargain to beat in the compact crossover class.



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