Subaru’s Forester is a bit of an unsung hero in the world of crossovers. Drivers looking for a basic vehicle with lots of safety equipment and space for the required gear of athletes or outdoor enthusiasts will be happy with a Forester. Subaru offers a variety of accessories to customize the Forester for tasks like carrying dogs in the cargo area or attaching skis, bikes, or luggage to the roof rails. Everything inside is durable and easy on the eyes, and the controls for the radio and ventilation system are managed by buttons and knobs instead of the touch-screen interfaces some other utility vehicles rely on. If you like driving, be sure to check out the XT variant and the 224-hp turbocharged engine that comes with it. Every Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive, which can be an expensive option on other vehicles. The main problem for the Forester is its archaic four-speed automatic transmission. Subaru seems to be rolling out its much more efficient continuously variable transmission as a replacement for the automatic across its portfolio, but the Forester hasn’t been upgraded yet. That four-speed transmission is part of the reason the Forester manages only 27 mpg on the highway in its most-fuel-efficient form and drops to 24 mpg on the highway if you opt for the turbo engine.
new for 2013
Subaru is only making minor changes for 2013. A new value package for the 2.5X Premium model adds a display-type audio system, foglights, and the all-weather package, which includes heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer. All 2.5X models receive Bluetooth audio streaming and iPod connectivity. Bluetooth and audio buttons now adorn all Forester steering wheels.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; ABS; and tire-pressure monitoring are standard. A rearview camera is optional.
Drives like a car
Turbo chugs fuel
Base Price Range: $22,090–$30,790
TRIM LEVELS: 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited, 2.5X Touring, 2.5XT Premium, 2.5XT Touring
BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.5L flat-4, 170 hp, 174 lb-ft
2.5L turbo flat-4, 224 hp, 226 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 107.6 cu ft
CAPACITIES: Towing 2400 lb; cargo (rear seats up/down) 33.5/68.3 cu ft