After sweeping the title of Motor Trend’s 2009 SUV of the Year, it stands to reason that the 2010 MY lesbian moving van Subaru Forester would be worth getting my hands on for a quick spin. The larger result of my findings were surprising to say the least, and not necessarily of the pleasant variety, but it should probably be mentioned that the brevity of my experience prevented a more in-depth analysis. With only two hours to evaluate the Forester’s handling and objectively critique its performance, while the conclusions based here are fair they might differ with a longer stint behind the wheel.
That having been said, first and most notable on the list of the Forester’s unexpected features was the its odd penchant for heating up like an Easy Bake Oven. On a breezy 60 degree fall day in the Northeast while traveling at a brisk 45 mph with all four windows rolled down, one would not expect to break a sweat, but that’s nevertheless what happened. By the time I coasted into the one area in New Jersey picturesque enough for snapping a few photos (read: not cluttered with radioactive waste and/or strip malls), I was as flushed as if I’d jogged there. Maybe it was the thrashing given to the engine in sport shift (which is the automatic tranny’s only redeeming feature) and the resulting immense amount of heat the engine was giving off, or maybe it was the copious amount of glass coupled with glaring sunlight that quickly lent itself to the ant-under-a-microscope feeling – who knows. Whatever it was, not even the AC set on low could counteract it.
Of course, when delivering the scathing review of the Forester’s interior ride comfort it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for and for a hair over $20,000 the Forester presents an impressive, if not slightly overheated, package. Sure, you might arrive at work every morning panting like you’d just finished running wind sprints up 6 flights of stairs, but if you’re not into that earthy, “active” look the Forester probably isn’t your best bet anyway. If you’re the type that would be more inclined to buy a Wrangler were it not for your occasional desire to keep all four wheels on the ground, however, it will accommodate you perfectly.
The second unexpected surprise was the way the Forester handled. As should have been expected given the rpm levels at which peak power is delivered, when the accelerator was mashed to the ground (which it was, repeatedly) the Subie hesitated noticeably before responding. Once the throttle was open though, it was open, and the smoothness of the ride threw me off. While the extent of my off-road testing was a grassy median (much to the dissent of two on-looking, apparently off-duty police officers) and a loose gravel parking lot, the extremely neglected roads of South Jersey provided all the confirmation I really needed that the Forester was trail-rated. Potholes, grooves, uneven pavement, none of it managed to make it past the slicks and as far as I was concerned, the streets were silky smooth. Unfortunately, despite the near crossover-like handling exhibited in the straight-away, not even the full-time AWD could prevent the Forester from feeling every the inch the SUV through the corners. Mind you, I wasn’t taking them at speeds any higher than 10 over the posted limit, but even then the Forester felt dangerously close to pitching ass-over-teakettle.
Thus, despite the Forester’s relatively diminutive size and its common classification as a “crossover” utility vehicle, there is no mistaking it as an SUV. Granted it’s a compact SUV, which means you won’t escape the strange, somewhat amused looks when you try to tow anything bigger than a weekend camper, and don’t think you’ll fare any better accelerating through those turns than that guy in the Explorer, but the numbers are right. At 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway and a cool $20,295 for the most basic model, you can put a weekend hauler in your driveway that will get you, your 4 dirty friends, and your tent to and from the Bonnaroo festival with ease.
Bottom line: more than capable; not for the hippie who likes to hoon.
2010 Subaru Forester 2.5X
|Engine||2.5L SOHC aluminum alloy 16-valve horizontally-opposed Subaru BOXER engine w/ i-Active Valve Lift System|
|Power||170hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque||170 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm|
|Transmission||4-speed electronic direct-control automatic with SPORTSHIFT manual control|
|Drivetrain||Symmetrical All Wheel Drive|
|EPA||20 mpg city/27 mph highway|
|Interior Dimensions||Headroom (front/rear): 41.6 “/40.4”
Legroom (front/rear): 43.1”/38.0 “
Shoulder room (front/rear): 56.1“/55.6”
Passenger volume: 107.6 cubic feet
Cargo volume: 33.5 cubic feet
Maximum cargo volume: 68.3 cubic feet (w/ rear seats folded)
|Exterior Dimensions||L x W x H: 179.5” x 70.1” x 65.9”
|Curb weight||3,300 lbs|
|MSRP as tested||$20,295|
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