Subaru's "crossover" wagons for 2005 went on sale in early summer of 2004 with a handful of revisions and one new model in the lineup. At the 2004 New York International Auto Show, Subaru unveiled its latest collaboration with the L.L.Bean organization: the Forester 2.5 XS L.L.Bean Edition.
The L.L.Bean Edition features special embroidered floormats, beige leather-trimmed upholstery and an auto-dimming compass mirror. The rear seatbacks and cargo floor are covered with a water-resistant surface, and this Forester version flaunts a large glass moonroof.
A potent new version of Subaru's crossover wagon debuted in 2004. The Forester 2.5 XT is equipped with a 210-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder that mates with either a standard five-speed-manual gearbox or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission. The value-priced 2.5 X and premium 2.5 XS use a 165-hp, 2.5-liter horizontally opposed engine. All-wheel drive is standard on all models.
As part of its 2003 redesign, the Forester has flared front fenders, blister-type rear quarter panels and an enlarged grille. The Forester's appearance hasn't changed appreciably for 2005.
The new L.L.Bean Edition is the only model with steel-gray or platinum-silver metallic bumpers and body cladding. The bumpers and cladding are textured gray on the 2.5 X and body-colored on XS and XT models.
Features on the L.L.Bean Edition include a self-leveling rear suspension, security system, durable cargo floor and 10-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels. Raised black-letter, 16-inch tires are mounted on the 2.5 X, while the 2.5 XS has new eight-spoke alloy wheels.
Sport bucket seats in the front and a 60/40-split, folding rear seat can accommodate up to five occupants. Subaru emphasizes the Forester's high seating position. A Hill Holder clutch on manual-shift models makes it easier to start the car on inclines.
New beige or gray tricot upholstery is used in the 2.5 X, which includes an air filtration system. An eight-way power driver's seat is installed in the 2.5 XS and 2.5 XT.
Under the Hood
Subaru's Impreza series uses the same 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engines. The engine in the regular versions of the 2.5 X, 2.5 XS and 2.5 XS L.L.Bean Edition develops 165 hp. A turbocharged version that yields 210 hp goes into the 2.5 XT. A five-speed-manual gearbox is standard on all models except the 2.5 XS L.L.Bean Edition, which gets a four-speed-automatic transmission. The automatic transmission is optional for the other models.
Permanently engaged all-wheel drive is standard on all Subaru vehicles, but an active-type system in models equipped with the automatic transmission incorporates sensors that monitor weight distribution.
Dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags, front active head restraints and antilock brakes are standard.
Performance in an XS equipped with the 2.5-liter engine is satisfying. Unlike early Foresters, recent models also ride pleasantly over any reasonable road surface.
The Forester operates with light handling and a friendly, comfortable feel overall. It runs quietly and is easy to drive. Other than a bit of restriction of the driver's elbow, space in the front seat is good. The seats are firm but comfortable.