Enhanced antilock brakes, larger wheels and available satellite radio are the major changes for Subaru's 2007 Forester. Trim levels include the base 2.5 X, upscale 2.5 X L.L.Bean Edition and sporty 2.5 XT.
A 173-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder powers all but the 2.5 XT; it receives a 224-hp turbocharged four-cylinder.
All-wheel drive is standard on all Forester models. Ground clearance has increased from 7.5 to 8.1 inches (7.9 inches for the 2.5 XT Limited). The optional four-speed automatic transmission gains revised adaptive shift control.
The Forester features flared front fenders and blister-type rear quarter panels. It received a face-lift in 2006, though its overall appearance didn't change much. Features on the L.L.Bean Edition include a self-leveling rear suspension, a security system, a durable cargo floor and 17-inch 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.
Standard features on the 2.5 X include power windows and door locks, keyless entry and a CD audio system. A Premium Package adds automatic climate control, a panoramic moonroof, heated seats and a power driver's seat, among other items. The L.L.Bean edition includes most of those items, plus embossed leather seats. The Forester 2.5 XT comes with a comprehensive list of standard features, including the moonroof, heated leather seats and a six-CD audio system with Sirius Satellite Radio.
Under the Hood
Subaru's Impreza series uses the same 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder as the Forester. The regular engine develops 173 hp. A turbocharged version that yields 224 hp goes into the 2.5 XT Limited. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard on all models except the 2.5 X L.L.Bean Edition, which gets a four-speed automatic transmission. The automatic transmission is optional for other models.
Dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags, front active head restraints and antilock brakes are standard. For 2007, ABS gains electronic brake-force distribution for better front and rear proportioning. Side curtain airbags are not available.
The frisky Forester XT is sensible and satisfying, especially with the turbocharged engine and the manual gearbox. There's a bit of turbo lag after pushing the gas pedal. Foresters ride pleasantly enough over smooth surfaces, but bumps and ruts can produce somewhat harsh reactions.
Space is ample in the front and adequate in back, with abundant head and toe room, though knee space is less bountiful. The front seat bottoms are short but nicely supportive. The gauges and controls are ordinary but sensible.
The easy-to-drive Forester maneuvers nimbly, handles with a light touch and yields a friendly, comfortable feel. Some driveline noise occurs during acceleration.