The Subaru Forester, a successful small crossover/wagon, competes against other car-based compact crossovers including the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V. It seats five people and has standard all-wheel drive.
For 2013, the base Forester 2.5X includes a new stereo with Bluetooth cellphone connectivity and audio streaming, iPod control capability, a USB port and steering-wheel controls.
The Forester’s ground clearance is 8.9 inches. Fog lights are optional, and turbo versions are distinguished by a hood scoop that funnels air into the intercooler just under the hood. Exterior features include:
- Standard roof rails
- Available high-intensity-discharge headlights
- Available chrome exhaust tips
- 16-inch wheels standard; 17-inch wheels available
- Available rear spoiler
The door openings are large, and the rear window is larger than on the previous-generation Forester. A center armrest is standard for the backseat. Interior features include:
- Standard MP3 jack
- Standard sliding armrest
- Standard 60/40-split folding rear seats
- Standard tilt steering column (telescoping available)
Foresters are powered by a choice of naturally aspirated or turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines and either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.
The transmissions come with different all-wheel-drive systems. The automatic comes with Variable Torque Management, which Subaru says shifts power to the front and rear axles by monitoring throttle position, battery voltage, generator rpm, wheel speed, brake status, lateral g-force and automatic transmission fluid temperature. The manual Forester has a simple viscous coupling that’s reactive rather than proactive. Mechanical features include:
- 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 174 pounds-feet of torque
- 224-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 226 pounds-feet of torque
- Hill start assist for manual-transmission models
A rollover sensor can deploy the side curtain airbags to protect occupants and prevent their ejection. Safety features include:
- Side-impact airbags for front occupants
- Side curtain airbags that protect front and backseat occupants against head injury
- Active head restraints for the front seats
- Antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system with traction control