2011 Subaru Forester Road Test Review

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The last few years have been difficult ones for nearly everyone in the car business. We say nearly everyone, because while other manufacturers watched sales dissolve, Subaru's sales improved. To find out why, one needs only to take a look inside its current crop of cars.

Case in point, the 2011 Subaru Forester.

While the exterior is ruggedly civilized, the interior is all sophistication with its pleasant mix of shapes, textures and colours. Additionally, all the latest techno features you'll ever need are included among the Forester's offerings. However, by dividing Forester into two basic models with different trim levels within each model, Subaru manages to deliver the basic package's all-wheel drive and torquey engines to a broad variety of consumers. If you're an urban driver that loves your Bluetooth, navigation, and satellite radio, there's a Forester for that. On the other hand, if you just want to be able deal with snow, muddy roads, high altitude, trails, and/or the occasional paved road as you head into town to pick up supplies and don't care about electronic gee-jaws, there's a Forester for that too.
It's not a new strategy, but it's one Subaru embraces better than most these days.

Two engines are available to power the 2011 Subaru Forester. Both are horizontally opposed four-cylinder units displacing 2.5-litres. The normally aspirated version is all-new for 2011, and delivers 170 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 174 ft-lbs of torque at 4,100 rpm. While it makes the same power as before, since it is slightly larger and uses a double overhead cam system for intake/exhaust, it doesn't have to work as hard-thus improving fuel economy. Mileage is estimated at 9.9-city and 7.4-highway with the five-speed manual transmission and 9.9-city and 7.5-highway with the four-speed automatic. The turbocharged engine goes into 2011 unchanged, producing 224 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 226 ft-lbs of torque at 2,800 rpm. Available only with the automatic transmission, the turbo returns 11.9-city and 8.2 on the highway.

Forester won't be classified as fast with either engine, however there is a discernable difference with the turbo. Still though, if you live at sea level and/or rarely go into the mountains, save some money, opt for the standard engine. You'll pay less to get the car and you'll get better fuel economy too. However, if you live in a mountainous region, deal with a lot of hills, and/or haul a lot of gear around (which the Forester will readily let you do) best get the turbo. Unless you've been paying absolutely no attention at all, you know by now every Subaru vehicle is all-wheel drive, however you might not know that its all-wheel drive system is capable of transferring all engine output to a single wheel if said wheel is the only one of the four with traction.

Going down the road, the Forester serves up a pleasantly comfortable ride, while exhibiting adequate body control. Though it sits relatively high with 220 millimeters of ground clearance, it doesn't go all tipsy on you when you ask for a brisk change of direction. Taller drivers might wish for a bit more thigh support from the seats, but headroom isn't going to be a problem for anyone. Getting in and out of the Forester is so easy you don't even notice how easy it is. You just take for granted that this is how a car is supposed to be. (We're here to tell you folks, that ain't always the case.) With all those tall windows, outward visibility is a strong point for the Forester as well.

Bottom line, as family transpo, the Subaru Forester excels. If you're an active individual who likes to get out and do things, but doesn't want to be saddled with a full-size SUV, the 2011 Forester should be added to your shopping list. However, if your thing is image and appearance above everything else, you might consider the Subaru to be kind of gawky with its tall ride height, odd little hood scoop and (let's face it-boxy shape). But, if you're about substance over style-which based on the Forester's sales figures it seems many people are-the 2011 Subaru Forester has a lot to offer.

Pricing starts at $27,520 with destination charges.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Subaru, 2011, Forester, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, Compact,

Organizations: Subaru

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