2011 Subaru Forester Review | Toronto Sun

2011 Subaru Forester Review


2011 Subaru Forester Review


Wade Ozeroff, Toronto Sun


Comfort goes long way in Forester


Choosing from the company’s well-stocked line-up of all-wheel drive vehicles, the 2011 Subaru Forester is probably the one for which I would go.


While I could certainly be easily steered toward the WRX, the Forester makes a good case for itself with more cargo area and a taller profile, while retaining a carlike overall size and the inherent manoeuvrability and ease of use in urban situations.


My Autonet test machine this week is at the lower end of the Forester spectrum, a 2.5 litre ‘X’ model equipped with a few extras courtesy of its ‘Touring package’ trim (which takes the MSRP to nearly 30K – still near that of competitors like Toyota’s Rav4 or the latest Tucson from Hyundai).


It covers the major bases of an urban/rural everyday transporter; all-wheel drive (very useful around these parts), decent cargo capacity and the slightly elevated sightlines of a tall-ish utility vehicle.


The Forester also boasts very good sightlines from within, with good visibility to the rear and sides. This is one trait I truly value in a vehicle; and one I encourage everyone to consider when buying anything – can you see what’s going on behind and to the side of you from the driver’s position?


While it hasn’t changed significantly for 2011, and will only be instantly recognizable to brand devotees (to everyone else it looks like just another ute), Subaru has changed the cloth used in the cabin upholstery, added some new color choices, restyled the grille slightly and implemented a new 2.5 litre engine.


The Boxer four-cylinder still rates 170 horsepower, but has gained four pound-feet of torque (its now capable of 174 lb.-ft., at 4,100 rpm, compared with the previous engines 170 at 4,400). Subaru claims improved fuel efficiency with the new powerplant along with better acceleration.


I’m finding it perfectly adequate thus far; and while I wouldn’t call it racy, the 2.5 hasn’t let me down when some quick acceleration is needed for merging or passing. Naturally, this is felt more at low speed situations or from a standing start, but the engine allows a driver enough confidence to meld into traffic without worrying about any lag.


The automatic transmission is still pretty old-school, though, a four-speed slush box with manual mode that comes as an option (from the base, five-speed manual tranny).


The steering feels good, and the relative car-sized Forester is responsive and convenient for city driving and parking; and four-wheel disc brakes provide good stopping power.


My Forester’s ride is decidedly ‘springy’, with its front strut, rear double wishbone suspension. Tuned to absorb bumps without fuss, the vehicle doesn’t jar the occupants when running over rough roads and the icy crags that currently cover the streets, but the feeling of bounce is very noticeable.


Inside the cabin, the aforementioned cloth upholstery feels tough and looks good in the off-white color scheme of my tester. The seats are soft almost to the point of a spongy feel, but the ten-way power adjustable driver’s seat (with lumbar support), an inclusion with the Touring package, is actually pretty comfortable even after a few hours behind the wheel.


Along with the improved seat, the option package allows Bluetooth connectivity for my iPod (which I love), adds a wiper defroster to keep the blades from freezing to the windshield (which I also love) and a power moonroof (which I am completely indifferent to).


Overall, the latest Forester remains a vehicle highly-regarded by consumer groups (and repeat buyers) and puts the basic people and cargo handling into an AWD package at a price that manages to stay within reason. The full line runs from $25,995 to $35,495 for a loaded turbo model. My 2.5X with Touring package comes in at $29,795.


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