1998 Subaru Forester Review

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Sue Mead Sue Mead Editor
December 31, 1998

Subaru of America is a car company on the move, and its all-new Forester is sure to move it even further down the road to success.

Internationally, this carmaker is well respected as a champion in the World Rally Cup races. In the United States, Subaru is respected as the manufacturer that now sells a lineup of all-wheel-drive models built for all-weather driving, recreational driving or performance driving. Record sales have been reported for the past two years, with Outback models the strongest sales leaders in its lineup.

Borrowing on this reputation and success, Subaru has successfully expanded its Outback line by creating what it calls the next "hybrid" of the world’s first sport-utility wagon: the Forester. A taller, stronger and more rugged-looking passenger car, the Forester is selling beyond Subaru of America’s wildest dreams and straining production runs.

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With fewer rounded surfaces than the Outback, the Forester is essentially like its predecessor but supported by a shorter wheelbase that’s closer to that of the smaller Impreza Outback Sport. And further pushing the distance from the traditional SUV world is Forester’s government passenger-car rating, a certification that means it must pass much tougher side-impact crash tests that trucks and SUVs don’t have to meet.

Yet the Forester comes with the boxy looks and styling of the SUV class. For instance, it has a taller greenhouse which aids with visibility while helping it stand apart from its siblings with ease. It stands apart in other ways, too. Compared to the mini-SUVs, Toyota’s RAV4 or Honda’s CR-V, the Forester possesses a more affordable list price, better ride and drive, beefier engine output from the 2.5-liter (165 hp) four-cylinder boxer engine and many of the carlike attributes the competition tries to build into its cars. Helping to underscore the hybrid title Subaru employs is Forester’s 2,000-pound towing capacity.

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