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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
a bit of turbo lag after pushing the gas pedal
non-turbo models...are tepid in highway-speed passing and merging
base engine offers good punch, and the turbo engine delivers its power in a sudden, thrilling manner
with the turbocharged engine, Foresters are eager and frisky performers...acceleration is especially snappy
Kelley Blue Book
Once again, auto experts at TheCarConnection.com see mixed reactions on 2008 Subaru Forester performance specs, especially when it comes to the engine.
Two Subaru 2008 engines are available; "the regular engine develops 173 hp," and a "turbocharged version that yields 224 hp," reports Cars.com.
ConsumerGuide is the most critical, noting "non-turbo models have adequate acceleration away from a stop, but are tepid in highway-speed passing and merging, especially with cargo and several passengers aboard." While the turbocharged XT version delivers "plenty of power around town and on the highway...throttle response is softened by turbo lag." Cars.com also notes "a bit of turbo lag after pushing the gas pedal." Edmunds is more impressed: "even the base four-cylinder engine offers good punch, and the optional turbo engine delivers its power in a sudden, thrilling manner that competitors' V6 engines can't match." Kelley Blue Book reports that "with the turbocharged engine, Foresters are eager and frisky performers...acceleration is especially snappy." The test driver at Mother Proof describes 2008 Subaru performance as "herky-jerky, uncontrollable acceleration," however.
Cars.com reports 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." Turbocharged models are equipped with an available five-speed automatic. The Cars.com reviewer also notes "a Hill Holder clutch on manual-shift models makes it easier to start the car on inclines." The "manual transmission has short, sure shift action," according to ConsumerGuide; the "automatic transmission is slow to downshift," says Edmunds. All Subaru Foresters come with all-wheel drive, a system that is especially deft with mud and manages just fine without a low range.
By current standards, this 2008 Subaru model's fuel economy is not stellar; in ConsumerGuide testing, "an L.L. Bean averaged 24.2 mpg in mostly highway driving, while a test manual-transmission XT averaged 23.2." This is somewhat in line with EPA estimates ranging from 20/27 mpg (manual nonturbo) to 20/26 mpg (automatic nonturbo) to 19/24 mpg (manual turbo) and 18/23 mpg (automatic turbo).
As is the case with many high-riding SUVs, the Forester’s "increased ride height, combined with all-terrain tires, can create unsettling moments, but that's only because its bountiful thrust encourages you to drive the wheels off the thing," according to Car and Driver, suggesting that "if you find a patch of dirt to play with, enjoy a chassis that treats oversteer as a tool, not an enemy." Cars.com notes that 2008 Subaru Forester "ride[s] pleasantly enough over smooth surfaces, but bumps and ruts can produce somewhat harsh reactions." Likewise, ConsumerGuide reports "some jolting and body jiggle over sharp bumps and ridges, but overall, among the more comfortable compact SUVs, with good stability and control at highway speeds," but "with no low-range gearing, the AWD system is not designed for off-roading." It does, however, provide "terrific all-weather, on-road traction." Kelley Blue Book notes "on smooth surfaces the ride isn't bad, though some choppiness and road vibration might be evident." The Auto Channel reports the Subaru 2008's "fully-independent strut-type suspension has an appropriately firm tuning for a sport ride and very good handling."
The 2008 Subaru Forester may not be the best choice for off-road driving, but is up to most everyday, on-pavement jobs.