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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
“XT models are by far the most fun”
“why still just four speeds in the automatic?”
Car and Driver
“handling ranks among the sportier SUVs in its class”
Most reviewers are pleased by the 2010 Subaru Forester’s carlike dynamics and strong acceleration when equipped with the five-speed manual transmission, but wonder why Subaru still sticks with just four gears for the automatic.
Two engines are available in the Forester: a 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque 2.5-liter four-cylinder "boxer" and a 224-horsepower, 226-pound-feet-of-torque, turbocharged version of the same 2.5-liter unit, Edmunds notes. The base engine’s fine, Car and Driver reports, “but the turbo makes highway driving much more fun and merging into traffic less dramatic.” Popular Mechanics points out that the turbo engine is the “very same motor Subaru installs in the high-performance [Subaru Impreza] WRX sedan and five-door hot rods.”
With the base engine comes a choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. The archaic four-speed automatic brings out objections across the board, from enthusiast magazines and consumer car sites alike. “Why still just four speeds in the automatic?” Car and Driver asks. It’s “a bit outdated” in a time of seven-speed automatics, Popular Mechanics agrees. The manual transmission has more fans; “the clutch has a light touch and long take-up,” Cars.com says.
As for fuel economy, the base version rates 20/26 mpg, while the turbocharged XT returns 19/24 mpg, according to official EPA ratings for the 2010 Subaru Forester.
Most agree that the vehicle features grippy handling, earning much praise from car-magazine testers and consumer reviewers alike, and its standard all-wheel drive makes the difference. Road & Track thinks it has “more of a carlike feel than the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.” Motor Trend gets a little more poetic when it says the 2010 Subaru Forester “wafts you along like a glass of expensive champagne on butler-carried tray.” Cars.com chimes in with appreciation for how its “all-wheel-drive system delivers unflappable grip accelerating out of a turn.”
Compared to the competition, the 2010 Subaru Forester handles most like a car, but its outdated four-speed automatic transmission is a letdown.