2010 Subaru Forester 2.5XT: Family Car Review

March 7, 2010

The 2010 Forester is the third generation of the popular crossover utility vehicle from Subaru, and was totally redesigned in 2009. The Forester's main competition is the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 with the Forester even looking like both of them now.

I tested the 2.5XT ($28,495) with the main difference between it and the base model is the engine. Both models have a horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine displacing 2.5 liters; but the 170-horsepower base engine is single overhead cam, while the 224-horsepower turbocharged XT model has twin cams.

The turbocharged Forester XT gets 19/24 mpg and requires premium fuel. The 16.9-gallon fuel tank can last about 400 miles on the highway. The turbocharged XT is more desirable because of its torque, although it's more expensive to operate because of its premium fuel requirement. A turbocharger is helpful for generating additional power especially if someone is using it for mountain driving.

Improvements started in last years model include a new chassis with safety structure, wider track and longer wheelbase (by 3.6 inches), new double wishbone rear suspension that yields tons of cargo space, 4.3 inches more legroom in the rear seat, 4 inches more headroom all over, 1 inch more ground clearance for the XT, a super tight steering radius with quicker turning ratio, and rear doors that swing open nearly 75 degrees for easier access.

The functional hood scoop on the XT has a smaller bulge than before, but its opening is no less wide, thanks to a redesign of the turbocharger intercooler opening, and the steeper slope of the hood. The headlights with amber turn signals are shaped like gold-tipped eagles' wings, and the uplifting grille that fills the space between them has lost its boxiness, with corners upturned. The corners are tucked in so tightly that the bumper has almost been lost. The fog lights are mounted in a gray plastic fascia that runs 360 degrees around the car, acting as rocker panels on the sides. From the rear, the XT has a twin chrome-tipped exhaust, pretty cool for a small crossover. And the spoiler over the rear window adds to the appearance.

The 2010 Forester is improved with much needed rear-seat legroom and cargo space over the previous generation model. The rear 60/40 seats fold flat to make a nice cargo area widened by 5.2 inches between the wheelhouses thanks to a new double-wishbone rear suspension. The relatively large cargo area will definitely appeal to active outdoor enthusiasts with lots of camping or ski gear to haul. The specs are 33.5 cubic feet with the rear seat up, 68.3 with the seats flat.

Driver visibility is excellent in all directions, thanks to careful pillar design. Subaru staged a demonstration to show how much visibility it does have by placing a cutout of a child behind the Forester and a Toyota RAV4. The Forester driver could see the small child in his rearview mirror at seven feet, but in the RAV4 the child was lost in a low blind spot for 23 feet.

The 2010 Forester is stable going up I-70, and rugged enough for some fairly serious off road use in the mountains, using Subaru's proven all-wheel drive and a new rear suspension to good advantage.

Overall, the new Forester compares favorably to its main competition from Toyota and Honda.

Get a full review, photos, specifications and pricing at TheCarConnection's 2010 Subaru Forester page

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