2008 Subaru Forester

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2008 Subaru Forester Review

By KBB.com Editors

When the SUV craze took off in the mid-nineties, Subaru, which had built its reputation on the all-wheel-drive category, found itself without an entry. But Subaru didn't take long to remedy this problem, giving birth to its first SUV: The Forester. Based on the Impreza platform, the Forester is basically a very tall wagon with some added ground clearance. As such, it retains all of the safety and stability features found in Subaru cars, but offers headroom and cargo space exceeding the popular Legacy and Outback wagons. Chock-full of options and with a choice of a normally-aspirated or turbocharged engine, the 2008 Subaru Forester serves up a bit more spice than either the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, and for not much more cash.

You'll Like This Car If...

If performance is a prime selling point, Subaru claims that a manual-shift 2.5 XT Limited can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds, which is rather swift for a compact SUV.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Because the Forester delivers a choppier ride than some rivals, it might not appeal to those who favor an always-gentle road experience. Refinement is approximately on par with the competitive Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute, but it falls short of Honda's CR-V.

What's New for 2008

Forester Sport models receive a revised front end, while turbo models equipped with the optional automatic transmission receive the Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) version of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.

Driving the Forester
Driving Impressions

Especially with the turbocharged engine, Foresters are eager and frisky performers. Acceleration is especially snappy with the manual gearbox, which gives a more enthusiastic nature to the driving experience. Considerably...

... more snug inside than Subaru's Tribeca, the Forester offers ample headroom in both front and rear, while rear-seat legroom is fair and toe space, under the front seats, is excellent. On smooth surfaces the ride isn't bad, though some choppiness and road vibration might be evident. The turbo engine is a little buzzy but delivers responsive performance. Gauges and controls are ordinary but sensibly arranged for ease of viewing and operation.

Hill Holder
Manual-shift models are equipped with a Hill Hold feature that helps keep the Forester from rolling backward when starting on an upgrade.

Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive means, in Subaru's terminology, that the system was designed from the start to be an all-wheel-drive layout and not converted from an existing two-wheel-drive arrangement. The Variable Torque Distribution system utilizes an electronically-controlled hydraulic transfer clutch to control the distribution of torque between front and rear axles.

2008 Subaru Forester Details

Stepping inside the Forester is easy, and its familiar interior has received modifications that increase its utility and comfort. A multi-functional center console features a sliding armrest, while, in the cargo area, floor bars are accompanied by four utility hooks. The 2.5X features a passenger seatback net storage pocket and offers front and rear cup holders and a rear-seat folding armrest. A wide rear seat with plenty of thigh support welcomes passengers and the standard retractable cargo cover is high enough to accommodate tall items.


Fresh front-end styling gives the 2008 Subaru Forester a bit more pizzazz, creating a "more unified, sophisticated, and more modern form," according to Subaru. Smooth side cladding and curvaceous rear glass produce a clean look, while eight inches of ground clearance provides ample ability for plowing through deep snow. The Forester sports a handsome fascia, flared front bumper and fenders and large outside mirrors with integrated turn signals available. The heavy-duty four-wheel independent suspension promotes enhanced performance.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

All Foresters with the naturally-aspirated engine are called 2.5 X and include head/chest side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), 16-inch wheels, air conditioning, an AM/FM/Weather-band stereo with CD player and remote keyless entry. The 2.5 X L.L. Bean Edition adds desert beige leather-trimmed upholstery with perforated Alcantara bolsters, a security system with shock sensor, Momo wood and leather steering wheel and an L.L. Bean-embossed cargo-area tray. The 2.5 XT Limited includes a 224-horsepower turbocharged engine, leather-trimmed upholstery and sporty electroluminescent gauge pointers.

Optional Equipment

Subaru's Premium Package, available on the 2.5 X only, includes rear disc brakes, eight-spoke alloy wheels, panoramic glass moonroof, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a six-CD changer, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals and trim upgrades.

Under the Hood

Subaru's 2.5-liter, horizontally-opposed (boxer configuration) four-cylinder engine is naturally-aspirated for 2.5 X models and turbocharged for the 2.5 Sport XT and Limited. One advantage of the boxer-configuration engine is that it offers a lower engine height, and thus a lower center of gravity, which can contribute to enhanced handling. It should be noted that Subaru recommends premium gas for its turbocharged models.

2.5-liter Boxer-4
173 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
166 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (manual), 20/26 (automatic)

2.5-liter Boxer-4 Turbocharged
224 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
226 lb.-ft. of torque at 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/24 (manual), 18/23 (automatic)

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