KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
- Updated Date: 12/8/2008
You'll Like This Car If...
With rising gas prices compelling many large
SUV owners to abandon their fuel-hungry rides, small
crossovers like the new, third-generation
2009 Subaru Forester have never looked better. An agile vehicle built to handle practically anything man or nature can put before its tires, the latest iteration has a much more contemporary-looking exterior complemented by a more spacious interior and a smoother, quieter ride. And with a respectable four-cylinder Boxer engine under the hood and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive as standard, the Forester offers the capability of an SUV with fuel economy that won't break the bank. This segment has seen a lot of growth in the last few years, but the Forester can go places the
Honda CR-V, Saturn VUE and
Nissan Rogue can't.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you like your SUVs to be true to the "Utility" in "Sport Utility Vehicle," while still being small enough to comfortably maneuver in a city, the Forester may be the vehicle for you. With a low starting price, standard AWD, proven reliability, more towing power than many others in its class and great visibility all around, there's certainly a lot to love.
What's New for 2009
If you want a V6 engine, room for seven or rear-seat entertainment, the 2009 Subaru Forester may not be for you. And although a manual transmission is offered, the automatic is the only transmission available with the turbocharged engine.
Subaru Forester sees substantial changes for 2009. Built on an all-new platform and now sporting double-wishbone rear suspension, the Forester not only handles better, it also has more rear legroom and a quieter ride.
Off-roading in the 2009 Subaru Forester showcased the vehicle's stiffer suspension, direct steering and notable ground clearance, all of which came into play when traversing rocks and ditches. Also helpful was the Forester's standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, capable of transferring up to 100 percent of the available power to the wheels with the best traction. Back on the pavement, we liked the added get-up-and-go provided by turbocharged models (who wouldn't?), but those with a more practical and budget-minded outlook will be just as happy buzzing around town with the normally-aspirated engine. Getting in and out of both rows of seats was a breeze thanks to wide-opening doors, and we found the all-around visibility from the driver's seat to be excellent; a boon when changing lanes, reversing, and exploring dirt roads.
Being able to see what's behind a vehicle when backing up, changing lanes, or even venturing off-road can make a big difference in how someone behaves while driving. The Forester's large back window allows the driver to see an object only 39 inches tall within 39 inches of the vehicle.
Although not as large as others we've seen, this moonroof provides pleasant light to both the front and rear passengers, bringing a bit of the outdoors inside.
The 2009 Subaru Forester features gauges that are colorful and easy to read, plus audio and climate controls configured in a logical, clear manner. A single cup holder is located next to the driver, while an additional bottle holder is situated in each door. Back in the second row, leg room is plentiful and the seats are wide and comfortable. In all trims except the 2.5X, the second-row seats recline. Cargo room in the back is a respectable 33.5 cubic feet, made all the more accessible thanks to a wide-opening rear gate door.
Notable Standard Equipment
The latest version of the Subaru Forester is a little less
wagon and a little more modern crossover. Overall, the vehicle is taller and longer, with up to 8.9 inches of ground clearance that comes in handy when the road gets rough. Up front, a larger grille and "hawk eye" headlight treatment impart a more aggressive appearance, especially when paired with the available turbocharged engine's air scoop and fog lights. The optional chrome door handles and tailpipe add a bit of fresh bling to the Forester's exterior, while the wheelwells are filled with 16-inch steel or available 17-inch alloy wheels.
Notable Optional Equipment
The base 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X comes equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Hill Start Assist, 16-inch steel wheels and 8.7-inches of ground clearance. Notable interior touches include a height-adjustable driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support and auto-off headlights. Opting for the XT trim will add the turbocharged engine, four-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch wheels (helping to bump ground clearance to 8.9 inches), premium sound, fog lights and a telescoping steering column. To help keep occupants safe and sound, both trims feature six airbags, Vehicle Dynamics Control and anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist.
Under the Hood
Some of the 2009 Subaru Forester's most attractive options include a navigation system, leather seating, power driver's seat, panoramic sunroof, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, premium sound, automatic climate control, satellite radio (choice of XM or Sirius), and cold-climate desirables like heated seats, heated side mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.
Powering the base Forester X is a 170-horsepower four-cylinder Boxer engine (a "flat" engine in which the pistons lie horizontally, an advantage of which is a lower center of gravity) with a five-speed manual transmission, available only in this trim. Moving up to the L.L. Bean Edition adds a four-speed automatic transmission, while the XT trims come with a 224-horsepower turbocharged Boxer engine. Although the base engine is practical for around town driving, those looking for a little more power without a significant drop in fuel economy will likely appreciate all that the turbocharged version has to offer – if they don't mind paying for premium gas.
170 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA Estimated City/Highway Mileage: 20/26
2.5-liter Boxer-4 Turbocharged
224 horsepower@ 5200 rpm
226 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800 rpm
EPA Estimated City/Highway Mileage: 19/24
A base 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X with manual transmission starts at just over $20,500. Stepping up to the XT trim brings the price closer to $27,000, while the XT Limited with navigation and satellite radio will run closer to $31,000. At the Forester's base price, its closest competitor is the Nissan Rogue – but the Rogue does not offer AWD as standard in base trim. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Saturn VUE all start around $21,500, also without AWD. However, as inexpensive as the Forester seems at first blush, adding options quickly makes the price move upward and it ends up on the higher end of many of its competitors. In terms of resale, the Forester is expected to maintain value in line with the Rogue and VUE, but trails industry stalwarts CR-V and RAV4.