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2007 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Road Test
Get going fast with the Forrrrrrester
By Kevin 'Crash' Corrigan
When looking at the all-wheel drive wagon market, there really is only one place to start, at Subaru. For over 30 years now, Subaru has been bringing AWD vehicles to the world's marketplace. In fact, you could say that they wrote the book on AWD vehicles.
Traditionally, wagons have proved popular with Canadian buyers as they tend to suit our northern lifestyle. Whether it's a young family who does not feel the need for a minivan, or the older buyer who likes to go antique hunting on the weekend, these versatile vehicles fill our requirement for 'a little extra space'.
Station wagons took a little knock-back years ago with the introduction of the minivan, but times are changing again. The baby-boomer icon works fine for larger families but younger parents are starting to see minivan as a tad old fashioned. These parents of today want more than just transport. They want style, they want all-wheel-drive capabilities, and on top of that, they want reasonable performance.
I think it is time for them to take another look at the 'original crossover vehicle', the tried and trusty station wagon, and especially the Subaru Forester 2.5XT, which I recently drove. The Forester also comes in 2.5X, 2.5XS, 2.5XS Premium and Columbia editiions.
From the outside the Forester 2.5XT is one smart-looking vehicle. For what is basically a station wagon design, it has a rather sporty look to it. The body-colour bumpers and side claddings work well to dress up the basic shape and the stylish 17-inch aluminum wheels further enhance the side profile. Then, of course, there's the large air intake that protrudes from the hood, exclusively used on the XT model of the Forester line. Taken straight from Subaru's WRX model, if that doesn't say performance, I don't know what does.
As standard, the vehicle is fitted with a stylish and purposeful roof-rail system, a huge moon roof, and heated door mirrors in which are placed some very nice integrated LED turn signals. Another feature which I particularly liked was the heater elements built into the front and rear glass where the wipers blades park. That is a great idea for us Canadians and I'm surprised other manufacturers haven't scrambled to put this on their northern offerings.
When stepping inside the Forester 2.5XT, the first thing you notice is the size. With its high roof height, the vehicle appears much larger than you would expect. This extra height also comes in handy in the rear, as the vehicle boasts a taller cargo area than many of its competitors.
My tester came fitted with some impressive leather seating as standard. I must say that having experienced the base Forester with cloth upholstery, I would be tempted into this model because of that alone. They appear to be of good quality leather and they certainly move this capable load-carrier up a peg or two towards the luxury car level.
The layout of the dash is quite pleasing to the eyes, the controls have been well thought out and the instrument panel is easy to read. It also carries a rather pleasant sound system, has an auxiliary input jack, and is pre-wired for SIRIUS® Satellite Radio.
“Safety comes standard” has been the company's bi-line for a while now and so together with the obvious benefits of AWD, the Forester XT carries an impressive array of additional safety features.
Now we come to the all-important test drive, and this is where Subaru pretty much leaves the other wagon manufacturers wallowing in its dust. After all, Subaru has 30 odd years of AWD vehicle production behind it and a world rally championship heritage that is envied throughout the industry. Yes, Subaru certainly knows a thing or three about building a car that can perform and handle -- just look at its famous WRX STI mode, which produces 293 hp.
Of course, the company would be crazy to put that kind of engine into a family station wagon, so they took the basic boxer (horizontal) engine design and de-tuned it down to 230 hp. This still enables the Forester 2.5XT to go from 0-60 in 6.3 seconds. (And people think that family wagons can't be fun!). By comparison the Forester X and XS models use a 173 hp version of the Subaru four-cylinder boxer engine.
The on-road handling characteristics of the Forester 2.5XT are almost perfect. The suspension easily soaks up the bumps and potholes, yet at the same time, it is firm enough to handle the performance figures. The AWD system works flawlessly. I shan't elaborate any further on this; I'll just refer you back to the part about 30 years of AWD production and the world rally championship.
All in all, this car just makes perfect sense to me and is an almost ideal everyday vehicle. Naturally, my ultimate dream car might be a Bentley or something similar, but I could be very happy driving one of these full-time as it would fulfil all of my daily requirements. It has the load-carrying capacity that I often need, it is a comfortable vehicle to operate, and when required it performs.
The price for a 2007 Forester 2.5XT is $37,395. A base 2.5X starts at $26,995.
Kevin 'Crash' Corrigan is a regular contributor to CarTest! and a member of AJAC.
Posted April 25, 2007 (c) CarTest.ca 2007