The Forester is Subaru’s midsized cross over offering. Actually, it would be easy to see how since Subaru was the first and only manufacturer to include AWD on all of their vehicles as standard equipment, they could easily be construed as the owner of the crossover concept.

As is expected in the cross over segment, the Forester meshes many of the best qualities of an SUV with the comfort and convenience of a sedan or small station wagon. The presence of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive makes the Forester a perfect choice for all weather conditions.

It’s probably time for a disclaimer on my part. My family owns a 2002 Outback, which we purchased for use at our NC mountain home. One winter of not being able to get out of our drive for three days, convinced us that we needed an AWD vehicle. We also were looking for reasonable fuel economy in an AWD configuration. Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive has been the perfect solution. Even 18 inches of snow didn’t keep us house bound.

The Forester gives an excellent alternative to the Outback in that it includes a very versatile rear cargo area with a large liftgate. Remember it doesn’t matter how large the cargo area is, if the opening isn’t large enough to accommodate what you are trying to load. With up to 68 cubic feet of cargo capacity, you can load a lot. There is also a convenient under floor storage area, so that you can safely tuck valuables in a secure area.

Another really nice feature available for the Forester, as well as the Outback is an available wire pet barrier. So your four legged family members can ride safely in the confines of the rear hatch area.

The Forester is offered in six different trim levels: 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited, 2.5X Touring, 2.5 XT Premium and 2.5 XT Touring. Our test vehicle was the 2.5 X Premium. All Foresters are equipped with a horizontally-opposed four cylinder engine, which is normally aspirated. By stepping up to the T configuration, you add an intercooled turbocharger, which raises the horsepower rating from 170 to 224. The 2.5X comes standard with a 5-speed manual gearbox with Incline Start Assist. The Premium package added a 4 speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Our trim level included a huge panoramic glass sunroof, roof rails, 17-inch alloy wheels, and automatic climate control.

Steering wheel audio controls complemented the in-dash audio system that was mated to a Tom-Tom nav system. It was really cool that you could actually remove the nav unit, which made programming a breeze. We did find the M&M sized, multi-function audio control that was part of the audio section of the unit a bit challenging. A regular sized, conventional knob would have been greatly appreciated. That said, the sound quality was stellar, and there was of course the present steering wheel controls.

On the safety front, standard is electronic stability and traction control, ABS brakes, active front head restraints, front side-impact airbags; along with front and rear side airbag curtains with a rollover sensor.

We find the Forester to provide excellent interior room with perhaps the most headroom in the mid-sized cross over segment. A six-footer plus would be easily accommodated in the drivers seat. Drivability was also great, with excellent maneuverability and nimble driving dynamics. The EPA rates the X Premium at 19 city and 15 hwy. In real life testing, we averaged 26 mpg in combined driving.

Pricing for the Forester line up begins at $20,495, with our XPremium crossing the register at $23,9495. For a family looking for the safety and convenience of an AWD drive package and the flexibility of small wagon at an affordable price, the Forester should be a must see on their shopping list.

Pictures © 2011 Ossamah Shabbir

2015 Acura Rdx - Leasing Prices


  • Horsepower: 170 hp
  • Mileage: 21 city/ 27 hwy
  • Pricing begins at $20,495 – Premium package starts at $23,495.00
  • As tested $26,315
  • Seating capacity: five
  • Recommended fuel: regular


  • MSRP $23,495.00
  • Option Package: 33 1,095.00
  • All weather Package
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Windshield Wiper De-Icer,
  • Heated Side Mirrors
  • 4-Speed Automatic Transmission $ 1,000.00
  • w/ Manual Shift Mode