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2009 Subaru Forester Review – The right tool for the job

Tuesday February 10th, 2009 at 11:22 AM
Posted by: AKramer

2009
By Alex Kramer

Pros:

  • Boxer engine provides plenty of torque
  • All-wheel drive traction
  • Lots of interior room
  • Huge panoramic sunroof

Cons:

  • Dated 4 speed transmission
  • Suspension is a bit soft
  • Bland interior/exterior design
  • Too many rattles and buzzes

Step into some cars these days and you think you’ve entered some high tech penthouse, with LCD screens everywhere, more buttons and knobs than a recording studio, and leather upholstery as far as the eye can see. With all this technology and creature comfort it is easy to forget that a car is still fundamentally a tool. We use them to do a job, whether it be driving to and from work every day, or hauling a bunch of gear to the game, or navigating safely through a nasty storm. Preferably they do these jobs efficiently and reliably, with little fuss or muss.

Subaru has long made cars that are meant to be more practical than posh. With lots of interior room, all-wheel drive standard on every model, and gutsy boxer engines, Subarus are the go-to choice for hikers, mountain bikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. One of Subaru’s best selling and most practical models is the Forester, a car that can’t quite figure out if it is a station wagon or an SUV. Revised for 2009, we took the new Forester out for a week of bike hauling, back roading, and even grocery getting to see if this practical car would be the right tool for the job.

Driving Impressions

2009 Subaru Forester - Subaru symmetrical AWDLike every Subaru, the Forester comes standard with symmetrical all-wheel drive, which is fully active and provides power from the engine to all four wheels simultaneously. Due to a week of sunny skies and record warm temperatures, we weren’t able to drive the Forester in conditions that would put the system to the test, but a few hard launches in a dirt lot did demonstrate its ability to distribute thrust to all four wheels without even a hint of wheelspin. Although the Forester still drives more like a car than most small SUVs, the new model rides taller than before and provides outstanding ground clearance, a plus for those who plan to take it off-road.

Performance

Like previous model years, the Forester comes with 2 engine options: base X models come with a 2.5 L boxer 4 cylinder that produces 170 hp and 170 lb-ft torque, while XT models feature a turbocharged version of the same engine that ups the power to 224 hp and 226 lb-ft torque. Our tester came with the regular engine, which although not a powerhouse, still provides plenty of thrust for driving around town. The torque curve is also nice and flat, so much of the power is available at low RPMs. The engine does come up a bit short when accelerating hard (0-60 takes over 10 seconds) or driving in the mountains, so speed freaks should definitely order the turbo.

2009 Subaru Forester - 2.5-liter SOHC Subaru Boxer engine

Unfortunately, Subaru decided to also carryover the 4 speed automatic transmission from last year. Although this is a functionally competent slushbox, the dated design definitely limits the potential of the engine. Driving in the mountains means lots of lurching between 2nd and 3rd gear, as the engine tries in vane to respond to the inputs from the gas pedal. Even on flatland the lack of available gear ratios means that at certain speeds the engine will be caught flatfooted if you need to accelerate suddenly, such as when merging onto the freeway. The transmission does feature a sport mode that allows for manual shifting, but this does little to make up for the lack of gears.

Handling

Take the Forester out for a spin and it’s immediately apparent that the suspension has been tuned more for ride quality than handling. The rear shocks are especially soft and almost wallow in their travel, causing the car to pitch back and forth a bit after hitting larger bumps. Once you get used to the soft suspension, the Forrester will reveal itself to be a fairly capable car in the twisties. Grip from the 17” all-season tires is quite good and braking is solid, but steering response is vague, which makes it hard to precisely position the car through a corner. Although the Forester is not as top-heavy as most SUV’s and is definitely more agile, those looking to tear up the backroads would probably be better off in a WRX.

(Continued on page 2)

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Subaru Boom Boy Ya!

Thursday January 8th, 2009 at 7:11 AM
Posted by: goofshow

Subaru badgeWhen it comes to the auto industry you got to look for the smallest speck of sunshine–no matter how miniscule it might be. Subaru of America has just announced a 0.3% sales increase for full-year 2008 sales over 2007. That’s right, you heard me, A 0.3% INCREASE, making Subaru the one and only full-line brand with positive sales through November 2008. The firm-Subaru-pat-on-the-back goes to the Impreza, Legacy and Forester lines who have brought home the record results. Thank god for Japanese cars for keeping the American auto industry somewhat afloat. On the other hand, this year most automakers posted “sizable” decreases. Former industry leader General Motors sales fell 23 percent from last year, while previous second in the U.S., Toyota saw a 15 percent drop. (No need to mention other precedent decreases as Ford Motor 21 percent; Chrysler 30 percent; and Honda 8 percent.) If this were the Olympics, Subaru would be standing alone at the medal platform without the benefit of any other medalists. So hats off to you Subaru, and remember, it’s lonely at the top!

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WRX STI N-Spec by Ings

Tuesday January 6th, 2009 at 9:11 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Ings N Spec Bodykit Subaru Impreza WRX STIThe march of the aftermarket carries on, it would seem. What we have pictured here is another offering from the Japanese home market tuning house Ings. Essentially it’s a body kit constructed to N-Spec rules. N-Spec being a Japanese endurance race series titled the Super Taikyu racing series (yeah little overblown, but that’s par for the course for Japanese names, isn’t it?)..

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2009 Subaru Impreza WRX – First Impressions

Friday November 14th, 2008 at 8:1111 AM
Posted by: mash


By Mary-Ellen

Yay:

  • Turbo engine (wow!)
  • Great vehicle for the $30,000 suggested retail price
  • Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive for superb handling
  • Plenty of interior space
  • Nice interior features
  • Fold-down rear seats for added trunk space
  • Watch DVDs while sitting in the driver’s seat

Nay:

  • Only a 5-Speed manual
  • 1-disc CD changer only
  • Small metal foot pedals slippery when wet

Overall: The Impreza WRX is a rally car at heart disguised as a sedan. It’s extremely fun to drive and easy on the wallet.

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Subaru Outback vs. Jeep Wrangler – Finding the better sand machine.

Friday September 19th, 2008 at 6:99 AM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

By Kurt Gensheimer

I stepped up to the rental desk at Norfolk International and asked for a Jeep. Any Jeep, so long as it had four wheel drive. The cheerful rental company representative, who looked like Edie McClurg in Planes, Trains and Automobiles presented me with a choice of three Jeeps: a Compass, a Grand Cherokee or a Wrangler. Now since the business, tax-writeoff justification end of my vacation was to pit a Jeep against my brother’s new Subaru Outback and run them ragged along the endless driveable beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, I needed the most capable Jeep available to really put the Outback through its paces. I slapped my finger down on the miniature picture of the Wrangler.

The representative smiled, handed me the keys and the paperwork. I signed a few documents and was just about on my way when she pulled out a huge red stamp and slammed it down on the rental agreement.

“Oh, you’ll need to sign this too, honey.” I looked at the stamp and all I could think about at that moment was Edie’s famous two word response to Steve Martin’s F-bomb tirade, “You’re f**ked.”

(story continued on page 2)

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Posted in Feature Articles, Jeep, Subaru |Tags:, , , || 6 Comments »


2008 Subaru Tribeca Review

Wednesday March 19th, 2008 at 7:33 AM
Posted by: twain

Subaru Tribeca Overview Tribeca Specs
Consumer Reviews of Tribeca Tribeca Photo Gallery


By Twain Mein

2008 Subaru Tribeca

Pros:

  • Well integrated electronics
  • Quiet and luxurious
  • Good handling

Cons:

  • Noisy under full throttle
  • Hard for shorter drivers to see out
  • Limited rear seat room

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SRS Labs Partners with Subaru to Bring SRS Circle Surround Auto(tm) to the new Subaru Impreza

Wednesday October 24th, 2007 at 5:1010 PM
Posted by: Derek

2008 Subaru Impreza

SANTA ANA, CA – September 18, 2007 – SRS Labs Inc. (NASDAQ: SRSL), a leading provider of surround sound, audio and voice technologies announced today that Subaru has included SRS CS Auto (Circle Surround Auto(tm)) as an optional feature now available on the new 2008 Subaru Impreza.

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2007 Tokyo Auto Show Preview: Subaru Exiga

Monday October 22nd, 2007 at 11:1010 AM
Posted by: Derek

Subaru Exiga

TOKYO — Subaru’s Exiga concept for the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show is a new seven-passenger “proposal” that appears to combine design elements from the company’s midsize station wagon and Forester crossover vehicle — and it looks virtually showroom-ready.

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2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI

Monday October 15th, 2007 at 11:1010 AM
Posted by: Derek

2008 Subaru WRX STI

Cherry Hill, N.J., October 15, 2007. The third generation Impreza WRX STI, as the latest incarnation of the proud history of Subaru Tecnica International (STI), will be shown to the world on October 24 at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show in Japan.

Debuting on the eve of Subaru Tecnica International’s 20th anniversary (April 2008), the new all-wheel drive Impreza WRX STI has been designed to give maximum pleasure through its unique combination of power, performance and handling.

Furthermore, its all-new 5-door design has been developed with the aim of winning the FIA World Rally Championship in future seasons.
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