Friday, September 11, 2009

Forester's plentiful charms explain its popularity

Sacramento, California – Some of my car-loving friends continually ask me why the Subaru Forester gets such high marks from car-reviewing colleagues.

“You don’t even see that many of them on the road,” they exclaim.

Actually, it’s simple: For many folks – from singles to families – the Forester shapes up as just about the perfect vehicle.

It offers utility, but it’s not super-sized. It’s peppy but not overbearing. It carries five in comfort. It’s loaded and classy inside, but the Forester’s sticker is not a shock-inducing device.

What’s not to love?

I recently tested the top-of-the-line 2010 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Limited. It’s the most expensive of five trim levels, yet it still rings in under $30,000. The MSRP is $28,495, and some humble extras on my tester (including Sirius Satellite Radio) put the bottom line at $29,694 – still a pretty good deal for a feature-stuffed Forester.

Please note that you can get the no-frills 2010 Forester 2.5X starting at a mere $20,295.

At first glance, the Forester looks like a humble wagon, but passenger volume is a substantial 102 cubic feet. Some reconfiguring of the passenger cabin opens up space to hold a surprising amount of large cargo.

The interior cabin is very civilized with a wide variety of high-end features, including a 10-way power driver’s seat (with power lumbar to boot), a leather-wrapped steering wheel/shifter and an all-weather package with heated front seats.

Very nice, but this Forester is likewise equipped for serious outdoor duty. For starters, it tows 2,400 pounds, and the 2.5-liter turbo 4 engine is a muscular performer (224 horsepower) in all conditions. This being a Subaru, all-wheel drive is part of the picture. With independent suspension front and rear, the driving package is excellent. Smooth and strong, but rugged when needed.

A lengthy list of safety features is another plus.

Gas mileage on the turbo engine is a somewhat tepid 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway – not great, but not bad either.

About the only thing bad you can say about the Forester is that it’s not a big Chevy Tahoe. But then that’s the point, isn’t it?

You can take the Forester anywhere – down the street, 500 miles up the interstate or deep into the woods. Chances are, you’ll like it anywhere you take it.

Is that any reason to be popular? Well, yes.

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