2007 Subaru Forester Sports 2.5 XTPosted on March 15th, 2007
By Jim Woodman
I’ve always liked the idea of driving a car that’s lightning fast but looks nothing like what you’d expect based on what’s under the hood.
It’s analogous to one of my marathon running fantasies, where I’m secretly a 2:20 marathoner that shows up at a big race wearing baggy Bermuda shorts, plain ol’ tennis shoes and a raggedy t-shirt. After 20 miles, leading the race alongside a world class field, I’d spit out the remnants of a cigar and shout “where the heck’s that wall everybody’s talking about.”
Well, if there’s any reality close to that fantasy in the car world, it’s the turbo-charged Subaru Forrester. This is about as non-assuming a vehicle as you’ll find. Call it the Clark Kent of the automotive industry if you like. But fire up the turbo and your acceleration is sheer to raise the eyebrows of a radar-gun-toting local police officer.
Think about it. This is a 4-cylinder wagon/crossover vehicle that gets to 60 mph in six seconds flat. Most 6- and 8-cylinder crossovers take 7-8 seconds to touch 60 mph. You’re getting 224 horsepower (at 5600 rpm) and 226 lb-ft of torque (at 3600 rpm) out of this little engine. But it’s the turbocharging that really makes the difference. What surprised me is I was getting instant power out of the turbo just about anywhere in the rev range.
In other words, I didn’t need to redline the Forester whatsoever to get that wonderful turbo kick.
Of course, since my test car had a 5-speed manual transmission, redlining acceleration was pretty easy. The clutch took almost no getting used to and had a wide enough engagement range which made shifting smoothly a no-brainer. All manual Foresters have Subaru’s Hill-Holder clutch, which makes stopping on an uphill grade easier on both the drivetrain and driver.
The Forester XT also features Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Manual models have a locking viscous-coupling center differential with a static 50:50 torque distribution, which automatically transfers torque to the set of wheels that can best use it. Excellent traction in slippery conditions is one reason Subie’s remain favorite vehicles in the snow belt.
Very functional interior
Inside, I found plenty of room to put my three kids across the back seat and still enough storage behind the rear seat to put a couple bikes, albeit with their front wheels removed.
Installing my two-year-old’s car seat was a cinch. One of the things that drives me nuts is when I’ve got to dig deeply into the seat crevices to find and then snap my car seat straps onto the LATCH hooks. While some would argue once you install a car seat, you don’t need to keep taking it in and out, as a parent of three young children, I beg to differ.
I can’t tell you how many times we need to haul cargo, a few bikes or my older kids and his friends that necessitate removing and reinstalling our two-year-old’s car seat so that everything – and everyone – fits comfortably. So the Forester gets huge marks for making this a painless procedure.
Everything on the dash was easy to reach and intuitive. Power windows and door locks, plus dual mode heated front seats are about as techy as we get here. An auxiliary audio jack allowed me to plug in my MP3 player. An optional Sirius Sattelite radio ($445) was well integrated into the standard radio and exceptionally easy to use. Subaru doesn’t offer a navigation unit nor Bluetooth integration for cell phones. Not a big deal for most folks, but just thought you’d want to know.
Extra 12 volt power outlets are located in the console and rear cargo area. You won’t find 115 volt power outlets in the Forester, though that’s still the exception, not the rule.
The rear seats fold down instantly into a 60/40 configuration. Very nice. There’s a ton of room to load your sports gear with either side folded flat. For those that really need to know, the Forester boasts 31 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats.
Admittedly I’m not a fan of the Forester’s exterior. It’s just way too wagony (okay I made up this word, get over it) and boxy in the back for my taste. But it’s clear the engineers have chosen function over form because that taller backend – instead of curved like most wagons and crossovers have nowadays – makes it ideal for loading plenty of cargo in the rear.
On the other hand, the front is pretty sporty looking, especially with the cool air scoop on the hood. A mesh grille is sandwiched between two simple headlight casings.
My vehicle was a really loud blue – blue pearl is what Subaru dubs it – and certainly not a color I’d choose but one that sure turns heads in the teen culture.
Excellent safety ratings are one reason you’d want to seriously consider a Subaru Forester. Boasting five-star ratings, the highest possible, in Federal frontal and side crash tests, and the highest possible rating for a 40-mph frontal offset collision in IIHS tests, the Forester will give you peace of mind for a car its size. Its unibody structure provides both rigidity for good handling and side protection and front and rear crumple zones for occupant safety. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are also standard in the XT.
As I mentioned at the outset, the beauty of the Subaru Forester is how unassuming it looks, yet how surprisingly well this turbocharged engine accelerates in nearly any RPM range. The fact its getting maximum torque at 3600 rpm is very telling.
Two years ago, the Subaru Forester won our ALV Best Value Vehicle and its easy to see why. When you consider its outstanding performance, cargo capacity and interior versatility, all for a $25,995 base sticker price, the Forester is sure to continue being a finalist or winner of our ALV Best Value award.
Base price: $25,995
Price as tested: $27,235
Horsepower: 224hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 226 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600 rpm
0 to 60: 6.0 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: No
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 20/27 m.p.g. city/highway
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