2011 Subaru Forester

9 Jun 2011 | 2,192 views | No Comment
By Don Hammonds If you've ever wondered why Subaru is consistently a winner in the sales race in hard economic  times, you may find a test drive of the 2011 Subaru Forester to be quite educational.       It's got a pleasantly contemporary,  timeless look, nothing trendy, nothing fancy, just very attractive.  The interior, if you've ordered a sunroof, is airy and bright because the brand makes their sunroofs considerably bigger than others.  It's got a rock solid feel to it on the road, and it's just the right side for negotiating the urban jungle.   All wheel drive is a boon these days when even the sunny south gets ice storms. And construction is as vault-like as they come. The price isn't bad either. Our 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium had a base price of $23,495.  Add an option package for all-weather equipment,including heated front seats, wiper de-icer and heated side mirrors, along with a TomTom navigation system, a four speed automatic for $1,000 and destination and delivery and you come up with a quite reasonable $26,384.00. For that base price you get the symmetrical all wheel drive,  side curtain airbags, air conditioning, full power accessories, 60/40 split fold-down drivers seat, criise control, tilt/telescopic steering, and a multi-function center console box, among other things. Frankly, the first thing we noticed about the Forester is how pleasant the interior is.  The materials for the seating are comfortable and durable, and after spills by our two young children, we can also attest that they are also easy to clean. But what really got us was how much room there was in thge second row. We were able to get two baby seats back there and still have some room for one of our older children.  We took our first drive on a sunny day and it was terrific to have the sunshine hit us all the way in the second row of the back seat thanks to the larger than usual sunroof.        Dash controls were nicely done and easily understood intuitively--except for that TomTom navigation and audio system.  It had some of the smallest printing on the controls we've ever seen, and the tiny radio buttons were almost impossible to operate if you had even normal size fingers.  The screen was miniscule and the legibility of the information was nothing to write home about either.  Sadly, it was one of the worst systems we've seen in our road tests this year. Performance wise, the 2.5 liter, 170 horsepower four cylinder,  horiszontally opposed "boxer" engine provided 21/27 miles per gallon, and the estimated annual fuel cost based on $3.00 a gallon gas and 15,000 miles of driving was $1,957. By the way, the Forester is still at the top of the game when it comes to off-roading. There's 8.7 inches of ground clearance with the Forester, and that's more than with any other of its competitors. Rugged's the byword here.     On the road, the car handled briskly and quietly, but we do think it's time for Subaru to replace that outdated four speed automatic transmission. This car could use a five or six speed automatic for better economy and smoothness. Still, we love  the Forester and it deserves a spot on your shopping   list if you are looking for a small SUV or crossover.

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