2012 Subaru Forester 2.5 XT Review By Steve Purdy
2012 SUBARU FORESTER 2.5XT TOURING REVIEW
By Steve Purdy
I felt that the 2012 Subaru Impreza I reviewed last week was a bit
tepid in performance, design and execution. But this week’s Forester
2.5XT Touring, top-of-the-line, five-passenger, midsize CUV, was much
better in many ways.
Although more pricey, the Forrester lacks some sophistication, most
noticeably in the transmission and the navigation system. To compete in the
thirty-grand class of CUVs the trusty Subaru symmetrical all-wheel drive
and horizontally-opposed engine go a long way to keep loyalists coming
back, but content is advancing so rapidly in competing brands they’ll
have to step it up.
We (my pretty blonde) and I found the Forrester easy to look at -
certainly not glamorous, but reasonably up to date and fairly stylish. The
nose is high, hinting at good ground clearance for off-roading. A bulging,
functional air scoop dominates the hood and adds some visual performance
cred. The scoop feeds air directly into the intercooler mounted atop the
engine. Seventeen-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels with 225/55 all-weather
tires are barely big enough to fill the wheel wells and do not call
attention to themselves one way or the other. A small wing above the rear
hatch is both functional and attractive adding a bit of style to the
otherwise plain SUV profile.
Inside, our leather trimmed cockpit turned out to be a pleasant
place to spend time as I made a couple of lengthy highway jaunts. The
driver’s seat adjusts 10 ways including a lumbar support. The
driver’s window has express up and down but the passenger window does
not. Fit, finish and quality of materials reflect a mid-range product -
nice, but not exceptional.
Least impressive are the navigation and audio
controls managed through a small and unattractive screen surrounded by a
few buttons. While superficially it may look simple, it is anything but
that. Station tuning on the radio is with touch screen arrows that are slow
to respond making it difficult to stop on the station I want. The nav
functions are not particularly intuitive or simple. Certainly, it
wouldn’t take long for an owner to learn and get used to the system,
but for the weekly driver like me it became an annoyance.
Ingress and egress front and rear were excellent without a big climb
and without having to duck, indicating that it’s not too big or too
small, but just right. The 60/40 rear seats are roomy and generous. Seat
backs release easily and fold flat for a good 68.3 cubic-foot cargo
capacity. With the seat backs in place we have a substantial 33.5
cubic-feet. The floor panel lifts to reveal a compartmentalized storage area
made from rigid foam and that lifts to reveal a full-size spare tire.
Under the hood is a very nicely finished engine compartment with the
inter-cooler showing top center of the engine cover. Beneath the cover beats
a smooth, 2.5-liter, horizontally-opposed, turbocharged, inter-cooled,
four-cylinder engine making a modest 224 horsepower and 226 pound-feet of
torque. Without the turbo, the other models of the Forester make just 170
and 174, barely enough to get it down the road. The EPA estimates this
turbo Forester will get 19-mpg in the city and 24 on the highway (The non-
turbo is rated at 21 and 27-mpg.) I couldn’t figure out how to reset
the mpg-average setting and it read 22.5-mpg, reflecting mine and the
mileage gotten by previous drivers. This represents about the midrange of
Acceleration feels good and strong but nothing to get excited about.
The old-fashioned four-speed automatic transmission has a manual mode and
is efficient enough, though it does not offer a performance feel. A 5-speed
manual is standard with the lower two trim levels. As with all
Subaru’s, except the new sports coupe called BRZ, the Forester comes
with the respected full-time symmetrical all-wheel drive.
Forester sports plenty of airbags and all the chassis dynamic
controls we find on most vehicles these days and it has earned four and
five stars (with five as the max) in the NHTSA crash testing in all areas
except rear seat passengers where it gets only two stars.
The entry level Forester 2.5X starts at $20,595 and is quite well
equipped. Our top-of-the-line 2.5XT Touring starts at $29,805 and includes:
the turbo engine, the 10-way power driver seat, leather seating, 17-inch
wheels, HID headlights, dual zone climate control, leather steering wheel
and shift knob, panoramic power sunroof, rear vision camera, Bluetooth
connectivity and more. Our tester has the optional $1,000 GPS touch-screen
navigation and XM satellite radio. With the $775 destination charge our
bottom line is $31,739.
Subaru’s warranty covers the whole car for 3 years or 36,000
miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.
The midsize crossover segment is a large and competitive one with
wonderful vehicles from which to choose. To command a premium price one has
to offer premium content and have a reputation for durability and
competence. The Subaru Forester is long on the latter but a bit short on
the former. In any event it has mechanical charm that would justify putting
it on your shopping list.
© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker