Subaru Forester S (2002)
SEE ALSO: Subaru Buyer's Guide
by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 23,695 Price As Tested $ 26,241 Engine Type SOHC 16-valve 2.5 Liter H4 w/SMFI* Engine Size 150 cid/2457 cc Horsepower 165 @ 5600 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 166 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 99.4"/68.3"/175.6" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 3283 pounds Fuel Capacity 15.9 gallons Tires (F/R) P215/60R16 94H mud & snow Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/all-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/five-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.405 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 22/27/25 0-60 MPH 10.5 seconds Maximum payload capacity 900 pounds Maximum towing capacity 2000 pounds * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
BRENDAN - When I see a Subaru, I always think of those television commercials with Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee, saying "G'Day" and calling everybody "mate." It's good advertising, and when they produce a vehicle like the 2002 Forester S, they demonstrate that they are not just a cookie-cutter car company. It was once only known for its funky Brat pickup, but Subaru recently stopped selling trucks and two wheel-drive vehicles in America so they could concentrate on full-time all-wheel-drive vehicles. Its Forester "mini-ute" SUV made its debut in 1998 and it was looked at as a taller version of the popular Outback wagon. They are quite different however, and the Forester is a bit cheaper.
MIKELE - I always laughed at the Brats that pulled into my high school parking lot, because they seemed so small and weak compared to the Muscle Cars driven by the "big" men on campus. But I bet some of those popular high school guys are driving Subaru-type vehicles now that they've grown up. The new Forester S model we drove had a smooth shifting four speed automatic transmission and a peppy 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four cylinder "boxer" engine. This is an engine design feature that Subaru has utilized ever since the company got out of the micro-car business and began building cars for the international market. Our Forester wasn't exactly a Ferrari, but with 165 horses, it wasn't a slouch either. The Forester has full-time all-wheel-drive, which automatically distributes power between the front and rear wheels, depending on where the traction is needed. Our S-model had a viscous limited-slip rear differential, as opposed to two other systems that are used on other models. Subaru is very much into high-tech stuff.
BRENDAN - The Forester gets 22 city and 27 highway fuel mileage, which is not bad for a family car. Its interior is roomy, and it fits five adults so loading up our two dogs was a snap. Our test rig had leather upholstery, a power moonroof, 16-inch alloy wheels with gold accents, and monotone paint. It also featured a custom tailpipe cover, auto-dimming interior mirror and compass, a center armrest console, and front seat side airbags.
MIKELE - The exterior design of the Forester isn't what I'd call elegant or ground-breaking, but its boxy, basic look is refreshing compared to some of today's cookie-cutter design trends. It has an internal glass antenna which eliminates those pesky telescoping ones that I always seem to get broken off in the car wash. The chrome front grille has a body-color frame, and its multi reflector headlights and fog lamps blend smoothly into its design. New stuff for '02 are a standard retractable cargo cover and daytime running lights, both practical items. The Forester meets all the current federal passenger- car safety standards, which are more stringent than for light trucks, and it starts with an innovation Subaru labels Ring-Shaped Reinforcement Frame construction. It helps provide protection in frontal, offset frontal, side and rear impacts. Like the dual side-impact airbags, the Forester also has driver and front passengers supplemental restraint units. Four-channel, four-sensor anti-lock brakes top off the Forester's safety items.
BRENDAN - I liked the Forester, but as far as Subarus go, I much prefer the zippy WRX turbo sedan. I can hardly wait to get back behind the wheel of another one of them during Track Day for the press.
MIKELE - I'm sure you can't, but your Dad went with you last time and when you two get together on the track, it makes me worry. Next time it comes up, I think I'll go too and ride along in the back seat.
BRENDAN - I'm not so sure I'm ready for a back seat driver on a race track, Mikele.