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2010 Subaru Forester Review

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SEE ALSO: Subaru Specs, Comparisons and Prices-Subaru Buyers Guide

by Bruce and Brad Hubbard
Auto Advisor Group
The Auto Channel

A little history about Subaru before we review the 2010 Subaru Forester. "Subaru," is a Japanese word meaning "unite." A number of companies came together (“Unite”) and started the company known as Fugi Heavy industries in the early 1950’s. In 1954, the first Subaru car was unveiled. Powered by a four-cylinder engine, the P-1 (its name was later changed to the Subaru 1500) boasted a front-wheel wishbone-type independent suspension and was the first car to feature a monocoque body designed in Japan. Subaru began offering four-wheel drive passenger cars 35 years ago and introduced innovative automatic full-time All-Wheel Drive in 1987. In 1997, Subaru became the first brand in the U.S. to make All-Wheel Drive standard on all its models.

Today Fuji Heavy Industries has some of the worlds most acclaimed vehicles. Even today the success of Subaru is making news in Australia with the Diesel Boxer engines in Subaru models. Toyota is even going to put in one of their Sports Cars (similar to their FT86 Concept) the Boxer engine. You may recall that GM had 20% of Subaru ownership some time ago. Now Toyota has that stake in Subaru so it makes sense that they use the Boxer engine.

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The redesigned 2010 award winning crossover SUV Subaru Forester is excellent on and off the road. We were very confident with the automatic driven for a week in ice, snow and very deep snow conditions in Michigan’s winter weather. The Forester has seen a 28% increase in sales since 2009. In fact 77,000 units were sold!

Subaru vehicles get the highest awards for safety, dependability, and versatility. That is only part of the reason that customers are so loyal. The other is that Fuji Heavy Equipment has continued to deliver as standard in the Subaru’s Forester their Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. If you wish manual drive the system delivers basically a 50/50 distribution of power when used in manual modes. Many of the buyers must have the manual. However, with the automatic drive system it is more sophisticated, the Active Torque Split version of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive uses an electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch to actively manage power distribution based on acceleration, deceleration, and available traction. This system automatically transfers more power to the wheels with the best grip should slippage occur. Control logic enhances stability by monitoring individual wheel speeds and reacting more quickly to wheel slippage.

The systems that Subaru vehicles enjoy may have come from the motorsport experiences that Subaru has had. This is the company that has had numerous World Rally Championships. Three World Championships and continuing into 2010 their superiority in Rally Road Racing.

Subaru designed the new-generation 2010 Forester around the company’s proven Ring Shaped Reinforcement Frame safety structure. The Forester, like all the Subaru vehicles has achieved the highest ratings in both NHTSA and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests and is an IIHS “Top Safety Pick.”

All Forester models for 2010 feature as standard equipment front seat side impact air bags and side curtain air bags that offer additional head protection for front and rear occupants. Intelligent dual-stage deployment front air bags use sensors to determine front air bag deployment strength for optimal occupant protection. Active front head restraints can help reduce potential whiplash injury in a rear collision.

A rollover sensor for the 2010 Forester is designed to activate the seat belt pre-tensioners and deploy the curtain airbags. The new-generation Forester, like the previous model, achieved a 4-star rating for rollover from the NHTSA.

The Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction control system and Brake Assist safety system are standard on all Subaru Forester models. Manual-transmission models also feature Incline Start Assist, which can momentarily prevent the vehicle from rolling backward when being driven away from a stop on an incline.

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The 2010 Subaru Forester models have a 3.6-inch longer wheelbase than the second-generation Forester (now 103.0 inches), the new-generation Forester offers improved ride and interior space, especially rear seat legroom, which measures a generous 38.0 inches. The Forester also features increased hip and shoulder room. Customers are bragging about the ride and drive thanks to the new longer wheelbase. The quietness or NVH has been improved in the newest generation Forester.

The new-generation Forester platform is based on the same foundation that underpins the brand’s sporty Impreza models. The new chassis and body are designed for improved rigidity and ride comfort with the addition of high-tensile-strength steel at key structural points. In addition, the new platform improves crash-worthiness.

A new double-wishbone rear suspension, mounted to a sub frame, replaces the previous generation Forester’s strut-type configuration to provide improved ride and handling and increased cargo room.

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The Forester has an area under the rear cargo mat that holds a spare tire and tools. To access that remove a unique tray that is also used for storage of valuable gear.

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The 2009 redesign placed the engine slightly lower in the chassis, which lowers the center of gravity, and Forester also gained a quicker steering ratio and a more rigid steering mounting. The Forester 2.5X model features 16-inch steel wheels use 215/65R16 tires; all others ride on 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 225/55R17 tires.

The 2010 Forester is offered in five trim lines. The 2.5X Premium adds a 10-way power driver’s seat, large panoramic power moonroof and interior enhancements and offers an available All-Weather Package (heated front seats, heated side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer). The Forester 2.5X Limited includes the All-Weather Package and offers more luxury without compromising the vehicle’s responsive nature and offers an available navigation system. For powerful, sporty performance, the 2.5XT Premium and 2.5XT Limited are powered by a 224-hp turbocharged/intercooled Boxer engine. With the 224 horsepowered engine the fuel consumption is 20 mpg for city and 26 mpg for the highway.

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As stated previously Subaru now has a diesel Boxer engine. In Australia and other parts of Europe the Subaru vehicles are now using the superb diesel Boxer engine. More torque and extremely fuel efficient. Australia loves the diesel that is in the Subaru Outback! The design of the Boxer engines allows even the Diesel to be closer to the ground delivering the best is handling. The Subaru Boxer Diesel is one of the quietest thanks again to the Boxer design. I hope this engine will reach the US market in the future.

The 2010 Subaru Forester hood line is higher. The grill is more pronounced. The “hawk eye” headlights are larger and deliver plenty of light on the highway at night when in low or high beam. No adaptive headlamp system yet is offered for the Forester. The contoured bumper had on my tester the optional foglights that give the front end a more confident appearance. Sharply defined character lines and boxed front fenders and rear quarter panels accentuate the SUV profile. Large light clusters highlight the rear styling of the Forester.

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The heavy-duty raised 4-wheel independent suspension and up to 8.9 inches of ground clearance help to make Forester equally adept at negotiating twisty roads and absorbing ruts and bumps. The ride quality, acclaimed in the previous model as one of the best in the segment, is now even smoother and quieter.

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I like the sweeping twin cockpit design. The brushed aluminum-look insets flow into the center stack. The center console shape adds to the airiness of the interior, aided by the sculpted door panels and improved headroom. Each door panel houses a molded recess that can accommodate a 24-oz. soft drink bottle, as well as loose items.

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Rear passenger comfort is enhanced by a central armrest in all models. All but the 2.5X base model features a new reclining rear seatback function and a retractable rear center tray that can securely hold food and drinks. The standard 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold to provide a flat cargo floor, made 5.2 inches wider between the wheelhouses by the double-wishbone suspension.

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The cargo area is large enough to accommodate four Tour-sized golf bags or four large overnight suitcases with the rear seatbacks raised. We used it to store four large camera suitcases and four tripods and lighting gear. The heavy cases sat on the rugged rubber floor mat that help keep the cargo area clean.

The Forester includes Bluetooth wireless capability for the available navigation system in Limited trim lines, with a microphone in the overhead console. Bluetooth as you know allows hands-free phone usage with a compatible cell phone. A revised instrument cluster features easier-to-see colors. In addition, a new map light door interlock switch enables the owner to select the map lights to illuminate with door opening. The 2.5X Premium gains a standard 10-way power passenger seat.

The navigation screen is placed at the top of the dashboard for improved visibility and ease of use. I did not have one in the Forester I drove. However, right after the Forester I did have the Impreza WRX with a navigation system. Worked extremely well with not only the GPS navigation system but with the sound system too. The 2010 Forester comes pre-wired for XM or SIRIUS Satellite Radio. I love Sirius and XM radio for the long road trips. The standard and optional audio systems feature the Radio Broadcast Data System, which can display a song’s title and artist, plus other data.

Forester models equipped with the navigation system include Audyssey MultEQ audio enhancement, which is also featured in Subaru Impreza models. Used in high-end home theater systems, Audyssey MultEQ creates the optimal sound experience for passengers in each seat position by tuning equalization that corrects for time and frequency response.

The Forester’s 2.5-liter normally aspirated Boxer engine was modified for the 2009 redesign to improve performance, drivability, and economy. This reliable engine delivers 170 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 170 lb.-ft. of peak torque @ 4,400 rpm. The i-Active Valve Lift System (AVLS) ensures a broad torque curve and smooth response at all engine speeds.

The Forester 2.5XT models are powered by a revised 2.5-liter turbocharged/intercooled Boxer engine delivering 224 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm and 226 lb.-ft. of peak torque @ 2,800 rpm. The turbo engine gained a new intake system, redesigned turbocharger and intercooler in the 2009 redesign to produce more torque at lower rpm for a smooth stream of power.

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Forester 2.5X and 2.5X premium models offer a choice between a standard 5-speed manual transmission and an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic. The automatic, which features SPORTSHIFT control for manual gear shifting when desired, is standard for the 2.5X Limited and both of the 2.5XT models.

Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is comprised of the Boxer engine and the full-time power distribution system, which varies by model and transmission. The aluminum Boxer engine and simple, symmetrical drivetrain layout help to lower the vehicle’s center of gravity, which in turn contributes to handling precision. It is superb! The low engine and boxer engine also make it one of the quietest engines. No wonder Porsche for years has used Boxer engines in their sports cars.

I tested the 2.5 X Premium that had a base price of $22,795.00. Adding the weather package at $400.00 and the 4 speed automatic transmission with Sportshift for $1000.00, cargo tray for $75.00 and the Sirius radio fee of $429.00 and finally destination charges of $695.00 and the MSRP was $25,394.00.

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I had on the Forester the towing hitch. I merely installed our receiver and was able to move a small trailer with ease. You will be able to tow a small boat trailer, waverunner, or even your snowmobile easily. No sway control option is available on the Forester.

Since the styling was changed last year many have praised the new look and others say Subaru Forester needed more exterior design upgrade from the previous boxy model. As stated above not only has the exterior been changed but the interior has been improved in looks and legroom. A real plus when sitting in the second row seats. Subaru is certainly not complaining with an increase of 28% of sales volume. Dominick Infante from Subaru told me sales were 77,000.

Competitors are the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV. Both wonderful alternatives to the all wheel drive Forester. "Forester is a reasonably priced alternative to compact SUV bellwethers such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4," says Consumer Guide. "It's noisier and less refined than those rivals, and its interior ambiance is a step behind that of other recently redesigned crossovers. Still, Forester offers good fuel economy and lots of features for the money, with the 2.5X and 2.5X Premium being the strongest values."

Subaru customers are very loyal and love their vehicles. That is why we see more of the Subaru products on the road today that have many times 200,000 miles on them. Today the customer will get a real value in the Subaru Forester and I assume we will see them on the road still in another ten years.

The car like manners of the Subaru Forester and the superb Boxer engine mated to the finest all wheel drive systems make the 2010 Forester a real winner in our eyes.

As stated before even the Insurance Institute for highway safety picked the Forester as a “Best Pick” among small SUV’s.

Photos and review by Bruce and Brad Hubbard Auto Advisor Group Auto Channel