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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2010 SUBARU FORESTER 2.5XT LIMITED REVIEW


2010 SUBARU FORESTER 2.5XT LIMITED
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2010 SUBARU FORESTER 2.5XT LIMITED

SEE ALSO: Subaru Buyers Guide

The 2010 Subaru Forester gives off a sense of ruggedness in small doses.


PHOTO

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE FORESTER LIMITED VEHICLE
Hard to believe just ten years ago the only small utility vehicle that made the best selling SUV list was a Honda CR-V (and just pulling in at number ten). Today, these lists are populated with smaller rides like the Subaru Forester. This 5-passenger utility vehicle with all-wheel drive and an optional turbocharged engine gives off a sense of ruggedness in small doses.

I drove a 2010 Subaru Forester with the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and 170-horsepower 2.5XT Limited trim (which is the most-decked trim out you can go with this vehicle). At $29,694, it came with the optional 2.5-liter Boxer turbocharged with intercooler engine and a fuel estimate of 21-mpg. Aside of a power driver seat, panoramic sunroof, roof rails, steering-wheel audio controls, reclining rear seatbacks; the 2.5X Limited brings a better automatic climate control system, the All-Weather Package (heated mirrors and seats plus a wiper de-cier) and a 6-speaker stereo with 6-CD changer.

Last model the Forester underwent an exterior transformation that was popular with the critics. Not much has changed for the 2010 year aside of offering Bluetooth connectivity and standard power driver's seat. Compared to how high-tech many smaller to mid-sized vehicles are getting, the Forester is limited in this department.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Premium trim needs to be your entry level to get power driver seating, panoramic moonroof, and the deep-set second row seats that slightly recline. But if you can swing it, go for the Limited that adds a much better climate control system. The interior design inside any Forester feels roomy, mostly due to sculpted doors and dash. Although the standards are agreeable, the Forester needs to be more on the up-and-up where overall cabin technology is concerned. Bluetooth connectivity is not enough – the upgraded 6-speaker audio system is the same one Subaru has had for the last several years and not staying competitive.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Forester safety features includes Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive; Vehicle Dynamics Control; advanced airbag system; 4-wheel disc brakes with Brake Assist; anti-lock brakes; a tire pressure monitoring system; and electronic brake force distribution. Government gives 5-star ratings in almost every crash category (4-stars for rollover). The Forester also cares to give an extra sense of safety through a lighting system: A longer-than-most delayed dome light comes on during leaving and the key fob unlock button casts any dark shadows under the car with bluish light.

Cost Issues: A base price for the very plain Forester 2.5X starts at $20,250, but again, the Forester is best in either the 2.5X or 2.5XT Limited edition. Still, for a fully loaded Forester with all-wheel drive, $29,694 is a very strong deal.

Activity & Performance Ability: The turbo engine is a great addition, but maybe not the best for gas economy. The trusty 4-speed transmission has become way too noticeable when downshifting and generally would conserve gas better if the engineers just threw in a gear or two. There is always great visibility in a Forester. Between the panoramic sunroof and second-row reclining seats with an optional center cup holder that pulls down, your passengers will be happy. But they just might have heard better sound systems elsewhere.

The Green Concern: Nature-lovers will love the panoramic moonroof, which I've only found elsewhere on similar small-SUV styles like the BMW X3 as well as some VW products (Tiguan and Jetta SportsWagen). The non-turbo 2.5-liter engine rates clean EPA greenhouse scores (as high as 10) and turbo slightly less clean (as low as 6).

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The Forester is a reliable ride with a proven all-wheel drive system. But if Subaru is not careful, they could loose a lot of the Millennial business (first-time buyers in the 15-30 years of age bracket) due to their limited tech and audio packages.

©2009 Katrina Ramser