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2021 Subaru Forester Review – Snow Baby and Much More By Martha Hindes


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2021 Subaru Forester Sport Trim Shown

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By Martha Hindes
Senior Editor
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

Think of an ideal way to test out Subaru's famed all-wheel drive system. How about three inches of fresh, powdery snow, a brisk wind, a large snow-filled lot barely touched by a couple of tire tracks, and a temp hovering around the 15 degree Fahrenheit mark. Seems we weren't the first ones out to play.

That's what we found when taking out the 2021 Forester Limited for the obligatory test drive to check on its merits. We couldn't have ordered more perfect weather. Cutting a path through untouched snow was almost a mandatory step. Think Subaru and it's one of those things that immediately comes to mind, along with its famed low-center-of-gravity boxer engine we'll get to in a minute. And then there's its reputation as THE vehicle of choice for folks like night shift doctors and nurses, and others who need to travel during the wee hours when having a trusted way of plowing through often unstable terrain or conditions can make one feel uneasy at best.

So here we were with a broad expanse of freshly fallen snow glistening in winter sunlight just begging us in our magnetite gray metallic Forester Limited to cut through its surface. Challenge on.

To no surprise, the Forester crunched through the pristine surface leaving three-inch deep ruts behind with zero effort, cutting into tight, narrowing circles with abandon. It could have been on any dry road. And that was without putting it into snow or dirt mode. It simply was at home.

My driving companion, hijacked for a passenger driving perception, was thoroughly impressed – and maybe a little seasick. But no complaints.

Not bad for a start.

If one had looked at the Forester simply for appearances sake it still would have been an eye catcher, although not as dramatic as some of its four-door, mid-CUV sized rivals for five. The big changes in its appearance had been done with a total makeover a year earlier. This version was more a refinement than a redo. But what got added was nice.

Those include Subaru's enhanced EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology with head-up display, now standard, as is its new Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control lane centering function. Pre-collision braking and sway control are part of that package.

If you've taken the Forester off a paved road and onto some less friendly turf (as the Forester name invites) and you want to make sure you didn't lose air pressure in the process, your tire monitor now will show each tire's pressure.

And if you're growing weary from a long drive, the DriverFocus TM Distraction Mitigation System is available to help with audio and visual warnings when it senses driver fatigue or distraction.

For those most precious passengers in the rear seat, Subaru has added a rear seat reminder when the driver exits the vehicle and the rear door previously had been opened. That system now is standard on all Forester models.

LED license plate lights become standard on all trim levels. The top line Touring model, with Harman Kardon premium sound, has LED lighting added for the cargo area and rear lift gate as well as for dome lights with off-delay.

The All Weather package on Premium trim, now standard, includes heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and windshield de-icer.

High tech and comfort amenities continue on the 2021 Forester, with such standard features as STARLINK™ Multimedia system. The high-resolution touchscreen integrates smartphones with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Steering wheel control switches and dual front console USB ports keep linking and charging easy.

For those wanting a touch of splash, in addition to leather wrapped steering, Premium trim has standard 17-inch black machine finished aluminum alloy wheels, roof rails, roof spoiler in matching body color, dark tint privacy glass and a panoramic power moonroof.

Sport model gives you SI-DRIVE with Intelligent and Sport Sharp modes and steering wheel paddle-shift control switches for 7-speed manual mode.

With Base, Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring versions available in its lineup, those who want an attractive, spacious, workhorse crossover utility vehicle should consider the Forester. And capabilities such as a higher ground clearance and an ability to blaze some non-paved trails from its standard 4-cylinder, 2.5-liter boxer engine with a much as 1,500-lb towing capacity with Trailer Stability Assist, all standard, can put it to the test. That powerplant, with a CVT continuously variable transmission, delivers 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque for as much as 33 highway miles per gallon on standard fuel. Those familiar with Subaru should know, as always, it comes with standard Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, a reason for its preference among many longtime fans.

If the urge to give in to the Forester's credentials gets your attention, expect to pay a starting price of $24,795 for the Base model, a $300 bump from last year’s base model but it’s a good bump, as the 2021 Subaru Forester includes standard steering, responsive LED headlights with automatic high-beam assistance, and for 2021 all Foresters have a rear seat belt reminder system. The Forester Premium starting at $27,395, Sport at $28,995 and Limited editions at $31,095. The 2020 Touring is priced starting at $34,595. Our Limited test car, with a $1,695 option package and $1,010 in destination and delivery charges totaled $33,800.

Getting inside should be just the start. After all, with snowmelt gone, the forest with its pristine lakes is calling.

Copyright 2121, Martha Hindes, Automotive Bureau, All rights reserved,.