With an award-winning engine and having received numerous acclamations since the inception of the third-generation (SH) Forester, this car remains an epitome of well-engineered mini SUVs over a decade later. Despite being launched in an auspicious fanfare, it was not enough to see the marque of a vehicle still grounded in reality gleaming in metallic blue paint; the distinctive itch for a test drive was overtly noticeable among the overwhelmed motoring enthusiasts.
It is sturdy and rugged, but the handling falls nothing short of the brilliance of a passenger car. Previous models have had some engine gasket issues, but such have been addressed in the models beginning 2010. This car doesn’t have the largely overrated STI branding, but that doesn’t mean its performance is wanting. The only downside here is a reduction in horsepower, though the real effect is hardly noticeable if you have not driven a turbocharged Forester before. Braking power is as efficient as in the Brembo 4-piston calipers standard in previous sports models and the independent double wishbone rear suspension has been redesigned for better handling and a smoother ride over the previous generation. “Sportshift” has been included mated to a four-speed computer-controlled automatic transmission, being a full-time AWD. This means that torque split is divided among rear and front differentials in a systematic manner, with power being sent to the wheels that need it. For example during hill climbing when weight shifts to the car’s rear, power is sent to the rear wheels to counter it and when going downhill the power is sent to the front wheels giving the car precise driving preferences. This helps not only in handling but also the car’s traction is significantly improved.
The repertoire here seems to be thinning out for Subaru, with trim levels coming in X, XS, XT, and S-Edition. X is the base model, XS the premium, XT the turbo version while the S-Edition is a limited production model. The X trim has a 2.0L EJ20 petrol engine with Active Valve Control System (AVCS) matched to either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic gearbox while the XS, XT, and S-Edition have a 2.5L engine with similar features. And for the first time, Subaru has introduced a new discordant engine. It is still horizontally opposed (pistons are flat and opposite each other instead of being upright), but this time powered by diesel instead of gasoline. This new powerhouse is called the Subaru EE with a six-speed manual gearbox and is available in Europe, Japan and in the U.S
The 2L EJ20 engine delivers 109 kW (150hp) while the 2.5L delivers 126kW (170hp). Competitors like Honda CR-V might have less power, but certainly, this car has very slow acceleration. It took over 10 seconds for our Base model to hit 100km/h from rest, but the turbocharged XT apparently does it in 6.8 seconds according to official figures making it one of the fastest small SUVs. The turbo version also has the greater power output of 169 kW which translates to about 226 hp. It is also not very economical as compared to competitors like Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5, and it’s the high time Subaru updated their 4-speed automatic transmission. This is about the oldest transmission in the segment since Subaru adopted it in 1989.
Standard safety features on the 2013 Subaru Forester include the usual stability and traction control and anti-lock brakes, along with a tire-pressure monitoring system, and six airbags which include front-side and side-curtain ones. It scores well by official certifying bodies since it attains three stars out of five for its side crash performance but its side pole test is a bit low with two stars. It gets four stars on front crash performance and four stars overall.
Inside, the 2013 Forester is a roomy car-very roomy. I should take this to make up for the bland interior, which is not uncommon among off-road beasts. It is here that Subaru once again straddles the line between a compact car and a rugged SUV, being on the fun-to-drive side when you have a camping trip in mind. What you find after opening the door is unfortunately not commensurate with the smooth exterior styling, but comfort seekers will not be considering a Forester in the first place. Upfront, like in the 2006 Tribeca, the dashboard design swoops gently down to a center console and remains what many motor enthusiasts refer to as reserved. Controls are conspicuously straightforward and easy to access, with the cabin design remaining pleasant and highly functional even though the material quality looks mediocre and the finish is well… lackluster. The Forester could be playing the underlying giant game or is simply restrained to attract good bargains since many of the surfaces are quite plain, but it’s a practical scheme that lends itself to its intended utilitarian use. As a matter of fact, this is where the Forester turns out arguably as a potent off-roader, alluding to those pictures we see on the internet and commercials of fully packed roof rails. With this in mind, therefore, it’s evident that the interior should handle kids, sports equipment, excess luggage on those upcountry trips and anything else you can throw at it and expect the interior to remain scratch-free. We cannot, therefore, expect it to have Tesla’s 17-inch touchscreen; the Forester is meant to deliver when push comes to shove.
Is the Subaru Forester a Real 4×4 Or Just a Boxy Estate Car?
Statistics show that the majority of Subaru owner usually remain loyal when they change their vehicles. This must be why Forester drivers also fit this category as the Subaru Forester really doesn’t look all that special. Its quite an odd-looking vehicle and looks more like a large boxy, family estate car rather than a full on 4×4. The secret for Forester owners is that It’s what’s you get that counts – and of course how much it costs. If you compare the Subaru Forester with the Honda CR-V or the smaller Toyota RAV-4 the Forester’s generous family sized interior and tough trim must appeal. The Foresters other secret is that as its based on the rally winning Subaru Impress, so it drives well, and offers good road holding, with excellent handling and confident steering, without any of the lurchings or rolling around found on some 4x4s.
The 2.0 flat-four cylinder Impress engine is more than lively enough for the Subaru Forester, producing excellent torque and good acceleration. If more power is the priority there is the Forester Turbo S which can accelerate from 0-60 in 8seconds not bad for a 4×4. As its based on the Impress fuel economy for the Forester is the car like and 30mpg easily achieved, with a low group 11car insurance. Running costs are very reasonable thanks to above-average reliability and long service intervals. Inside, the Forester has excellent boot space with split fold rear seats for practicality and a good level of safety features, including airbags and Subaru forester car cover for driver and passenger. The All Weather pack option adds front fog lamps, heated front seats, electrically heated mirrors and windscreen wiper de-ices. Leather upholstery is also available on the Turbo S model. So what you get with a Subaru Forester is a 4×4 that that drives and handles more like a car, with strong reliable engines that have more than proved themselves. The Forester is a good 4×4 compromise, that can average 30mpg with a low insurance group and a strong resale value and a worthy consideration for part-time off-road work.
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