the company that set the standard for all-wheel-drive
some two decades ago, has updated its small sport
utility for 2006. Car-based, but definitely mud-track
capable or more we've found in the past, Forester
now sports a smoother, less boxy look than in
is the car company that could. When other manufacturers
were trying to get it right with all-wheel drive,
the Japan-based manufacturer offered it on every
vehicle made, growing from autos to sportier,
truck-like versions with good ground clearance
in the process. Forester is somewhat diminutive
compared with other small SUVs, and until now
was the truest entry into that field from Subaru.
(We'll review the new B9 Tribeca five- or seven-seater
later this year.) But like all its kin, Forester
retains the mandatory Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
changes for '06 are design updates, performance-boosting
drivetrain and engine refinements. The uniquely
Subaru 4-cylinder boxer engine (pistons move sidewise
like two fighters exchanging punches) has been
tweaked for more horsepower. The 2.5 X now generates
173-HP. The 2.5 XT Limited's goes to 230.
the Forester gains new, more rugged-looking front
and rear including new tail lamp clusters. An
L.L. Bean edition has new MOMO leather-wrapped
and wood steering wheel and shifter, and a shock-sensor
security system. There's a wealth of standard
amenities on the 2.5 X and 2.5 X Premium packages,
including fog lights, foldable side-view mirrors
for off-road duty or tight parking spaces, air
filtration, roof rails and cargo utility bars.
Among Premium adds are power moonroof and 8-way
power driver's seat. The top-line 2.5 X L.L.Bean
adds water resistant cargo floor area, auto dimming
rear-view compass mirror and standard automatic.
Hill Holder is standard with five-speed manual.
slogan, "Sport Utility Tough, Car Easy,"
fits the redesigned Forester. If it retains the
capability of its earlier rendition - we don't
doubt that it does - it will offer a fuel efficient,
easy handling, pavement gripping, and passenger-friendly
alternative to some of the bumpier truck-based
competitors on the market.