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Article Comments - 2009 Subaru Forester XT First Drive and Full Test

Karen@EdmundsKaren@Edmunds Posts: 5,024
When the Subaru Forester first appeared in 1997, no one called it a crossover. No one wanted to call it an SUV, either, because this would conjure up images of carbon-spewing, resource-depleting, endangered species-decimating wagons of doom to the eco-conscious crowd that Subaru has always attracted.

First Drive: 2009 Subaru Forester XT

Karen-Edmunds Community Manager



  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    While the write-up was very positive, I don't agree with the introductory statement. Ten years ago, SUVs hadn't yet developed a negative image. Of course gas was well under $2 a gal then...

  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,747
    The article seemed a basic recap of the Catalina Island testing that Subaru hosted. For a "first look", it was fine, and appreciated.

    My experiences with my '09 Forester XT pretty much match the articles, though other than climbing one huge 45 degree asphalt hill w/ potholes (without much drama), my experiences are mostly city-suburan based.

    Am looking forward to a followup with more concrete performance and fuel economy data, and - better - comparison with the other contenders in the Forester's niche!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Subaru demonstrated the Forester's cargo capabilities (not to mention its keen appreciation of its target audience) by showing us a 2009 Forester with 4,590 granola bars stowed in the rear cargo area


    Hilarious! I spit the granola I was chewing out of my mouth when I read that. ;)

    175 lbs on the roof, cool. Need to buy cross bars, though. At least you can use Subaru Bucks.

    I was happy to read this, too:

    When we hit the pavement, we found the Forester base model with its five-speed manual transmission to be even more to our liking. It has an eager-to-please liveliness in terms of engine response and handling that seem more in character with a compact, go-anywhere utility vehicle
  • The 83 Toyota Tercel wagon was an upright boxy wagon- to the point of being funny looking for its time- with AWD (ok, 4WD, since it not only could be shifted into 4wd or 2wd, but also had an ultra-low gear and inclinometer). The original Forester was based on the, what we used to call, sub-compact Impreza as an upright boxy wagon with AWD. We can probably
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That was a spiritual predecessor for the RAV4, sure, but AMC had the car-based Eagle in the late 70s, and Subaru put 4WD on their GL wagon way back in 1972.

    So I wouldn't say Toyota came first.
  • aaykayaaykay Posts: 539
    Neither the Forester nor the Impreza WRX has a twin-scroll turbo-charger. Only the Japanese 2.0L Turbo versions come with twin-scroll turbos.
  • Besides the upright boxy awd wagon Eagle and Tercel having justifiable precedent for being called crossovers or CUVs, there is also the Dodge Colt upright boxy AWD wagon of the late 80s/early 90s. This was a Mitsubishi what-we-then-called 'captive import.'

    We will ignore any of the jeepy vehicles of the late 40s as well.

    Probably the Forester gets the nod because it was still a current model when the industry started to market the new term 'crossover' at a time when nobody wanted mini vans or utility vehicles anymore, and Sub adherents could say, hey, that new marketing segments includes us as well. But the first?
  • vwtoddvwtodd Posts: 2
    Why in the world, with the outdoor demographic, did Subaru drop the manual with the turbo? This car was at the top of my list - and is now no longer on it at all.

  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,747
    Subaru apparently didn't sell enough of them to justify continuing that configuration.
  • h2k2f2h2k2f2 Posts: 44
    More of you folks should have spoke up with your wallets when they were available.
  • aaykayaaykay Posts: 539
    and as much as 100 percent of power can be directed to the wheels with the most grip.

    What the above means is that UPTO a 100% of the power can be sent to the front wheels and a maximum of 50% of the power can be sent to the rear wheels (under extreme conditions, for short durations).

    In such front-wheel-biased vehicles (Forester Turbo and 08 WRX Auto), you can actually pull a simple fuse and make it a 100% front-wheel-drive vehicle.

    Completely unlike the prior generation WRX Auto (which had a planetary gear center differential and clutch packs, which the Forester Turbo and 08 WRX 4EAT lacks) and the Legacy GT Auto and the Outback 3.0L/2.5T Auto, which drive with a rear wheel bias in the torque split.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    More of you folks should have spoke up with your wallets when they were available

    Hey I did my part :P
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,747
    E-mails I've had so far with Subaru regarding power transfer made no mention of these '09 limitations, so I asked them specifically and hopefully will get an answer to share here.

    And yes, one can deactivate the '09's AWD for towing or testing purposes by moving and installing a fuse in the driver side fuse block.

    My __guess__ is that Subaru removed the center diff and rear limited slip diff to save costs, reduce drive train complexity, and because they figured the VDC would replace those components.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    a maximum of 50% of the power can be sent to the rear wheels

    Not true.

    Watch this video, how the rear wheels power this 2008 Forester X (without any traction control system whatsoever).

    Notice that the front wheels are not spinning very fast when the rears pull it up over a bump and up the ramp.

    That clearly demonstrates the front wheels are certainly not getting 50% of the power. If they had been, they would have no resistance and would have been spinning like crazy.

    Your theory is simply not true in practice.

    The segment is about 2:50 in.
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,747
    When you do a full test of the '09 Forester, please try a few tests specifically aimed at testing out the Revised-for-'09 AWD system to see how it deals with these situations:

    1. One side of car on asphalt, other on loose/slippery surface,
    2. Three wheels on slippery surface, one wheel on good surface

    FYI, "1" above was part of Subaru demo I got with the Outback, which had no trouble. I did not get an opportunity to test that situation with '09 Forester.
  • hondaruhondaru Posts: 11
    I was disappointed there is not five or even six speed automatic, and no talk of a hybrid or diesel version, I own a 2003 Outback, which I like a lot, but won't consider making a change unless I can get superior mpgs.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    A diesel should be here by 2010 or 2011. The Outback might get it first, though.

    FWIW, the boxer diesel has been very well received by the european press.
  • h2k2f2h2k2f2 Posts: 44
    It is likely that you would get better mileage with the '09 Forester compared to your '03 Outback. Keep in mind that the '09 fuel economy numbers are based upon the new more demanding 2008 fuel economy testing standards. Your '03 Outback would lose around 2 MPG overall from its originally posted 2003 numbers. For example the Outback H6 originally was rated at 19/26. Adjusted to the new standard, it would rate at 17/23. More gears may look nice on paper to some, but they don't automatically translate into better performance or fuel economy.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    The Forester needs a 5th or cruising gear. I'm tired of listening to the drone of the engine at 3K doing 70mph (which admittedly isn't very often). At the point when I'm ready for my next ride, this would be a deal breaker.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    No argument here. However, my manual tranny in 5th gear also revs at about 3k when doing 70mph so I guess it could use a 6th gear ;)

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