Specification image modification exterior interior price review 2013 subaru recall 
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 The 2012 Subaru Forester drives more like a car than like an SUV and it features a superb all-wheel-drive system giving it excellent foul-weather capability. A compact SUV that seats five, the Forester offers good cargo capacity. 
It competes with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but the Forester offers much better handling than those two, on dry pavement but especially on wet pavement, snow, ice or dirt. 
The current-generation Forester was launched as a 2009 model. For 2011, Subaru gave the Forester a new standard engine with chain-driven dual overhead camshafts rated at 170 horsepower and 21/27 mpg City/Highway. The turbocharged Forester 2.5XT models retain their belt-driven twin-cam engine, which produces 224 horsepower on Premium fuel, with EPA estimates of 19/24 mpg. 
For 2012, there are only minor changes. Among them: 2012 Forester Limited and 2012 Forester Touring models offer an integrated navigation system with a 6.1-inch touch-screen display. Included in the navigation package is a rearview camera and an AM/FM/HD/CD stereo with six speakers (seven on Touring), voice-activated controls, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, iPod control capability, iTunes tagging, USB port, 3.5mm auxiliary input jack, SMS text messaging capability, and satellite radio capability. The old removable Tom-Tom nav system is still offered on 2.5X Premiums with automatic transmission. Also new, the front-passenger seat adjusts for height on all 2012 Subaru Forester models. 
The Subaru Forester is a very practical vehicle. The rear seats are split 60/40 and easily fold flat to make a gigantic cargo area capable of carrying lots of gear. Rear-seat legroom is excellent, at 38.0 inches. That alone is a big plus, and it's one of the reasons the Forester is such a good family vehicle. The front doors are wide, and the rear doors swing open 75 degrees and feel light, making it easy to get in and out. 


The 2012 Subaru Forester comes in four trim levels, each with all-wheel drive. The 2.5X models come with the 170-hp engine that was all-new last year; 2.5XT models get the familiar 224-hp turbocharged engine. 
Forester 2.5X ($20,595) comes with rugged cloth upholstery, air conditioning with rear vents and an air filtration system, a 60/40 split rear seat, four-speaker AM/FM sound system with single-disc CD, height adjustment for both front seats, cruise control, rear window wiper, a trailer wiring connector, and 16-inch steel wheels with wheelcovers. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard. The only options are a 4-speed automatic transmission with manual mode ($1200), and 16-inch alloy wheels, which come with roof rails ($400). 
Forester 2.5X Premium ($23,295) adds 17-inch alloy wheels with wider-profile all-season tires, privacy glass, 10-way power driver's seat, tilt-and-telescope steering, a reclining rear seat with retractable tray, roof rails, power moonroof, and an upgraded six-speaker audio system that adds steering wheel-mounted controls, an auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, iPod control capability, USB port and Sirius satellite radio capability. An all-weather package ($500) includes heated front seats and side mirrors, plus a windshield wiper de-icer. The 2.5X Premium with automatic transmission ($24,295) makes available a package ($1,095) combining the all-weather equipment with a removable TomTom navigation system. 
Forester 2.5X Limited ($26,595) features perforated leather seats in black or platinum, seatback storage pockets, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, an even more deluxe sound system with 4.3-inch display screen, automatic climate control, and foglights. It comes with the automatic transmission and cold-weather package as standard. All-new integrated navigation ($1200) includes a rear camera and additional sound system upgrades. 


The Forester cabin is comfortable and the seats are good. We like the leather better than the cloth. The cloth seats come in gray or black, are more conservative than sporty, and the material doesn't feel as rugged as the material that Mazda uses. The available perforated leather is a whole new ball game, eclipsing the mundane cloth. Forester XT gets sporty aluminum pedals. 
Visibility is excellent through the windshield, with a modest hood, tight front fenders, and A-pillars designed to minimize blind spots. Visibility in the rearview mirror is not so good. The rear glass fills the mirror, but the rear seat headrests, middle seatbelt hanging from the ceiling, and rear center-mounted-stoplamp all intrude. Over your shoulder around the C-pillars, visibility is okay again, the blindspot a small one. 
We drove the Forester in summer and winter, and found that the air conditioning cools fast, but the heater heats and defrosts less fast, not a feature when it's cold. The fan is louder than in other models, also. 
The dash has a beautiful sweep like sculpture, from the center stack off to the passenger side, in dark titanium plastic that looks nice, with more of that trim on the center stack, instrument panel, and doors. The glovebox is big. There's a thin digital display inserted at the top center of the dash for time, temperature, and fuel mileage. 
The tachometer is on the left and larger speedo in the center, both with blue rims at the numbers. There's a smaller fuel gauge to the right, in a space where there could and should be an engine temperature gauge, but it's been erased by an idiot light, which we only knew because it comes on blue when the engine is cold. 
Just forward of the shift lever is a big deep slot for storage, although you have to reach around the lever to use it. Climate and audio controls on the center stack are simple to operate, no touch screen that doesn't always respond or menus to figure out and navigate, just old-fashioned knobs to turn. We like this, because old-fashioned knobs always work, at a time when always working seems not to be in fashion. The front doors have a nice elbow rest and large pockets each with a recess for 24-ounce bottles. The center console is deep, and slides forward four inches to make an armrest, on all models but the base 2.5X. 

Driving Impression

The Forester is supremely secure in its sure-footed handling. It will go around corners like few SUVs, with its experienced all-wheel drive working to grip the road. It has a low center of gravity thanks to its horizontally opposed engine, which is mounted even lower in the chassis than before. The suspension is solid but doesn't feel too firm, while its long travel offers a comfortable ride. Rack-and-pinion steering helps give the Forester a tight steering radius, tighter than the RAV4 or CR-V, making parking and maneuvering easy. 
The Limited comes with good all-season tires on handsome 17-inch alloy wheels. Forester owners who drive in the snow country will want to spring for some winter tires. All-season tires won't get you everywhere in snow and ice. We had to drive up a short slope into a snow-covered yard, the rear wheels on slick asphalt and the fronts on soft earth under the wet snow, and it wouldn't do it, as fronts and rears both spun. Even with Subaru's legendary all-wheel drive, if you don't have snow tires for winter, don't expect miracles. 
There's a huge 8.7 inches of ground clearance for obstacles that might be encountered, such as the slope up into our yard. The electronic stability control is programmed to allow the tires to spin under acceleration, as long as the car isn't sliding sideways, so the throttle won't cut out on dirt roads. During an off-road test of the Forester 2.5X, we tackled an awe-inspiring steep rutty hill that required full throttle to climb the final 100 yards. The Forester made it to the summit, while a Honda CR-V could not even come close. 
The turbocharged engine in the Forester XT delivers a very healthy 226 pound-feet of torque at 2800 rpm and 224 horsepower. The new-for-2011 normally aspirated 170-hp engine makes a bit more usable torque than before, now 174 pound-feet at a slightly lower 4100 rpm. It still doesn't compare to the turbo, however, if acceleration performance is what matters to you. On the freeway or any open highway, a Forester 2.5X has to work to keep up with a Forester XT. 
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