Sometimes you have to look beneath the surface to find beauty.
Case in point? Subaru’s Forester is a car hardly anyone would classify as good looking. It’s tall and boxy, its stance is awkward, its lines run in all sorts of different directions, and it looks like it’s trying to both be and not to be an SUV.
That said, there’s a whole group of people out there –– mostly clustered in the Pacific Northwest and the snowbound states –– for whom Subaru’s compact crossover is the ideal set of wheels. Back in the sixties, Volkswagen ran an ad for the Beetle in which the goofy-looking little car was touted as the vehicle the snowplow driver uses to get to the snowplow. These days, that car is likely a Forester.
And if it’s a 2010 Forester, it’s more comfortable and better appointed than any version of Subaru’s compact crossover that has come before it. The interior of the 2010 Forester is very pleasant, particularly when a lighter color scheme is ordered. Spacious and airy, it feels more like a luxury car than a utilitarian, go almost anywhere automobile. The shapes employed flow nicely while the fit, finish and quality of the materials are all first rate. That tall, boxy shape makes the cabin spacious and the relatively high seating position––coupled with all those large windows––delivers excellent outward visibility.
More than just handsome though, the interior is also well equipped. A navigation system is offered with an external input jack that enables it to display video games or a DVD player. Bluetooth wireless, satellite radio, and an auxiliary jack for a portable MP3 player are also part of the package. The audio system that comes with it features Audyssey MultiEQ technology to optimize the listening experience for all passengers, regardless of where they’re seated in the Forester.
When it comes to hauling people and stuff, the Subaru also excels. The rear seats fold flat to enhance cargo-carrying ability, and in most models they also recline to improve passenger comfort. A clever under-floor storage system frees up space in the main cargo area and keeps things nicely organized.
Subaru is one of only two manufacturers who still rely upon horizontally opposed engines to power its offerings. (The other is Porsche.) Laying the cylinders flat and arranging them opposite one another, instead of standing them up straight and all in a row, means the engine sits lower in the car. This, in turn, lowers the center of gravity which improves the vehicle’s agility and gives it better traction.
In the Forester, that engine has four cylinders and makes 170 horsepower and 170 ft-lbs of torque. Two transmissions are available; a five speed manual (with hill-start assist) and a four-speed automatic. And while six-speed transmissions would help the Forester return better fuel economy, the ones offered take better advantage of the engine’s torque. A 224-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, producing 226 ft-lbs of torque is also available. All-wheel drive is standard equipment across the board, as it has been on every Subaru since 1997.
While neither engine can be classified as a real pavement scorcher, that really isn’t what the Forester is all about. If you live in an area where the roads are frequently wet and/or even frozen, you know very powerful engines can sometimes be more of a detriment. The Forester has just enough power to do its job, but not so much power as to overwhelm its intended purpose.
And that intended purpose is to provide good, solid, reliable all-weather transportation. If you can look past the outside and take the Forester’s abilities as your primary consideration, you’re exactly the sort of person Subaru is trying to reach.
Yes y'all, beauty is more than skin-deep.
2010 Subaru Forester
Base price: $20,990 (incl. del. & dest. charges)
Engine(s): 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four cylinder
2.5-liter turbocharged horizontally opposed four-cylinder
Horsepower/Torque: 170@ 6000 rpm / 170 ft-lbs@4400 rpm
Turbo: 224@5200 / 226 ft-lbs@2800
Transmission(s): Five-speed manual / four-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Front engine / all-wheel drive
Fuel Economy: 20-city / 27-hwy
19-city / 24-hwy (Turbo)