Versatility. It's a word that pops into my mind almost every time I strap into the Forester's cushy leather seat. When I started driving the Forester I worried about how I'd utilize all its versatility in Los Angeles, the nation's most congested city per INRIX's traffic scorecard. In reality, my worries had the lifespan of a Kardashian relationship.

Why? Because it rained. And the storm was a deluge. Various "Storm Watch" warnings polluted TV broadcasts and regional news websites. Like a pig in fresh you-know-what, my Forester was in heaven. And so was I.

I felt like Cool Hand Luke on the I-405. All-wheel drive has that effect. Oh, there's a gargantuan, newly formed crevice ahead? Yeah, whatever. Tell that to my nearly 9 inches of ground clearance. Watch out for that puddle so big that it likely contains a thriving ecosystem, you say? Meh, let's see how much of a splash I can make. I've got 23 degrees of approach angle. Bring it.

Then it snowed. Rain in the city meant powder in the mountains, so I swapped my all-season Yokohama Geolanders for Continental Tire's new ExtremeWinterContact rubber. The asymmetric tread has high-density sipes designed for high flexibility and grip in below-freezing temperatures. Pounding Big Bear's powder and navigating the occasional icy patch were worriless affairs. The tires' snow-packed "grip edges" had the Subaru looking extra-rugged, too. So far, the Forester has granted me ever-present confidence while behind its wheel, regardless of road surface, weather, or traffic congestion. It's liberating.

Then my friends came over. Dinner was on the agenda. After visiting numerous parking venues, I have determined that I can position my Forester almost anywhere in L.A. Slicing through downtown's tight parking structures is a cinch. For me, an unmarried late-twenties dude with no kids or pets but sometimes a lot of stuff (and/or people) to haul, I'd say the Forester's size is perfect. And there's a rearview camera that does an excellent job at showing me where my rump is aimed, though its display is tiny. It's a superb urban transport.

Then I took a call. I heard, "Hey, let's go swap some tires," on the other end. It was executive editor Ron Kiino. Ten minutes later, my Forester sat in our garage bay, rear hatch wide open, proudly flaunting its 31.5 cubic feet of trunk space. I quickly folded the second row for another 37 cubic feet (68.5 cubic feet total). Brilliant. Into its cargo hold went a set of four fresh tires for Ron's long-term Honda Accord, a bin of my dirty laundry, and one duffel bag for my weekend trip to San Diego. No problem.

Then a Cannondale mountain bike arrived at my door…


Our Car
Service life 20,052 mi
Average fuel economy 25.6 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.76 lb/mi
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ 23/28/25 mpg
Energy consumption 132 kW-hr/100mi
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $0 (2-oil change; 1-rotate tires, inspection)
Normal-wear cost $0