As with all our Sport/Utility of the Year winners, the 2009 Subaru Forester received an invitation to join our long-term fleet and, naturally, it rsvp'd yes. Rather than sample the available turbocharged 224-horsepower engine, we opted for the naturally aspirated version for a few reasons: First, we have played extensively with the more powerful 2.5-liter turbo in our long-term Impreza WRX and felt the standard flat-four would be a nice change of pace, so to speak. Second, the N.A. Forester is Subaru's volume leader, so why not get a taste of what most people are living with?

Subaru offers its non-turbo Forester in three trim levels: standard 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, and 2.5X Limited. Further, if you reside in a state that has adopted California's emissions specifications, then your 2.5-liter receives a Partial Zero Emission Vehicles (PZEV) stamp, which costs an additional $200. For our long-termer, we chose a 2.5X Limited PZEV with navigation ($1800), XM satellite radio ($453), Bluetooth microphone kit ($237), and a cargo net ($46).

We have clicked just over 6000 miles so far and have had no major issues. Recently, however, a few minor gremlins have reared their ugly heads. For instance, our navigation system currently has our office located somewhere between Long Beach and Catalina Island, smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Yes, we have recalibrated it numerous times; sometimes that works, other times it doesn't. When it does work, it lasts for only a little while, then poof, we're back in the middle of the big blue. Another bug seems to be living in our satellite radio; reception is spotty, often sounding like someone is turning the volume up and down very quickly. Other times, after a sudden buzz or pop, the satellite resets back to channel 001 and forces you to wait a minute as it seemingly refreshes itself. The last gremlin is an annoying plastic squeak that resides in the rear cargo area and occurs at slower speeds, over somewhat broken or uneven pavement. We can't hear it on the freeway, but as soon as we drop down to surface-street speeds, it returns.

Otherwise, everyone on staff has been enjoying time in the Forester, relishing the smooth ride and more-than-capable boxer engine. And while the four-speed automatic delivers respectable acceleration and fuel economy, two more gears would take it a couple steps toward perfection.

As of this writing, our Forester hasn't been on many adventures, but it's slated for an upcoming journey to Utah. Stay tuned for a report on that expedition, as well as any remedies to those irritating gremlins.


Our Car
Base Price $26,860
Price as tested $29,396
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 2.5L/170-hp/170-lb-ft SOHC 16-valve flat-4
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3329 lb (55/45%)
Wheelbase 103.0 in
Length x width x height 179.5 x 70.1 x 66.9 in
0-60 mph 10.0 sec
Quarter mile 17.5 sec @ 78.7 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 128 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.77 g (avg)
MT figure eight 29.4 sec @ 0.54 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy econ 20/26 mpg
CO2 emmissions 0.90 lb/mi
Total mileage 6458 mi
Average fuel economy 21.5 mpg
Unresolved problem areas Navigation, satellite radio, rear cargo squeak