The Subaru Forester does everything well. That's the reason it was crowned our 2009 Sport/Utility of the Year, and after more than a year's service in the Motor Trend test fleet, that choice was more than reaffirmed.

The Forester never sat in our garage. It was the Swiss Army knife of the MT fleet:

Go anywhere, do anything, rarely a problem, and never a complaint-from the vehicle, that is. Whether loaded with photo or video gear, camping equipment, or family road trip supplies, the Forester was up to the challenge.

Every SUV becomes a workhorse of sorts when in the MT test fleet, and the Forester was no exception. With its ample interior space, high clearance, and full-time AWD, it was a no-brainer to use this vehicle for support on comparison adventures. From the snowy peaks of Mammoth Mountain to the scorching desert floor of Death Valley, the Forester always proved the right choice for the job.

While there were no complaints from the car, there were a few from our staffers. The main issue was with the four-speed automatic transmission. In this day and age of seven- and eight-speed transmissions, a four-speed is an antique. Just one extra gear would make a world of difference in the entire driving experience of the Forester. On significant inclines, the transmission would constantly hunt between third and fourth gear, annoying occupants and reducing fuel economy. But once rolling down the highway or maneuvering around town, the Forester worked like a champ.