The bulge. From the driver's seat, it makes the new Forester 2.5XT hood appear pregnant with added power. To the stopwatch, it's just one piece of the mechanical puzzle that drops the 0-to-60 time by a third, from 9.9 seconds to 6.6. The rest of the puzzle includes a new twin-scroll turbocharger, larger valves, a bigger intercooler-sum it all up you've got 224 horsepower. Which is, uh, exactly the same as the previous turbo engine. What gives?

Subaru's goal with the XT wasn't greater power, but achieving its power and torque peaks at significantly lower rpm. The horsepower max arrives 400 rpm sooner; the torque's, at 800 fewer revs. That's a chunk that helps not only driveability but efficiency, too, what with less internal friction to sap off steam. Moreover, the twin-scroll design makes it a turbo that doesn't feel like a turbo; there's nearly no slingshotiness to contend with here.

The greater grunt trims the XT's figure-eight time by a noticeable 0.7 second. But the more robust entry into the cornering zones (plus a whopping 8.9 inches of ground clearance) also highlights the softness of the turbo Forester's suspension-it lists more than you'd expect, though if you're willing to shuffle the wheel a bit the XT can be delightfully chuckable. Something you can't say about many genuine all-roaders.


2009 Subaru Forester 2.5XT
Base Price/Tested Price $23,160/$26,860
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 2.5L/224-hp/226 lb-ft, DOHC, 16-valve, F-4
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Curb weight (f/r) 3416 lb (56/44%)
Wheelbase 103.0 in
Length x width x height 179.5 x 70.1 x 66.9 in
0-60 mph 6.6 sec
Quarter mile 15.1 sec @ 89.0 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 127 ft
Lateral accel 0.78 g avg
MT figure eight 28.1 sec @ 0.60 g avg
EPA city/hwy econ 19/24 mpg
CO2 emmisions 0.93 lb/mile
On sale in U.S. Spring 2008