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2016 Subaru Forester: Fun, Functional, Capable

By Arv Voss, February 13th, 2016

The Subaru Forester is one of the best-selling small SUVs in the marketplace. It is extremely popular in geographic regions of the country where inclement and extremely cold weather prevail. Visit, for instance, the Northwest and Northeast, and the Forester appears to be the poster utility vehicle.

The 2016 Subaru Forester is available in six trim levels: base 2.5i; the 2.5i Premium; a 2.5i Touring; a 2.0XT Premium; and a 2.0XT Touring. The Forester starts at $22,395.

This latest fourth-generation 2016 Forester retains its utilitarian properties in a large, useful package. The doors and openings are large, allowing for greater ease of entry and exit. Door window frames add necessary structural integrity, though I miss the frameless window.

In terms of its appearance, the Forester's A-pillar is set forward, with the front end and hood low and flat, displaying a tall grille that reflects the rest of the Subaru line's DNA. The Forester showcases a more SUV-like look, rather than the image of a wagon. Wheel wells are pronounced creating a fender effect. Low door edges extend below the inner sills, protecting one's apparel or legs from accumulated road grime when exiting or entering the vehicle. The new Forester essentially blends evolutionary design themes with sharply defined details.

Moving to the interior, the front space and shoulder room is ample and the dash is deep with IP and graphic video displays. There is a height programmable, power liftgate and Subaru's optically controlled EyeSight adaptive cruise control and guidance system are among the feature upgrades and enhancements.

Forester 2.5i models are powered by a 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine, producing 170 horsepower at 5,800 rpm, while developing 174 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. The 2.0XT models draw their energy from a 2.0-liter turbocharged/intercooled, Boxer four-cylinder engine.

Transmission choices include a six-speed manual for 2.5i powered models and a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission with the 2.0XT versions featuring six gear steps in automatic mode and eight speeds in manual shift mode.

Every Forester delivers power to all four corners via one of two AWD systems: Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel drive -- a Continuous AWD system with viscous-coupling locking center differential for manual transmission vehicles, or an Active AWD with electronically managed continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch; featuring an enhanced AWD control system with X-Mode that delivers increased performance capability in low friction scenarios at the touch of a button.

My test 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i came in Limited trim, finished outside in Venetian Red metallic, with a Black interior. The base sticker read $28,795 while the final tally came to $31,790 after factoring in option packaging and destination charges.

The 2016 Subaru Forester is genuinely "SUV tough and car easy". The off-road prowess of this latest Forester is indeed impressive, as is the on-road experience. Climbing and descending hills is child's play and freeway stretches all showcase quiet, comfort and stability.

Washboard ridden and rutted gravel surfaces with 35 mph designated speeds could be negotiated at 60 mph and above with total confidence and control, thanks to the four-wheel independent suspension componentry and the Forester?s low center of gravity.

Outward visibility is outstanding as is interior functionality and versatility. The 2.5-liter four-banger responds quickly when prodded, and the CVT performs with the effect of a conventional gearbox, simulating stepped gear changes -- particularly in the manual mode with paddle shifters. The turning circle is remarkably tight, especially for an AWD vehicle.

Bottom-line, the 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited not only gets the job done as one would expect, but it gets it done quickly and in total comfort.

Specifications

Base price $28,795 (as tested: $31,790)
Curb weight 3,366 lbs.
Displacement 2.5-liter
Engine type 16-valve Boxer 4-cyl. w/MPFI
Epa mileage rating 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 15.9 gal.
Horsepower (net) 170 at 5800 rpm
Overall length 180.9 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 174 at 4100 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD midsize CUV
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