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2009 Subaru Forester Preview

2009 Subaru Forester Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2008

Critical Knowledge:
  • Complete redesign

  • New interior and exterior styling

  • Offered as a 4-door utility vehicle

  • Seating for 5

  • Three inches longer than outgoing model with 3.6-inch longer wheelbase

  • Standard all-wheel drive (AWD)

  • Naturally aspirated and turbocharged 4-cylinder engines

  • Sales to start in Spring 2008


Introduction
Subaru introduced the Forester in 1997 as a 1998 model. Its car-type platform, 4-door body style, high ground clearance, and standard AWD made it one of the first crossover utility vehicles (CUVs). The Forester received its first redesign for the 2003 model year and added turbocharged power for 2004. The third-generation Forester is coming this spring as a 2009 model.

For 2009, the Forester will return as a 4-door, AWD utility vehicle. Naturally aspirated and turbocharged 4-cylinder engines will carry over, but both will get some improvements. Seating will still be for 5, with folding rear seats to create a large load area. The new model will be slightly larger, but will still qualify as a compact. The wheelbase will be increased 3.6 inches to 103 inches and overall length will grow by 3 inches to approximately 180 inches. It will also be about 4 inches taller and 2 inches wider, expanding on the 68.6 cubic feet of cargo volume in the 2008 model. Ground clearance of up to 8.9 inches will be available, allowing the Forester to go off-road.

Model Lineup
Subaru hasn't announced the 2009 Forester model lineup, but has confirmed that the 2.5 X, L.L. Bean Edition, and 2.5 XT models will return. Expect 2.5 X models to have cloth upholstery; air conditioning; cruise control; interior air filter; tilt steering wheel; 60/40 split folding rear seat; power windows, mirrors and door locks; remote keyless entry; vehicle information center; AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack; rear cargo tonneau cover; alarm; fog lights; roof rack; and P215/65R16 tires on steel wheels. The 2.5 XT models will be similarly equipped, but will also include P225/55R17 tires. L.L. Bean Edition models will add automatic climate control; leather-wrapped steering wheel; leather/alcantara upholstery; heated front seats; limited-slip differential; power driver's seat; wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel; auto-dimming rearview mirror; sunroof; and a universal garage door opener. The lineup may also include Sport trim for the 2.5 X and 2.5 XT, as well as Limited trim for the 2.5 XT. New options will include a navigation system and an upgraded audio system. XM and Sirius satellite radio will be offered.

Hardware
The 2009 Subaru Forester will return with 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder "Boxer" engines with horizontally opposed cylinders. Subaru says both engines will be revised to provide better low-end and mid-range torque for more responsive everyday performance, but the company has not released power figures. In the current model, the naturally aspirated engine produces 173 hp at 6000 rpm and 166 lb.-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm and the turbocharged version, available in 2.5 XT models, makes 224 hp at 5600 rpm and 226 lb.-ft. of torque at 3600 rpm. Expect the 2009 engines to produce similar power and torque numbers but at lower rpms. Five-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions will return. Fuel economy should be mostly unchanged from the 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the manual and the naturally aspirated engine; 23 mpg city/28 mpg highway for the automatic with the same engine; 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway with the manual and turbocharged engine; and 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway with the turbo and the automatic. Foresters equipped with the manual transmission will have an Incline Start Assist feature.

Like the 2008 model, the 2009 Forester will have a strut-type front suspension. Subaru says a new double-wishbone rear suspension will provide better handling, ride quality, improved crashworthiness, and increased interior space and cargo room. The AWD system will not have low-range gearing.

Safety
Standard safety features on the redesigned 2009 Subaru Forester will consist of dual-stage front air bags; head-protecting curtain side air bags that have rollover sensors and cover both seating rows; anti-lock brakes with brake assist; traction control; and Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control (electronic stability control).

Technology
Subaru's Symmetrical AWD is called "symmetrical" because the components, including the low-mounted, squarish Boxer engine, allow for better side-to-side and front-to-rear balance than most other AWD systems, Subaru says. This system uses a limited-slip center differential to send power to all wheels simultaneously and to constantly adjust the amount of torque sent to each wheel to provide maximum grip on slick surfaces. A limited-slip rear differential is added for XT and L.L. Bean Edition models. Incline Start Assist aids starts on hills by temporarily holding the brakes to provide enough time for the driver�s foot to move from the brake pedal to the throttle pedal.
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