Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

The newest generation of the Subaru Forester makes a clear step away from its Impreza-mates-with-box roots as it grows in size for 2009. Surprisingly, the larger interior space and exterior footprint adds less than 100 pounds of bloat over the outgoing model. Interior components and amenities feel more substantial and look more appealing, helping to justify the girth.

Much to our pleasure, the Forester's rally car genetics are well represented on the road, and even delightfully more so off the beaten path. The Forester's four-speed automatic transmission is a little coarse for 2009, but it's still perfectly capable nonetheless. We'd prefer the efficiency of a newer automatic, or better yet the STI's six-speed manual with a tall final drive, to squeeze a few more miles from a tankful.

Economy is likely the Forester's short suit with an EPA estimate of 19/24 mpg, although that's only a little worse than Honda's CR-V and a bit better than Nissan's Murano. We were also a little disappointed with the Forester's too-low-to-bother 2400-pound towing capacity.

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