2008 Subaru Forester XT new car reviews

The Forester XT does a convincing impersonation of an SUV.
Don't be fooled, though. It's still a Subaru under the skin.

Better than: Nissan Murano
But not as good as: Forester Diesel
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 76.56

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.

Other staff views

Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder

I loved the previous generation Forester XT and while this one has grown in size and weight, it's still got that same basic goodness—especially when the going gets mucky. The Forester XT is a great car for crappy, dirty and muddy conditions. My wife and I took the car through some pretty bad sections of road and it was just about unflappable. It even can get a little rally-style sideways when the surfaces are really loose.

In short, still just about the perfect car for Vermont. Just wish this newest version was available in a stick transmission.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath

Per's right; the new Forester still has that basic Subaru "goodness" that I love. It's a fine SUV, but it's simply too big for me now. The new design is very attractive and feels more luxurious than any Subaru I'd previously driven, but I find myself wishing the designers had stayed a little closer to the geometry of the last generation. Losing the option of stirring my own gearbox stings, too.

If Subaru really wants to make the Forester an SUV, maybe a 5000 pound tow rating should come along with it.

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