Subaru Forester

The 2018 Subaru Forester comes in a variety of different trims powered by one of two engines. The base engine is a 2.5L 4-cylinder making 170 horsepower. This engine is offered with a choice two transmissions -- a 6-speed manual or a continuously variable unit. The optional, turbocharged engine displaces 2.0L and makes a very healthy 250 horsepower. The turbocharged engine is only available with a continuously variable transmission, though the CVT does have a mode where it imitates a traditional manual, allowing upshifts and downshifts via paddles on the steering column.

2.5i Foresters come in four trims: Base, Premium, Limited and Touring. Base trims still feature a tilting and telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, a 4-speaker stereo with MP3 capabilities, a 4.3-inch color multi-function display and a rear backup camera. Premium models get a body-colored spoiler, panoramic sunroof, roof rails, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, reclining rear seats and a 6-speaker stereo. Limited models come standard with the CVT transmission and with leather seating. Heated front seats, a power liftgate, fog lights, a rear spoiler and heated mirrors are also standard equipment on Limited Foresters. Top-of-the-line Touring models feature everything from the Limited trim plus a navigation system, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a heated steering wheel, push-button start and 18-inch wheels.

Forester 2.0 XT models come in both Premium and Touring form. Both get the powerful 250-horsepower engine, better brakes and more aggressive styling than 2.5i models, as well as a front fascia and 18-inch wheels. The Touring and Premium models are otherwise similarly equipped to their 2.5i namesakes. Torque vectoring, first introduced on the high-performance Subaru WRX, is standard on 2.0XT Touring models with EyeSight and provides improved handling in tricky conditions.

Accident avoidance and mitigation is covered by several safety systems. Symmetrical all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, several airbags, traction control and stability control are standard. All Foresters other than the Base model also benefit from EyeSight, a safety suite offered in a few variations. It includes devices like lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and forward collision warning with automatic braking.

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Editors' First Take

Buyers have been lifting and customizing their Subarus for years (a friend of mine even fabricated rock rails for his), but now the company is offering extra capability right from the factory -- and with a warranty, too. The first off-road-ready Subaru was the 2022 Outback Wilderness. Now, the company is giving its Forester SUV a similar treatment.

A lot of the changes are familiar from the Outback: new grille, restyled bumpers, extra body cladding, copper accents and, crucially, more ground clearance. The Wilderness sits half an inch higher than a standard Forester, for 9.2 inches overall. That's more than the Ford Bronco Sport Badlands and Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. Because of the lift, the Forester's off-road geometry improves as well, with a 23.5-degree approach angle, 25.4-degree departure angle and 21.0-degree breakover. Those numbers fall behind the aforementioned Bronco Sport and Cherokee, mostly because of those SUVs' shorter overhangs, but the Forester Wilderness is still very capable for this crossover class.

The tires, including a full-size spare, come from Yokohama. These 225/60-series Geolandar all-terrain tires wrap Wilderness-specific 17-inch black wheels, and these Yokohamas can handle everything I throw at them on my test drive through the mud- and slush-covered roads of Oregon, even without having to air down. Further credit to these tires: I ran them on the Volkswagen ID 4 during the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road race and didn't have a single flat.

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