With all-wheel-drive and surprisingly good clearance, the Forester is a car you can drive in mild off-road conditions.

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The monolithic grille, bookended by simple headlight casings, looks good. The grille and front bumper on the Forester Sports model come from STi, Subaru's racing technology workshop.

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The improbable scoop on the hood feeds a mighty powerplant, a 2.5-liter intercooled and turbocharged four cylinder engine.

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The styling gets a little weird, with odd indentations running down the sides and prominent wheel flairs. But the practicality of a small wagon is undeniable.

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The back of the Forester is designed more for function than for looks. It's as boxy as an old Volvo.

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The cargo room is ample in the back of the Forester. Seat belt points in the rear area suggest the possibility of rear jump seats. There is also a subwoofer back here.

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There isn't much tech on offer in the cabin of the Forester. No Bluetooth or navigation, although the premium stereo is decent.

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The upgraded stereo in the Sports XT version of the Forester has an in-dash six CD changer that can handle MP3 and WMA tracks. It's also prepped for satellite radio.

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The auxiliary audio input is neatly hidden behind a panel at the bottom of the stack, but there isn't a convenient place to put an MP3 player.

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The steering is fairly light on the Forester, something we found a little disturbing on a windy mountain road.

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The instrument cluster on the Forester is basic, with no real trip computer. You only get a mile counter for Trip A and Trip B.

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The five speed gearbox doesn't really stand out, and it has a loose feeling.

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Subaru does a good job with the engine. This one pumps out 224 horsepower and an impressive 226 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 RPM.

Updated:Caption:CNET Reviews staffPhoto:CNET Networks
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