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With all-wheel-drive and surprisingly good clearance, the Forester is a car you can drive in mild off-road conditions.
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.
The improbable scoop on the hood feeds a mighty powerplant, a 2.5-liter intercooled and turbocharged four cylinder engine.
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.
The back of the Forester is designed more for function than for looks. It's as boxy as an old Volvo.
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.
There isn't much tech on offer in the cabin of the Forester. No Bluetooth or navigation, although the premium stereo is decent.
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.
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.
The steering is fairly light on the Forester, something we found a little disturbing on a windy mountain road.
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.
The five speed gearbox doesn't really stand out, and it has a loose feeling.
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.