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Photos: 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium

The 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium makes for a practical road trip car, but comes up short on cabin tech.

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CNET Reviews staff
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The new Forester represents a big update over previous year models, including a whole new, longer platform. The car comes in a variety of trim levels, from the base 2.5X to the top-of-the-line 2.5XT Limited, which gets a turbocharger and navigation as an option. None of the other trim levels get the navigation option, and most are stuck with a four speaker stereo.
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Subaru made its reputation with all-purpose vehicles good for a variety of weather and road conditions. The Forester comes with standard all-wheel-drive, and boasts 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Its front and rear angles of departure are close to 25 degrees.
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Although the 2.5-liter four cylinder engine's 170 horsepower doesn't move the car around particularly fast, it does offer good economy. We got 28.5 mpg on one road trip. The 2.5XT trim levels of the Forester add a turbocharger, producing 224 horsepower.
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The styling update to the Forester is welcome, keeping its look modern. Not easily pigeon-holed, the Forester could be considered a wagon, a crossover, and even an SUV.
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Versions of the Forester made to comport with California Air Resources Board regulations earn a partial zero emissions vehicle, or PZEV, rating, meaning they create very little smog-creating pollutants.
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The interior easily fits four people plus luggage, or the rear seats can be folded down to create a large cargo area.
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Dashboard electronics are minimal in the Forester 2.5X Premium, with a sub-par stereo and no navigation or Bluetooth. A navigation system is only available at the top trim level.
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Steering response is not particularly tight or loose in the Forester. The car feels a little wobbly in fast corners, but it does have traction and stability control.
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Instrumentation is very simple in the Forester, with just a speedometer, tachometer, and fuel gauge. The monochrome LCD on the instrument cluster only shows odometer readings, but a center display shows trip computer information, such as fuel economy.
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A five speed manual is standard in the Forester 2.5X, and a four speed automatic is optional. The automatic is standard on the 2.5XT versions.
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There is no upgrade for this stereo on the 2.5X. If you go up to the 2.5XT, you get a six disc changer, but the 2.5X only gets a single CD slot. Satellite radio is a dealer-installed accessory.
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The stereo can play MP3 CDs. It shows track information, but the display has limited length, and it doesn't scroll.
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With only four speakers, the audio system does not sound good. If you go up to the 2.5XT trim, you get a six speaker system, but that won't be a huge improvement.
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There is an auxiliary jack in the console. We made much use of it during our time with the car.

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