Behind the Wheel – Subaru Forester 2.5X Touring

Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester 2.5X Touring is a surprising entry in the SUV market. Smaller than many of its competitors, it makes up for its lack of overall cargo capacity with surprising pick-up and a smooth ride to create a very civilized urban adventure vehicle.

The dual reputation of Subaru is unique in the car business. On the one hand, Subaru is known as the maker of civilized, affordable city transportation. They’re supposed to be driven by sophisticated, mild-mannered folks who shop at Pottery Barn and Urban Outfitters after they stick an Obama bumper sticker on their Subaru.

But, the Japanese automaker also has a rugged, competitive side. Their racing division excels on the rally circuit, making a lot of noise at the summer X Games. Their partnership with BF Goodrich tires makes them a formidable presence on the long distance endurance racing circuits, also.

So, Subaru’s compact SUVs are clearly an effort to combine the two identities. Its outward styling is graceful and civilized, obscured only by an oddly extended front end – even for an SUV. The Forester 2.5X looks like it has a bit of a beak. Otherwise, it has the bearing of a mini Land Rover.

The independent MacPherson struts up front and the double wishbones in the back provide a graceful ride on freeways and reliable support if you take the Forester 2.5X off road.

Surprisingly, the Forester 2.5X sports only a 2.5 liter four cylinder engine – one of the smallest engines you’re likely to find in any SUV class. But, that power plant manages to produce 170 horsepower and 174 lb. ft. of torque – more than enough to keep the Forester 2.5X moving on the pavement and off.

I confirmed its easy acceleration inadvertently. During the Forester’s road test, I drove it about 50 miles out of town for a track day. After throwing BMW Z4s and Jaguar XK coupes around a track at 140 mph, I became accustomed to drive at high speeds. So, after hopping into the Forester 2.5X for the ride home, I found myself easily doing 95 down an LA freeway without realizing my sin.

Fortunately, I got the Subaru under control before causing any trouble, but she held the road without a vibration with plenty of gas pedal left.

Inside, the Forester 2.5X provides leather-trimmed upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, GPS, panoramic moonroof, and airbags everywhere you look.

Subaru Forrester

In the green department, the Forester 2.5X is a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV). To explain what that means would involve examining the ridiculously complicated automobile pollution laws of California – where PZEV standard were born. Such an examination involves boredom of biblical proportions, and I’d rather write a book detailing the rites of ascension in the Kardashian clan before I’d subject any reader to that.

Suffice to say, the California Air Resources Board (CARB – a collection of global warming zombies who refuse to leave the living well enough alone) inflicted such ridiculous emissions standards on automakers that California would’ve been left with freeways populated by Big Wheels if they took full effect. So, car companies struck a deal to come close enough to California standards that the bloodless turnips at CARB would leave them alone – creating the PZEV certification.

All of that means the $29,895 Forester 2.5X produces angel’s breath from its tailpipe. Maybe not. But it runs pretty clean with CO2 emissions of 4,048 kg per year while pulling down mpg of 24 highway.

It’s the kind of environmental respectability you’d expect from the gentler side of Subaru, while the Forester 2.5X offers just a little taste of its rally racing cousins.