A Total Car Score at the top of the Compact SUV & Crossover segment reveals a lot to love about the 2012 Subaru Forester beneath its somewhat dowdy surface. Described as a comfortable and roomy crossover by most reviewers, it's hard to fault the Forester.
Like the majority of Subaru vehicles, this one has all-wheel drive as standard. And the other Subaru hallmark, a flat-four engine, is also present. This configuration normally provides more torque and helps keep the vehicle's center of gravity low -- an advantage in the handling department.
A similarly advantageous 8.7 inches of ground clearance also gives the Forester a little more off-road capability than most of its rivals. Cargo space is considered "generous" in its ability to expand from 33.5 to 68.3 cubic feet. There's added practicality in a low load floor.
The transmission department is not so impressive, sporting at least one ratio fewer than most rivals. The manual has five gears; the automatic has four.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) names the Forester as a "Top Safety Pick."
Following a revamp last year, the 2012 Forester gets a height-adjustable passenger seat as standard and there's a newer navigation system with a few more bells and whistles.
The five-seat 2012 Subaru Forester comes in X, X Premium, X Limited, X Touring, and XT Premium and XT Touring.
In all X versions is a 2.5-liter, flat-four engine making 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. In XT models is a turbocharged version of the same engine that develops 224 hp and 226 lb-ft. In the X and X Premium, a five-speed manual is standard; a four-speed automatic is optional. This auto 'box is standard in the rest of the range, and all-wheel drive is standard throughout.
The X trim has air conditioning, power accessories, automatic on/off headlights, a trip computer, CD player with auxiliary mini-jack socket and 16-inch steel wheels. As the trim levels go up, the equipment inventory takes on roof rails, sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, Bluetooth, iPod integration, reclining rear seat backs, heated mirrors and a rear-view camera.
Options include satellite radio, a voice-activated navigation system and a text message facility.
EPA ratings for the 2012 Forester are 21 mpg city, 27 mph highway and 23 mpg combined in non-turbo models with either transmission. Turbo-engined models achieve 19/24/21 mpg.
With the proper equipment, the 2012 Subaru Forester can tow up to 2,400 pounds.
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