2016 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Limited w/Technology Package
2.0L H4 Turbo - CVT
250 hp @ 5600 rpm
258 lb-ft @ 2000-4800 rpm
892 - 1940
No / Auto
In the late 90’s, Subaru introduced the Forester, a crossover wagon that came with a turbo charger and the ability to turn like a car. It was kind of the first sport crossover, but many years later, that angry wagon has been transformed into a subtle SUV, that is very comfort and safety oriented. For 2016, there is no significant update to the latest generation, but we had only reviewed the base model and could not pass on some time behind the wheel of the 2.0XT Limited with the Technology package.
Compared to the base model, this one comes with much more in terms of features and power. The exterior has visual cues that set it apart from the entry level models, like sportier bumpers, HID headlights and unique wheels that are much more aggressive looking. Inside, you will find the use of hard plastics overpowering the soft to the touch parts but it is well put together and now comes with a high-tech 7-inch infotainment system that includes navigation with real time traffic and voice commands.
For CAD $37,995 as tested, the top of the line Forester comes with quite a bit of gear as standard. Oddly, some features you’d expect to find are not available, like heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and blind spot monitors. On the bright side, you do get a steering wheel with a vast number of buttons, dual zone climate control, leather seats (power adjustable for driver), seven airbags including one of the driver’s knees, stability control, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, collision detection and prevention EyeSight system, sunroof, keyless entry with start button, a 4.3-inch information display, tilt and telescopic steering column, rear-view camera, welcome lights, a very bassy Harman Kardon 8-speaker sound system, SiriusXM radio with a 3-month subscription, USB port with iPod integration, symmetrical all-wheel-drive with X-MODE, SI-Drive, rear-reclining seats, HID headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Just like the base model, roominess inside the cabin is pretty good, given the compact exterior dimensions. Driver and passenger have plenty of shoulder and headroom and lots of pockets to store their small items. Passengers in the back seat also enjoy good headroom and legroom, even if the front seats have been pushed back quite a bit. Five adults can fit inside without feeling too tight, but their comfort is compromised by the sub-par seats, especially the front ones lack side support and do not hold the body particularly well. The trunk will satisfy with its capacity and its shape; it is a generous 892L top to bottom and can be utilized fully thanks to the non intruding design.
The 4-Cylinder 2.0L Boxer engine, with the help of a turbo charger pumps out 250 HP and 258 lb-ft of torque, numbers that put in on top of many much pricier rivals. In practice, and with the help of the pretty good CVT transmission, it feels quick and responds well to throttle inputs. It is not the fastest SUV, but the power to consumption ratio is very good. It can hit 100km/h in 7.6 seconds and the observed average consumption was 10.2 lt/100km. The only complaint, of course, is the dull engine note thanks to the CVT gearbox. Take it out of D (drive) though, and you‘ll be happy to see that Subaru has got your back. They have put a manual mode in place that simulates 6 or 8 gears, depending on the SI-Drive settings, and that makes the soundtrack much better. The brakes are really good and capable of bringing it to a complete stop from 100km/h in just 40m.
On the road, the XT is just as impressive as the base model when it comes to ride comfort. It is set-up really softly and the result is a very premium ride in terms of comfort over bumps. Also, the well put together cabin does not produce any unwanted noises, so when cruising along, the Forester scores very high points. When things get sportier though, that softness starts to show, as there is plenty of body-roll in the corners and lots of epic nose dives when going hard on the brakes. On the highway, the smooth ride takes away from sharpness but surprisingly, handling is not really affected. The Forester holds the road really well, returning safe and progressive handling. The only problem is, that you’ll be landing on the door panel quite often when turning hard, and given the fact that the gear lever is pretty sizeable, you’ll wanna slow down for left turns. The steering is well weighted but feels numb and the SI-Drive modes don’t really add any excitement to the driving experience.
The Forester is one of the very few SUVs that have – dare I say – a cult following. There is a good reason behind that; it delivers in all areas it should and comes with what many believe to be the best all-wheel-drive system in the world. The only problem with it is that everything you see seems to have been done by an engineer with only functionality in mind. The could definitely use some help in the styling department, to wrap all this engineering magnificence in a smarter looking package.
Safety is no joke for Subaru, so there is no surprise behind the 2016 Forester being awarded the Top Safety Pick+. Now with plenty of technology on-board, the Forester will surely continue being a top pick in the class.