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The Subaru Forester is a compact crossover that originally debuted for the 1998 model year. Since that time, the vehicle has been through two major redesigns, with the 3rd-generation Forester being introduced for the 2009 model year. The crossover is intended to directly complete with class leaders such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-9.

The overall design of the Subaru Forester is essentially a tall, 4-door wagon. However, the current 3rd generation has been redesigned to incorporate a more SUV-like appearance. Built on a hybrid platform based on the Subaru Impreza, the 2009 Subaru Forester features a higher riding stance and larger proportions. Vehicle dimensions include a length of 179.5 inches, width of 70.1 inches and height of 65.9 inches. The new design also features framed side windows, a first on a Subaru vehicle since the 1970s.

Inside, the larger dimensions provide additional legroom for rear passenger drivers. Up to five passengers can ride comfortably in the two-row arrangement. A redesigned dashboard features a double-scoop design that delivers an upscale, sporty ambiance. With the rear seat lowered, the Forester offers 68.3 cubic feet of storage space.

Subaru Forester Trim Levels

The Forester is available in five trim levels – 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X L.L. Bean Edition, 2.5XT and 2.5 XT Limited. The base 2.5X comes standard with a wide range of features, including air conditioning, cruise control, height-adjustable driver's seat, split folding rear seat, power accessories, stereo system with CD player and MP3 connectivity, remote keyless entry, rear defogger, roof rack, fog lights and automatic-off headlights. The 2.5X Premium adds steering wheel radio controls, sunroof, rear privacy glass, alloy wheels and roof rails.

The 2.5X L.L. Bean Edition builds on the Premium by incorporating auto climate control, leather seats and steering wheel, heated front seats, 10-way power driver's seat, heated mirrors, 6-disc in-dash CD changer and a wiper de-icer.

The 2.5XT builds on the 2.5X Premium by adding a rear spoiler, 6-disc in-dash CD/MP3 changer and wiper de-icer. The 2.5XT Limited features much of the feature upgrades found on the L.L. Bean Edition.

Subaru Forester Performance

All 2.5X trims come standard with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft. of torque. Both the 2.5X and 2.5X Premium come mated with a 5-speed manual transmission. The L.L. Bean Edition upgrades to a 4-speed automatic with manual shift capability.

The XT trims receive a turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that outputs 224 horsepower and 226 lb-ft. of torque. Both trims feature the same 4-speed automatic found on the L.L. Bean Edition. As with all Subaru models, the Forester is only available in all-wheel drive. A double-wishbone rear suspension has also been redesigned to deliver improved handling.

Subaru Forester Safety

All Subaru Forester models come standard with safety features that include dual front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags with rollover deployment, antiskid system, antilock 4-wheel disc brakes, brake assist and daytime running lights. In NHTSA crash tests, the Subaru Forester received exceptional scores. A perfect 5-star rating was handed down in all categories except for 4WD rollover, for which the SUV received four stars.

The 2009 Subaru Forester is a carryover from 2008. The 2009 Forester is available in five trim levels: 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited, 2.5XT and 2.5XT Limited. The first three editions of the vehicle are powered by a 2.5 liter, 4-cylinder engine that pushes out 170 ponies and 170 lb-ft of torque. The base and Premium models feature a 5-speed manual transmission and optional 4-speed automatic, while the Limited is automatic only. Fuel economy for the 2.5 liter engine is rated at 20 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon on the highway.

The 2.5XT and 2.5XT Limited benefit from bigger power in the form of a turbocharged edition of the 4-cylinder found in the entry-level Forester. With 224 horsepower and 226 lb-ft of torque, acceleration is spirited. A 4-speed automatic is the only gearbox choice, and fuel mileage comes out to 19 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway.

All versions of the 2009 Forester come standard with all-wheel drive.