Subaru Forester 20

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Keywords: subaru forester xt 2.0 review, subaru forester xt review, subaru forester review, forester review, new car review, new car test

Description: Murray Hubbard road tests and reviews the Subaru Forester XT with specs, fuel economy and verdict.

The Forester has always been a capable vehicle with well thought-out design and excellent build quality. The XT badge also tells you that it has performance. This Subaru AWD felt at home, chewing through kilometre after kilometre and providing passenger comfort on long-haul trips equal to or better than many luxury cars.

Indeed, the Subaru Forester XT exhibits many traits of the highly renowned European marques: small engine with big performance, excellent handling and a solid feel. This is a vehicle that has been engineered for the driver and is extremely well suited to Australian conditions.

The Forester XT 2.0-litre is generously equipped with reverse camera, one touch folding rear seats, premium audio, full connectivity, dual zone climate control, roof rails, xenon headlights and more.

The base model XT starts at $43,990 for the manualor automatic, while the XT Premium automatic variant rises to $50,490.

We initially had doubts about Subaru's decision to make CVT the standard transmission (there's no manual shifter) in the high-performance XT Forester. Our opinions changed at the launch of the vehicle in northern Victoria in January.

Those who want a sporty drive can use the paddle shifters on the steering wheel to access the eight ‘steps’ in the transmission. We found the CVT seamless in auto and exhilarating using the paddles.

The CVT is linked to a new 2.0-litre Boxer engine that has Direct Injection Turbo-charging technology that Subaru claim significantly improves acceleration, fuel and environmental efficiency. The engine belts out 177 kW of power, with 350 Nm of torque between 2400 and 3600 rpm.

The Forester XT is nothing really special to look at. It's what you can't see that makes a difference from the previous XT. The aerodynamics have improved by 11 per cent thanks to, among other things, a turbo guard under the engine bay and a rear spoiler. The lower body is also flared and the bonnet is now aluminium. The rear bumper corners have been designed with aerodynamics in mind.

Subaru has not tried to re-invent the new Forester, but has made subtle changes throughout the vehicle to improve every aspect of the car. The cab is wider and has slightly more passenger space, the A-pillar has been moved forward by 200 mm which opens out the cab to feel more spacious and improve visibility.

The front seats are all new and give more support, something which we found to our advantage on our long-haul trips around the WA wheat belt country. The interior is practical more than princely, but with the use of quality materials is has an all-class feel. Sound intrusion into the cabin is minimal and virtually none of it is engine/transmission generated.

What we do like is the overall comfort level that meets the needs of passengers. For instance the doors have water bottle holders that mean even the driver can find the bottle and then replace is easily without taking their eyes off the road. The steering wheel controls are particularly easy to use including the cruise control, a handy feature for long distance travel.

The cargo area has four metal tie-down points as well as grocery bag hooks on either side, stopping the dreaded spill of bottles and cans. Auxiliary and USB port and power sockets are all conveniently located. We also like the sun visor extensions – a small but important feature for early morning or afternoon driving in the bush. We used them often during this road test.

This is really an SUV with dual personalities. By deleting the bonnet scoop that formerly adorned Forester XT models Subaru has located the new XT in the mainstream.

In two weeks we have just racked up almost 2000 km in a new Subaru Forester XT in Western Australia. On long, straight outback roads with a sprinkling of city driving, gravel roads and a few windy bits thrown in this was our big test in the west. Our conclusion: the new Forester XT sets new standards for the medium SUV segment in performance, comfort and handling.

The XT’s 2.0-litre is a terrific engine that is at its best when it is needed most: accelerating for high speed overtaking, particularly the B-doubles on WA's Great Eastern Highway. At times we were surprised at just how fast we were going when passing slower vehicles and the stability of the vehicle when making the manoeuvre.

When you combine Forester XTs long-leg performance with superb handling, along with the practical benefits of being a nicely proportioned wagon and AWD for safety and reasonable off-road ability, the Forester XT has just about created it's own niche. At 110 km/h Forester XT's engine is idling over at just 2000 rpm. We like it, a lot.



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