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Range in Motion - 2005 Crossover Buyer's Guide

2005 Subaru Forrester Review

by Martha Hindes

Subaru Forester
2005 Subaru Forester

One of the most compact crossovers on the market is also one that's been around for a while. Subaru jumped the gun years ago by expanding the traditional wagon into its Forester, a taller, more flexible, more versatile, and definitely kickier set of wheels to drive.

While the Forester has remained more diminutive than some competitors in the small, sport utility/crossover genre, its appeal has not diminished. It fits neatly into the between spot that's often being ignored of late for more bloated vehicles contending for the disenfranchised minivan crowd. Forester makes a better sedan replacement, with similar agile drive characteristics. (But don't expect to pack in your progeny's basketball team, especially in the second row.) And while not quite true off-road ready, we found it sloughed through some slick, muddy pathways with the famed Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive and low-mounted engine control we'd noticed on other Subaru vehicles -- actually on all other Subaru vehicles.

For 2005, Subaru has added a different tweek: A tonier, pricier L.L. Bean edition that suggests Forester's woodsy heritage, that makes it the official vehicle of the active lifestyle and equipment outfitter. Based on the premium-level 2.5 XS Forester model, the L.L. Bean edition is powered by a 165-HP four-banger, transverse-mounted "boxer" engine and 4-speed direct control automatic transmission. A self-leveling rear suspension keeps it even despite a heavy load in back.

In the rugged but comfortable spirit, the special edition is fitted with 10-spoke alloy wheels, beige leather trim, perforated bolsters and the exclusive L.L. Bean logo. It shares a new, three spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with the three other Forester models.

Subaru bumped up the base price of its entry level 2.5 X 5-speed manual version $400 from last year, just over the $21,000 mark. The L.L. Bean level starts at $26,395, about $1,800 below the top-of-the-line 2.5 XT premium. Not cheap, but perhaps well worth the feel of secure driving.


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