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ROAD & TRAVEL's 2007 Crossover Buyer's Guide: 2007 Subaru Forester

by Martha Hindes

2007 Subaru Forester
2007 Subaru Forester Interior

Since we first met Subaru's Forester, it's seemed like the ultimate spunky independent. Maybe it was the all-wheel-drive (like every Subaru, before any competitor had it). Or its smaller, flexible size and no-nonsense boxier shape meant to handle the most demands in the least amount of space.

For 2007, Forester has gained a lot but hasn't lost its independent streak. With a redesign last year and full make-over due in a year or two, two new sport models are the latest adds. Unlike some other crossover sport utilities, it hasn't melded into a hunk of sleek-rooflined, slant-cornered wagon with lines that inevitably would rob interior room. Rather, it retains a more square-off stance with higher roofline for functional interior practicality and good visibility.

That doesn't mean Forester has a single stodgy bone in its body. It doesn't. Instead it captures rally-worthy racing inspiration from its competitive WRX kin. It's powered by Subaru's 2.5L, 173-hp (224-hp for XTs) inline four horizontally-mounted "Boxer" engine for punch in small under-hood space. There's raised, independent suspension. (L.L. Bean versions get rear load leveling).

You'd expect a smallish crossover/sport utility for five to be nimble. No worry here. All systems send power to all four wheels for a maximum in grip and control. And Forester retains its "hill hold" feature for five-speed manual trans versions so it won't inch backwards down an incline -- appreciated with an 18-wheeler behind on a rush hour exit ramp.

Forester comes in six flavors, including new 2.5 X and XT Sports models, plus L.L. Bean and upmarket Limited versions. Available amenities include automatic transmissions, intercooled turbo, larger 17 x 7 alloy wheels, upgraded audio and SIRIUS satellite radio. Among interior trims: Leather seating, MOMO leather and wood steering wheel, and dimming rear-view mirror with compass.

New for the base 2.5 X is Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Standard safety equipment, including anti-lock brakes and advanced airbags, helped it win top safety ratings. Expect best mileages of 22/29 (manual) or 23/28, and base pricing at $21,195.