Full 2007 Subaru Forester Review
What's New for 2007
The 2007 Subaru Forester lineup includes two additional trim levels, the Sports 2.5 X and Sports 2.5 XT, which offer a hip styling motif inside and out. In other news, all Foresters except the base 2.5 X model get an upgraded CD player with MP3, WMA and CD-RW capability. It's also Sirius Satellite Radio-ready and has an auxiliary jack for connecting handheld MP3 players. Additionally, the base 2.5 X gains electronic brakeforce distribution, while the Forester XT Limited gets standard 17-inch wheels. The front door panels in all Subaru Foresters now have bottle holders, and the base engine now meets the PZEV standard in California and the Northeastern states. Lastly, the turbo engine has been re-rated for 224 horsepower.
Fluctuating gas prices, SUV backlash and a general attitude that less may actually be more are all adding up to one thing: smaller, easier-to-drive crossover sport-utility vehicles. While nearly every manufacturer has a compact crossover SUV in its lineup right now, Subaru was one of the first carmakers to jump into this segment when it introduced the Forester for 1998. The company redesigned it for 2003, leaving in all the things that made this small SUV popular the first time around, while adding new features, higher-quality cabin materials and fresh styling in hopes of keeping a steady stream of newcomers at bay. Although the second-generation Subaru Forester has never been a runaway success, this compact sport-ute has been a steady seller for Subaru, as consumers are attracted to its lower stance, easygoing personality and top-notch safety ratings.
Most Foresters are sold with a 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine rated for 173 horsepower. Acceleration is adequate with this engine but hardly thrilling alongside the many V6-equipped competitors in this segment. Fortunately, Subaru also offers a 224-hp turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter, and thusly equipped, the '07 Forester is one of the quickest compact SUVs on the road. Handling isn't as tight as some of the newer SUVs in this class, but the Subie is still acceptably responsive. Ride quality is smooth as well, although there's a bit too much road noise on the highway.
Our only major complaint about the 2007 Subaru Forester is the limited legroom in the backseat, which can be a problem both for adults and for toddlers riding in bulky car seats. For younger families, this drawback may be easily offset by the Forester's stellar performance in NHTSA and IIHS frontal- and side-impact crash tests. However, for families with taller children and teenagers, roomier competitors like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-7, Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4 may have more appeal. That's not to say that the Subaru Forester doesn't offer a desirable all-around package despite its advancing age. But with so much competition in today's small-SUV class, we recommend that prospective buyers test-drive a range of candidates to ensure that all of their needs are met.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A compact SUV, the 2007 Subaru Forester comes with two engines: a base, normally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a turbocharged version of that power plant. Foresters with the base engine carry a "2.5 X" designation and come in base, Sports, Premium Package and L.L. Bean trim levels. Models with the turbo engine carry a "2.5 XT" designation and come in Sports and Limited trim levels.
The base Forester 2.5 X includes 16-inch steel wheels, a roof rack, air-conditioning (with cabin air filtration), a four-speaker CD stereo, full power accessories, keyless entry and a wiper de-icer. Next up is the Sports version of the 2.5 X, which adds automatic climate control and an MP3/WMA-capable stereo with an in-dash CD changer and auxiliary input jack. The 2.5 X Premium Package gains popular items like alloy wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, rear disc brakes, a sunroof, a power driver seat and front seat heaters. Step up to the L.L. Bean model to get a Forester with a self-leveling rear suspension, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and sturdier plastic trim in the cargo bay.
For the turbocharged models, the Sports 2.5 XT is equipped just like the Sports 2.5 X, but has 17-inch wheels, a limited-slip differential, rear disc brakes and electroluminescent gauges. The Forester XT Limited is equipped like the L.L. Bean model, except for its 17-inch wheels, unique instrumentation and upgraded seven-speaker audio system. Notable options on the Subaru Forester include a cargo bin, various cargo nets, splash guards, wheel locks and a rubber rear bumper cover.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on all 2.5 X models is a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that makes 173 hp and 166 pound-feet of torque. If you need extra power, opt for one of the XT models, which have a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter engine good for 224 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. All trim levels give you the choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, except the L.L. Bean, which takes the automatic only. Like all Subaru vehicles, the Forester comes standard with full-time all-wheel drive. Manual-transmission-equipped vehicles have a Hill Holder clutch feature that keeps them from rolling back on steep inclines.
ABS is standard on all 2007 Subaru Foresters; additionally, all models except the base and 2.5 X Sports models have four-wheel disc brakes. Other safety features include active front head restraints and front-seat side airbags that provide head and torso protection. The IIHS gave the Forester a "Good" rating (its best) for frontal offset and side-impact crashes, and named it a "Best Pick" in the compact SUV class. The Subaru Forester also earned a perfect five stars in all front- and side-impact testing conducted by the NHTSA. If safety is of utmost importance in your selection of a small SUV, the Forester should be seriously considered.
Interior Design and Special Features
Even in the base 2.5 X version, the Subaru Forester has a well-appointed interior with quality materials, tight build quality and simple controls. Add leather seating and the Forester has an upscale look and feel not often found in other small SUVs. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, but the rear-seat legroom is tight for adults. It can even be a problem for toddlers in car seats, who are apt to park their tiny Stride Rites on the front seatbacks. On the other hand, there are a generous 32 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and a low lift-over height makes it easy to get groceries in and out. With the seats folded, there are a maximum of 58 cubic feet.
The base 2.5-liter engine provides adequate performance, but for those seeking maximum acceleration, we recommend one of the XT models paired with the standard five-speed manual transmission. Few small SUVs can match the fun of a turbocharged Forester when it comes to straight-line acceleration. In terms of handling, the Forester is stable and predictable even when pushed to its limits. The steering is a bit vague at speed, and the soft suspension tuning results in some body roll, but for day-to-day driving, the 2007 Subaru Forester should be comfortable enough to suit most drivers. Our only complaint in this regard is excessive road noise at highway speeds.