Making its official debut at the 2005 New York Auto Show is the 2006 Subaru Forester, the brand's largest vehicle. Bill Cyphers, Vice President of Subaru sales, calls the redesigned Forester the "right sized vehicle in a world where many manufacturers supersize their vehicles." With its all-wheel-drive capability and more powerful engines for 2006, the Subaru Forester is able to take five people and their gear almost anywhere they wish to go, and still remains easy to park and relatively economical.
Why it matters
With the exception of the WRX and STi models, Subaru buyers aren't interested in flashy vehicles that yell "Look at me!" Subaru vehicles sell because of their versatility and ease of use…and the recent #1 ranking for initial customer satisfaction surely won't hurt sales. Designers and engineers need to stay true to the utilitarian and conservative nature of the Forester, while still keeping the model competitive. With extra ponies under the hood, interior enhancements, and a freshened face and rear end, they have effectively achieved this goal.
What's under the hood
Subaru Forester models equipped with both the naturally-aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinder motors should be quicker for the 2006 model year. The base model, the 2006 Subaru Forester X, and the upscale L.L. Bean Edition both use a 2.5-liter four-cylinder motor that is now good for 173 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, up from 165 horsepower in 2005 models. Torque is rated at 166 lb.-ft. at 4,500 rpm. Move up to the turbocharged 2.5 XT Limited model and enjoy 230 horsepower, up 20 from last year's 210 horsepower. The turbocharged motor also now qualifies for the LEV-II (Lower Emissions Vehicle II) emissions rating. Mated to either engine is a 5-speed manual transmission or an adaptive four-speed automatic.