SUBARU FORESTER XT

Com­pe­tent off-road wag­ons are get­ting scarce. Th­ese two are among the bestst at tak­ing on life’s life rough — and smooth — paths. . NEIL DOWLING com­pares.

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Head To Head -

VALUE

The price ap­pears steep but the Forester has high cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, a rep­u­ta­tion for dura­bil­ity, off-road com­pe­tence and, more re­cently, lower own­er­ship costs. Subaru’s capped­price ser­vic­ing is $1003 up to 37,000km (about three years) and re­sale is 53 per cent. But the turbo XT ver­sion isn’t par­tic­u­larly rich in fea­tures, high­lighted mainly by the sun­roof, six-speaker audio, cloth seats and re­verse cam­era.

DE­SIGN

Styling is func­tional, sim­ple and all done in house. But it works. Cabin treat­ment is aus­tere but high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and build qual­ity are ev­i­dent. Prac­ti­cal­ity in­cludes fold-flat rear seats with a tall cargo area, 422L-1457L load space, gen­uine seat­ing for five and an 1800kg tow rat­ing. A flat un­der­body makes it ca­pa­ble in dirt and over rocks.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The XT has a 2.0-litre boxer turbo (177kW/350Nm) mated to a con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion with con­stant all-wheel drive. A se­lectable all-ter­rain switch en­hances on and of­froad trac­tion. Subaru claims 8.5L/100km but needs 95 RON fuel. The flat-four en­gine pumps max­i­mum torque from only 2400rpm. It has elec­tric-as­sist steer­ing and four-wheel ven­ti­lated discs. Weight is a mod­est 1589kg.

SAFETY

The Forester gets a five-star crash rat­ing, seven airbags, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, the surety of con­stant all­wheel drive, rear cam­era, low-beam xenon lights with head­light wash­ers, hill holder and full-size spare wheel. Park­ing sen­sors would be help­ful.

DRIV­ING

The lat­est Forester is streets ahead of its pre­de­ces­sors, more con­fi­dent on the road and more pre­dictable through bends de­spite its height. Per­for­mance is ex­cel­lent (0-100km/h in 7.5 secs) but fuel econ­omy dives when pushed hard. The 220mm clear­ance makes it quite ca­pa­ble. Plenty of cabin room and sup­ple sus­pen­sion make it an ex­cel­lent cruiser.

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