Tom Crosby: 2017 Subaru Forester gets updating tweaks

Tom Crosby

In one sense, it gets harder every year for Subaru to find first-time buyers for its best-selling Forester crossover. Vehicle registration records show 98 percent of all Foresters sold in the last 10 years are still on the road. Then consider that after 10 years, Foresters still maintain the best resale value in their vehicle class. Since 2013, Subaru’s flagship Forester has increased sales annually and earned top safety scores following government and insurance safety testing.

Forester is Subaru’s bestseller so 2017 changes aren’t dramatic – minor styling changes, a shuffling and adding of safety features and new options.

Forester’s four trims are 2.5i, Limited, Touring and Premium. We test drove the Forester 2.0XT Touring, using a 2.0-liter intercooled turbo-charged (forced air) BOXER engine that provides excellent get up and go.

The automatic variable transmission could be switched between 6 and manual 8-speed. Every Forester uses all-wheel drive all the time, producing driver confidence on or off-road with a four-wheel independent suspension. Driving modes can customize throttle action and handling responses to graduate from commuter driving to sport-like pleasure. For example, X-mode drive – ground clearance is 8.7 inches – helps control tire spin on slippery surfaces and steep inclines off-road. On road the ride is compliant using the sport-tuned suspension with an excellent all around driver view. There is some lean in tight turns and curves.

Our sole option was $1,595 for STARLINK, which provided voice-activated navigation, Siri®, and other multimedia features. Included was award-winning EyeSight®, a suite of safety aids now including blind-spot/rear-crossing detection, reverse automatic braking, lane departure intervention and torque vectoring to reduce understeer, all previously absent from EyeSight®. New safety options include automatic high-beam controls and adaptive LED headlights.

Forester alerts you when the vehicle in front leaves and you don’t follow because you are looking at your cell phone. Other tweaks include newly designed head and rear lights, a new front bumper and hexagonal grille. Noise abatement was improved. Also new this year are a heated steering wheel, keyless access with push-button start, redesigned wheels and welcome lighting illuminating cabin and exterior as the driver approaches or departs the vehicle.

The interior mixes comfort and functionality with leather-trimmed and stitched upholstery. Ample cargo space has storage trays hidden beneath the floor and above a spare tire. The touch-screen has a beehive of drill-down icons and accurate maps upgraded free for three years.

LIKES: Power, reliability, versatility, spaciousness, ride, quiet, off-road prowess, visibility

DISLIKES: Some lean in turns, low towing rating

BOTTOM LINE: Safety, value, performance make it top-notch crossover

Fact File

Subaru Forester 2.0 XT Touring

Base price with destination charge: $35,170 ($36,765 as tested).

Vehicle weight: 3,686 lbs.

Wheelbase: 103.9 inches.

Length: 181.5 inches.

Width: 70.7 inches.

Engine: 2.0-liter, DOHC, 4-cylinder turbo-charged, Boxer.

Horsepower: 250 hp at 5,600 rpm.

Torque: 258 lbs.-ft. at 2,000-4,800 rpm.

Transmission: Continuous variable transmission/ratio options.

EPA rating: 23 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

Range: 15.9-gallon tank, regular.

Performance: 0-60 in just under 7 seconds.

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.