If you want the versatility of a sport utility vehicle without paying for it at the pump, the 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X Crossover SUV is not a bad choice. It returns 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, but it certainly is lacking under the hood, so don’t expect too much. This standard all-wheel drive vehicle is equipped with a horizontally opposed 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired up with a standard five-speed manual transmission. Should you choose, a four-speed automatic is also available, but it is certainly not winning any awards in getting you from zero to 60 mph very fast, as it takes 10.1 seconds. This makes it one of the market’s slowest crossovers. On a positive side, ground clearance is 8.7 seconds, so it can tackle uneven terrain and snow with ease. Plus, it has a turning circle of only 34.4 cubic feet, so you will pretty much feel like you are driving a car. On the flipside, the cabin is a bit noisy. Overall, the Forester 2.5X delivers a comfortable and smooth ride.
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• Audio - The only available audio system on this trim is weak, to say the least. You get a CD player, auxiliary jack, Bluetooth audio streaming, USB port and only four speakers.
• Bluetooth - Keep your hands on the wheel where they belong by using Bluetooth telecommunications. You are able to send, end and receive calls simply by tapping a button on the steering wheel. Don’t look for any other bells and whistles because you won’t find them on this trim. There is not even an option for a navigation system. You can, however add on accessories, such as an auto dim mirror compass with homelink and subwoofer and/or twitter kit.
When tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, this vehicle was rated “Good” in roof, side and frontal-offset crash tests. Braking took 122 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is average for this segment, but significantly better than its Outback relative. Four-wheel ABS and an advanced airbag system are complimented by a long list of features, including:
• Anti-lock brakes
• Emergency brakeforce distribution
• Reverse assist sensors
• Whiplash protection system in front head restraints
• Traction control
• Keyless entry system
• Anti-theft security system
• Engine immobilizer
• Child seat anchors
• Rear door safety locks
• Seatbelt pretensioners
• Rollover sensor
• Tire pressure monitoring
• Brake assist
• Vehicle dynamics control
Some will find the exterior rather plain, especially since the 2.5X does not have the hood scoop that other trims feature. Still, it has a little charm and actually looks like it is made for the trail. Raised roof racks and 16-inch steel wheel covers standard, but five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels are available.
The cloth seats in both rows of the passenger cabin are given plenty of leg and head room. One thing passengers in the back will either love or hate is that the seat is quite elevated, like stadium seating in a movie theater. It does recline though, so it can be adjusted to a bit of a more comfortable level. Although the cabin is roomy it is not overly exciting. Materials throughout are mediocre at best and the layout is a bit dated. Still, controls are easy to identify, reach and use, and there are plenty of cup holders and storage compartments.
There is more than enough cargo space for most. Even with the rear seat up, you enjoy 33.5 cubic feet, which is great for everyday use. If you need to haul large cargo, fold the seat down for 68.3 cubes.