by Larry Lark, Herald Special Sections Writer
The 2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring hits the sweet spot in the small SUV category — a fact outdoorsy types around here have known for quite some time.
The model receives a comprehensive update for this year and delivers a spacious interior, impressive safety equipment, upgraded fuel economy and outstanding visibility in a right-sized, affordable package.
And it’s starting from a position of strength. Subaru’s Forester was named a Consumer Reports “Top Ten Pick” for all vehicles in production in 2016.
The Forester comes in Premium, Limited and Touring models. My tester was powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder BOXER engine that creates 170-horsepower. It’s paired with a continuously variable automatic. And, of course, includes a standard symmetrical all-wheel drive with off-pavement control system.
The Forester seats five adults with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room. Everyone benefits from leather seating and panoramic sunroof. The Forester delivers 32 miles per gallon down the highway, with a combined city/highway rating of 28.
With the push of a fob, the rear tailgate lifts. And a couple flicks your finger fold the second-row seats flat, delivering an extraordinary amount of cargo space. Christmas House was in operation, so I was able to fill the void with bag after bag after bag of plush animals.
Creature comforts are top drawer. Highlights include a navigation system with rear-view camera, infotainment system with CD, HD radio, Harman/Kardon speaker system with 440-watt amplifier, Bluetooth, USB port and Smartphone connectivity with sports, weather, stocks and fuel apps.
Best of all for you and your family, the Forester is loaded with all the latest, greatest safety technology. Subaru’s highly rated EyeSight driver-assist technology is even better. The system now incorporates color cameras that provide a wider, longer field of vision and includes lane keep assist, which can gently guide the vehicle back to the center of its lane if sway is detected.
All Forester Limited and Touring models now include blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, which warns of potential danger from a vehicle entering the driver’s blind spot or approaching from either side when backing up.
For added nighttime visibility, newly available high-beam assist works in conjunction with the EyeSight driver-assist system and automatically switches the headlights between the high and low settings based on driving conditions. Also new are steering responsive headlights, which aims the headlight beams in the direction of vehicle travel to provide improved illumination around curves.
The vehicle also includes emergency braking — not only in drive, but also reverse.
It’s not flashy — and it doesn’t come with an Acura, Lexus, BMW or Audi logo — but the Subaru Forester quietly gets the job done — for a lot less money.
2017 SUBARU FORESTER 2.5I TOURING
BASE PRICE: $32,225
AS TESTED: $33,765
Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. Prices may vary at local dealerships.