For 2005, the Subaru Forester receives almost no changes, save for an electronic throttle on the naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre model. An L.L. Bean model named for the famous Maine mail-order outfitting company is available on the 2.5XS; this Bean-machine adds leather upholstery, 10-spoke alloy wheels, hard-surface cargo area, self-levelling rear suspension and a liberal spattering of the company’s logo for $36,595.

The 2.5X, 2.5XS and 2.5XS Premium all share a 2.5-litre, horizontally-opposed “boxer” four-cylinder engine; the 2.5XT uses the same powerplant but adds a turbocharger and active valve control system for an extra 45 horsepower. All feature symmetrical all-wheel-drive, with the 2.5XS, 2.5XS Premium and 2.5XT receiving a limited-slip rear differential. All models come with a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned up to a four-speed automatic, except for the 2.5XS Premium with optional leather seating, which uses it exclusively.

The base 2.5X features 16-inch styled steel wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, air conditioning, CD player with four speakers, fog lamps, cruise control, roof rails, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, heated mirrors, 60/40 folding rear seat, rear washer/wiper with de-icer, and cloth interior.

The 2.5XS adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, ABS with electronic brake distribution, automatic climate control, roof rack crossbars, six-CD system, eight-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped wheel, heated seats, cargo cover, cargo tray, premium cloth interior and metallic bumpers and cladding.

The 2.5XS Premium adds six speakers, body-colour bumpers and cladding, and power sunroof.

The turbocharged 2.5XT comes in a single trim line, and features everything on the XS series, plus exclusive cloth seat material (optional to leather), spoiler, twelve-spoke aluminum wheels and performance exhaust.

Based on the same platform used for the Impreza, the Forester is more a big station wagon than a small SUV; the ride is smooth and car-like, the handling nimble, and it sits lower than most competitors. Inside, it’s spacious and comfortable, with a well-done interior. Despite its true all-wheel-drive, this is an off-roader only if that means a gravel road to the cottage.

The Forester is built in Gunma, Japan.

Connect with