For 2006, the Subaru Forester receives a redesign to its bodywork and refinements to its drive-train. Among the body changes are an entirely new front fascia, with a beefier-looking new grille, four-lamp headlights, new bumper, hood and fenders; larger mirrors with integrated LED turn signal indicator; and a redesigned rear end with new taillamps, new rear bumper and a body-colour trim panel with the Subaru logo. Body-coloured bumpers and protective cladding replace the previous textured gray on the 2.5XS model, an exclusive to Canadian models only. Canada also gets high-intensity discharge headlamps on all XT models.

Inside, there’s a new multi-function centre armrest, a 50 mm longer rear seat cushion, a rear centre arm rest added to all models, and new seat fabrics. In the rear cargo area, there are now extra grocery bag hooks and “gear bars” for hanging a storage net. A security system is standard on all models, and an immobilizer has been added to XT models.

Engine choices are a naturally-aspirated, horizontally-opposed four-cylinder 2.5-litre engine, which now makes 173 hp over the 2004 rating of 165 hp; and a turbocharged 2.5-litre, which makes 230 hp, up from 210 hp, although it gains a four per cent improvement in fuel economy. Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or a new four-speed automatic, which uses electronic direct-control for better performance and economy. All models feature symmetrical all-wheel-drive with a limited-slip rear differential.

The 2.5X uses the naturally-aspirated engine and includes side impact air bags, four-wheel disc brakes, six-way manual driver’s seat adjustment, 60/40 folding rear seat, power heated mirrors, fog lights, roof rails, full-size spare tire, 16-inch steel wheels, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper with de-icer, CD player with four speakers, air conditioning, cruise control, power locks with keyless entry and power windows.

The 2.5XS adds eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, body-coloured mirrors, lockable roof rack crossbars, 16-inch aluminum wheels, front wiper de-icer, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cargo tray and cargo cover.

The 2.5X Premium adds leather upholstery, body-colour bumpers and cladding, rear bumper step pad, moonroof, six-CD premium stereo with six speakers, automatic climate control and splash guards.

The 2.5XT uses the turbo engine, and includes all of the 2.5X Premium features except for cloth seats, plus an engine immobilizer system, aluminum door sills, Xenon high intensity discharge headlights, hood scoop, exclusive 16-inch alloy wheels and subwoofer. A 2.5XT Premium package adds the leather interior.

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