For 2007, the Subaru Forester receives several changes.

The base 2.5X model now includes electronic brake force distribution, making that feature standard across the line-up. The 2.5X is also available in the new Columbia Edition, with 16-inch alloy wheels, power sunroof and cargo accessories.

The 2.5XT with cloth interior has been discontinued, and the 2.5XT with leather receives 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with P215/55R17 Yokohama tires.

The cladding on the 2.5XS changes from Steel Grey Metallic to Urban Grey Metallic; that shade is also available as a monotone body colour. Newport Blue Pearl is added to the exterior colour chart. Inside, the Weatherband is deleted from all audio systems, CD stereos receive MP3 and WMA capability, and the 2.5XS Premium and 2.5XT models receive an auxiliary output jack. Premium audio systems are pre-wired for SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Engine ratings have been readjusted to new SAE standards, but while the numbers change, the actual engine output remains as it was in 2006.

The Forester, which Subaru calls its crossover vehicle, is available as the 2.5X, 2.5XS and 2.5XS Premium, with a 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine; or as the 2.5XT, with turbocharged 2.5-litre horizontal four. Both use a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic, and both use symmetrical all-wheel drive (the name refers to the symmetrical configuration of the components, for better balance). The 2.5XS and 2.5XT models have a limited-slip rear differential.

Features on the 2.5X include 16-inch steel wheels, disc and drum brakes with ABS, side seat airbags with head and chest protection, keyless entry, heated black mirrors, fog lights, auto-off headlamps, roof rails, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper/washer with de-icer, CD stereo, six-way manual driver’s seat, 60/40 split folding rear seat, air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows.

The 2.5XS adds 16-inch alloy wheels, cargo cover, body-colour mirrors with integrated turn signals, lockable roof rack crossbars, windshield de-icer, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated seats, and leather-wrapped wheel.

The 2.5XS Premium adds body-colour bumpers and cladding, rear bumper step pad, power sunroof, splash guards, premium six-CD stereo, leather upholstery, and automatic climate control.

The 2.5XT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, engine immobilizer, Xenon headlamps, subwoofer, and sport design gauges.

While its off-road capability isn’t quite up to standards set by vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler or Hummer H3, the Forester is a tidy blend of rugged good looks, cargo capacity, all-wheel driveline and handling characteristics that are more car than SUV. Throw in plenty of small-item storage space, a smooth engine and a relatively small footprint, and this is a crossover that can handle rural travel, without being too much of a handful in the city.

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