2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X
2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X. Click image to enlarge

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2009 Subaru Forester

Our challenge to Mother Nature, to “Bring It On!”, appears to have scared the wits out of winter. Indeed, March was uncharacteristically snow-free here in Ottawa, particularly compared to the same month last year. In the past few weeks, we’ve been treated to cool rainy days, warm sunny days with temps in the mid-teens and, well, everything but significant snowfall.

Not surprisingly, then, it’s been an uneventful month of driving, but a bit disappointing in that I was hoping to see how this Forester – with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system and a set of very aggressive winter tires – would handle the kind of March we suffered through in 2008.

Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system underpins this Forester, as well as every other model the company sells. One of the things Subaru says is unique about its system is the low centre of gravity afforded by the horizontally-opposed engine design favoured by the brand. Where many all-wheel drive systems run mostly in two-wheel drive mode and only route power to all four wheels when the going gets slippery, Subaru says its Symmetrical system powers all four wheels equally, all the time.

2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X
2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X. Click image to enlarge

Presumably, a system that only runs in all-wheel drive mode when necessary has the potential to save a bit of fuel, but don’t forget that the components for powering all four wheels are always there, always turning and always generating some mechanical drag, so opting to do what Subaru has done, and create a system that’s always active doesn’t seem to be such a bad idea, something that this car’s decent fuel consumption suggests.

Certainly, one advantage is that the traction is always there when you need it, and even though modern “on-demand” systems are able to react within a split-second to the need for extra grip, not having to react at all seems to make even more sense.

While Subaru’s entire lineup has been all-wheel driven since 1996, a more recent drivetrain addition is the use of its Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability control and Traction Control System (TCS); both of these are standard on the Forester, and both work much like similar systems offered by other manufacturers.

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