With freshened styling and more standard features, the 2001 Subaru Forester remains one of the most powerful, best-handling compact SUV’s on the market. Standard features include a 165 horsepower 2.5 litre horizontally-opposed four cylinder engine, all-wheel-drive, fully independent suspension, and a comfortable well laid-out interior with lots of storage compartments. 2001 Foresters range in price from $27,095 to $36,195.
Compact Forester SUV gets fresh styling, more features
As gas prices go up, the appeal of big, gas-hungry SUV’s is likely to go down. Perhaps that’s why vehicle manufacturers have introduced at least eight new compact SUV’s in the past three years, three of them this year.
The Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute and Hyundai Santa Fe join the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 (redesigned for 2001), Suzuki Vitara/Grand Vitara, Chevrolet Tracker, Kia Sportage, Jeep YJ, Nissan Xterra, and the Subaru Forester.
Compact SUV’s (with some exceptions) typically have a car-like unit-body platform, five passenger capacity, four or six cylinder engines, full-time 4WD, a tall bodystyle with plenty of cargo room, and additional ground clearance. As they’re intended for on-pavement use and occasional ‘light-duty’ off-road use, compact SUV’s usually don’t have part-time 4WD or a Low Range gear.
The Subaru Forester, restyled and upgraded for 2001, is one of the more ‘car-like’ compact SUV’s. First introduced in 1997, the Forester is based on the compact Impreza car platform, and includes the same 165 horsepower 2.5 litre four cylinder ‘boxer’ engine offered in the Impreza RS and Legacy/Outback models. This engine is one of the biggest and most powerful engines in its class. It’s also unique in its class because the cylinders are horizontally-opposed (opposite each other) and the engine and transmission are mounted longitudinally rather than transversely. This helps reduce driveline vibrations. In addition, the ‘boxer’ engine has a lower centre of gravity than inline or ‘V’ engines which helps handling and vehicle dynamics.
The longitudinal powertrain has another advantage. In a crash, the engine and drivetrain are forced underneath the car, and away from the passenger compartment. According to the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) front crash tests, the Forester was the only SUV in its class to be rated ‘Good’, the highest rating available.
Foresters also have Subaru’s unique all-wheel-drive system which provides constant power to the front and rear wheels all of the time. This differs from some of its competitor’s all-wheel-drive systems which normally run in front-wheel-drive, and only transfer power to the rear when the front wheels slip. The advantage of Subaru’s system is that there is no hesitation in power transfer to the rear wheels, and more immediate grip on slippery surfaces.
A fully independent MacPherson strut suspension is also standard on the Forester. This suspension allows individual wheels to act independently when traversing bumps, thereby not affecting other wheels or upsetting the balance of the car. An independent suspension enhances both handling and ride.
Changes for 2001
For 2001, the Forester receives freshened exterior styling including a new chromed grille, revised hood, headlamp and front bumper designs, and revised taillamps and hatchback design. Though the changes aren’t significant, they give the Forester a cleaner, more upscale appearance.
Minor changes have also been made to the suspension. It’s now slightly stiffer and the rear track is 15 mm wider to improve stability and handling.
Base 2001 Forester L models which start at $27,095 (up from $26,695) now include new standard cruise control, an outside temperature gauge, sportier front bucket seats with revised seat fabrics, see-through front head restraints, redesigned twin cupholders, and fixed intermittent rear wiper.
Forester S models priced at $31,795 (up from $30,995) add a new, upgraded AM/FM/cassette system with an in-dash 6-disc CD player, a new two-tone exterior, new grey seat fabric, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a new leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and handbrake lever, and redesigned alloy wheels.
Top-of-the-line Forester S Limited models for $35,195 (up from $33,995) add new woodgrain trim, power moonroof with a larger opening, gold-trimmed 16 inch alloy wheels, a rear wind deflector, and new monotone paint. As before, leather upholstery is standard on the Limited model.
Additional standard safety features now include a three-point seatbelt and adjustable head restraint for the centre rear passenger, height-adjustable seatbelts for outboard rear passengers, and new rear child seat anchors.
For an SUV, the Forester has a very low step-in height and easy entry to the front and rear seats. Even so, there’s still 190 mm (7.5 in.) of ground clearance. Inside, there’s plenty of front and rear headroom and adequate hip and shoulder room for four adult passengers. Rear legroom is just adequate depending on the position of the front seats. Split, reclining rear seats are a nice touch, allowing rear passengers to relax on long drives. However, claustrophobics might be upset that the rear windows will wind down only half-way.
Like all Subaru’s, the Forester’s interior is well-finished with controls well-placed and instruments easy to read. The driving position is very comfortable and the new front sport seats offer extra lateral support.
Storage areas are numerous: there’s a bi-level centre storage bin and armrest, cointray, covered storage compartment in the front and rear armrests, and covered storage bin on the top of the dash. There are also two storage bins in the rear fender wells, and additional hidden storage compartments underneath the cargo floor near the full-size spare tire. With the split rear seats up, there is 32 cu. ft of cargo space, more than twice that of an Impreza sedan. With both rear seats folded down, there is 66 cubic feet of cargo space.
The rear liftgate lifts up from bumper level and is high enough to stand under and includes electric defroster, washer, and intermittent wiper. The cargo area has a folding privacy cover to keep valuables out of sight.
With 165 horsepower, the Forester has more standard horsepower than other vehicles in its class. Its 0 to 100 km/h time of 9 seconds is almost three seconds faster than the Honda CR-V. This makes the Forester rather sporty, particularly as its handling is also at the top of its class. Apart from being heavier and a little more top-heavy than an Impreza, the Forester performs very much like a car. Its compact size and excellent outward visibility make it easy to manoeuver in traffic, and back into parking spots. That new third rear head restraint does restrict rear visibility a bit – better to remove it when not in use.
On dry pavement, the full-time all-wheel-drive system is basically transparent to the driver. But in Winter when travelling on snow, ice or slush, the AWD offers increased traction, stability, and peace of mind. For increased traction, a limited slip rear differential is available on S and S Limited models.
A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a four-speed automatic transmission is optional. I tested the automatic transmission, which performed well in both city and highway environments. Fuel consumption of 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg) in the city and 7.4 l/100 km (38 mpg) on the highway is also very good.
The Forester is perhaps the most car-like SUV of all the compact SUV’s, with better-than-average handling and performance. It could use a little more interior room, particularly in the rear seat, but otherwise the Forester offers a good compromise between the utility and traction of an AWD SUV and the comfort and handling of a car.
|2001 Subaru Forester S Limited|
|Price as tested||$36,195|
|Type||4-door, 5 passenger compact SUV|
|Layout||longitudinal front engine/all-wheel-drive|
|Engine||2.5 litre 4 cylinder, SOHC, 16 valves|
|Horsepower||165 @ 5600 rpm|
|Torque||166 @ 4000 rpm|
|Curb weight||1475 kg (3252 lb.)|
|Wheelbase||2525 mm (99.4 in)|
|Length||4460 mm (175.6 in.)|
|Width||1735 mm (68.3 in.)|
|Height||1595 mm (62.8 in.)|
|Trunk space||906 litres (32 cu. ft.) (seats up),|
|1670 litres (65.7 cu. ft.) (seats down)|
|Fuel consumption||City: 10.8 l/100 km (26 mpg)|
|Hwy: 7.4 l/100 km (38 mpg)|
|Warranty||3 yrs/60,000 km|
|Powertrain warranty||5 yrs/100,000 km|