2010 Subaru Forester 2.5X Limited

Sunday, January 24, 2010; F01

Complaints: Are beauty and value incompatible? I don't think so. Here's hoping that Subaru agrees with me in future iterations of the Forester. Just a little bit of cute could smooth acceptance of practicality for more people.

Ride, acceleration and handling: All three are good in dry, on-road driving. "Good" here means acceptable to pleasing for most people trying to get from one point to another as safely and comfortably as possible with small loads. Throttle jockeys will find it boring. In wet, wintry weather, it's hard to beat this one.

Head-turning quotient: The quiet, dependable, loving and beloved boy or girl next door who went to the seminary or convent and became the priest or nun you could turn to in rough patches but whom you would have never, ever considered marrying.

Body style/layout: The Forester is a front-engine, compact, car-based, all-wheel-drive crossover-utility vehicle.

Engines/transmissions: The 2010 Subaru Forester, of which there are five styles or trim levels, comes with a standard 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed, four-cylinder, 16-valve engine that develops 170 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute and 170 foot-pounds of torque at 4,400 revolutions per minute. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard. A turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter engine (224 horsepower and 226 foot-pounds of torque) is available in the top-of-the-line Forester 2.5XT.

Capacities: The Forester 2.5X Limited has seats for five people. With the rear seats folded, cargo capacity is 63 cubic feet. With rear seats up, cargo capacity is 20.8 cubic feet. It can carry a payload of 1,140 pounds and be equipped to tow a trailer weighing 2,400 pounds. Fuel capacity is 16.9 gallons of recommended regular gasoline.

Safety: The Subaru Forester has top crash-safety ratings from the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the privately owned Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Price: The tested 2010 Forester 2.5X Limited starts at $25,995 with a dealer's invoice price of $24,355. Price as tested is $30,160, including $3,470 in options ($1,800 console-mounted navigation system, premium sound system with iPod connectivity, puddle lights, other items) and a $695 transportation charge. Dealer's price as tested is $27,725.

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