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For 2013, the Subaru Forester receives minimal changes. Specifically, Sky Blue has been dropped as an exterior color, while Marine Blue and Deep Cherry Pearl are new. The All Weather Plus package for X Premium models includes fog lights and a 4.3-inch LCD stereo with an optional back-up camera.
The Forester can be found in several different trims for 2013--base, Premium, Limited and Touring--for a total of six models. But there's quite a difference between 2.5X and 2.5XT; 2.5X models come with a 170-horsepower, 2.5L horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine, while XT models--only offered in Limited or Touring guise--include a 224-horsepower turbocharged version.
Between the two powertrains, the Forester's on-the-road personality can be quite different. 2.5X models are adequate but not quick, whether you go with the standard 5-speed manual gearbox or 5-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5XT's turbocharged engine comes mated only to the 4-speed automatic, and they work well as a team, with an uninterrupted wave of torque for acceleration or passing.
The Forester rides and handles like a car, with a 4-wheel independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering and a stiff body that extensively uses high-strength steel. But with 8.9 inches of ground clearance and symmetrical all-wheel drive on either model, the Forester has a surprisingly level of trail ability--as well as winter-driveway ability.
Seating is upright and supportive, the back seat is just roomy enough for a couple of adults (or three kids) and the boxy body affords a pretty good view out. Seats fold forward to an expanded cargo floor, and all models but the base 2.5X come with a reclining rear seatback and retractable rear cargo tray.
In addition to the all-wheel drive system, side-curtain airbags, electronic stability control with a rollover sensor and Brake Assist are among the many safety features that come standard in the 2013 Forester.
Base Forester 2.5X models include a strong list of convenience items, such as remote keyless entry, cruise control, a multi-function trip computer and a center console lid that can adjust to be an armrest. The base audio system also includes Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming, iPod controls, a USB port and Sirius satellite radio capability. Premium models get 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver's seat, tilt/telescopic steering adjustment, a panoramic moonroof and other upgrades. Limited models include perforated-leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lamps and an all-weather package bringing heated front seats, heated side mirrors and a wiper de-icer. Touring models get HID headlamps, mirror-integrated turn signals, silver-finish roof rails and a rear spoiler on the outside, plus dual-zone climate control, electroluminescent displays, a one-touch rear seat-folding arrangement and a rear-vision camera.
Available in the Limited model is a touch-screen navigation system with voice controls, iTunes tagging, text-messaging capability and HD radio.