January 2005
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2005 Subaru Forester 2.5XS LL Bean Edition AWD

The Good: Comfortable seat position. Large windows for great views. Firm and stable ride. Large trunk space.  Practical and easy to use.

The Bad:  Box like looks.  Low level of driving excitement.

            Winter conditions lend themselves well to Subaru vehicles.  Offering symmetrical all wheel drive as standard equipment on every vehicle in its product line, Subaru's are ready for most anything.  You can also feel confident driving on slippery surfaces by knowing that Subaru's have won many off road rallies, making them one of the stickiest cars around.  The Subaru Forester is available in five trim levels priced from $21,000 to about $27,000.  The L.L. Bean edition is priced at $26,395 making it one of the best trimmed models available. 

            The relationship between L.L. Bean and Subaru is set up as follows: Subaru is the official car of L.L. Bean and L.L. Bean is the official outfitter to Subaru.  "The partnership between Subaru and L.L. Bean has been a great success for Subaru, because it builds on the attributes that customers experience with both brands, including long-lasting premium quality, ruggedness with everyday comfort and compelling value," said Fred Adcock, Executive Vice President, Subaru of America, Inc.  "We are excited to now expand this relationship to the Forester, which, like our Outback model, is a natural fit for the outdoors-oriented lifestyle that many L.L. Bean customers enjoy."

The exterior design of the Forester is box-like and square.  The vehicle is taller than a standard car, with large open windows allowing the interior to shine though.  We did wonder why someone would design a car like this, after all a box is more 1980's design while sleek and rounded is more in line with 2005.  We learned that this Forester is a "small SUV" by Subaru terminology.  We call it a large station wagon.  However most of all it is a practical people and cargo mover, which a box design provides for. 

The exterior two-tone paint scheme is classic and does remind you of other Subaru's.  The front end is dated with headlamps that went out of style a few years ago and a large SUV style lower bumper with build in fog lamps.  The tail end is also very standard looking, something you would not look at twice.  New 10-spoke alloy wheels distinguish the L.L Bean edition from other 8-spoke wheel designs.  We did like the main big differentiating feature, the super large sunroof.  While all glass panels on this vehicle are large, the sunroof is as big as the front and rear seating areas and this really opens up the interior for cross country trips to scenic areas. 

Interior features are numerous and very useful.  The L.L. Bean edition is equipped with exclusive beige leather trimmed upholstery with perforated leather bolsters and L.L. Bean logo embossed front seats.  The leather is very soft and feels quite strong as well.  Soft leather is also used on the door trim as well as on the gear shift lever and steering wheel.  The generous use of a soft rubbery textured trim on the dash and the doors also adds a rugged appearance to the interior of the Forester.  This all makes for a rugged feeling inside built for purposeful driving. 

An eight-way power adjustable driver's seat is standard with a manually adjustable front passenger seat.  We would however like both seats up front to be powered and both to be adjustable in their height.  Overall both front seats are comfortable and provide good support in turn due to their large backrest bolsters.  Both front seats can be heated by way of a two-position switch, a great standard feature in this model.  The rear seats are firm and provide a good straight seating position.  They fold flat quickly and easily and allow for 60/40 split folding.  L.L. Bean embroidered floor mats are another exclusive touch and they look quite nice we might add. 

            Automatic powered windows all around feature a driver's one touch auto down, something we would like to have on all windows.  The large panoramic sunroof is quite amazing.  It features one touch operation and lets in a large amount of light even when closed.  When fully open it truly makes the inside feel like a convertible letting in large amounts of air.  Cruise control as well as power mirrors are also standard.  Power outlets are located in the cabin as well as in the cargo area for those adventurous camp outs.  A concealed storage area under the rear cargo floor is also a great useful idea.  We also found nice small touches of convenience, such as four tie-down hooks and two grocery bag hooks.  The upper dash also features a large storage area under a flip down lid.  A keyless entry system with antitheft security system is also standard.

            The instrument cluster is simple with enough information for daily driving.  Digital display of outside temperature and gear position is also shown along with a digital clock.  The three main dials are chrome trimmed for added sparkle.  The stereo system is adequate with four speakers and weatherband function as well as a 6-disc in dash CD player.  It is very clean and simple to use.  There are no controls for stereo functions on the steering wheel which is a big feature lacking in this Subaru.  The automatic climate control system is also quite easy to use with three simple dials, as we have seen on Mazda vehicles.  The system works well, in cold temperatures the fan stays off until there is enough engine temperature to provide heat, it also does not blow hot air through the central vents, keeping hot air from blowing into your face while heating the vehicle.     The Forester 2.5 XS is powered by a 2.5 Liter SOHC 16-valve horizontally opposed 4 cylinder Boxer engine.  It delivers 165 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft. of torque.  A standard four-speed direct control automatic transmission is offered.  An engine control module with adaptive driving habits capability is also part of the system.  Fuel economy is rated at 22 miles per gallon city and 28 miles per gallon highway.  This L.L. Bean edition is exclusively equipped with a self-leveling rear suspension which maintains ride level even with heavy payloads.  The feel of the engine is quite good for this large vehicle.  The Forester feels light and quick.  Driving up to 80 mph is quick and effortless, after which the low horsepower begins to truly show.  Shifts are quick, and the Forester is a great daily driver for short and long trips.

            All Subaru models feature a standard Symmetrical All-Wheel drive system powering all four wheels all the time. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is a total system that integrates a lightweight horizontally opposed (boxer) engine and full-time All-Wheel Drive.  The boxer engine and simple, symmetrical drivetrain layout equip Forester with a lower center of gravity than other SUVs.  Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive provides the safety benefit of optimal traction for all road conditions.  On snow and ice conditions we were able to drive the Forester hard, with little slippage.  The system works very well and with the added benefit of good tires, it keeps you going in the direction you intend almost perfectly. 

All Models equipped with 4-speed automatic transmission use an electronically controlled variable multi-plate transfer clutch to distribute power to where traction is needed.  Sensors monitor parameters such as wheel slippage, throttle position and braking to help determine torque distribution to the wheels with optimum traction. Models equipped with the 4-speed electronic direct control automatic transmission feature an AWD system that utilizes an electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch housed in the transaxle tailshaft.  This active All-Wheel-Drive uses several input sensors to determine how weight transfer affects available traction.  Under acceleration, the system routes power to the rear wheels to maximize rearward weight transfer. Under deceleration, the system directs power to the front wheels to respond to potential weight transfer to the front.  2.5 XS and 2.5 XT models also include a viscous-type limited-slip rear differential.  The transmission also features slope control functions to help maintain the proper gear on inclines and descents. 

The suspension is a four wheel independent setup with heavy duty raised shocks.  Front and rear stabilizer bars are also used along with the strut type rear suspension with self-leveling feature.  On daily drives the Forester is just right with little body lean or dive.  The suspension keeps bumps out of the cabin quite well and delivers a great ride quality.  Only upon heavy cornering do you feel the results of a tall cabin with a bit more of body lean. 

            The braking system is a modern four-wheel disc system with four-channel four sensor anti-lock braking system.  It also offers electronic brake force distribution with large 11.4 inch rotors up front and 10.3 inch rotors in back.  Wheel and tires sizes are 16-inch with sticky Yokohama Geolander all season rubbers.  We found the ABS system to work well at allowing the vehicle to turn on slippery surfaces.  The tires were so good that we could not get the car to slide on snow and ice, we highly recommend this set of rubbers on any vehicle.

            Safety features include dual stage driver and front passenger air bags.  Front seat mounted head and chest side impact air bags are also standard. A seat position sensor on the driver's seat track detects if the driver is sitting too close to the air bag, in which case the system would delay deployment of the air bag's second stage. The passenger side front seat incorporates an occupant detection module that detects weight on the passenger seat - determining if it's a child or adult - to control air bag deployment.  Seatbelts are height adjustable for a perfect fit for short or tall persons. 

Independent tests consistently demonstrate the commitment to safety that Subaru engineers into all of its models.  Subaru Forester earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) highest rating ("good") in both the side impact crashworthiness evaluation and 40 mph frontal offset crash tests, and the IIHS called Forester the "best small SUV" it has tested.  Subaru Forester meets all Federal passenger car safety standards.  The 5-mph front and rear bumpers on all Subaru Forester models exceed the Federal 2.5 mph bumper standard applicable to passenger cars.  In contrast, the bumpers on some SUVs offer little or no protection in low-speed collisions, potentially contributing to high repair costs.

Our LL Bean Edition starts out at a standard base price of $26,295.  Optional was an equipment group 4 with floor mats in rubber and a cargo bin for only $170.  A cargo tray and bumper cover as well as splash guards are also part of a popular equipment group 1A for $289.  Add to this destination for $575 and you get a total MSRP of $27,329. 

Overall the Forester is a great vehicle for practical daily driving.  It holds loads of cargo as well as people comfortably.  The Forester also has great driving demeanor with a nice seating position, easy entry and exit, and large glass panels.  The all wheel drive system along with super sticky tires makes this a great car to have in winter snow and ice.  The only thing this vehicle lacks is style, with an outdated boxish exterior design.  At this price range you can choose from a host of small SUV's however the Forester carves out a great niche for itself being more car-like than all others.  More technology inside and some refining of exterior looks will help attract more buyers to this great car. 



Base Pricing 24,235 26,395
Destination 575 575
Popular Equipment Group 4 (PIO)
Includes Cargo Bin & Rubber Floor Mats.
105 105
Protection Group  XS LL Bean Ed
Includes Brush Guard, Rear Axle Protector, Hood Protector & Rear Window Dust Deflector.
392 392



  2005 Subaru Forester
XS L.L.Bean Edition AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
2005 Mitsubishi Outlander
XLS AWD 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
2005 Toyota RAV4
AWD 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
2005 Honda CR-V
EX AWD 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 5A)
2005 Suzuki Grand Vitara
EX 4WD 4dr SUV (2.5L 6cyl 4A)
MSRP $26,395 $23,429 $21,000 $23,350 $22,599
Invoice $24,235 $22,089 $19,152 $21,568 $21,469
Warranty Forester Outlander RAV4 CR-V Grand Vitara
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders flat 4 inline 4 inline 4 inline 4 V6
Base Engine Displacement 2.5 liters 2.4 liters 2.4 liters 2.4 liters 2.5 liters
Valvetrain 16 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
16 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 165 hp @ 5600 rpm 160 hp @ 5750 rpm 161 hp @ 5700 rpm 160 hp @ 6000 rpm 165 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque 166 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 162 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 165 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 162 ft-lbs. @ 3600 rpm 162 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm
Center Differential mechanical viscous viscous mechanical Not Available
Wheels alloy rims
16 x 6.5 in.
alloy rims
17 x 16.5 in.
steel rims
16 x 6.5 in.
alloy rims
16 in.
alloy rims
16 x 7.0 in.
Traction Control Not Available Not Available Standard Standard Not Available
Stability Control Not Available Not Available Standard Standard Not Available
Turning Circle 34.8 ft. 37.4 ft. 35.4 ft. 34.1 ft. 35.4 ft.
Max. Cargo Capacity 63 cu. ft. 60 cu. ft. 68 cu. ft. 72 cu. ft. 50 cu. ft.
City 22 21 mpg. 22 mpg. 22 mpg. 19 mpg.
Highway 28 26 mpg. 27 mpg. 27 mpg. 22 mpg.
Length 175.2 in. 179 in. 166.6 in. 181 in. 164.5 in.
Width 68.3 in. 68.9 in. 68.3 in. 70.2 in. 70.1 in.
Height 65 in. 66.3 in. 65.4 in. 66.2 in. 67.8 in.
Weight 3195 lbs. 3505 lbs. 3186 lbs. 3472 lbs. 3230 lbs.
Wheel Base 99.4 in. 103.3 in. 98 in. 103.3 in. 97.6 in.
Ground Clearance 7.5 in. 8.3 in. 6.7 in. 8.1 in. 7.5 in.
Front Headroom 39 in. 38.9 in. 41.3 in. 38.9 in. 39.9 in.
Rear Headroom 37 in. 38.9 in. 38.3 in. 39.1 in. 39.6 in.
Front Shoulder Room 53.5 in. 56.1 in. 54.1 in. 56.9 in. 52.8 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 53.6 in. 54.4 in. 53.7 in. 56.5 in. 52.6 in.
Front Hip Room 51.6 in. 51.5 in. 53.4 in. 54.5 in. 50.7 in.
Rear Hip Room 51.6 in. 51.8 in. 46.5 in. 53.5 in. 46.8 in.
Front Leg Room 43.6 in. 42.3 in. 42.4 in. 41.3 in. 41.4 in.
Rear Leg Room 33.7 in. 35.5 in. 32.6 in. 39.4 in. 30.6 in.


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