Refined and ready for the rough | SUBARU FORESTER XT
BY RONALD REY M. DE LOS REYES
It's boxy and a little edgy; rugged and ready for the rough. It’s front fascia has been rendered more crisp with its enhanced grille and headlights, complemented with redesigned taillights and more frills for a sportier appeal.
My first encounter with this refreshed fourth-generation Subaru Forester XT was in early last year when MIP recently invited a group of motoring journalists to Thailand for its regional launch at the 37th Bangkok International Motor Show staged at the Impact Hall Challenger.
Even before the said launch, I was already impressed with the SUV – remembering when its predecessor had a brief tryst with the local media in the outskirts of Pampanga back in 2015. How could one forget its effortless wading through waist-deep river water like it was Pamela Anderson on Baywatch out on a weekend pleasure excursion?
At the outset, this latest local version of the Forester is the familiar beast – save for little tweaks here and there. It's boxy and a little edgy; rugged and ready for the rough. It’s front fascia has been rendered more crisp with its enhanced grille and headlights, complemented with redesigned taillights and more frills for a sportier appeal.
Inside, the Forester appears bigger and more premium than ever. That stylish head unit and LCD cluster display are astonishing. What's also good is that noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels have been thoroughly reduced, thanks to improved sound-proofing materials and increased window thickness.
As a bonus, the Forester now includes a personal identification number (PIN) code, which allows users to unlock the vehicle even without the key fob.
Power-wise, this machine blurts out 241hp at 5,600 rpm and 350Nm of torque at about fairly the same range from its 2.0XT FA20 direct-injection turbocharged boxer engine. On long straights, the vehicle reaches 100kph in just 7.4 seconds.
The SUV’s suspension, meanwhile, has also been upgraded to provide more comfort and a tad better performance. A stiffer front cross member, along with enhanced coil and damper, somehow improves ride quality with agile and nimble handling which I was personally able to prove in both urban and off-road settings.
While engaged in X-Mode, “electronic control of the engine, transmission, all-wheel drive system, brakes, vehicle dynamics control system, and other critical components is optimized.” In the event of slippage by one or more wheels, the system automatically compensates.
I remember frolicking with this brute at the convention center's outdoor parking area by the lakeside last year in Thailand. During our brief rendezvous, I was able to experience firsthand this Forester’s flair, its undisputed pride and glory: the symmetrical all-wheel drive system. In these rare occasions where my aggressive nature is unleashed, in a way, no matter how much I hurl and totter—roughly maneuvering the vehicle and pushing it to its limits, the Forester always seemed to be able to behave with absolute poise on the makeshift dirt track. The system clearly compensated for any excessive movement, making it a fair pure winner off the beaten track over competition. Thus, on that very fine day, this scribe was truly and fortuitously one happy driver.
Positives: Superior all-wheel drive technology, better insulation, improved suspension, ruggedly sporty appeal, more premium exterior and interior design
Subaru Forester XT
Negatives: Use of plastic within cabin, less elegant compared to competition