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2006 Subaru Forester
New look and enhanced performance

2006 Subaru Forester - 2.5 litre XTE version, fron side view

2006 Forester 2.5 litre XTE.

4th October 2005.

Back in 1997, the first Subaru Forester generation was among a few models to offer the compact crossover concept of the sedan/ estate comfortable unitary body, with the SUV all-wheel drive technology, and some of the minivan / SUV common high seating position and interior flexibility.

Now that the crossover changed, from its niche market beginnings to become a regular segment with its own sub-divisions, Subaru's Forester had to get bolder.

Known for its successful combination of performance car handling, estate car practicality and SUV all-terrain ability, the 2006 model year Forester entered dealers’ showrooms in last few weeks with a fresh look, thoroughly revised engines, interior and suspension plus additional power and performance.

2006 Subaru Forester - 2.5 litre XTE version, bask side view

Changes at the rear give a taller look, closer to a conventional SUV.

Exterior - Launched in 2002, the current Forester generation gets and extensive facelift with new front wings, bonnet, bumper, grille and headlamps giving a greater road-presence and visual dynamics.

The new four-globe headlamps sweep back into the front wings, visually lifting the perceived height of the car. Larger wheels plus design changes at the rear give a taller look, more imposing and closer to a conventional SUV, while the bar below the window has been raised by 30 mm and painted body-colour instead of anthracite, to make the tailgate appear deeper and the window higher with its base levelled with the shoulder line of the car.

In addition, the bottom lower centre section of the rear bumper has been made black giving the impression of a higher ground-clearance.

However the low-centre-of-gravity horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ (flat) engine and full-time symmetrical all-wheel drive drivetrain ensure higher degrees of stability, active safety and driver involvement.  Extensive chassis revisions aimed at reducing pitch and roll and further improve road holding and steering precision.

2006 Subaru Forester - 2.5 litre XTE version, dash view

Upgraded interior with sporty orientation (pictured 2.5 XTE version).

Interior - The upgraded interior (UK specs and equipment, but may differ between markets) boasts new features such as a multi-function centre console/ armrest/ table/ cup holder, plus a new load bay restraining system and water-repellent seat trim.

The new multi-function centre console between the front seats offers a multitude of uses. These include an armrest which slides forward, hinges vertically and flips backwards creating a small table.  It also slides far enough rearwards to provide the rear-seat passengers with two cup-holders.

The multi-function centre console also has a console pocket able to hold four CDs, while a 12 volt power outlet allows driver and passengers to recharge their mobile phones.

2006 Subaru Forester - 2.5 litre XTE version, back seat view

With the optional leather seats.

The load bay has a new luggage-restraining system with hooks and bar hangers fitted below the conventional load-cover.

The rear-seat base has been extended by 50 mm to improve comfort, while front seat fore and aft adjustment is now via an easy to access full-width towel bar.

Seats and doors feature water-repellent material, while trim choice is extended with the new XE and XTE models offering the choice of black or beige leather.  The X and XT models have off-black cloth trim.

All models except the entry-level Forester 2.0 X have audio controls mounted on the steering wheel plus a six-stacker radio CD player and seven speakers.  The Forester 2.0 X has a single-disc radio CD player.

Subaru says that like the 1997 original Forester, SUV clichés are avoided such as a rear door-mounted spare wheel which hamper handling by introducing a pendulum-effect weight just where it is not wanted. Instead, the full-sized spare is mounted low in the boot floor with the striking rear-end featuring a hexagonal-shaped tailgate and unusual, triangular tail-lamps.

2.0 litre - A new four-cam naturally-aspirated 2.0 litre ‘Boxer’ engine gets now 158 PS (33 PS more than before), raising the top speed (manual) by 10 mph (16 km/h) to 122 mph (196 km/h), and reduces the 0-60 mph (0-96.5 km/h) time from 11.1 seconds to 9.4 seconds.

2006 Subaru Forester (UK specs)

Engine 2.0 litre 2.5 litre
Gearbox Manual Auto Manual Auto
Top speed 122 mph 118 mph 134 mph 133 mph
196 kmh 189 kmh 215 kmh 214 kmh
0-60 mph 9.4 sec 11.6 sec 5.7 sec 7.3 sec

Fuel consumption, imperial mpg (litres/100 km)

Urban 23.0 23.0 19.2 19.8
(12.28) (12.28) (14.71) (14.27)
Extra urban 37.7 37.2 33.6 34.0
(7.49) (7.59) (8.41) (8.31)
Combined 30.4 30.4 26.4 26.9
(9.29) (9.29) (10.7) (10.5)

The automatic version improves by a 14 mph (22.5 km/h) boost to its top speed at 118 mph (189 km/h), with a 1.3 second cut in its 0-60 mph time which is now 11.6 seconds.

The all-aluminium unit features twin overhead camshafts per cylinder bank (DOHC) plus an Active Valve Control System (AVCS) which is a form of variable valve timing.

The 1,994 cc engine retains the same 92mm bore and 75 mm stroke as before but the compression ratio is now a high – and therefore more efficient – 11.1:1.

2.5 litre turbo (XT) - First introduced for the ’05 Model Year, the 2.5 litre turbo (XT) gains an extra 19 PS, raising power to 230 PS and reducing the 0-60 mph time to 5.7 seconds with the manual gearbox (top speed is 215 km/h). The 2.5 XT gets a new optional automatic transmission featuring ‘sportshift’ manual selection and linked to the ‘Subaru Vehicle Dynamics Control’ (SVDC) to enhance handling and road holding (see below).

Performance enhancements are partly due to raising the compression ratio from 8.0:1 to 8.4:1, with other revisions to the exhaust system and the introduction of a secondary air intake.

The Forester 2.5 XT has a rear limited-slip differential, full-time symmetrical all-wheel drive and self-leveling rear suspension.

2006 Subaru Forester - 2.0 litre X version, front view

Exterior changes aim for a bolder look.

Like the new Legacy, the Forester 2.5 XT uses a sintered steel journal cast cylinder block to reduce Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH). Both the bore and stroke are enlarged compared to the 2.0 litre unit – now standing at 99.5 x 79 mm instead of 92 x 75mm – while the 16 valves are operated by two overhead camshafts per bank as before.

The intercooled turbo remains small-sized for strong initial acceleration and flexible in-gear response.

Revised range - The model which competes against the Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail and Toyota RAV4, gets a revised and simplified model range. The previous 2.0 XT (turbo) is dropped and replaced by a better value 2.5 XT (similar price).  Leather trim and cruise control are added to the new 2.5 XTE.

The entry-level 2.0X continues with virtually identical equipment to the ’05 MY car, while the ‘All Weather-Pack’ is replaced by the 2.0 XE which adds – among other items – leather trim, heated front seats and cruise-control.

New features include larger 16 ins diameter wheels for the naturally-aspirated models and 17 ins wheels for the turbos which also gain HID xenon headlamps with self-leveling. Beige or black leather seat trim is a new no-cost option on the 2.0 XE and 2.5 XTE.

2006 Subaru Forester - 2.5 litre XTE version, side view

Sleek and agile thanks to its low centre of gravity.

All models boast pop-up headlamp washers while all but the entry-level 2.0 X have audio controls mounted on the steering wheel.  The Forester’s trademark large electric sliding and tilting sunroof continues on all but the 2.0 X and 2.5 XT.   

UK on-the-road prices (all prices include mica/metallic paint) start from £17,595 for the 2.0 X manual (add £1000 for the automatic gearbox), to £20,495 for the 2.0 XE, £21,995 for the 2.5 XT (+£1,350 for the Sportshift automatic) and £24955 for the 2.5 XTE (+£1,350 for the Sportshift automatic).

Transmissions - Both manual and automatic transmissions have been improved for the facelifted ’06 Forester with, for example, all manual transmissions having a shorter travel for a slicker shift. The shift-stroke is now 10 mm shorter, while the firmness of the gear-change itself is enhanced by 15 percent.

Naturally-aspirated Forester 2.0 X and XE models with automatic transmission feature a 3 kg lighter transmission with direct-control type system for smoother changes.

Fuel economy is also optimised thanks to a slip lock-up device and the use of advanced electronics to control change-points.

2006 Subaru Forester - 2.0 litre XE, automatic version

Forester 2.0 XE with automatic transmission.

Sportshift’ is introduced for turbo Forester 2.5 XT and XTE models, with more responsive reaction, and allows manual selection up and down the gearbox.

Manual naturally-aspirated Foresters have a dual-range gearbox which gives 10 speeds.  Dual-range is selected by depressing the clutch and raising a small lever next to the gear-shift. This can be done on the move.

Low-ratio advantages include extra control through enhanced engine-braking in slippery conditions.  This could be while driving down a snow-lined street littered with abandoned cars or while pulling a caravan off a rain-soaked field.  

The Forester’s dual-range system makes hill starts that much easier and is kinder to the clutch, especially that the hill-holder clutch – standard on all manual models - prevents rolling backwards when stationary on a gradient.

Vehicle Dynamics Control - New for ’06 is an automatic version of the turbocharged Forester 2.5.  Standard on this model is Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control (SVDC) which combines active safety with enhanced cornering control. It sensors on all four wheels to detect slip, with other sensors registering front to rear G-forces and side-to-side G-forces.

Symmetrical AWD Transmission – Subaru’s rally-honed symmetrical all-wheel drive transmission reduces drive friction, fuel consumption and power loss for several reasons.

First, the short ‘boxer’ engine is in-line with the transmission. Then, its low height allows the front drive-shafts to be almost horizontal, while power is sent to the rear wheels is in a straight line via a prop shaft rather than via an awkward transfer box.

2006 Subaru Forester - 2.0 litre X version

Manual non-turbo versions have a dual-range gearbox with 10 speeds.

The light and compact AWD system can be installed in the transmission case, and the symmetrical AWD system allows chassis engineers to tune the suspension for excellent handling and road holding.

The Forester’s full-time AWD system on manual models splits power 50/50 front to rear which gives enhanced straight-line tracking and extra agility through corners.

As soon as slip is detected, the centre differential with its viscous-coupling distributes torque to the axle with the most grip.  This happens in milliseconds, and all the driver is aware of is less understeer/oversteer than expected and reassuring grip where a 2WD car would be sliding.

Centre of gravity - The unitary body and the all-wheel-drive system are not the only reasons behind stability. Thanks to its low centre of gravity, its all-alloy horizontally-opposed engine, and the Impreza-based chassis with long-travel all independent suspension, the Forester can offer a similar high seating position and ground clearance to a conventional SUV but with a lower car handling caracteristics and active safety.

Revised suspension - The facelifted Forester gets strengthened suspension mounts and revised spring and damper settings to better control wheel movement. As before, the Forester’s front and rear struts are fitted with rebound springs to reduce pitch and better control body roll.

Coil springs and damper valves have been fine-tuned, geometry tweaked and suspension bushing revised to give a linear response to the steering movements.

2006 Subaru Forester - 2.0 litre X version, back seat.

Rear seat of the basic 2.0 X version.

The standard self-leveling rear suspension keeps a constant ground clearance for covering unmade tracks/rough terrain – even when the car is fully laden with passengers and luggage.

Thanks to larger 16 ins wheels with 215/60 tyres on the naturally-aspirated models and 17 ins featuring 215/55 tyres on the turbos, the Forester X and XE now boast a greater 205 mm ground clearance (200 mm for the XT and XTE).

Safety - The Forester XT’s active and passive safety measures include (UK specs) electronic brake force distribution (EBD), four-channel, four-sensor anti-lock brakes (ABS) and large-diameter ventilated front and rear discs.

Active front head-restraints reduce the risk of whiplash injuries while the passenger airbag is dual-stage allowing progressive protection during less severe impacts and total deployment in a more serious crash. Large side airbags are also standard, protecting both the torso and head.

High-tensile steel panels with tailored blanks are used in key impact areas, combining strength with good energy-absorbing properties, while aluminium is used for the bonnet, front and rear bumper beams, roof rails and sunroof frames keeping down weight.

Like all new Subarus officially imported by Subaru (UK) Limited, the new Forester 2.5 XT offers a three year/60,000 mile warranty plus three years’ paintwork and 12 years’ anti-corrosion cover (with inspections). This is in addition to three years’ free membership of Subaru Assistance – a comprehensive home and roadside repair and recovery package throughout the UK and Europe, administered by Mondial Assistance.

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