The 1996 Subaru Forester successfully combines the qualities of both a truck and a sport utility vehicle. This crossover is designed for both on and off-road driving with superb traction and handling in both dry and wet conditions alike. It stands noticeably lower in height then most in the class. The 2.5-liter engine offers 186 horsepower with improved low-end torque for faster off-the-line response.
Body Styles: minivan
Engines: 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, five-speed automatic
Models: Subaru Forester, Subaru Forester S Wagon, Subaru Forester L Wagon
An improved all-wheel-drive system shifts power between tires for optimal grip. The torque has been bumped up to 166 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. Increased torque gives the engine a Stage Two designation. Two new colors are added along with a more comprehensive roster of standard equipment. A windshield wiper de-icer has been added for this year’s model. The new design offers enhanced safety through thicker side panels, front and rear center pillar reinforcements, and a solid roof panel. The airbag, seating design, and safety belts are also revised for the 1996 model. More attention is given to the experience of rear passengers, including new features such as a climate control panel and drink holders.
Built from the same platform as the Impreza, the differences between body styles are mostly cosmetic with 16-inch wheels and 7.5 inches of ground clearance. The lower height allows for greater ease of loading and unloading skis, kayaks, or other items to and from rooftop storage. Fog lights are standard as is a roof rack for storage. The mirrors are power heated. The rear gate design lifts out of the way for easier loading in the back. A keyless entry system is optional. The rear window has a wiper kit and defroster.
The newly-designed bucket seats are overhauled for both safety and comfort. Front seats are power heated while the steering wheel can be tilt adjusted. An overhead console contains an eyeglass holder as well as a compass. The length of the cabin is 175.2 inches with 40.6 inches of headroom in the front and 39.6 in the rear. Leg room is a bit more cramped with 43 inches for front passengers and 33.4 in back. The rear seats have fold down armrests with individual storage spaces. Despite the wide headspace the interior designed is narrow and feels crowded under maximum capacity. Comfortably seating four, there is considerable headroom throughout the vehicle. When the rear seats are down the cargo space reaches an impressive 64.6 cubic feet.
This model performs considerably well off road though it is limited due to its ground clearance. The shorter height does provide for a lowered center of gravity making rolling less likely, allowing for better cornering and speed. The feel of the ride reminds drivers of a sedan experience. The horsepower is 165 on all models with four-wheel strut suspension. Off-road performance rivals more proven names. A recurring issue involves failure of cylinder head gaskets, which can lead to overheating. The repairs involved are not substantial.
The Forester offers less chance of rollover and handles far easier for drivers not accustomed to taller vehicles. All models feature driver and front passenger air bags. Side panels are thicker in this model for improved collision protection. The overhaul of front bucket seat design implements lumbar support. Fog lights are standard on all models.
Subaru Forester: 19/25 mpg city/highway
- Heated front seats
- Wide head room
- Excellent tow rating
- Heavy cornering
- Wide turn radius
- Large side mirrors
A short but dependable workhorse. []
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