Subaru Forester and Crosstrek offer multi-purpose crossover utility
The 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium provided us with a delightful weeklong drive with top safety ratings, plentiful interior space, and a price that was appealing in a crowded small crossover category.
The Forester is powered by the 2.5-L BOXER four-cylinder DOHC engine that produces 170 HP at 5,800 RPM and 174 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 RPM. Matched with a Lineartronic six-speed CVT, the Active Split Torque all-wheel-drive unit performed well in all driving conditions and offered impressive fuel ratings of 27 MPG overall (24/city and 32 highway).
Likeable features on the Forester are its spacious interior (147.5 cubic feet front and rear seating), expansive cargo capacity of 68.5 cubic feet (seats down), the Subaru STARLINK Safety and Security System (hands-free entertainment and safety features, emergency assistance, and more), an excellent rear vision camera, and the 17-inch all-season tires mounted on 17-inch alloy wheels (18-inch on the Touring model, the top of four trims).
The STARLINK system is extensive and includes an audio system with a high-resolution seven-inch touch screen, Bluetooth connectivity, cloud apps, Smartphone apps, USB ports, and other connectivity features. It’s a very usable system, unlike more complicated systems we’ve experienced.
This fourth-generation Forester has a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds and features a four-wheel independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars. It has stability control and traction systems, an emergency braking assist system, and a 5-Star government safety rating.
The MSRP on the 2.5i Premium AWD we tested was $25,795 with just one option package ($1,895) that we feel is needed on this model. It’s the All-Weather Package plus Navigation and the Subaru EyeSight safety suite. All-Weather adds heated front seats, heated side mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer. Navigation (not standard on the 2.5i Premium) is almost a necessity in today’s market, and the Eye-sight offers adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and steering responsive fog lamps (one of our favorites).
Overall, the Forester, as well as the Subaru Crosstrek we tested, is a superb crossover for passenger and cargo hauling, responsive road control, and overall handling. Nothing exotic, but definitely a pleasurable drive.
Hyundais offer great value and safe rides
We recently tested the 2016 models of the Hyundai Tucson Limited AWD, Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, and 2017 Elantra Limited and found each of these vehicles to be exceptional.
The all-new Tucson, a competitor to the Forester, is loaded with standard features, as are most Hyundai models, and while it’s not the fastest on acceleration, the 1.6-L turbocharged engine provides 175 HP at 5,500 RPM and a respectable 195 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,500 RPM. Mated with a smooth seven-speed EcoShift automated manual transmission, the fuel economy is 26 MPG overall 24/city and 28/highway).
Our likes on the Tucson include its road-hugging 19-inch tires and wheels, blind spot detection, lane change assist, very cool fog lamps, excellent stability control/traction system, top safety ratings, power front seats, 61.9 cubic feet of cargo space, and plenty more. The MSRP was $31,300 with a $2,750 Ultimate Package.
This is certainly a solid competitor in that crowded small SUV/crossover segment, but these vehicles are so usable the category will likely continue to grow based on usability, cargo space, fuel economy, and pricing.
The Sonata Plug-in has class leading 27-mile all-electric range and 40 MPG with gasoline only (2.0-L GDI hybrid engine). Not only is the mileage dynamic, the overall vehicle is a delight to drive. Not bad for Hyundai’s first attempt at a PHEV.
Like the Tucson, the all-new 2016 Sonata sedan was loaded with standard equipment, including features such as forward collision warning, blind-spot warning, lane departure, and more.
Not much is lacking on the Sonata from a heated steering wheel to navigation. Our tester had an MSRP of $38,600 with just two options (carpeted floor mats and cargo mat) for $175. Easy to charge, great fuel economy, and comfortable ride.
The redesigned 2017 Elantra Limited is a stylish sedan with segment-first hands-free smart trunk and Integrated Memory System for the driver’s seat and outside mirrors. Beyond that, there is a classy interior and plenty of tech features to satisfy most needs.
Our tester had the 2.0-L four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic function. Not the most beefy powertrain, but fuel economy is 32 MPG overall (28/city and 37/highway).
The real appeal of the FWD Elantra is the price. Our tested Limited edition had a base price of $22,350, and even with a Tech Package at $2,500 (navigation, heated seats, Infinity premium audio system, power sunroof, and more), an Ultimate Package at $1,900 (auto emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane departure, and more), and carpeted floor mats at $125, this little gem was still under $27,000. That makes it a great buy from our perspective.