Popular Mechanics
Forester devotees—outdoorsy types who like 15-day backpacking trips—never minded that their favorite car was on the frumpy side. “Hey, frumpy is like backwoods street cred” for the granola set. But this taller, wider, longer Forester is the most stylish in years. The all-wheel-drive system can tackle most terrains, and the rear wiper can actually reverse—“handy if you’re backing down a muddy driveway in a Nor’easter.”

The New York Times
The 2009 version of this popular wagon “looks like everything but the Forester” of old. All-wheel-drive and other safety features are still standard—including electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and seat-mounted side-impact airbags. Though braking seems softer, steering is “well-behaved, predictable, and pleasant.” The 2.5-liter, 170-hp, four-cylinder base engine is rated at 26 mph highway. A 224-hp turbo-charged upgrade is also available.

Dorky no more, this “grungy earth child” is beginning to look almost normal. The Forester offers “best-in-class outward visibility, particularly to the rear.” The four-speed automatic transmission “could use an extra gear (or two).” But the ride is quiet on the freeway, and the additional cargo space is enough to fit 4,590 granola bars.