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Forester moves upmarket

BY RORY DALEY Observer writer daleyr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 03, 2013    

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IT was two days of fanfare as Subaru dealers Kingston Industrial Garage (KIG) launched the 2013 Forester at the Caymanas bike track, St Andrew, last weekend.

KIG ensured that rabid Subaru fans and potential customers would have plenty of time with the latest version of their popular Sport Utility Vehicle.

The Forester was unveiled to the media on Saturday. However, Sunday was for the public, in addition to test drives of other models and brands in the KIG stable, including Ford vehicles.

Major Hugh Blake, KIG general manager, said the vehicle was recently introduced in South America.

"The Forester is now a full off-road SUV that fits well into the KIG line-up. It was awesome in the test conditions in Chile, so I have no doubt that it will do great in local conditions," he told Auto.

The Forester has followed the "more is less" philosophy and is equipped more in line with premium rivals up the price chain. For 2013, the Forester has grown larger for more storage and interior space. It is more fuel-efficient due in large part to the new CVT transmission.

As with all Subaru models, its symmetrical all-wheel drive system guarantees excellent traction in toughest conditions.

While the base model is more refined over the previous generation, providing a comfortable on/off-road ride in a very quiet and insulated cabin, the real news is the XT trim level that puts the Forester on par with more expensive SUVs, making it an excellent value.

The XT has features that include keyless entry, optional full leather seats, eight-speaker 440W stereo system, power rear gate, and reverse camera. On the mechanical side, it gets a powerful turbocharged motor, mated to the same CVT transmission in the base model, but with steering-mounted paddles for manual shifting. The XT also boasts Subaru's X-Mode technology which takes over control of the major vehicle systems like the engine and braking to guarantee sure-footedness across even the roughest terrain.

Driver reviews for the new Forester on the rough test track were all positive, and many took the chance to sample the rest of the Subaru line, including the opportunity for a spin in the 2013 Subaru WRX STi sedan with rally driver Richard Rerrie.

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