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Wintry roads can't stop the Forester

Driving during a Wisconsin snow storn can be difficult to say the least. Our trip began with mild flurries and ended two hours later with full blown white-outs. Still, the AWD of the Forester proved to be sure-footed enough to guide us through all the rough patches.

Forester has a newly available portable navigation system, a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a new top-of-the-line 2.5XT Touring model.

The TomTom navigation system available on the 2.5X Premium model includes a 4.3-inch touch-screen that you can take with you when you leave the car.

The portable navigation system also comes with Bluetooth, a USB port and iPod capability, plus a backup camera is available. Bluetooth is now standard on all except the base Forester.

Foresters are powered by a choice of naturally aspirated or turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines and either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

The naturally aspirated engine is still 2.5 liters with 170 horsepower, which is the same as before, but it's a new engine that produces more torque (174 pounds-feet versus 170) and, Subaru says, is more economical.

The transmissions come with different all-wheel-drive systems. According to Subaru, the automatic comes with Variable Torque Management, which shifts power to the front and rear axles by monitoring throttle position, battery voltage, generator rpm, wheel speed, brake status, lateral g-force and automatic transmission fluid temperature. The manual Forester has a simple viscous coupling that's reactive rather than proactive.

The door openings are large, and the rear window is larger than on the previous Forester. A center armrest is standard for the backseat, and a retractable center tray is optional.

A rollover sensor can deploy the side curtain airbags to protect occupants and prevent their ejection.

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