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A little background before we get to the news: Subaru is the name of a cluster of some 250 bluish stars in the Taurus constellation. Only six of its stars are visible to the naked eye. Here in the West, the cluster is better-known as Pleiades, but in Japan, it's alternately called Subaru ("to govern" or "gather together") or Mutsuraboshi, which means "Six Stars." And if you've ever looked closely at a Subaru badge, that's exactly what you see, six stars. But take a look at the window sticker on the new 2008 Forester and you'll see only five stars.

Don't let that seem like a letdown, however, for as you probably know, a five-star rating is the highest the NHTSA awards, and it also happens to be the vehicle's most recent score in those NHTSA crash tests. Subaru of America announced the rating today, along with the press release you'll find after the jump. Read it and you'll discover that the '08 Forester earned five star ratings for both front- and side-impact crash tests, for both the driver and passenger. These ratings were for the NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), which uses a 10% higher impact speed than the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards -- 38.5 versus 35 mph. Kudos to Mutsuraboshi Subaru. Keep up the good work, and maybe they'll have to change the metric for you.

Check out the 2008 Forester in our gallery below, or see pricing and specs at AOL Autos.

[Source: Subaru]



PRESS RELEASE:

2008 Subaru Forester Awarded 5-Star Crash Safety Rating

--Subaru Forester received the highest government crash test ratings in both the frontal and side-impact NCAP crash tests --

CHERRY HILL, N.J., Aug. 9 -- Subaru of America, Inc. today announced that the 2008 Subaru Forester will have the highest rating in the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) crash tests. The Subaru Forester received five stars in both the frontal and side-impact crash tests for both the driver and passenger seating positions.

"The Subaru Forester is the most award winning small SUV in America," said Thomas J. Doll, executive vice president, Subaru of America, Inc. "And when it comes to safety, the Subaru Forester is again leading the way. The proven active and passive safety features including Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and available Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), give Forester customers confidence, control, and peace of mind."

NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) provides consumers with vehicle safety information, primarily front and side crash test results, and more recently rollover ratings, to aid consumers in their vehicle purchase decisions. The test results are relayed to consumers via an easily recognizable star rating system - from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest. The NCAP crash tests are conducted at speeds higher than required by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for both side impacts, at 38.5 miles per hour, and full frontal barrier impacts, at 35 miles per hour. The tests are done to compare vehicles for the NHTSA Consumer Information Program and the results can be found at http://www.safercar.gov/.

Like all Subaru models, the 2008 Forester has been optimized for both active safety (the technology to help the driver avoid hazardous situations) and passive safety (the systems that help protect occupants in the event of a collision).

Subaru Active Safety

The active safety concept for the Subaru Forester combines "right size" proportions, with inherently crisp, agile driving responses and dynamic handling systems. The Forester comes equipped with the company's most advanced version of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, delivering power to all four wheels simultaneously. Power sent from the Boxer Engine through a symmetrical drivetrain gives Forester superior driving performance and enhanced traction under any road condition.

In addition to its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Forester features four-wheel independent suspension, handling each dip and bump independently. The low-friction design and specific spring- and shock- absorber tuning diffuse road irregularities, making the most of the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive by maximizing tire contact with the road.

New for the Forester this year is Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), available on all turbo models equipped with automatic transmission, such as 2.5XT Limited and Sports 2.5XT models. VDC is a highly sophisticated stability control system that actively controls the center differential's power distribution by means of a continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch. The system distributes torque to the appropriate wheel based on input from steering wheel angle, yaw and lateral g-force sensors. It also monitors input from the ABS brake system, adjusting individual wheel braking as needed, helping to maintain vehicle control under a variety of driving conditions.

A four-wheel ABS braking system with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) comes standard with the Forester. The EBD system automatically varies the amount of force applied to both front and rear brakes. It adjusts brake hydraulic pressure between the front and rear axles in order to maximize stopping power.

Subaru Passive Safety

The foundation for passive safety in the Forester, and in all Subaru vehicles, is the proven Subaru Ring-shaped Reinforcement Frame body structure. Reinforced in key areas with high tensile-strength steel, the frame combines dual side-impact door beams and front and rear crumple zones. The frame absorbs the energy of an impact from any direction, helps protect the reinforced passenger compartment and provides excellent protection in a variety of collision types.

The Subaru Boxer engine contributes to safety, because it allows more crush room in front impacts. Subaru vehicles are designed to allow the entire powertrain to slide under the car along the floor tunnel in a severe collision, helping to prevent intrusion into the passenger compartment. In the rear, the spare tire is mounted underneath the vehicle to avoid intrusion into the passenger compartment.

Advanced Air Bag Systems

The Subaru advanced frontal air bag system (SRS) uses dual-stage-deployment driver and front passenger air bags. A position sensor on the driver's seat track detects if the driver is sitting too close to the air bag, in which case the system would delay deployment of the air bag's second stage. The system also takes input from a seatbelt buckle switch, to determine if the driver is using the belt.

Front seat-mounted head/chest side-impact air bags protect the driver and passenger's head and torso regardless of seat position. Meanwhile, height-adjustable active front-seat head restraints help prevent whiplash by shifting forward, cradling the head during a rear-end collision.

The passenger side front seat incorporates an occupant detection system that measures weight on the passenger seat - determining the presence of a child or adult - to control air bag deployment. In addition, the system takes input from a seatbelt tension sensor installed in the seatbelt anchor, as well as a seatbelt buckle sensor. If the system determines "empty seat" or "child" (based on weight thresholds), it sets the front air bag not to deploy and illuminates the "air bag off" indicator. If an adult is detected, the air bag will be set to deploy and the "air bag on" light illuminates.

All seating positions in the Forester feature a three-point seatbelt. All Subaru models incorporate electrically triggered pre-tensioners and force limiters in the front three-point seatbelts. These systems work together to gradually restrain the occupants and absorb the impact energy of a frontal collision. The seatbelt pre-tensioners operate simultaneously with the front air bags and cinch the front seatbelts to help restrain the driver and front passenger in their seats. Additionally, the mechanically operated torsion-bar force-limiters extend the belts to reduce the belt forces on the occupants' torsos. The seatbelt mechanism also absorbs energy through internal deformation.

The Subaru Forester also comes standard with active front head restraints designed to help reduce potential whiplash injury in a rear collision. A safety brake pedal system and energy-absorbing collapsible steering column also help prevent injury.

Additionally, the Forester comes with standard child safety features. Rear child-safety door locks keep children safely inside. The locks control whether children can open the door from inside the car and can be set individually for each door. The Forester is also equipped with a LATCH System: Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren. LATCH is a system mandated by the Federal government in an effort to standardize and simplify the installation of child restraints without using the vehicle's seatbelt system. It allows for more secure positioning of a child safety seat, thus providing a safer environment.

The 2008 Forester boasts a 2.5-liter engine. All 2.5X model engines deliver 173 horsepower and 166 kb.-ft. of torque on unleaded regular gas. Meanwhile, 2.5XT model engines deliver 224 horsepower and 226 lb.-ft. of torque on unleaded regular gas.

About Subaru of America, Inc.

Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of 600 dealers across the United States. Subaru makes the best-selling All-Wheel Drive car sold in America based on R.L. Polk & Co. new vehicle retail registration statistics. For additional information visit http://www.subaru.com/.


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