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Click either image for high-res shots of Subaru's two custom Foresters

Subaru's Forester has long been considered one of the few sporting 'utes, and the automaker is ready to build on that image with a new Forester XTI concept, set to debut at the SEMA Show. Those interested in outward appearances will note the "Atmospheric Re-Entry paint scheme" (their words, not ours), JDM body kit, lower front spoiler and mesh front grille. It's the underpinnings that get us really excited, though. Under the skin, the Forester XTI gets the full Subaru Technica International treatment from the firm's amazing WRX STI, including its 2.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled boxer four powerplant, mated to a six speed manual transmission and, of course, all-wheel-drive. A cat-back exhaust helps bump out to 315 hp and torque to 300 lb-ft, meaningful improvements over the stock engine's ratings of 300-horsepower and 290 lb-ft. We'd love to see this one make it to the showroom floor.

Accompanying the XTI at Subie's booth is the Mountain Rescue Vehicle, which was purpose-built for the National Ski Patrol, of which Subaru is the Official Vehicle. Custom touches include an adjustable Air Lift suspension that allows for a maximum of 14-inches of ground clearance. Under the wheel arches sit 30x9.5-in. Yokohama Geolandar MTS tires on custom 15-in. reversed near-zero offset steel wheels. Skid plates and a winch complete the off-road modifications and are accompanied by a bevy of lights and a near glow-in-the-dark hue. The drivetrain doesn't see any modifications, but the stock turbo-mill ought to be up to the task anyway.

[Source: Subaru]



* 315-Horsepower Crossover with WRX® STI® Engine, 6-Speed Transmission
* DCCD All-Wheel Drive and Brembo Brakes from WRX STI
* Adjustable Coil-Over Suspension
* Custom Bodywork and Paint

Cherry Hill, N.J., October 31, 2008 – Subaru of America, Inc. today revealed the Forester® XTI Concept. It will be unveiled to the public at the 2008 Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show, which runs at the Las Vegas Convention Center Nov. 4-7. The Forester XTI Concept combines the versatility of the all-new Forester 2.5XT with the all-out street performance of the rally-bred Impreza® WRX STI.

All new for 2009, the Forester was named MOTOR TREND magazine's SUV of the Year. The magazine applauded the new Forester's combination of performance, utility, comfort, safety technology and value in giving it the award. MOTOR TREND editor Angus MacKenzie, citing the judges' unanimous decision, said, "The Subaru Forester is the SUV for our times." The new Forester XTI Concept is an SUV for 0-60 times, estimated to hit the mark in less than 5 seconds.

Practically Wicked

Can a vehicle be both wicked and practical? The Subaru Forester XTI answers with a roomy interior and a lot of turbo boost. The Forester XTI ultra-performance CUV inherits the full STI treatment, with parts developed by Subaru Tecnica International (STI), the high-performance and motorsports subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.

The "Wicked" portion starts with the styling, which is set off by a custom Atmospheric "Re-Entry" paint scheme. The front lower spoiler and Sport Mesh Grille are from the Subaru Genuine Accessory catalog and are joined by a JDM body kit, including side skirts, a rear skirt and a gate spoiler.

Designed and built by Subaru of America technicians, the crew installed the engine and entire drivetrain from the Impreza WRX STI. In the Forester XTI, a custom stainless steel cat-back exhaust system from the Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT) catalog helps to raise output of the 2.5-liter intercooled turbo engine to 315 hp (from 305 stock) and 300 lb.-ft. of torque (from 290 lb.-ft. stock). As in the WRX STI, power flows through a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission and the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) version of Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. The DCCD system offers three selectable automatic performance modes in addition to six manual center differential-locking settings.

The 18 x 8-in. S204 forged alloy wheels are by STI and are wrapped in Yokohama Advan Neova 255/40R18 performance tires. The Forester XTI also features an adjustable coil-over suspension by STI. The powerful Brembo brakes come right from the stock WRX STI, with 4-piston front calipers, 2-piston rear calipers, Super Sport ABS and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD). Inside, the Forester XTI features leather and Alcantara sport seats, a special instrument cluster, front dash and center console and leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Subaru Creates Ultimate Off-Road Forester with SEMA Mountain Rescue Vehicle

- Designed as an over-the-top First Responder Vehicle for Ski Areas - All-New Forester Named MOTOR TREND SUV of the Year for 2009

CHERRY HILL, N.J.-- Subaru of America, Inc. today revealed the Mountain Rescue Forester(R) Vehicle, built for the National Ski Patrol (NSP). It will debut at the 2008 Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show that runs at the Las Vegas Convention Center Nov. 4-7. Working with Subaru of America, Detroit-based Specialized Vehicles built the Mountain Rescue Forester Concept as the ultimate first responder vehicle, bolstering its trail-driving capability and equipping it with essential Ski Patrol rescue gear.

Based on the 2009 MOTOR TREND SUV of the Year Subaru Forester 2.5XT turbo crossover utility vehicle, the Forester Mountain Rescue Vehicle is designed to help Ski Patrol crews conduct rescues in difficult terrain and weather conditions. The men and women of Ski Patrol risk their lives in the mountains, fighting avalanches, performing daring rescues and keeping unruly skiers and snowboarders from endangering others on the slopes.

Ready for Rescue Missions

Subaru and skiing have gone together since 1974, when skiers first discovered the all-weather traction of Subaru models with 4-wheel drive. In stock form, the 2009 Forester 2.5XT combines Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive with 8.9 inches of ground clearance, more than other crossover SUVs, which are typically in the 6.5-7 in. range. The Forester Mountain Rescue Concept delivers more than 14 in. of ground clearance through an Air Lift custom adjustable ride height air suspension system. Added off-road and snow traction is provided by Yokohama Geolandar MTS 30 x 9.5-in. tires on special 15-in. Subaru custom-reversed near-zero offset steel wheels.

For extra protection on the trails, the Forester Mountain Rescue Concept is equipped with custom front and rear skid plates by DeeZee and custom Trail Armor by Bushwacker, including fender flares, lower door cladding, a rear gate guard and tail light guards. Skiers won't have trouble seeing the Forester Mountain Rescue Vehicle coming: an emergency light package, augmented by Subaru Genuine Accessory Baja Sport Activity Lights, ensures visibility from a distance and in all types of weather.

To illuminate a rescue site, the vehicle is equipped with roof mounted Visi Light LED spotlights - five in front and two in the rear - by Hamsar Diversco. Topping off the concept vehicle's distinctive styling, a DeeZee custom grille guard helps protect the Sport Mesh Grille from Subaru Genuine Accessories.

Once on the rescue site, the Ski Patrol crew can use an Ultimate Performance 9.5i Thermometric 9,500-lb. winch by WARN. Remote rear door openers and external quick-access utility compartments play a vital role when time is of the essence. Extra wide round crossbars help secure the Subaru Yakima ski carriers, which on this vehicle hold Nordica snow skis. A rescue toboggan from Cascade rounds out the rescue equipment.

Subaru is proud to be the official vehicle of the NSP, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado and dedicated to serving the public and the ski industry by providing education on emergency care and safety. Subaru has been the Official Vehicle of the NSP for many years and for good reason - Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, robust construction and durability make any Subaru ideally suited to tough winter conditions.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      That FORESTER XTI is a beauty. I'm not really into subies (I fault their $ vs interior quality) but this car is very very slick
        • 6 Years Ago

        You may not like the interior of the Forester/Impreza... but you probably haven't sat in a Legacy, Outback, or Tribeca in recent years.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Mark,

        As Mike pointed out, the Legacy/Outback/Tribeca do not share interiors with Impreza/Forester.

        The Impreza-based stuff have suprizingly spartan interiors, wheras the Legacy-based stuff have surprizingly luxurious accomodations for the roughly the same price range.
        • 6 Years Ago
        ok, thx for the info.
        • 6 Years Ago
        the last thing I was in was an 06 STI and was a little disappointed that it looked like an economy sedan at $30k.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The XTI looks like a black box. I am a big fan of that drivetrain, but it looks like a plain box.

      The Mountain Rescue, however, shows some real promise.

      They need to take it up the next two notches.

      A: Engines. 3.6 H6, 5-speed Automatic, with low range, and Variable Torque Distribution AWD.
      Boxer Turbo Diesel H4, with same drivetrain, or robust manual transmission.
      Basically off-road ready versions of Tribeca's drivetrain in the Forester body, or the new Boxer Diesel substituted for the 3.6 H6.

      Cut the back of the roof off.
      2-door long bed Brat.
      4-door shorter bed Baja.
      With the above mentioned engines, and the pictured off-road gear, and air suspension.

      Then, the capability to tow up to Class III (500lbs tonque wt, 5000lbs Gross Wt.), and this would be a killer little truck, especially with the diesel burning recycled fry-oil.

      Those would be worthy little workhorses. Jeep won't give us the JT, and the Patriot/Compass aren't it, either. The H3T might be even a little to bulky for some, and needs the V8 to be truly capable. The Forester is a smaller vehicle. And MT SUOTY award winner...

      The Forester is a nice size for a conversion to unibody little trucks, perhaps with just a slight rear overhang extension for a bit more cargo bed utility, but nothing outrageous. Way better than converting the Legacy/Outback Wagon to the Baja, with it's car front end.

      Not everyone needs a full size truck. Look how popular the Wrangler is. If Jeep won't sell the JT to the public, Subaru should step in, especially with their new diesel coming in.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Problem is, every time enthusiasts clamor for something like that (Baja, turbo Baja, turbo Forester w/ manual, Legacy Spec.B) and Subaru delivers, nobody frickin' buys them.

        Yes, it would be cool to have a 3.6L Forester with a five-speed auto. Journalists and enthusiasts would sing the praises of Subaru to the heavens, and eight people would actually go out and buy them.

        Subaru doesn't have the development dollars to shoehorn a six-cylinder into the Forester when no one is buying the turbos right now anyway. Nor do they have cash to "cut the roof off" one (it would require a LOT more engineering than that) when after a couple years, no one was buying Bajas. And let's not get into the work necessary to turn a unibody CUV into something capable of a 5k towing rating.

        Problem with Subaru's target market is a) there aren't enough of them to support the super-niche vehicles they want to buy (Forester STI, Baja-rester, Legacy STI wagon...), and b) they keep their cars forever, so they aren't in the market very often.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I hear this all the time...

        They don't have the money to do this, or that...

        They had enough money to LOSE on the Baja, because they did a half-assed job. The concept wasn't far off, but the execution didn't meet it's potential.

        If Hummer can turn the H3 into the H3T, then Subaru can turn the Forester into a Baja II, or a Brat II.

        The thing is, that a little truck, if it is done well enough, with either H6 or Diesel torque, would be LESS of a niche model. 2.5i is not a utilitarian engine, it is an economical engine, in the lightweight Toyota/Subaru coupe, they might be able to turn it into an economical little performer. But it can't haul things.

        The 2.5 turbo is a fantastic engine, and I love mine. But it also isn't that utilitarian, and to have power, it has to be on-boost, and the more you do that, the more fuel it drinks. People don't want to ram-rod a little utility vehicle to get performance out of a turbo 4 cylinder, it is more of a performance car engine.

        The Diesel has much more torque, and is well suited for that duty. The Forester is supposed to get it soon anyway, along with the Outback, and perhaps even the Tribeca.

        The 3.6 H6 is also a more torquey engine, due to it's displacement, and not reliance on a turbocharger to get power output. Just a different approach, and displacement tends to work better in a utility vehicle.

        with engine and transaxle oil coolers, and big Legacy GT sized brakes, should help the towing capacity, as well as extending steel structures under the cargo area, to attach a draw bar receiver to... Maybe it might not quite get Class III, but it should be able to pull a normal sized boat, or water craft, or a modest utility trailer to hold the things that won't fit in the admittedly small bed in a vehicle that size.

        That was the big thing that the Baja was missing, was even normal towing limits, while no one expected it to carry tons of weight in the small bed. Baja under-performed it's tasks, and fizzled. Unfortunately they don't see that the premise wasn't wrong, only the execution and details.

        The thing is, that if Subaru owners keep their vehicles, then Subaru needs to sell them a second vehicle. I already have a Legacy GT turbo to drive every day, I want something to haul an appliance back from the store, or a lawn mower, or something, that I can't or won't fit in my Legacy. If they can sell me one or the other on an alternating schedule, they would get more sales, while I still keep each one long enough to validate the depreciation expense.

        They can't continue to wring their hands and complain that they don't have money, and their customers don't trade up often enough, because the cars are just too darn reliable...

        They either have the money to bring new products to market, or they don't. it is only a matter of scale. GM has a much larger scale, and look at all the cutbacks, due to stupid decision making, that they are having to make. They lose more money in a quarter than Subaru makes in total revenue.

        Yet small companies like Subaru can be nimble enough to be quite adaptable, if they are smart enough, and willing enough to do so. Making excuses about the market being too tough is not that.
        • 6 Years Ago

        No one wants to read your left field dissertations. Save your ranting for legacygt.com.
      • 6 Years Ago
      good luck getting a manual in the new forester xt :( main reason i probably won't get a forester again...might get a new wrx tho :)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Thats nice. But this is the FXTI concept.

        "As in the WRX STI, power flows through a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission and the Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) version of Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive."
      • 6 Years Ago
      looks great.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Stop reminding us!!! I hate you!!! They give me nightmares.
      • 6 Years Ago
      DO WANT!
      • 6 Years Ago
      When the new Forester came out, I was sure it would lose all of its sporty potential.

      This proves me very, very wrong.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wow, that XTI looks so much better than the WRX. I'd pic that first regardless of the speed difference.
        • 6 Years Ago

        No one wants to read your left field dissertations. Save your ranting for legacygt.com.
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