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    Review: 2015 Acura TLX SH-AWD


    • Mouthful of a name, but a step in the right direction for Acura

    Acura has been lost in the woods for a few years. The combination of out-there designs and lagging somewhat behind competitors in terms of powertrains and technologies caused sales to drop precipitously. Only Acura’s crossovers, the MDX and RDX, seemingly kept the company afloat. But when the automaker revealed the NSX concept a few years ago, it seemed like they were beginning to get their priorities straight. From there, Acura began to change and rejuvenate their lineup. One of the interesting decision Acura made was to replace two sedans, the TSX and TL, with one. The result is the 2015 TLX. So can one sedan take the place of two?

     

    Acura appears to have to learn its lesson that sometimes going over the top in terms of design does more harm than good. The overall look of the TLX is very similar to the larger RLX sedan. The front end gets a toned-down version of Acura’s shield grille along with a set of jewel-eye headlights. Towards the back is a distinctive trunk lid and taillights that extend to the rear quarter panels. Paired with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, the TLX might be Acura’s best effort in a while to design a handsome vehicle.

     

    In terms of interiors, Acura appears to be taking some ideas from the Germans. The TLX boasts a lot more soft-touch materials than either the TL or TSX, along with a combination of metal and wood trim. The seats in our TLX came wrapped in a brown leather which adds a nice touch of class. Front seats come with ten-way power adjustments, allowing you to find a comfortable position. The back offers more than enough head and legroom for even tall passengers.

     


    2015 Acura TLX V6 SH AWD 10


    One area that Acura is still falling short on is the infotainment. In our TLX tester, we had the dual-screen AcuraLink infotainment system. The top screen is where the navigation and audio information reside, while the bottom screen is where you control the audio and climate. This system is flawed on many levels. To start, the bottom screen doesn’t provide enough information to what you are listening to. The navigation system is looking very dated compared other competitors, and there is a separate set of controls for that system alone. Also, I noticed a bit of slowness when changing presets on the radio or making adjustments for the climate system. Acura should just throw this current incarnation of AcuraLink and begin anew.

     

    In terms of power, the TLX comes with the choice of two engines. The base is a 2.4L with 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a 3.5L V6 with 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet. The four-cylinder comes with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, while the V6 boasts a nine-speed automatic. The TLX is standard with front-wheel drive no matter which engine you choose. But if you want Acura’s Super Handling-All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, you’ll need to jump up to the V6.

     

    Our TLX tester came equipped with the V6 and SH-AWD. Despite the what numbers say about the V6, it doesn’t feel powerful at first. The engine takes a moment to wake up, leaving you with some sluggish performance. But once the engine fully wakes up, power comes on effortlessly. We can’t say if this behavior is due to a lazy throttle, the nine-speed automatic, or both. Aside from this odd behavior, the V6 is very refined and has a nice engine note the higher you climb in the rev range. The nine-speed automatic to put it bluntly is a mess. The transmission is very slow when it comes to gear changes and when it does, there is a noticeable clunk. The SH-AWD system might be the TLX’s trump card. This system boasts torque-vectoring tech to help the vehicle in cornering. This system shows its strength in tight corners when you are powering out and the system is able to send power to the rear wheels, reducing the amount of understeer.

     

    As for fuel economy, the TLX V6 SH-AWD is rated at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined by the EPA. My average for the week landed at 24.2 MPG.

     


    2015 Acura TLX V6 SH AWD 8


     

    In terms of the how TLX behaves on the road depends on the drive mode that is engaged. These modes are,

    • Eco: Changes behavior of the transmission to go into the highest get to improve fuel economy
    • Normal: Provides a balance between Eco and Sport
    • Sport: Locks out higher gears to improve engine response
    • Sport+: Sharpens throttle response and gives the steering a bit more weight


    For most situations, leaving the TLX in Normal or Eco provides a nice balance between performance and driveability. These two modes also highlights one the TLX’s plus points, a smooth ride quality. Bumps and ruts don’t upset passengers sitting in the TLX. Another plus point is how quiet the interior is with barely any wind and road noise. Put the TLX into either Sport or Sport+ and it transforms. The suspension minimizes the amount of body roll and the chassis feels very solid in the corners. Steering has good weight, but some drivers will want a bit more feel.

     

    The Acura TLX shows the company is beginning to head in the right direction. Replacing two sedans with one is a mighty tall order, but Acura was able to pull it off with an impressive list of luxury features and balanced driving characteristics. But the V6 version still has some teething issues such as a poor throttle response and an automatic transmission that needs to go back to the engineering department to fix some of the refinement issues. If you don’t need or want the all-wheel drive, then you should really check the four-cylinder version of the TLX as it seems to be the well-rounded of the two powertrains on offer.

     

    Disclaimer: Acura Provided the TLX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     

     

    Year: 2015
    Make: Acura
    Model: TLX
    Trim: V6 SH-AWD with Advance Package
    Engine: 3.5L 24-Valve, SOHC i-VTEC V6
    Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6200
    Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4500
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/31/25
    Curb Weight: 3,774 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Marysville, Ohio
    Base Price: $44,800
    As Tested Price: $45,720 (Includes $920 Destination Charge)

     

    Options: N/A

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    Like the interior, warm and nice. Enjoyed reading about the updates they have done to the car. Sadly they are still jelly bean bland on the outside.Their body style leave much to be desired. They have not learned how to push the envelope.

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    I'm curious about material quality on this one.... if it is as good as you say, it would be better than the RLX that I drove 2 weeks ago.... and I wasn't impressed.

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    I'm curious about material quality on this one.... if it is as good as you say, it would be better than the RLX that I drove 2 weeks ago.... and I wasn't impressed.

    I think it's an improvement over the TL and TSX. I'm not sure if it's as good as some of the competition. (Can't give a definitive answer since I haven't spent any time with some of the Mercedes and Audi models).

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    I'm curious about material quality on this one.... if it is as good as you say, it would be better than the RLX that I drove 2 weeks ago.... and I wasn't impressed.

    Im not impressed with the TLX....I prefer my TL's interior.

     

    Sure, there are some areas where its not "soft touch" as compared to the TLX, but the TL feels much more solid regardless.

     

    The seats are smaller in the TLX than in the TL, not as if that makes a difference for me as I am a small dude at 5'6" inches tall, but I am 170 lbs....no not fat, but muscle. So I do appreciate the bigger seats. 

     

    I do find my console (The TL) to be clunky, as in big for no reason with the infotainment section being needlessly full of buttons and I do find the TLX's console to be...less clunky, I too find it needlessly complicated with that two screen system....and the TLX has an advantage over the TL as it has a button transmission as opposed to a shifter....

     

    Just to say, the way Acura has set this up...I still prefer the clunky shifter in my TL over the leverless TLX...

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    I really like the exterior design of the TLX. I think it captures the understated edge and handsomeness of the most beloved generation of TL. With that said, I think this car falls short in a number of other areas.

     

    First and foremost is the interior. I do not like Acura interiors at any price point. The design is drab and mundane, the twin screen concept is a failure in execution, and the push button transmission answers a question nobody asked with the most clumsy solution in the auto industry.

     

    Second is in powertrains. There's nothing special here. The 4-cylinder is available in the Civic and Accord, the V6 fails to truly measure up to the 3.7L it replaces. Why no earthdreams 3.7L? That would have been a great powerplant for Acura. Cementing the lackluster appeal of the 3.5L V6 is the confused 9-speed with no manual transmission alternative.

     

    Where is the incentive to buy this over a loaded mainstream sedan? Even worse, at $45k, higher luxury alternatives are numerous. Even a Lincoln MKZ V6 becomes a strong contender.

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    They were practically giving these away on lease deals a month or two ago in my neck of the woods, under $400 a month CAD tax in (our retail tax rate is 13%) with zero down, ~$1500 security deposit for the SH AWD model.

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      American Honda Vehicle Sales for January 2017
            Month-to-Date
      Year-to-Date
            January 2017
      January 2016
      DSR** % Change
      MoM % Change
      January 2017
      January 2016
      DSR** % Change
      YoY % Change
          American Honda Total
      106,380
      100,497
      5.9%
      5.9%
      106,380
      100,497
      5.9%
      5.9%
          Total Car Sales
      48,567
      54,382
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      -10.7%
      48,567
      54,382
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      -10.7%
          Total Truck Sales
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      57,813
      46,115
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      25.4%
          Honda
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      50,812
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      -9.8%
      45,841
      50,812
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      39,435
      30.2%
      30.2%
      51,337
      39,435
      30.2%
      30.2%
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      3,570
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      -23.6%
      2,726
      3,570
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      -23.6%
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      6,680
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      -3.1%
      6,476
      6,680
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      51,450
      -23.5%
      -23.5%
      39,355
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      -23.5%
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      36,709
      47,978
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      -23.5%
      36,709
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              Acura Division
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      3,472
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      2,646
      3,472
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      -23.8%
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      46,115
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      0.0%
      0
      0
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      0.0%
              Honda Division
      0
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      0.0%
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      0
      0
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      0.0%
              Acura Division
      0
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      0.0%
      0.0%
      0
      0
      0.0%
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      97,178
      90,247
      7.7%
      7.7%
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      90,247
      7.7%
      7.7%
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      266
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      4,177
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      9,202
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      98
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    • By William Maley
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      Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Chrysler
      Model: Pacifica
      Trim: Touring L
      Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400
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      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22
      Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario
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      As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
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      View full article
    • By William Maley
      There is one vehicle that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has to get right the first time - the minivan. The company is credited for creating this vehicle segment back in the eighties with the introduction of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. Each subsequent version brought forth some new improvement or feature that put it ahead of the pack. But due to the bankruptcy in 2009 and subsequent merger with Fiat, plans for the next-generation Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan were pushed back. This left the old model struggling against some fresh competition in the form of the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna. 
      But last year, Chrysler surprised everyone with a new minivan. Wearing the Pacifica nameplate, the van was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a sleek design, handsome interior, and the option of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The bigger surprise was that Chrysler would be the only brand getting the new van. The Dodge Caravan would continue in its current incarnation for a few years to provide a low-cost option for those shoppers. Has Chrysler pulled a rabbit out its hat or has the unthinkable happened and the Pacifica trails the competition?
      The first thing to take in about the new Pacifica is how good-looking it is. The design comes courtesy of the 700C that debuted quietly a few years back at the Detroit Auto Show. The rounded front end is reminiscent of the recently departed 200 with a narrow grille and headlights, chrome trim along the edges of the grilles, and a sculpted hood. The side profile shows off two character lines; one running from the front fender to the chrome trim for the windows and another running through the door handles and curving into the rear fender. We would only make one slight change to the Pacifica. Our Touring L tester featured 17-inch wheels that looked a bit small for a vehicle this size. We would go for the larger 18-inch wheels that fill in the wheel wells much better.
      Anyone who has been in the last-generation Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Caravan knows the interior was well past its sell-by date. When pitted against competitors, the two vans came up very short in terms of design, materials, space for cargo and passengers; and infotainment. Step inside the Pacifica and it is clear that Chrysler has done its homework. The design is much more modern with flowing lines and contrasting colors. It also feels more spacious than the outgoing vans thanks to some smart decisions such as the removal of the center console to allow for an open floor between driver and passenger, and the use of a knob for the transmission. Material quality has also seen a noticeable improvement with many surfaces now boasting soft-touch plastics. It wouldn’t be crazy to say the Chrysler Pacifica is ahead of everyone when it comes to the interior.
      Depending on the trim, you can order the Pacifica with seating for seven or eight people. Our Touring L featured the eight-seat layout with a removable middle seat for the third row. It will take you a few moments to figure out how to remove the seat, but once you do, it is quite easy to remove and install the seat. The rest of the seats feature Chrysler’s Stow ’n Go folding system where the seats can fold into compartments in the floor to provide a flat load area. Cargo area is in line with the current crop of minivans with 32.3 cubic feet behind the third row, 87.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 140.5 cubic feet with both rows folded. As for passengers, both rows of rear seats provide an excellent amount of head and legroom. Getting into the third row is much easier thanks to second-row seats offering a tilt function.
      FCA has equipped the Pacifica with the newest version of their UConnect system. The interface may look similar to the older UConnect system, but there are a number of changes that help catapult this new version towards the top of the infotainment system list. First, the new system is much sharper thanks to the new fonts and an updated screen that provides improved brightness levels. FCA has also improved the overall performance of the system, meaning no slow downs when going between various functions. One item we cannot comment on is navigation as our test Pacifica didn’t come with it.
      Power for the Pacifica comes from the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front-wheels only. It might not be the fastest van on the road (that honor falls to the Toyota Sienna), but Pacifica comes very close. Power comes on a smooth and steady rate. You’ll find yourself not wanting more power when merging onto a freeway or trying to make a pass. FCA has seemed to get its act together with the nine-speed automatic transmission. Issues with clunky shifts and gear hunting have been mostly ironed out. The transmission now features smooth and quick upshifts. The only item we would want FCA to work on is the transmission’s hesitation to downshift in certain situations such as making a pass.
      EPA fuel economy for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica is rated at 18 City/28 Highway/22 Combined. Our week mostly spent in the city returned 23.2 mpg.
      The primary concern when it comes to a van’s ride and handling characteristics is providing maximum comfort and the Pacifica delivers. The suspension delivers a smooth ride even on some of the rough roads on offer from Metro Detroit area. An added bonus is how well the Pacifica isolates road and wind noise from coming inside. At highway speeds, only a whisper of wind noise makes it inside. But the Pacifica becomes a bit of a surprise when it comes to handling. Despite its large size, FCA’s engineers made the Pacifica feel quite nimble. The steering might not give that impression as it feels somewhat light when turning. But go around a corner and the van feels more like a midsize sedan than a van. 
      It has been a long time coming for a new minivan from FCA and the good news is that they haven’t dropped the ball. The Pacifica may not have ripped up the rulebook when it comes to minivans, but it sure has expanded or rewritten bits of it. From a surprising balance of ride and handling characteristics to the best interior in the class, it is clear that FCA wants to reclaim the crown of the best minivan. But there one thing that we need to address and that is FCA’s poor reliability history. No matter which survey or study look at, more often than not, FCA’s core brands are towards the bottom. What does this mean for the Pacifica? We can’t say for right now, but this could be the one thing that makes or breaks Chrysler’s new van.
      For right now, the Pacifica is at the top of the class.
      Disclaimer: Chrysler Provided the Pacifica, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Chrysler
      Model: Pacifica
      Trim: Touring L
      Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
      Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 287 @ 6,400
      Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4,000
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/28/22
      Curb Weight: 4,330 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Windsor, Ontario
      Base Price: $34,495
      As Tested Price: $36,880 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Audio Group - $895.00
      8 Passenger Seating - $495.00
    • By William Maley
      They say timing is everything. As I mentioned in our quick drive piece of 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the automaker announced a refreshed version for 2017. Changes included a revised exterior, improved interior materials, and a revised EyeSight active safety system. Once we heard about the refresh, we knew we need to get one in for review. That’s what happened this past fall as a 2017 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring arrived at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage. The XT is the important bit as it means we have the turbo engine.
      Let us begin with the engine as this is one of the best points of the Forester. The XT gets a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four producing 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and all-wheel drive. The turbo engine solves some of the issues we had in the previous Forester. The 2.5i wasn’t as responsive as we would have liked and it takes its sweet time to get up to higher speeds. With the turbo engine, the Forester leaps into action. Yes, it does a take a moment for the turbo to spool up. But once it does, the engine delivers power at a steady and smooth rate.  Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is one of the better CVTs on the market. Part of this comes from the simulated gear changes Subaru has programmed for the CVT. This will fool most people into thinking that the transmission is a standard automatic. Also, the CVT doesn’t have much of a groan when you decide to floor the accelerator. The downside to the turbo engine is fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0XT stand at 23 City/27 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week was 24.7 MPG. If you’re expecting Subaru to make some changes to the suspension and/or steering for the Forester 2.0XT, then you’ll be very disappointed. The 2.0XT is the same as the 2.5i we drove earlier. That means a smooth ride over some of the worst roads Michigan has on offer, but a fair amount of body roll when going around a corner.  Changes for the 2017 Forester’s exterior include a new grille design, LED accent lights for the head and taillights; and a new set of wheels. The XT also gets a more aggressive front bumper. While the Forester is still a box, at least the changes have made it a bit more stylish. The interior remains mostly unchanged when compared to the 2016 model. The only change we noted is the option of brown leather for the XT Touring that is used for the seats and various parts of the dash and doors. It is a nice touch, but it would have been nice if Subaru had gone a bit further with the luxury touches - especially considering the price of our tester. Subaru has upgraded their EyeSight system for 2017 by installing a new set of color stereo cameras. Subaru says the new cameras allow better detection of various objects and a wider range of monitoring. We believe it as the updated system was able to detect vehicles slightly faster than the previous system when using the adaptive cruise control system. There is one big issue for the 2017 Forester 2.0XT Touring, price. The base price is $34,295. Equipped with an option package that brings a larger screen for the Starlink infotainment system, EyeSight, and reverse automatic braking, the as-tested price comes to $36,765. Taking into consideration for what you get for the price, the Forester 2.0XT Touring isn’t worth it considering you can get into some luxury crossovers for around the same price. You can get the Forester 2.0XT in the Premium trim which kicks off at $29,295, but you cannot get EyeSight as an option. If you really want a Forester with a turbo engine, wait for 2.0XT Touring to hit the used car lot as it will become a slightly better value. Otherwise, skip the 2.0XT and go with the Forester 2.5i or another crossover. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester 2.0XT Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Subaru
      Model: Forester
      Trim: 2.0XT Touring
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC GDI Boxer-Four
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 2,000 - 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/27/25
      Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: OTA, Gunma, Japan
      Base Price: $34,295
      As Tested Price: $36,765 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Option Package 34 - $1,595.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      They say timing is everything. As I mentioned in our quick drive piece of 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, the automaker announced a refreshed version for 2017. Changes included a revised exterior, improved interior materials, and a revised EyeSight active safety system. Once we heard about the refresh, we knew we need to get one in for review. That’s what happened this past fall as a 2017 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring arrived at the Cheers & Gears Detroit garage. The XT is the important bit as it means we have the turbo engine.
      Let us begin with the engine as this is one of the best points of the Forester. The XT gets a turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four producing 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and all-wheel drive. The turbo engine solves some of the issues we had in the previous Forester. The 2.5i wasn’t as responsive as we would have liked and it takes its sweet time to get up to higher speeds. With the turbo engine, the Forester leaps into action. Yes, it does a take a moment for the turbo to spool up. But once it does, the engine delivers power at a steady and smooth rate.  Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is one of the better CVTs on the market. Part of this comes from the simulated gear changes Subaru has programmed for the CVT. This will fool most people into thinking that the transmission is a standard automatic. Also, the CVT doesn’t have much of a groan when you decide to floor the accelerator. The downside to the turbo engine is fuel economy. EPA fuel economy figures for the 2.0XT stand at 23 City/27 Highway/25 Combined. Our average for the week was 24.7 MPG. If you’re expecting Subaru to make some changes to the suspension and/or steering for the Forester 2.0XT, then you’ll be very disappointed. The 2.0XT is the same as the 2.5i we drove earlier. That means a smooth ride over some of the worst roads Michigan has on offer, but a fair amount of body roll when going around a corner.  Changes for the 2017 Forester’s exterior include a new grille design, LED accent lights for the head and taillights; and a new set of wheels. The XT also gets a more aggressive front bumper. While the Forester is still a box, at least the changes have made it a bit more stylish. The interior remains mostly unchanged when compared to the 2016 model. The only change we noted is the option of brown leather for the XT Touring that is used for the seats and various parts of the dash and doors. It is a nice touch, but it would have been nice if Subaru had gone a bit further with the luxury touches - especially considering the price of our tester. Subaru has upgraded their EyeSight system for 2017 by installing a new set of color stereo cameras. Subaru says the new cameras allow better detection of various objects and a wider range of monitoring. We believe it as the updated system was able to detect vehicles slightly faster than the previous system when using the adaptive cruise control system. There is one big issue for the 2017 Forester 2.0XT Touring, price. The base price is $34,295. Equipped with an option package that brings a larger screen for the Starlink infotainment system, EyeSight, and reverse automatic braking, the as-tested price comes to $36,765. Taking into consideration for what you get for the price, the Forester 2.0XT Touring isn’t worth it considering you can get into some luxury crossovers for around the same price. You can get the Forester 2.0XT in the Premium trim which kicks off at $29,295, but you cannot get EyeSight as an option. If you really want a Forester with a turbo engine, wait for 2.0XT Touring to hit the used car lot as it will become a slightly better value. Otherwise, skip the 2.0XT and go with the Forester 2.5i or another crossover. Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester 2.0XT Touring, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Subaru
      Model: Forester
      Trim: 2.0XT Touring
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC GDI Boxer-Four
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 250 @ 5,600
      Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 2,000 - 4,800
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 23/27/25
      Curb Weight: 3,686 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: OTA, Gunma, Japan
      Base Price: $34,295
      As Tested Price: $36,765 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Option Package 34 - $1,595.00
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