It's one of the few compact SUVs that continues to offer a manual transmission, particularly with all-wheel drive, and at 15 feet long, the Forester is both nimble and nicely sized inside and out.
It's also a recommended buy of Consumer Reports and was among the top three compact SUVs in J.D. Power and Associates' most recent Dependability Study.
For 2011, a new, four-cylinder engine boosts the base Forester's fuel mileage. But given the soaring gasoline prices this year, the Forester's mileage improvement for 2011 is slight - just one more mile per gallon in city and highway driving. Some other smallish SUVs have higher fuel mileage ratings.