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Subaru readying new boxer four family

by Andrew Ganz

After 20 years in production, it's time for Subaru to refresh its trademark flat four. According to a report, a new engine will debut this fall in the Forester.

Subaru's trademark flat "boxer" four-cylinder gasoline engine, used in nearly all of its products globally, is nearing its 20th birthday. To celebrate, the Japanese automaker is planning to retire its current engine family by launching a new variant by the end of 2010 first in the popular Forester.

In the Forester, the new boxer engine will be mated to a CVT - likely a similar unit to the one introduced in the 2010 Legacy and Outback.

According to Japan's Nikkei Sangyo daily, the four-cylinder will be about 10 percent more efficient than the current offering and it will be available in all of Subaru's major volume models, including the Legacy and Outback, Impreza and Exiga (a van sold in Japan).

Look for displacement between 2.0 and 2.5 liters, although it's expected that Subaru will offer several variants of the flat four - almost certainly including a turbocharged variant. Direct injection seems likely, especially since Subaru hinted that it planned to use the technology when it unveiled the last year.

If the 10 percent fuel economy improvement holds true, a Forester equipped with the new four-cylinder should be rated at around 22-23 mpg in the city and 29-30 mpg on the highway. It's unclear how much of an improvement the CVT will make, although it helps push Subaru's Legacy to 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway - by far the best overall fuel economy of any Subaru offered in the United States.

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