The 2009 Forester was voted #1 in a Motor Trend comparison of small SUVs, beating out 12 other contenders and receiving a unanimous vote.

The 2009 Forester was designed to be bigger, more powerful and more economical than the previous year model. It is a roomier version, with a 103-inch wheelbase that improves ride and interior space. Priced from $19,995, the Forester represents a $1,200 reduction over the entry price of the previous model.

It retains the reliability and safety found in the previous model, offering the latest in safety technology. It received the five-star ratings in frontal and side impact crash-testing and a four-star rating in rollover resistance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The judges based their decision on three criteria: value, impact on the market and superiority of engineering and design.

The improvements to the new Forester are also being reflected in consumer demand, with sales up 32% over the previous year.