Subaru Forester Review
The rather utilitarian Subaru Forester is one of the last remaining rugged SUVs. It’s great off-road and had a sturdy interior, but most family SUV buyers will prefer the more luxurious interiors and more comfortable drive of its myriad alternatives.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Feels well built
- Lots of space
- Well equipped
What's not so good
- Anonymous looks
- Poor on-road
- Unattractive interior
Subaru Forester: what would you like to read next?
Off-road ability is the main calling card of the Subaru Forester – its standard four-wheel-drive system providing traction in slippery conditions. The drawback is that the Subaru feels quite dated on road with its leaning body and overly soft suspension.
There’s ample passenger room and the boot can hold as much as rivals, but there are areas of the interior where the Forester falls behind – mainly in design and material choice.
The engine range is also stuck in the past with a choice of just one – a 2.0-litre petrol with 150hp that’s good for 119mph and a pretty pedestrian 0-62mph sprint time of 11.8 seconds.
Equipment on entry-level models is comparable to rivals, so you get an infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen, climate control, rear-view camera, electrically adjustable driver’s seat and cruise control.
It's the perfect car for a dog owner or an outdoorsy person
Those seeking a stylish interior, memorable looks and a dazzling drive may not be wowed by the idea of Forester ownership. Nevertheless, don’t completely rule it out – its proper four-wheel-drive system and hewn-from-rock build quality are sure to appeal to people looking for a proper four-wheel-drive SUV with second-to-none reliability.
So, as a car that will be able to transport family and luggage in relative comfort, while resisting wear and tear like few others – the Subaru is definitely worth considering. However, the family SUV game has moved on dramatically since the Forester was introduced and there are certainly more luxurious and comfortable choice for similar money these days.
There’s no doubt the Subaru Forester is a tough and durable car, solidly built and able to withstand anything a family can throw at it, but it’s easy to find something much more stylish
Despite the fairly low ground clearance the Forester has one of the grippiest four-wheel drive systems on sale.
Avoid the CVT automatic and you should be fine
The engine range is, well, not really a range, because you get a choice of just one – a 2.0-litre petrol with 150hp that’s good for 119mph and a pretty pedestrian 0-62mph sprint time of 11.8 seconds.
And perhaps not surprisingly, with its all-wheel-drive and standard automatic CVT gearbox, the Forester doesn’t manage particularly good fuel economy, either. Indeed, you can expect to get around 32mpg, which is bettered by all of its alternatives with their much larger engine ranges.
The Forester does without trick electronics like the ones in the Discovery Sport, but is a permanent system that will probably take you further than any of its more road-focused rivals.
Good as the Forester is in the rough stuff it’s almost as bad again on the open road. The steering is inaccurate, there’s lots of wind noise and a lot of body roll. Its standard automatic gearbox is especially bad, feeling lazy and out-dated.
It’s not all bad, however, because the suspension performs adequately at smoothing out lumps and bumps. Around town, the light steering makes navigating fairly easy.
Those using a Forester for towing will be pleased to know that it can pull up to 2,000kg and Subaru’s Trailer Stability Control will help prevent weaving and instability.