Subaru Forester Review & Prices
The Subaru Forester is impressively capable and solidly built, but its rugged nature comes at a cost of comfort and quality
What's not so good
Find out more about the Subaru Forester
In a way, the Forester is like opting to live in a log cabin in the woods. Refreshingly basic and great for the outdoorsy personality, but you’re compromising on luxury. It’s the kind of car to consider alongside the Nissan X-Trail and Toyota Rav4 if you’re looking for a rough-road capable SUV.
The rugged nature of the Subaru Forester is plain to see. Its massive ground clearance, chunky cladding and big tyres make sure you know it’s capable. Standard-fit 17-inch alloy wheels look lost in the wheel arches as a result, but the better-looking 18-inch option results in a hit in ride comfort.
Similarly, once you hop in the Forester and start poking things, you’ll get a sense of where the priorities lie. Build quality is really good and everything feels appropriately chunky, but there’s not a great deal in the way of luxurious-feeling materials. Some surfaces get faux leather, but there are a lot of plastics to contend with.
All versions of the Subaru Forester come equipped with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The software itself is pretty basic, and the screen’s not all that responsive, but it does come with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Satellite navigation is only available from mid-spec models up, but you’d be better off mirroring your phone’s maps app anyway.
Stacked on top of that is a second screen that can provide further driving info, as well as off-road-relevant telemetry.
Like wearing wellies, the Subaru Forester is pretty capable in rough stuff - but there are many other options for day-to-day life
Space in the back seats is quite impressive with the Forester. Its boxy shape lends well to headroom, and you’ve got a lot of legroom to work with. Even your tallest passengers should find it a pretty comfy place to be sat.
With 509 litres to work with, the Subaru Forester doesn’t have the biggest boot out there. For comparison, a Nissan X-Trail offers 575 litres and a Toyota Rav4 580 litres. Still, it’s very usable - and a squared-off opening with no load lip makes packing things in dead easy.
Powering the Forester is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine (in which the pistons lay flat, like two boxers pulling punches at each other) paired up to a small electric motor. In total, the system produces 150hp which is sent to all four wheels through a CVT gearbox.
Official economy figures have the Subaru Forester returning up to 34.7mpg, and emitting 185g/km of CO2. A week of real-world testing of the car returned a touch under 30mpg. For comparison, a similar Nissan X-Trail’s official figure sits at 39.9mpg.
Perhaps the Subaru Forester’s driving quality is its visibility. Big windows and that boxy shape lend really well to seeing out, aided further by its high driving position. You’ll also get front and rear cameras as standard.
Sadly, the Forester quickly begins to unfold from there. Steering feels nice and light at low speeds, but it rides surprisingly poorly - meaning you’ll feel a lot of bumps and lumps in the road through your backside. There’s a shedload of noise too, both from the agricultural boxer engine and plenty of road noise. You do at least get adaptive cruise control as standard, and Subaru’s system is one of the best out there.
On a twisty road, the Forester’s slack suspension results in quite a bit of leaning through bends, and there’s not much precision in the steering. It’s not one for sheer fun.
There are a few reasons to suggest a Forester. Maybe you live on a farm and need something to tackle fields and rougher roads, or maybe you’re in a part of the UK that gets particularly harsh in the winter.
However, for the vast majority of people, it just won’t drive as well or be as comfortable to live with as most other SUVs in its class - nor does it undercut them on price. You’d be better off with a Nissan X-Trail if you need that occasional off-road ability, too.
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.