Subaru Forester Review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The Subaru Forester takes the spotlight in this review. But is this SUV only good for country spaces? Read on to find out.

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Breaking the stereotypes

If you own a dog, a horse or a tweed jacket, you might want this Subaru Forester. It has that odd rural image that goes well with the likes of country landowner types. The SUV also looks out of place not towing anything, so maybe if you have a horsebox or a caravan to pull, you’ll like this all-wheel-drive vehicle, too.

But, like all stereotypes, the Forester shouldn’t always be cast in this light. Subaru is a popular brand out in Japan, where it’s made, and the States. It’s also a marque European countries, like Latvia, lap up like no tomorrow.

Alas, the UK hasn’t cottoned on to Subaru, at least not since the rally days of the WRX STI. And those times have well and truly gone.

Subaru Forester front

So, shotguns, wellies and membership forms to strange countryside organisations aside, what does the Forester offer? Space for five-up, a boot large enough for everyone – and loads of safety kit.

Oh, yes, and heaps of grip, due to the aforementioned all-wheel-drive system. It also possesses left-field looks. It isn’t pretty, but at least it stands out in the crowded – and often bland – SUV market.  

An automatic that takes it easy

Behind the wheel, don’t expect Range Rover Sport levels of power – or even warm hatch acceleration. This is an SUV that makes a lot of noise when pushed, but it doesn’t seem to get anywhere very quickly. It’ll sit happily at 65-70mph on cruise control, and it’ll potter about around town and country lanes – although it drinks fuel far too greedily.

Subaru interior

Its highly-strung CVT auto transmission saves your left foot from any clutch work, but boy, does it sound strained. The car also sounds like an old motor with its choke pulled out at startup. You can almost feel the petrol being guzzled on tick-over.

The most I managed out of my Forester all week was 40.1mpg. And that was on a cruise from the Midlands to Norfolk. Any school run activity sent the car into mid-20s mpg territory. 

But if you want an SUV with lots of glass, and therefore loads of visibility, this car works well. It’s also comfortable for the two front-seat occupants. Mind you, my kids all complained that it was the only car they hadn’t fallen asleep in for ages because “the back seats are hard, dad!” First world problems, eh?

Subaru boot size

So, rather than going for this 2.0i XE Premium Lineartronic Forester, get yourself the e-Boxer version. It can’t promise you softer rear seats, but the Subaru has a hybrid powertrain. It’s, therefore, more of an efficient real-world drive.

For now, the standard, older fourth-gen Forester, on test here, is still worthy of consideration – and dealers might have a few going cut-price, seeing as Subaru wants to push e-Boxer sales. So, pop along and test-drive one – but leave your tweed jacket, and horse, at home.

Fast Facts (Subaru Forester 2.0i XE Premium Lineartronic – as tested)

  • Max speed: 119 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 11.8 seconds
  • Combined MPG: 43.5
  • Engine layout: 1995cc 4-cylinder petrol
  • Max. power (PS): 150
  • CO2: 168 g/km           
  • Price: £32,515