Subaru Forester 4x4 full 9 point review
Don't bother with the 148bhp 2.0-litre petrol version; it’s short of low- and mid-range punch, particularly when mated to the optional CVT automatic gearbox. The 2.0-litre diesel is a much better bet because it’s far more flexible, pulling strongly even from low revs. All Foresters get permanent four-wheel drive that shuffles power between the front and rear wheels automatically, so traction won’t be an issue.
Ride & Handling
The high-speed ride is good, so the Forester takes lumpy country roads in its stride. Things become fidgety at lower speeds, though, where the suspension struggles to cope with rough town surfaces. While body control and grip are both pretty good, you never feel like putting them to the test, because the Forester’s steering is vague and inconsistently weighted.
All the engines are smooth, but they sound strained at times. The diesel is noisy at high revs, and you’ll hear the non-turbo petrol engine a lot because you have to work it hard to make decent progress, especially when it’s paired with the CVT auto gearbox. At least wind and road noise aren’t too intrusive.
Buying & Owning
The turbocharged petrol model is expensive to buy, fuel and tax, and the non-turbo petrol doesn’t look good next to rivals, either. The cheapest Forester to buy and run is the diesel, which matches most rival for economy, if still falling a way short of the most efficient competitors out there.
Quality & Reliability
Subaru has an excellent reliability record, but unfortunately that robustness doesn’t guarantee an impression of high quality. The cabin feels solid, but is definitely functional rather than plush. Even the sat-nav unit in top-spec models looks like an afterthought.
Safety & Security
All Foresters have twin front and side airbags, plus curtain airbags that cover both rows of seats. The active anti-whiplash headrests will also give you better protection from whiplash injuries in a rear-end shunt. Stability control, hill-start assist and Isofix child-seat mountings are standard on all models. An engine immobiliser is on hand to keep your car safely where you parked it.
Behind The Wheel
XE models and above get eight-way electrically adjustable seats, but even the manual seat in entry-level models allows you to get comfortable, and the steering wheel has plenty of adjustment, too. The simple dashboard has large, user-friendly buttons, but both the standard and upgraded sat-nav systems are far too complicated.
Space & Practicality
Head- and legroom in both the front and rear seats is generous, although shoulder-room is tight for three in the back. Access to the large boot is good, and 60/40 split rear seats are standard, although they don’t fold totally flat. A powered tailgate is standard on the range-topping XT model.
We’d stick with the well equipped entry-level model; it gets air-con, heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated door mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity and a USB socket all as standard. Mid-spec cars get an electric driver’s seat, automatic lights and wipers and a rear-view camera, while the top trim gets bigger wheels, leather seats and sat-nav.