The Subaru Forester is one of the brand’s best-selling models and seats up to five passengers. As with all Subaru models except for the rear-drive BRZ, the Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive. The Forester offers an optional turbocharged four-cylinder, providing more power and torque than the standard naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter mill.
Debuting in the U.S. for the 1998 model year, the Subaru Forester was among the first entries into what’s now the compact crossover market, which was created by rivals like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Since its debut, the Forester separated itself from its competitors by offering a performance-minded trim level called the XT, which uses a version of the turbocharged flat-four found in the WRX sports sedan. However, in the U.S. market, the turbocharged Forester XT only began appearing in the crossover’s second generation.
Practicality remains one of the Forester’s best attributes thanks to its airy cabin and boxy exterior design, which puts usability and sensibility first. Over time, the Forester has evolved from a small, boxy wagon to a full-on crossover. The third-generation Forester won Motor Trend’s 2009 SUV of the Year award.
The Latest Generation
Like its predecessor, the fourth-generation Subaru Forester won Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year award for 2014. making it one of the few vehicles to win more than once. In a 2016 First Test. we said that despite the boxy styling, the Forester has excellent body control and ride. As with its predecessor, the Forester excels at being practical and functional. From an airy cabin that technical director Frank Markus likened to the “feel of riding in an old, vintage Range Rover or Isuzu Trooper” to its commanding view of the road, the Forester offers exceptional levels of practicality when compared to some of its rivals, which have swoopier exterior designs that cut into visibility and interior space.
In keeping with the sensibility theme, the Forester also has high safety ratings: five stars from NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS. Subaru’s EyeSight suite of active safety features, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure and sway warning, and lane keeping assist, is available on all but the base trim and the 2.0XT Premium trim.
Why You’d Consider One
Those looking for a compact crossover that has plenty of space for people and gear plus all-weather capability and high safety ratings may want to keep the Forester in mind. Should you want to turn your family-friendly crossover into a rally-ready turbocharged machine, the 250-hp Forester XT will serve your needs well regardless of whether you’re on or off the pavement.
Why You’d Look Elsewhere
You still want a true WRX wagon or hatchback and think the Forester XT won’t do as an alternative. If you’re also averse to the idea of driving vehicles with ultra-conservative exterior designs, then you may find the Forester too bland.
Body Types: SUV/Crossover