Smooth ride, good driving position, but petrol engine is short of punch
Easy-to-use and well set-out controls, but a couple of visibility blind spots
Curtain airbags and stability control are standard, along with active headrests to help reduce whiplash in a shunt
Subarus are virtually indestructible, although interior is dull
Acres of room for passengers and drivers; boot is cavernous
Climate control and CD as standard, CD-changer and sunroof costs extra
Don't bother with the 148bhp 2.0-litre petrol; there isn't much low-down pull, so you need to work the engine hard to make snappy progress. The 145bhp 2.0-litre diesel is a better bet, because it's impressively punchy throughout the rev range. The fact you need to rev the petrol engine makes it noisy; the diesel is smoother and quieter, but it still makes a racket above 3000rpm. The gearshift in both versions is notchy and imprecise. Whichever version you choose, the Forester's soft suspension is good at taking the sting out of bumps, but it causes the car to tip over in bends and bounce over crests. The steering spoils the party, too, because it's spongy and inaccurate.
You'll find it easy to get comfortable, because there's plenty of adjustment in the driver's seat and the steering wheel. There are one or two blind spots, but most of the switches are where you want them and most of the important controls are light and easy to use. There's acres of space in the front and back, and the rear seats recline to make life even better for back-seat passengers. The boot is large to begin with, and if you need even more space you can drop the rear seats to create a fully flat loadbay. All Foresters come with lots of kit included as standard. Whichever version you choose, you'll get self-levelling rear suspension, climate control, a CD player, cruise control and heaters for the front seats, mirrors and windscreen wipers.
Subaru doesn't sell enough cars to feature in ownership satisfaction surveys, such as JD Power, but the brand fared well in the most recent Reliability Survey. All Foresters have stability control, 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.
High running costs are just one reason to steer clear of the petrol model. The diesel makes much more sense, but even then the Forester isn't as accomplished as similarly priced rivals, such as the Audi Q3.