Subaru Forester

The Essentials

  • Price from £23,120
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 47.9mpg
  • What is it? A spacious SUV which is competent off-road. However, plenty of rivals are better on it.

Great

  • Acres of passenger space, front and back
  • Smooth ride on all surfaces
  • Boot is absolutely enormous

Gripes

  • Interior is functional but dull
  • Petrol engine guzzles fuel but lacks power
  • Rather too much body wobble in corners
  • Drive

    Smooth ride, good driving position, but petrol engine is short of punch

  • Inside

    Easy-to-use and well set-out controls, but a couple of visibility blind spots

  • Safety

    Curtain airbags and stability control are standard, along with active headrests to help reduce whiplash in a shunt

  • Reliability

    Subarus are virtually indestructible, although interior is dull

  • Space

    Acres of room for passengers and drivers; boot is cavernous

  • Standard and extras

    Climate control and CD as standard, CD-changer and sunroof costs extra

  • What's it like to drive?

    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.

  • What's it like inside?

    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.

  • How reliable is it?

    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.

  • Should I buy one?

    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.