Getting in and out is a fairly easy affair although in the front there is a high sill.
Ride and Handling
Do not expect the Forester to drive like a hot hatch, it doesn’t – if pushed hard you will soon find its limitations, but then it is not designed to be driven like that. It is very happy on smooth ‘A’ roads, on twisty ‘B’ roads you will have to take it little slower, with evident body roll and pitching. On the motorway you will notice plenty of road and wind noise.
In summary the suspension is soft, but overall the ride quality is good but it does not inspire spirited driving.
Off Road Use
Apart from the permanent four-wheel system the Subaru Forester does have a high/low ratio gearbox which means unlike most of its competition it can venture off road.
Sadly we were unable to test the Forester too far off road – we were limited to green lanes and several tracks that lead to our home in Devon – which to be honest in the dry most two wheel drive cars would cope with.
However we did benefit from Subaru’s legendary all-wheel drive know how when leaving a wet field at a local country show, most people had to wait for a tow from a tractor – where we could smugly drive out with the minimum of fuss.
Standard ground clearance is 215mm, the drivetrain features full-time all-wheel drive with centre differential and viscous coupling plus Vehicle Dynamics Control.
Off road summary would conclude very capable but do not venture too far off-road.
Getting in and out is a fairly easy affair although in the front there is a high sill. The driver’s seat is electrically powered, but it does not memorize its position. The driving position is good and so is all round vision. The seats are leather on the ‘XS’ model, with the front ones being two-stage electrically heated. We found the seating supportive, but a little hard on the bottom and back.
Access to the rear is trouble-free with its near 90 degree opening doors. Rear seat passengers should be very happy as there is plenty of room in the back for three children, three adults might be a bit more of a squash.
The Forester could do with more storage up-front; there is only one cup holder and a smallish glove compartment, although there is a covered cubby hole between the seats.
The instrumentation is plain but functional as is the switchgear – nothing feels as though it is going to break off but it does feel a little dated. There is keyless entry and a starting button on the ‘XS’ model, so no fumbling for your keys on a dark rainy night.
The headlights are Xenon on the dipped-beam but the headlights are not auto-on nor are the wipers, which you would expect in this price bracket but you do benefit from dual-climate control and cruise control. Both the cruise control and audio systems controls are accessible from the steering wheel.
There is a reversing camera, which makes parking fairly easy but it doesn’t have parking sensors, either at the front or rear.
The boot opens on a hatchback principle with easy access in part thanks to there being no boot lip but it is quite shallow. The rear seats fold down remotely on a 60:40 basis by using levers at the rear sides of the boot.
The Subaru Forester has a foot print of 4560mm (l) x 1780mm (w) x 1700mm (h) – which compares to the Land Rover Freelander which is 4500mm (l) x 2195mm (w) x 1740 mm (h).
The luggage space will swallow up 450 litres of cargo with the 60/40 split seats in place with them down it will accommodate 1660 litres which compares to the Freelander’s 755/1670 litres.
It can tow braked trailers up to the weight of 1500 kg (750 kg unbraked) – the kerb weight is 1475 kg.
In summary the Forester is a practical, family/country pursuits orientated car, if not a little bland.