Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good The current generation Forester (launched in Australia back in early 2008) is significantly larger and has thankfully addressed previous interior space issues by being longer, wider & taller (yet still isn’t sized like a truck). The doors are now framed around the windows (unlike previous Forester’s) to reduce interior noise.
Not so good Interior dash design, whilst practical, doesn’t feel as classy as a number of competitors. The framed window's means it loses some of the unique Subaru styling...
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good A practical place for the family with plenty of storage compartments. Comfortable seating all 'round with decent levels of room up front and in the second row. Large boot space with a full-size spare tyre, PLUS, the rear seat folds flat to create an even larger cargo space when needed.
Not so good You probably won’t think you're riding in an über-luxury vehicle; the look and feel of the matt-grey plastics don’t help to lift the interior ambience (more soft touch plastics on the dash would help) nor does the high number of contrasting surfaces.
Performance

Performance

Good 2.5L Turbo petrol engine has plenty of get up 'n go and offers generous amounts of mid-range power. (However, sometimes the performance can actually feel more than ideal considering the relatively soft suspension on offer). The 2.0D grade (arriving Down Under in June 2010) is the first ever Turbo Diesel Forester and offers impressively economical motoring (the official combined fuel economy is only 6.4L per 100kms).
Not so good The naturally-aspirated (that’s the non-turbo) 2.5L Petrol engine can feel underpowered when teamed with the ageing 4-speed automatic gearbox (a five or six-speed auto would improve things). Plus, the non-turbo engine can be noisy at high revs.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Soft-feeling suspension provides a very comfortable ride. When driven in a relaxed manner one cannot really mark down the Forester for any of its ride & handling qualities (expect maybe the steering which is a little lacking in feedback about what's going on between your tyres and the road).
Not so good The comfortable ride comes at the expense of great handling during spirited driving. There's excessive amounts of body roll if you try to drive it like a sports car (however if this is what you expect to be doing most of the time, you probably know that you’d be better off in an Impreza STi WRX anyway). Steering would be nicer if it offered more driver feedback...
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Lots of safety features as standard on all grades including Electric Stability Control (ESC) and six airbags - resulting in an excellent safety star rating by government bodies. Of the two Petrol engines on offer, we think the non-turbo engine (less sporty) better suits the characteristics of the Forester. The price is pretty decent, especially considering the features on offer.
Not so good Subaru only offers the Forester 2.0D as a six speed manual - so if you're after frugal motoring and don't like changing gears...