The updated Subaru Forester is a smart, well-executed small SUV that boasts a roomy interior, great fuel economy, and plenty of standard safety equipment.
Beneath the familiar exterior design, Subaru has made a lot of improvements without altering the SUV’s sensible, no-nonsense character. The ride is comfortable and supple, the steering is responsive, and there’s little body lean around corners.
The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is a little more powerful but that doesn’t make the Forester any quicker. Sprinting from 0-60 mph takes 9.2 sec—which puts it on the slow side compared to other small SUVs. In the real world, however, the Forester has enough power to pass and merge successfully. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) has been refined to be less obtrusive, but drivers still hear a pronounced engine buzz under acceleration.
Fuel economy is impressive at 28 mpg overall, tying the Honda CR-V EX for the best mileage of any small SUV that isn’t a diesel or a hybrid.
Ride and handling have also improved. The Forester is adept at absorbing road imperfections, making it one of the better riding SUVs in the category. And yet, it benefits from responsive handling with less body roll and quicker steering than the previous version when rounding corners.
The spacious interior has controls that are easy to use, plenty of headroom, and some of the best visibility of any new vehicle. The driving position helps provide a commanding view of the road ahead. Most versions come with a power seat that is comfortable and supportive, thanks in part to its adjustable lumbar support.
As is often true for Subaru, the controls are simple to reach and use. The latest infotainment system is intuitive and responds quickly. It is also compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
On the utility front, the split seats fold nearly flat, leaving a slightly inclined surface for cargo. Opening the power liftgate exposes a wide, square-shaped space that can swallow a fair amount of bulky warehouse-store items. There’s even enough space with the rear seat folded down to fit a bicycle with both wheels on.
The Forester falters only when it comes to refinement. Despite upgraded soft-touch surfaces and additional padding, some interior materials look cheap. But what the SUV lacks in panache it makes up for in practicality.
Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist come standard.