- Spacious interior
- Practical boot space
- Genuine off-road ability
- Unrefined interior
- Not great to drive on-road
- Expensive to run
Rugged, dependable off-roader.
When the Subaru Forester was first introduced in 1997, it was the first crossover car on our roads. Since then, the crossover market has exploded into life. But the Forester has stuck to its guns. Whereas most crossovers focus on on-road drivability, the Forester is a true off-roader. That means it’s not a match for its rivals when it comes to ride quality and comfort. But few can match it once you’re off the straight and narrow. It’s practical as well, and whilst interior quality does lag behind rivals, there’s no doubting the build quality.
The most recent update in 2012 saw a complete redesign, with a facelift, new engines with better fuel economy, and an all-new CVT gearbox.
Functionality above all else.
Stepping into a Forester is like taking a leap into the recent past. It’s certainly not a great design, but it’s hard to argue with the build quality. Practicality is also excellent, whilst equipment is generous, no matter which model you go for.
The dashboard design of the Forester looks a little dated compared to rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and the Mazda CX-5. Nevertheless, it’s simple, clean, and easy to get your head around. One criticism is the quality of materials used. No soft-touch materials on show here. Just hard, solid plastics, that are built to last. The controls, like the design, could do with an update. They’re not especially pleasant to the touch, but they do their job well, and at least feel solid.
Practicality is one of the Forester’s key selling points. Not only is there more than enough room in the back for adults, there’s also a huge amount of storage space. In the cabin, there’s lots of useful cubbyholes to pop your bits and bobs in. The boot is similarly ample. With 505 litres back there, there’s more than enough room for a full family’s worth of luggage. It’s bigger than the majority of its rivals as well, so if you’re in need of space, the Forester will definitely be a great option for you.
Equipment levels in the Forester are generous no matter which model you choose. The entry-level XC and XE trims come loaded with cruise control, a reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers, a sunroof, and Bluetooth connectivity. XC Premium, XE Premium, and XT models add leather seats, a touchscreen infotainment system, satnav, and LED lights.
All in all the inside of the Forester is a functional affair that’s built to withhold the tests of time. If you’re expecting luxury, and contemporary design, this isn’t the car for you. But for family buyers who just want a car that isn’t going to let them down over the years, the Forester is a great option.
Great off-road, not so good on it.
The Subaru Forester is a car that’s built to be a genuine off-roader. If you’re an adventurer who likes getting dirty, the Forester has enough in its locker to put a smile on your face. If your thrills come more on the road, the Forester will disappoint. The steering is light, and offers little feedback, whilst there’s a noticeable lack of grip through the corners. There’s also a fair amount of body lean when you enter a corner at speed, which can sometimes be a little unnerving.
Suspension and Chassis
The soft suspension might cause body roll, but it does allow the Forester to perform when it comes to comfort. It easily copes with poor road surfaces, and country park trails. At slower speeds it does bounce around a bit, but that’s only to be expected. There’s also a fair amount of road and wind noise when you get the Forester on a motorway, so you won’t want to be undertaking too many long journeys.
Gearbox options in the Forester come in two guises. The first is a six speed manual transmission. It’s far from smooth, and the gear change is both inaccurate and vague. It’s quite a long throw as well unfortunately. The second is a CVT automatic transmission. Popular amongst Japanese manufacturers, they haven’t taken off in the UK. In the Forester it’s clear why. They’re harsh, noisy, and the gearchange is notchy.
The diesel will be best suited to most buyers.
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Forester, you’ve got the usual two options: petrol, or diesel. There are two petrols on offer, but both are inefficient, noisy, and thirsty. The diesel isn’t great, but it’s definitely the one to go for.
If it’s power that you want from your Forester, the most potent engine on offer is the petrol-powered 2.0 litre engine. It produces a sizeable 241bhp, and will accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds. Pretty respectable for a car in this class. It doesn’t ever feel rapid however, but it will easily tow a large caravan with relative ease. Beware of the high running costs though, as it can only achieve a paltry 33.2mpg.
Eco-friendly buyers aren’t going to be best pleased with the range of engines in the Forester, despite it being a bona-fide outdoors-focused car. The greenest model is the diesel powered 2.0 litre engine. It’s far from green however, producing a sizeable 148g/km of CO2. This model is however the best on offer for money savers. Achieving nearly 50mpg is pretty decent for a car like the Forester. Though it will cost £145 to tax it each year.
All of the engines in the Forester range feel very dated when you compare them side by side with its crossover rivals. They offer enough power without a doubt, but this power comes at a premium.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests, with solid safety kit as standard..
Like nearly every car in its class, the Subaru Forester easily achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. With scores of 91% in adult safety, 91% in child safety, 73% in pedestrian safety, and 86% in safety assist, the Forester is one of the safest cars on the road. All that ruggedness is there for a reason- to keep you and your family safe, whatever the conditions. This is also helped by the lengthy safety kit list. Even entry-level models come with six airbags, anti-skid technology, Isofix points, and electronic stability control.
Decent value for money, so long as you buy used.
The Subaru Forester offers reasonable value for money, but not if you buy from new. It might not be that expensive, but its high running costs make it an expensive car to live with day-to-day, particularly if you go for a petrol model. But used models do offer better value for money. They will still cost the same to run each week, but at least you won’t have to take a huge depreciation hit.
Insurance groups for the Forester depend on which model you go for. It’s not the cheapest car to insure in the class, but it shouldn’t cost you too much. The range starts in group 23 for the entry-level 2.0 XE, and climbs up towards group 34 for the top of the range 2.0 XT Lineartronic.
Depreciation is a big factor with the Forester, but only if you choose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Subaru Forester is the last of the true genuine SUVs with serious off-road ability. It might not be the most stylish, the most economical, or the classiest. But with oodles of practical storage space, a robust interior, and an incredible safety record, it’s still a great family car. And if you want a car that can take you anywhere, the Forester takes some beating.
Buying a used Subaru Forester online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Subaru Forester for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Forester. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Subaru Forester online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Subaru? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Subaru Forester, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used Forester, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Subaru to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.