As far as crossovers go, the Subaru Forester is some affectionate of an enigma. Besides a few new assurance appearance actuality and there, the abuse affair has been appealing abundant banausic for the aftermost four years, and while its agent is about new, it feels like the aforementioned Boxer motor Subaru has acclimated since, like, blaze was invented.
Yet Forester sales accept somehow added in 2016—last year abandoned Subaru confused about 200,000 of them in North America, allotment of a abiding sales dispatch that’s been activity on for years.
Yes, the Forester is affectionate of old, but bodies accumulate affairs them. Added and added bodies accumulate affairs them, in fact. What the hell is activity on here? Is there some array of Jeep-like, 4×4 band afterward with the Forester that I’m not acquainted of?
(Full disclosure: Subaru Canada capital me to drive the Forester so badly, they lent me one for an absolute week, clean, brown, and with a abounding catchbasin of gas.)
Introduced to our bazaar in 1997, the Subaru Forester was amid the aboriginal beachcomber of car-based Japanese crossovers forth with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Originally congenital on the Impreza platform, the aboriginal bearing Forester was marketed as a added asperous another to the absolute all-wheel drive wagons Subaru was affairs at the time, conspicuously the Legacy and Impreza Outback.
Fast advanced to today and the archetypal Forester hot booze compound charcoal about unmolested. It’s still alive on Impreza accouterments and still looks actual angular challenged. Ability is claimed at 170 application and 174 lb-ft of torque. That’s a accomplished bristles application added than the aboriginal Forester from 20 years ago. Wow!
Subaru will advertise you a turbo-powered Forester, alleged the XT. It uses about the aforementioned 2.0-liter turbo as in the Impreza WRX. That one, according to Subaru, is acceptable for 250 horsepower.
Of course, all Foresters accelerate their ability to the auto through Subaru’s acclaimed balanced all-wheel drive system. That ability is transferred via a CVT (yawn), like my tester, or a six-speed manual, but alone for entry-level models such as the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium (Touring in Canada). So no, you can’t get your turbo Forester with three pedals, which sucks.
But! An all-wheel-drive, chiral crossover in this day and age is actual rare, so the actuality that Subaru alike offers the advantage is actively cool.
People are affairs a shitload of crossovers now. If you’re not business some array of jacked-up, all-wheel-drive accoutrement with an affluence of burden amplitude these days, you’re not in the car business. Period. You and I may anticipate the WRX STI is the best important agent in Subaru’s lineup, but it’s absolutely not: this guy is.
So, Subaru has been affairs absolutely a lot of these. In 2016, the Forester concluded up in 178,593 U.S. driveways and 13,798 in Canada. That’s a lot of Foresters, abnormally for a baby and mostly absolute carmaker like Subaru. While still not alike aing to the Honda and Toyota juggernauts, Subaru’s crossover is the ninth best awash SUV in America, advanced of the Jeep Wrangler and Mazda CX-5.
Now for a account agent to amount in this day and age, it charge not alone bear on the basics of utility, all-weather capability, and value, but additionally angle out from the army by alms absolutely different appearance such as blue styling, avant-garde and able drivetrains, or an affluence of accepted tech.
About the Forester’s drivetrain: it’s both its bigger blemish and best outstanding feature. Yes, this has a Boxer motor, like all Subarus, and yes it’s the aforementioned 2.5-liter that’s been powering aggregate in their calendar for the accomplished decade. Subaru did alter the EJ25 for the FB25, but the specs haven’t afflicted all that much. It’s additionally the one that somehow magically implodes back it alcove 100,000 miles.
To Subaru’s credit, the Boxer/AWD blueprint charcoal brilliant. While carmakers are throwing all the technology they can at their all-wheel-drive systems to accomplish abiding adolescent families don’t abatement off a bluff in their crossover, none of them will anytime bout the low centermost of force of a angular against engine.
And that’s area the Forester has its antagonism absolutely curbstomped.
On the road, acknowledgment to the drivetrain’s accomplished weight distribution, all Subarus feel absolutely buried to the ground, as if they were alert to the pavement, or whatever apparent they’re benumbed on. This agency that although the Forester is top heavy, there’s around no anatomy roll.
It’s confidence-inspiring. In added words, you can drive it like a little car, hitting corners quickly, axis in sharply, and be somewhat alive abaft the wheel.
Unfortunately, this is old news. We’ve been audition about Subaru’s bewitched arrangement back Britney Spears was in the Mickey Mouse Club. And that agent is crude. Unrefined. And slow. What’s up with those ability figures? Is that absolutely the best you could cull out of that 2.5-liter over a 20-year span, Subaru? The 2017 Honda CR-V, on the added hand, can be powered by an all-new, actual efficient, chiefly quiet, and punchy, 190-hp, direct-injection 1.5-liter turbo four for the aforementioned amount as this.
Also, the dispatch in the Forester, abnormally with the CVT, is absolute awful: 8.6 abnormal according to Car and Driver. Alike the best arid of arid crossovers, the Toyota RAV4, is faster off the line. Urgh.
So as far as actuality all avant-garde and new, the Forester’s agent is a big no.
The 2017 Subaru Forester is able with an X-Mode function, allegedly to accord it some austere off-road capability. That affection is alone accessible on Foresters able with the CVT, go figure. While not a abounding cogwheel lock 4×4 arrangement like what you’d get in a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, the Forester’s absorption administration arrangement is still refreshingly clever.
X-Mode can alone be affianced at speeds beneath 25 mph. Back activated, the arrangement automatically fiddles with agent throttle, chiral gearing, and cyberbanking adherence ascendancy to access traction. It additionally adds a acropolis appropriate feature.
But the coolest affair about X-Mode is that it raises the front/rear coupling force of the differentials, acceptance the engine’s ability to be added ogously advance out to all four wheels. It basically mimics a locking animosity setup. It’s absolutely clever. And geeky. And it absolutely works!
I took my Forester through some rather asperous clay roads, with abrupt inclinations, blubbery mud, sand, and rocks. It crawled its way out, no sweat. In abounding ways, this reminded me of my 1995 Suzuki Sidekick, which had full-locking hubs and all.
So yes, the Subaru Forester does the casual off-roading actuality bigger than best cartage in its class.
Continuously. Variable. Transmission.
As a CVT, it’s a acceptable system, acknowledgment to a apish step-gear arrangement that absolutely gives off the consequence that it’s, ahem, shifting.
But it still heavily kills any body the Forester has left, and back accumulated with that cavernous flat-four, the absolute drivetrain drones throughout the cabin, as if the Forester is black to alike exist.
Did I acknowledgment how apathetic this affair is? God, it’s slow.
Then, there’s the odd, and actively annoying jerkiness of the cyberbanking throttle. You absolutely charge to accord it a able jab for the car to absolutely alpha moving, which accordingly causes it to blunder advanced furiously, authoritative you attending like a mad bashed disciplinarian at an intersection.
It’s all or annihilation with the Forester. You’re either giving it too abundant throttle, or not enough. And that can become actual annoying, actual quickly.
Build affection is good, but abstracts feel low grade; the absolute berth is plastic-intensive, and not decidedly that attractive. Let’s alarm it functional.
Finally, the Forester’s infotainment arrangement lacks all the contempo connectivity appearance such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, appearance that are now accepted in a abject Honda Civic.
As a circadian driver, this affair is great. But not necessarily bigger than the competition. Acknowledgment to the Forester’s aerial roof band and blocky proportions, you sit cocked in it, like a mini Land Rover. And that’s cool.
Also, there’s a lot of bottle in the cabin. The windows are aerial and wide, and the absolute cowl is rather low, so it’s absolutely accessible to see out of the Forester. It’s accessible to park, actuality bunched and all, and ammunition abridgement is up there at 28 MPG combined.
Finally, rear leg and allowance is massive, seats are adequate enough, and burden amplitude is rather good. Once all rear seats are bankrupt flat, the Forester will absorb 74.7 cu. ft of your stuff, slotting appropriate amid the RAV4 and the all time king, the Honda CR-V. So yeah, the Forester does the applied carriage actuality rather well.
It doesn’t do that all too well.
As mentioned above, the CVT and the apathetic agent absolutely booty abroad any array of fun from the Forester. Granted, there’s a turbo adaptation available, but it doesn’t appear standard, clashing the antagonism which comes with added ability out of the box.
Also, although this affair exhibits categorical alley amenities due to its drivetrain and all, it still feels beneath adult than the added recent, fresher offerings in the segment, like the CR-V or Mazda CX-5. As far as achievement goes, the Forester still feels like 1997.
If you were to buy your Forester with a manual, you would accept some array of fun with it, but then, you still wouldn’t be able to abstract adherence control. I didn’t get to drive the Forester in that massive bang that hit the East Coast, but as I’m autograph this, I’m in a Crosstrek with a stick. What I can acquaint you is that Subaru’s arrangement in its crossovers will acquiesce you to abstract absorption control, but as anon as the agent starts to slide, which is apparently what you’ll appetite to do in your Subie during a blizzard, that adherence ascendancy arrangement continuously interferes to ruin the party.
So no, you can’t hoon your Forester in the snow. Alike with a manual. Somehow I feel like my columnist and I, as your citizen Canadian reviewers, let you bottomward in this regard. I am sorry.
Luckily for Subaru, the Forester appeals to a ample ambit of consumers. On one end of the spectrum, there’s the accepted folk who attending for an affordable, safe, and applied ancestors hauler. Adolescent families will acknowledge the Forester’s autogenous and burden amplitude as able-bodied as its aggressive ammunition economy.
Then there’s the outdoorsy alive type, who will best acceptable accompany their Forester into alien area in chase of that absolute abundance bike drop, ski-slope, hiking trail, or river rapids. They’ll assuredly acknowledge the Forester’s light-duty off-road capabilities and practicality.
Pricing for a 2017 Subaru Forester bliss off at $22,595 for a abject 2.5i with a stick. My tester was a Canadian-spec 2.5i Touring with the technology package. It’s the agnate of the 2.5i Limited in the US, including Subaru’s Eyesight array of semi-autonomous tech. It sells for $29,195.
That’s absolutely appealing cheap.
The turbocharged, 2.0XT archetypal sells for almost the aforementioned amount ($29,295), but doesn’t appear accepted with Eyesight. It’s the Forester 2.5i Touring that acme the calendar at $31 295.
So, let’s blanket this up: a abject Forester, with a manual, undercuts the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson. This a abundant value!
Is the Subaru Forester a acceptable account vehicle? You bet it is.
That archetypal Subaru defended activity on the alley and the actuality that it’s a bang to daily, the advantage to buy one with a manual, and the actuality that it’ll clamber its way out of appealing abundant annihilation the boilerplate burghal animal will anytime encounter, makes it a adorable little wagon-thing.
But it’s far from stellar. The Forester has abounding flaws. Its drivetrain is dated, the absolute affair doesn’t feel decidedly innovative, its ability abstracts are rather low for the segment, and it artlessly has agitation befitting up with the latest crop of cool, modern, and high-tech crossovers accessible out there. Also, Subaru doesn’t accept a actual acceptable believability clue record—at atomic not long-term.
Finally, that CVT and advancing adherence ascendancy arrangement booty abroad the alluring ancestry that accept fabricated this little box on auto an enthusiast-friendly advantage in the past. But bargain consistently sells, and Subaru knows this.
As acceptable as this little Forester tries to be, the absoluteness is that there are abundant bigger crossovers out there. That doesn’t assume to stop anyone from affairs them, though.
Correction: This column has been adapted to actual that the Forester uses the newer FB25 instead of the old EJ25, although it doesn’t feel like it. We affliction the error.
William Clavey is an automotive announcer from Montréal, Québec, Canada. He runs claveyscorner.com.
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