Forester is unassuming but talented, a roomy family 4x4 estate with high reliability, gutsy engines and good equipment. It's nice to drive, surprisingly refined, and quick (though thirsty) in turbocharged XT form.
- Undercuts CR-V and Freelander on price
- Roomy, practical and well constructed
- Easy to drive and fairly lively
- Styling lacks inspiration; a bit dated
- Fuel and servicing costs are on the high side
- Not up to heavy off-road use
Forester wins points as a spacious family-friendly estate for sensible money. Its four-wheel drive capability reflects a longstanding Subaru strength; it can work hard, makes a good tow car, and drives confidently in all weathers, although it's not a real off-roader because of limited ground clearance. Handling is quite car-like, with excellent grip.
The second generation car is less boxy than its predecessor; it's better styled inside, too, with a good driving position and comfortable seats. Five plus luggage fit in easily. It's well equipped but not luxurious - materials are long-lasting but workaday fabric and plastic.
The flat-four cylinder 2.0-litre engines help make the car. They're torquey and give good acceleration. Even the basic 125bhp 2.0 makes 60mph in 11 seconds, while the 177bhp XT, which owes more than a nod to the Impreza Turbo, will see off many smaller, lighter cars. But use your right foot heavily, and fuel consumption climbs.
Need To Know
JD Power stars: 4
NCAP: Not tested
Quality & Reliability
Value for Money