The Subaru Forester looks confident. While its front grill will not start any conversations there are other elements that will certainly do. You get LED headlamps with sharp DRLs. The headlamps also come with an auto levelling function that combine low and high beams and will respond according to your steering wheel to ensure maximum visibility around turns at night. You also get stylish LED fog lamps that have a large light coverage area, further aiding visibility.
Over on the side, the profile is an unmistakable SUV silhouette with strong character lines. The Forester sits 220mm high from the ground and drives on 18-inch alloys with thick spokes that look robust. Also, in a market of cars with plastic roof rails that like your appendix serve no purpose, the Forester comes with metal roof rails that not only look solid but can securely carry all your camping gear. Over on the back, you get an integrated roof spoiler and shark fin antenna to spice up the orthodox SUV design. You also have rear LED combination lamps, the C-shaped lamps giving a distinct look that represents functionality over form. To top up the exterior, Subaru has given the Forester a large chrome exhaust that looks absolutely amazing.
You get a cabin that is luxurious without looking old-fashioned: a blacked out affair with chrome bits dotted all around. The dials of the central infotainment display, the steering wheel controls, the air con dials and vents, the door handles and window switches, the gear knob and the gear console all are finished in chrome trims which add premium appeal to the cabin. The front seats are electrically adjustable and the driver side also comes with a two type memory function. The rear bench is equally padded and comfortable and easily accommodates three adults on a long journey. Plus, you get a sizable boot with a large opening and a powered tailgate that can carry more than a week’s worth of family luggage. If you need to carry more, there’s also the aforementioned roof rails to make you a happy camper.
Coming to the infotainment, the Subaru Forester has not one, not two, but three different screens. Let’s start with the smallest, 4.2 inch full-color LCD meter display placed between gauges on the instrument panel. The meter displace displays useful driving information at a quick glance. Next is a 6.3 inch LCD multifunction display placed on the top of the dash above the infotainment display, and which provides useful information regarding the air conditioning, fuel range, etc. The largest is an 8-inch touchscreen smack in the middle of the dash flanked by sleek air con vents. This system comes with Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to handle all your cabin entertainment.
Powering the Forester is a 2.0 liter Boxer engine which Subaru has been committed to for over 50 years. The Boxer is basically an engine configuration in which the pistons move toward each other in a horizontal direction. Just the placement of the Boxer engine gives the car increased side-to-side stability due to its low center of gravity and flat design. The engine’s flat design is inherently rigid and self-balancing, generating less vibration compared to other engine types. Let’s talk numbers, then. The 2.0 liter petrol engine makes 154 BHp and 196 Nm of peak torque. Just like a middle-weight boxer, the Boxer in the Forester does take a while to warm up; the Forester does 0-100 km/h in under 11 seconds and will do 193 km/h flat out. The Forester comes with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive that distributes power to all four wheels for better traction on less than ideal roads. Further strengthening the SUV’s performance off-road is the inclusion of the improved X-MODE.
The X-MODE is Forester’s off-road mode simplified for people who do not want to fiddle with a lot of buttons. With the X-MODE you are one dial twist away from driving through any difficult terrain. There’s Snow/Dirt mode for slippery surfaces covered with dirt, snow or gravel or a D.Snow/Mud mode for especially treacherous roads where you could get stuck, like deep snow, mud or dry dirt. These modes accordingly adjust your gear ratios, suspension, and throttle response to help you take on any path you drive on. Paired with the X-MODE is Hill Descent Control for a safe downhill ride. The Subaru Forester is impressive on road, but truly shines off it.
The Subaru Forester is one of those cars that come with little to no shortcoming, ticking every box on our list of what makes for a good SUV, and one really has to nit-pick to find any fault. In the entire day we spent with the Forester, the only fault we could find was its rather boring front grille. Other than that the Forester is a decent looker, and the cabin is premium and practical. The car is admirable in the concrete jungle. But when the tarmac comes to an end the Forester comes to life and proves why proper SUVs are still conquerors beyond the concrete jungle.