2017 Subaru Forester review with video

2017 Subaru ForesterBase price: $25,995 + taxes
As tested: $39,495 + taxes
Average fuel economy over our week of testing: 9.6 L/100 kms (25 MPG)
Competition: Ford Escape, Honda CRV, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, etc

The basics:

Growing up, we were a Subaru family and when the Forester hit the North American market in 1998, we were among the first to buy one. Since then, it’s built a reputation as a reliable, solid-as-a-rock winter driver with great resale value. Its shortcomings in previous generations were a loud, often harsh ride with far fewer bells and whistles than you’d find on much of the competition. But that was then. The fourth generation Forester, which was released in 2014, not only got bigger in size, it also brought a much bigger raft of amenities to the table. The 2017 Forester, while not a complete redesign, continues to add more refinement and features onto the pile. And if you haven’t been paying attention, the brand is all of a sudden giving you a huge bang for your buck with nine trims to choose from in the Forester line. For our full take on the Forester, make sure to watch the video above. Then take a read of our rapid fire pros and cons listed below.

2017 Subaru ForesterPros:

– A healthy dose of standard features on all trims (rear back-up camera, 6.2 inch infotainment system, heated front seats, roof rails for easy installation of a ski box or bike rack)
– Also standard on all Foresters is their full time all wheel drive system. Many brands charge $2000-$3000 more on top of their base price for all wheel drive
– Excellent fuel efficiency in both the basic 2.5-litre Boxer engine (7.4-9.2 L/100 kms) and the sportier 2-litre turbo in the XT trims (we averaged 9.6 L/100 kms over a week of almost exclusively city driving). The 2-litre turbo we tested last week in the Ford Escape averaged 12.5 L/100 kms in the city and wasn’t nearly as sporty
– Shocks have been retuned for 2017, making the ride less harsh but still quite sporty for cornering at speed
– Also for 2017, the optional continuously variable transmission on board has been tweaked to give it a more traditional automatic transmission feel. CVTs have a reputation for sucking power and making cars less fun to drive. We did not find that to be the case in the new Forester
– Far fewer hard, cheap-feeling plastics are in the cabin than on previous generations of the Forester, giving it a more premium feel and locking step with the high end features that the Korean brands have become known for in their similar offerings, the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage
– Far better leg room in the second row than you’ll find on similarly sized competition
– Trunk capacity is also best in class – an impressive 974 litres – just edging out the Ford Escape and giving you nearly 25% more than the Sportage or Tucson
– Excellent visibility out of both the back window of the vehicle and while checking blind spots

2017 Subaru ForesterCons:

– While the 2-litre turbo in our tester was eager and keen in most scenarios, it was sluggish off the line under fast acceleration (even in sport mode). It would take a couple seconds for the turbo to spool and really get moving, much like the Hyundai Tucson we tested last year. However, more typical every day acceleration was smooth

– The Forester has a maximum towing capacity of 1500 lbs. This would make it a poor choice as a tow vehicle for anything beyond a small utility trailer. Even among the small SUV and crossover segment, this is a small capacity and is less than half of the Ford Escape’s maximum tow rating of 3500 lbs
– The auto-lift rear tailgate on higher level trims of the Forester is very slow to open. We timed it to six seconds – which adds up when you’re opening and closing the back door many times a day

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3.5/5 (67 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 4.5/5

Family Wheels overall score: 41/50= 82%

This was a vehicle that I have had a lot of requests to review. Thanks to Subaru Calgary for stepping-up and supplying the test vehicle this week.

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