2018 Subaru Forester review with video

The basics:

Starting price: $25,995 + taxes
As tested: $33,295 + taxes (2.5i Touring with Eyesight)
Average fuel economy over a week of driving: 8.6 L/100 kms (27 US MPG)
Competitors: Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV 4, etc.

Since its release in the late 90s, the Subaru Forester has built up a serious cult following because of its skills as both a mountain slayer and a family hauler. For 2018, there isn’t much new to report beyond incremental additions and that’s because we reportedly have a totally new fifth generation version of this car coming for 2019. But is the old fourth gen Forester still as competitive as ever? Take a look at our video above for the full review.

Pros:

– Subaru’s Eyesight system is one of the big selling features on this car. It’s an optional suite of safety features that gives you adaptive cruise, lane keep assist and autonomous braking among other things. While many of its competitors see jarring, unrefined driver assist systems, Eyesight really is one of the smoothest, slickest options on the market right now
– At the base price of $26,000, Subaru has upped the amount of standard features you get in the Forester over recent years. You’re getting a rear back-up camera, a 6.2 inch infotainment system, heated front seats, roof rails to easily set-up a ski box or bike rack… and of course, all wheel drive which is often a $2000-$3000 option among the Forester’s competitors
– Subaru vehicles have all really improved on safety over the last few years. The Forester is no different and has a top safety pick plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
– We were in the turbo-charged XT Forester last year and found its performance to be really sporty with the exception of off-the-line performance – where it felt a little sluggish. Fuel economy over a week of driving mostly in the city was still an impressive 9.6 L/100 kms despite that turbo. This time around, we’re in the more basic non-turbo 2.5 litre engine and it still feels pretty confident despite an 80 horsepower dip. Sudden demands of power on the highway had it coming up short but it was otherwise still a solid choice with our fuel economy sitting at 8.6 L/100 kms over a week – which is really very good for a car of this size with full-time AWD
– Now, in terms of general ride comfort, Subaru did a number of things in 2017 to improve that. They tuned the suspension to make it less harsh and it does ride really nicely. Subaru also improved interior road noise by laminating its glass and further insulating the cabin. It’s still not a super quiet cabin (67 dB at 100 kms/hr) but far better than Foresters of the past
– The trunk – while not the largest among its competitors – offers great roof height for taller items or larger dogs

Cons:
– The interior is starting to fall behind its competitors with a mish-mash of sometimes cheap feeling switches and an infotainment system that – unlike the the new Crosstrek that we were in just a few weeks ago – doesn’t have Apple Carplay or Android Auto. But I imagine we’ll see that introduced in the 2019 Forester
– Seat comfort is lack-lustre with unsupportive foam and a lack of solid bolstering to hold you in your seat while cornering
– Second row leg room is OK but not great. You’ll find marginally more room in the Outback. Both the latest generations of the CR-V and Tiguan have seriously upped their leg room and feel far more spacious
– Now, turbo or not… one limiting factor of the Forester is towing capacity. It’s only able to tow 1,500 lbs as compared to the Ford Escape’s maximum of 3,500 lbs or the Outback at 2,700 lbs. If you’re thinking about buying a trailer in the future, this probably isn’t the car for you
– It’s a shame there’s no centre pass-through for putting skis down the middle between the second row seats. Instead, the rear seats flip down in a more traditional 60/40 split
– Also, higher level trims of the Forester have an automatic lift tailgate that goes up sooo slowly! At a glacial eight seconds, I’d rather just do without it

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3/5 (67 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 4/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 3.5/5

Family Wheels overall score: 35.5/50= 71%

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