With design features guaranteed to turn heads, the Forester efficiently combines sports utility vehicle styling with saloon performance. There’s a choice of engines and fuel types, plus some impressively low emissions stats. New to the latest fifth generation car is hybrid technology.
The goodGreat looks, handling and capabilities
The badCompeting against stiff opposition
Subaru Forester e-Boxer 2.0i XE Premium Lineartronic – First Drive (2020)
Over the years, the athletic and muscular Forester has become Subaru’s best-selling vehicle in the UK and now the all-new fifth generation model boasts a raft of new features as well as the introduction of hybrid technology.
Called the Forester e-Boxer, this go-anywhere model is new from the ground up and features a strong contoured design, rear privacy glass, a sunroof, prominent wheel arches, automatic LED headlights with daytime running lights and smart 18-inch alloy wheels.
The spacious, comfortable cabin has room for five adults to spread out and the car is loaded with techno treats, including the likes of heated front and rear leather seats, powered front seats with memory settings, dual-zone air conditioning, an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a CD player, DAB radio, navigation, a heated steering wheel and an eight-inch colour touchscreen.
But the big news is the driving force behind this latest Forester with a new hybrid powertrain that combines a 2.0-litre 150PS petrol engine with an electric motor. A battery unit is neatly tucked away within the boot floor and this latest technology means the car can be driven in pure electric mode for about a mile at a time at speeds up to 25mph.
Priced at £39,335, the Forester e-Boxer is slightly wider and longer than its predecessor, and it also features an updated gearbox along with Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system with the power split adjusting according to the driving conditions.
And the hybrid technology works automatically too switching between EV driving, electric motor assisted driving and petrol power only.
The five-door Forester can reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.8 seconds, maxes out at 117mph and, according to latest WLTP figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 34.7mpg with carbon emissions of 185g/km.
There is a permanent all-wheel drive system which means the Forester e-Boxer can cope well with most off-road situations, but the impressive X-Mode set-up can be introduced for added assistance if faced with more extreme driving conditions. The X-Mode takes control of the engine, transmission, Symmetrical AWD, brakes and other components to help navigate slippery surfaces, rough roads and hill climbs.
This X-Mode system has also been upgraded on the latest model and now has two settings called SNOW/DIRT for the likes of gravel tracks along with DEEP SNOW/MUD to tackle surfaces where the tyres may get buried such as heavy snow.
When it comes to driving dynamics and performance, the Forester e-Boxer is comfortable cruising on motorways where it effortlessly reaches national speed limits and it’s also at home powering through the country lanes. The acceleration is sharp enough and the road holding is confident through tight bends. Steering wheel-mounted paddles are there for added driver engagement and all controls, dials and readouts are well positioned for ease of use.
The driver benefits from good all-round visibility and the noise and vibration levels have been improved thanks to a 40 per cent increase in body strength. This body and chassis redesign also means better performance, handling and improved safety in the event of a collision.
And on the matter of safety, the Forester e-Boxer is packed to bursting with features and driver aids to help protect all occupants, pedestrians and also help to prevent accidents occurring in the first instance.
On-board systems include rear vehicle detection, blind spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert. There is reverse automatic braking that uses sensors in the rear bumper to detect obstructions behind the car and the driver is alerted to the danger. If these warnings are ignored, the vehicle will automatically brake for you.
New for the Forester e-Boxer is a driver monitoring system that uses facial recognition technology to detect if the driver’s gaze has wandered from the road ahead or if they are starting to doze off. And be warned – this system will even mute the audio to ensure full attention is given to the warning sounds.
All this safety technology is certainly note-worthy, although I did find deactivating certain features such as the lane keep assist and lane change assist a little overcomplicated with some functions accessed via the touchscreen, others via the steering wheel controls or a panel of switches by the driver’s right knee. There were even some overhead controls which really threw me for a while!
But that very minor grip aside, this new Forester e-Boxer was an impressive all-rounder and makes for a very practical choice too. The boot has a capacity that ranges from 520 to 1,779 litres with the 60:40 one-touch folding rear seats dropped flat. And it can also tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to 1.87 tonnes.
All the latest innovative technology and its practical capabilities make the Forester an attractive choice in a very competitive market.
Subaru Forester 2.0i XT CVT (2015 model)
Every winter we face ever-more challenging weather patterns, so it is always reassuring to get behind the wheel of a car that is great to drive in sunny conditions but is never fazed by one of Mother Nature’s mood swings either.
And that is certainly the case with the very latest fourth generation Subaru Forester – a full-sized SUV that features all the techno treats and creature comforts you could wish for but, more importantly, is packed to bursting with systems that can tackle any terrain.
For example there is the SI-Drive which allows the driver to choose between different driving modes to suit the changing road conditions. And then if the situation should turn extreme there is the X-Mode which is an all-wheel-drive control system that includes Hill Descent Control and really tightens up the vehicle’s traction in uneven or slippery conditions.
Of course the majority of day-to-day driving will be in less biblical conditions and the Subaru Forester offers excellent comfort and driving dynamics with a whole host of on-board technology at your fingertips.
From the outside, the car looks rugged and ready for action thanks to its muscular lines, complimented by 18-inch alloys, twin tail-pipes, tinted windows, roof rails, sports grille and bumpers, a powered tailgate, body-coloured door handles and mirrors, plus front and rear fog lamps.
Move inside and the cabin has a premium feel to it with soft-touch materials, heated leather seats, dual zone air conditioning, a six-speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, sat nav and aluminium pedals to maintain that sporty theme.
Subaru has increased the cabin space in the latest Forester which means there ample room for three adults in the back with plenty of leg, head and shoulder space. And there will never be any luggage restrictions either as the boot has a capacity of 505 litres which is increased to 1,592 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. And to make life simpler, there are buttons in the boot which automatically fold down the rear seats.
Elsewhere there are deep door pockets, a good-sized glovebox, cup holders, a central bin, plus a sunglasses holder.
So the latest Forester certainly looks the business and has all the on-board technology you could want, but how does it handle when put to the test? The answer is exceptionally well.
In built-up city centre traffic it proved deceptively agile and the reversing camera helps you make light work of parking in tight spaces. Then out on the faster roads the 240PS 2.0-litre petrol turbo-powered engine delivered all the bite and drive you could need as it accelerated rapidly through the six-speed automatic CVT transmission.
The gear changes are smooth and the driver can take extra control via the steering wheel-mounted paddles. Sometimes CVT transmissions can be a real disappointment with poor timing accompanied by irritating whining sounds, but there were no complaints with this one.
The car is very sprightly for its size and can sprint from 0-62mph in a creditable 7.5 seconds and then redlines at 137mph. The economy is not quite so impressive though with combined fuel efficiency of 33.2 and emissions of 197g/km. After 300 miles behind the wheel on a selection of roads I was seeing just shy of 27mpg, so you can expect regular trips to the petrol pumps.
The elevated seating position means the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility. In addition, the vehicle’s all-round performance was impressive with precise steering, sure-footed road holding, very little body roll into tight bends and highly effective suspension that helped to iron out the road creases.
There was a little road and wind noise when pushed particularly hard, but otherwise the cabin remained nicely hushed.
All in all, the latest Forester is a fabulous piece of kit. It’s packed to bursting with safety features and technology, it delivers impressive driving dynamics and even has a competitive price-tag of £30,995 too.
Subaru Forester 2.0D XC
The Subaru name always conjures up images of larger-than-life spoilers, roll bars, clouds of dust, roaring engines and world rally championships.
But in reality, the Japanese brand has a lot more to offer and the highly impressive Forester is an example of its success in the SUV market.
With all-wheel drive capabilities and an outstanding Boxer diesel engine, the Forester is a great all-rounder and the asking price of £26,995 is very competitive in the segment.
The five-door, five-seater looks quite awesome when approached from any angle thanks to its rugged, sporty ready-for-action stance.
Stand-out features include a roof spoiler, silver roof rails, 17-inch alloys, a rippled bonnet, a large powered sunroof, body-coloured door mirrors and door handles, front and rear fog lights, pop-up headlamp washers and a tow bar.
The interior features cloth seats that can be heated and plenty of technology as standard. There is quite a lot of hard plastic on show, but this is an SUV and expected to offer a tough and lasting build quality.
Techno treats include a rear camera, sat nav, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, dual zone air conditioning, a six speaker audio system with CD player, USB and Aux-in port, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, automatic headlights and power-folding door mirrors.
With its high seated driving position, the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility and the spacious cabin can easily accommodate four adults with ease – five at a bit of a squeeze.
Luggage limitations will never be an issue either as the generously-sized boot offers a storage capacity of 505 litres. If extra room is needed, the one-touch folding rear seats increase the capacity to 1,592 litres.
Elsewhere there are plenty of smaller storage compartments throughout the car.
Powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine, acceleration through the six-speed manual gearbox is both smooth and responsive. It can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 10.2 seconds and redlines at 118mph.
Road-holding is also impressive with next-to-no body roll even when attacking tight bends at pace. There is a little engine noise, but it’s no louder than many other SUVs.
One of the stand-out features of the Forester is its economy. Subaru claims it can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 49.6mpg and on a varied test route totalling more than 300 miles I managed to see 47.4mpg which is very close to the mark.
The car also boasts a comprehensive range of safety features such as trailer stability control, hill start assist, numerous airbags and plenty more besides.
The Forester, which was introduced in 1997, is now in its fourth generation and the latest model is a clear indication that this vehicle – just like a good wine – is improving with age.
Subaru Forester 2.0 XS
The name Subaru encompasses all things sporty with rallying prowess always at the forefront of achievements.
However, unless otherwise educated, people don’t immediately associate the name with excellent comfort levels… how wrong they are.
For the Subaru Forester boasts saloon-style luxury along with the expected off-roading capabilities and edge-of-your-seat ride with a starting price that will leave you gasping in disbelief.
Oozing power, it hugs the road with supreme ease – a quality you might expect from one of the world’s greatest rally car manufacturers but this vehicle also delivers a ride packed with creature comforts.
Inside, the trim level is outstanding and the real beauty is the endless number of features that are supplied as standard rather than adding a hefty bill to the original purchase price.
For example, the basic model boasts heated seats, heated mirrors and cruise control, and as you increase the spec level, in comes alloy wheels, leather seats, a large sunroof and a seven-speaker CD system.
There is plenty of legroom for four adults in the light and spacious cabin and numerous storage compartments are scattered throughout, along with a boot that can carry unusually large items.
There is, of course, all-wheel drive and it also boasts dual range transmission, whereby a low or high ratio can be selected depending on the driving conditions, so offering a total of 10 gears – five in high and five in low.
The safety spec is outstanding and includes anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, numerous airbags and several innovative ideas to help improve pedestrian safety too.