Let’s start with a bit of brutal honesty here. Through the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I drove a “nearly all 90 degree angled” 1987 Volvo station wagon. It was as aerodynamic as a brick and the most prominent curves were found on the steering wheel and tires. And during that same time frame, whenever I saw a Subaru Forester, I though the same thing. It wasn’t particularly attractive but sold itself on functionality.
Fast forward to 2016 and the Forester has maintained its utilitarian side while finding its attractive side.
Yes, the trademark safety, great fuel efficiency and dependability continue, since that’s their hallmark. Having 98% of Subaru offerings sold in the last 10 years still on the road today is a stat that will always impress me. Well, that and their impressive safety record from the IIHS, making them one of the safest vehicles on the road.
Laura’s mom recently picked up a brand new Forester and loves it. She cited her great experience with a late model Outback as the decision to return to the Japanese brand once her Equinox was ready to be moved out of rotation.
A good friend recently told me she’s considering a Forester to replace her well-worn Jeep Liberty sooner than later. I told her that after my week in the vehicle that I’d probably strongly consider one as well if I were in the market for a compact SUV.
The 2016 Subaru Forester boasts good looks for a vehicle that’s meant to offer function over fashion.
The tall windows enhance its high stance, giving great lines of visibility throughout. The 17” wheels that came with my 2.5i Touring Package tester frame the car nicely and you can add another couple of inches as you climb the trim ladder. With plenty of ground clearance, Subaru wants you to steer away from the urban world and into rural routes.
There are clean design lines, a strong stance, not-so-boxy-anymore feel and if you don’t mind the generous amount of window height (I don’t mind it at all) then you’ll see what Subaru’s engineers saw when creating the latest iteration of the Forester.
Beneath this dirty hood…sorry, Thunder Road popped up on Spotify.
Beneath the hood gave me a 2.5L four cylinder engine producing a healthy 170 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque.
For higher trims, there’s a 2.0 L four cylinder engine spitting out 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
My 2.5L engine was buddied up with a (ready for it….) six-speed manual gearbox! Huzzah for Subaru still believing in and supporting the 3 pedal shuffle! Definitely a rarity among Subaru’s competitors.
Row, row, rowing the gears was done with little effort and the engine was responsive to my right-hand commands. The gearbox is quite smooth and there’s even a “hill hold” feature to prevent you from the dreaded rollback.
For those who want the car to do all the work, there’s a CVT option that’ll set you back $1,300.
I’ve driven Subaru’s with the love it or hate it CVT and I don’t have any issues with it.
Fuel economy for my 2.5i Touring tester registers at 10.6/8.4/9.6 for L/100 (city/highway/combined).
With some smart driving (read: not racing off the line from a stop) I was able to do slightly better than those figures.
Oh, and that beautiful symmetrical AWD system will make driving in Canada’s varying climates that much easier.
Inside, you’d be hard pressed to think that this was a compact SUV. Again, with the large windows, the Forester’s interior exudes a full sized vehicle feel.
The 6.2” infotainment system is easy to operate, a rear view camera comes standard on all models (well done!), the premium cloth, heated and power seats are comfortable and the overall layout is clean.
Three large dials controlled the dual climate zones easily (hey, nothing wrong with keeping some parts of a car traditional).
Cargo space wise is where the Forester shines brightly. For models without a sunroof with the rear seats down, there’s a whopping 2,115L of space to utilize. If you want to have that extra-large feel in the cabin that comes from having a sunroof, you’ll be slightly penalized with only (kidding!) 1,940L of cargo space.
The rear seats are easy to enter/exit and are great for 2 adults comfortably. There are several upgrade options available if you want leather seats, EyeSight safety technology, etc.
Through the marvels of engineering, Subaru hasn’t compromised much at all in giving the driver a comfortable, clear surrounding view, a cabin where there’s no cramped feeling and a smooth ride.
Yes, because it sits higher up you won’t get the same handling feel as you would with say, an Outback.
But I imagine you won’t be whipping around corners seeking the fastest lap time in a Forester.
Also, there’s a low amount of road noise at higher speeds and acceleration is respectable. Again, no winning of rally races with this car but know that you’ll have on-ramp and passing power.
Overall, even though Subaru’s compact SUV doesn’t boast the most horsepower in its class and some may argue that its competitors are better looking, Subaru has played to its strengths in safety, smart and solid design, functionality, fuel efficiency and consistency in rewarding their loyal fans, all while enticing new ones.
Starting at $25,995 for the base 2.5i trim and stretching up to $37,995 for the range topping 2.0XT Limited with Technology Package, there’s plenty of Forester to go around for whatever your relative budget is.
Whether you’re looking for your next family mover, starting out in the compact SUV arena or need something that’s versatile, the 2016 Subaru Forester should garner at the very least, a test drive.
2016 Subaru Forester Touring Package, as tested: $29,995
Yay: Large interior with plenty of visibility for the driver and passengers
Nay: Even with the surge in popularity, many will look to Toyota/Mazda/Honda first out of habit