Like it or not, crossovers are dominating the automotive landscape. This is nowhere more apparent than the compact crossover class as it seems a month doesn’t go by without a new model, redesign, or refresh being announced. Case in point is the vehicle seen here, the 2016 Subaru Forester. Just a few weeks after we drove it, Subaru announced mid-cycle refresh which brings a slightly revised exterior, new interior bits, and an upgraded EyeSight system. Now is that going to stop us from reviewing the 2016 model? No. Here is what we thought of the pre-refreshed Forester.
In the spectrum of crossover design, the Forester would be at the boring end. This is a model that doesn’t have any hint of style. It is just a box on wheels. There is a positive to this shape as it gives the Forester a large area of glass. Not only does this improve overall visibility, it also makes the interior feel quite airy and huge.
Speaking of which, the Forester’s interior is one of the most spacious in the class. No matter if you’re sitting in the front or back, you’ll have plenty of head and legroom. The seats themselves provide the right the amount of comfort and support for long trips. Cargo space is towards the top with 31.5 cubic feet with the rear seat up and 68.5 cubic feet with the rear seat down. It should be noted models without the panoramic sunroof have a larger cargo area - 34.4/74.7 cubic feet.
As for the dash, it is similar to the one you’ll find in the Impreza and XV Crosstrek. On the one hand, it is very simple with a logical control layout. On the other hand, Subaru’s choice in materials is slightly disappointing with a fair amount of hard plastics on the dash and door panels. All models feature Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system that comes with either a 6.5-inch or 7-inch screen. Our tester came with latter via an option package. Starlink is one of the better infotainment systems in the marketplace with a simple interface, quick performance, and touch buttons that actually respond on a consistent basis.
Most Foresters will feature the engine found in our tester; a 2.5L boxer-four with 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard on the base model, but most Foresters will come equipped with a CVT. Around town, the 2.5 provides a decent amount of power. We do wish the responsiveness of the engine was a little bit better, but that could be fixed with some tweaks to the CVT. On the freeway, the Forester does take its time to get up to speed. Again, this is likely due to the CVT needing some tweaking. At least the CVT does help with fuel economy. The EPA rates the Forester 2.5i with the CVT at 24 City/32 Highway/27 Combined. Our average for the week landed around 27 MPG.
For the daily grind, the Forester’s suspension delivers a smooth and cushy ride. Another plus is how much quieter Subaru has been making their vehicles. Compared to previous Subarus we have driven, the Forester has a noticeable decrease in road and wind noise. Handling can be described as meh. The Forester does show good body control when going around corners, but the steering feels somewhat rubbery. For most people, this isn’t a deal breaker.
The Forester may not be the sharpest looking compact crossover in the class. But it does have a number of traits that buyers will find as positives such as a spacious interior, high fuel economy figures, all-wheel drive as standard equipment, and Subaru’s excellent EyeSight system that brings lane departure warning, pre-collision braking, and adaptive cruise control that is available on models such as the Premium.
A competent crossover that goes about its business without shouting about it, the Forester in a nutshell.
Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the Forester, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: 2.5i Premium
Engine: 2.5L Boxer-Four
Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 170 @ 5,800
Torque @ RPM: 174 @ 4,100
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/32/27
Curb Weight: 3,391 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Ōta, Gunma Japan
Base Price: $24,795
As Tested Price: $28,540 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge)
All-Weather Package - $1,895
Lineartronic CVT - $1,000