Practical Motoring welcomes its newest long-term review car into the garage, the popular Subaru Forester SUV.

WHILE THERE ARE many new SUVs in the market to choose from, the Subaru Forester is one of the originals. And it’s still just as popular now as when it first went on sale in 1997.

Though it sits not far outside the top-three selling medium SUVs on the market today for outright sales, it is one of the strongest performers when people are looking to buy an all-wheel drive SUV, with Subaru’s symmetrical AWD system sitting underneath every model in the lineup. There are no front-wheelers here, which has been key to retaining many devoted owners. And thankfully, in this newest model, that hasn’t changed.

The fifth-generation Subaru Forester we have here launched in Australia late last year, and it brings a simplified lineup over what was previously offered. Gone are any powertrain options, every model driven by the same 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a CVT transmission. There’s no manual, no diesel, and there are certainly no turbo engines available. However, soon, there will be a hybrid variant that might sure-up performance and fuel economy.

Meet our Subaru Forester long-term review car

So, 22 years on from the first-gen Forester’s launch in Australia, we have a car that really hasn’t deviated too much from the priorities of practicality, safety, mild off-road ability, and family-friendliness. Or has it? We’ve got the top-spec Subaru Forester 2.5i-S on test for three months, though many of our findings will be relevant to every model in the lineup.

What we’ll review

We asked our readers on Practical Motoring’s Facebook page what it is they want to know about the Forester, and here’s what we’re going to find out for you:

  • How does the fuel economy, power and noise change as the engine wears in?
  • What features is it missing or has over some contenders?
  • What are the proper real-life fuel economy figures?
  • What are the long term running costs?
  • What are the load capabilities?
  • What does it feel like to drive (is there power when you need it)?
  • What’s the build quality like?
  • Is it any good on corrugated dirt roads? Will it shake to bits? What’s traction control like? Can you turn ABS off to stop quicker on the dirt?
  • What is vision like and how distracting are all of those digital screens in the cabin?

Thanks to all of our readers for the questions, we’ll be sure to keep you updated here and on our Facebook page. If you don’t use Facebook, ask us below in the comments and we’ll add it to the list.

Subaru Forester: first impressions

For now, first impressions are that the Forester feels easy to drive, with a lopping ride that will soak up long drives – we’ll be sure to do some of those. But having picked it up with only 36km on the clock (and counting quickly) it’s hard to gauge true fuel consumption. We’re currently sitting at just under 10L/100km after 200km.

It’s also a comfortable cabin with well-bolstered seats and a good (though high) driving position, and after installing a baby seat into the rear IsoFix anchors, there’s a lot of legroom between the seats. That will be great for carting around adults and big kids.

The top-spec Forester also comes with a good amount of equipment for its $42,740 plus on-road costs starting price: 18-inch alloys with 225/55 Bridgestone Dueler H/P tyres, leather interior trim, 10.1-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 10-speaker Harmon/Kardon audio system, and a full driving assist suite including AEB, automatic reverse braking, lane departure warning and keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

It also has driver distraction monitoring and user profiles for different drivers – we’ll be sure to set this up and see if it works as advertised.

We’ll be getting our hands on the Forester a lot over the next three months, so be sure to tune back into Practical Motoring regularly for all of the updates.

Have a question? Ask below or join our Facebook page.



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About Author

Alex Rae

Alex Rae brings almost two decades’ experience, previously working at publications including Wheels, WhichCar, Drive/Fairfax,, AMC, Just Cars, and more.

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