All-new Subaru Forester 2.5i-L is well made, pleasant to drive and packs a no-nonsense equipment list
What is it?
The all-new fourth generation Subaru Forester, which goes head to head with the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail, Kia Sportage and a host of other rivals in the compact SUV segment.
What’s it cost?
The new Subaru Forester range opens with the Forester 2.5i which is priced from $33,490 plus on roads and goes all the way to the fully loaded Forester 2.5i-S which has a sticker price of $41,490 plus government charges.
We sampled the Forester 2.5i-L, which will set you back $35,490 before on roads. Now, initially that “L” nomenclature may be a little misleading – the Forester 2.5i-L isn’t equipped with leather trim, or a power tailgate, or satellite navigation. But, it is fitted with a number of useful features including: driver monitoring, swivelling headlamps, a multi-angle camera system which projects images of the rear, side and front of the car and automatic reverse braking.
All Forest models are equipped with adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking, emergency lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring as part of Subaru’s EyeSight system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also fitted as standard equipment across the range.
What’s it go like?
Subaru has simplified the drivetrain choices for the all-new Forester range. There’s one engine, a 2.5 litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol Boxer engine that produces 136kW @ 5800rpm and 239Nm @ 4400rpm. This engine is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that sends power to Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.
Performance is adequate, and we would have liked torque to be produced slightly lower in the rev range. Granted, the Forester seems to have enough power when needed.
Subaru quotes a 0-100km/h time of 9.1 seconds.
Refinement, as per all Subaru engines, is excellent. The all-new flat four is virtually devoid of any harsh vibrations and remains relatively quiet throughout the rev range. The powerplant makes an excellent touring companion, and Subaru should be commended for their efforts here.
That said, though, the engine does sound a little hollow and uninspiring.
Those that are lamenting the loss of the manual transmission needn’t worry. The CVT isn’t a bad thing and in normal mode, it almost feels like a traditional automatic, keeping the traditional CVT whine to a minimum. If you want to swap “cogs” yourself, there are paddles mounted behind the steering wheel and the transmission allows you to flick through seven “steps” or artificial ratios.
Handling for a mid-size SUV is excellent. The steering is communicative enough, body roll is kept in check and ride quality is always sophisticated and composed. Limited road noise makes its way through to the cabin.
All new Forester models are equipped with X-Mode, which assists with moderate off-road adventures.
Subaru cites an official combined fuel consumption figure of 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle. We achieved an average of around 9 litres, with the help of the car’s start/stop system. Like all Subaru models, the new Forester displays how much fuel you are saving when the start/stop system is engaged.
What’s it like inside?
As per the rest of the package, the Subaru Forester 2.5i-L interior is solid and sensible. Interior design draws heavily on that of the new Impreza, particularly in terms of dashboard design. This is fine, as the dashboard is ergonomically simple and easy to navigate. The Impreza influence does slightly rob the Forester’s cabin of its own personality, however.
As previously mentioned, the Forester 2.5i-L is fitted with a multi-angle camera system, to aid with parking. The reversing camera is projected on the main infotainment screen, and other images are displayed on the small screen atop the centre stack. We particularly like the image of the left front wheel, which greatly helps negotiate tight parking spaces.
The infotainment system is simple, if a little dated. While we appreciate the standard fitment of Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto, satellite navigation should be included on an SUV at this price point. Still, if you own a compatible device, you should be able to see maps on the infotainment screen if required.
Head, leg and shoulder room is great up front, and rear passengers have a decent amount of head and legroom, although the getting three adults across the rear bench maybe be a little tight. The seats themselves are soft yet supportive, and a covered in a hardwearing fabric.
Overall interior fit and finish was excellent, although some plastics were a little too hard and shiny, cheapening cabin ambience.
What we like:
- Sensible equipment list
What we don’t:
- Boxer four is adequate, but not exceptional
- Infotainment system is ordinary
- Value could be better
- Some cheap materials in the cabin
Overall, the new Subaru Forester is a well-made, refined, capable and comfortable companion. The 2.5i-L trim level is for customers who want their Forester packed with technologies they need, and none they don’t.