Not too long ago, all compact 4x4s were like the Subaru Forester. But these days, antiquated cabin design, compromised on-road dynamics, lethargic engines and a vaguely agricultural driving experience just don’t cut the mustard in a class crammed with as much fresh metal as this one is.
The Forester may have decent performance and reasonable economy on its side. It may be more capable off road than many of its rivals. It also holds a certain amount of mechanical interest value, as Subarus tend to do.
So, this is not a car without its charms. It is a functional and moderately likeable proposition, albeit one with limited appeal. Fans of the previous generation will be pleased by what it offers.
No doubt its comprehensive warranty and decent standard kit levels may go some way to improving its attractiveness to others as well, particularly those looking for a durable and practical vehicle.
But it’s also not a car we can recommend ahead of others that simply offer more of what the majority of buyers are looking for: space, quality, style, value, up-to-date cabin technology, day-to-day usability and well mannered road handling.
Every one of the five rivals – including the Ford Kuga, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-5 and Land Rover Discovery Sport – offers more in at least one of those areas, and most of them on several fronts. It may be just as well Subaru are hitting the reboot button on the next generation Forester as it looks more capable of offering more of what a large proportion of crossover buyers would be looking for.