Can’t see the Forester for the trees

The all-new Subaru Forester is well equipped to either take you off-road into the beautiful Australian bush or driving in the urban environment. The legendary Subaru symmetrical all-wheel drive system gives you a high level of confidence in any driving situation.

The four Forester models are delineated by level of safety and creature comfort features that are offered. All models in the Forester range feature the CVT transmission paired with the horizontally-opposed Boxer 4-cylinder, petrol engine which has 136kW @ 5800rpm and 239Nm @ 4400rpm. The Forester can run on 91RON petrol and has an official combined fuel efficiency is 7.4L/100km and I achieved 9.4L/100km for the week I drove the 2.5i-S.

I spent a week with the top of the line 2.5i-S Forester and it has two modes in the X-mode system for off-roading; snow/dirt or deep snow/mud. I didn’t get a chance to try these out, but in normal driving conditions the Forester performs well and offers a comfortable ride for passengers.

On the inside of the 2.5i-S you get an eight inch LCD touchscreen, eight Harman Kardon speakers, subwoofer and amplifier, leather seat trim and an electric sunroof. The infotainment system displays the safety cameras, has satellite navigation, CD player, AM/FM radio, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity for audio and phone.

The Forester also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The voice command option is prompted by one of the many buttons on the steering wheel and it works OK, but is not as good as other systems I have used. For me there were too many buttons on the steering wheel making it a bit confusing as to what they all do and this kind of defeats the point of having them there as they are meant to help the driver keep their eyes on the road.

In addition to the main eight inch touchscreen there is an additional screen at the top of the centre of the dash that can display a raft of Forester features. These include an overall view of the car with a summary of the safety features that are active, the traction vehicle angle, eyesight monitor, radio info, fuel economy including a live read out and your climate info when you adjust it. A lot of info yes, but a bit pointless in my opinion. I think the dash design would look a lot cleaner without this additional screen. Overall the dash design of the Forester looked very busy to me with multiple materials and design lines.

At the front of the centre console there is a grippy area to store your phone, one AUX outlet, two USB outlets and one 12V outlet. As you move along the centre console there are two cup holders and another ledge to store your phone. Under the arm rest there is a tray that can be easily be removed to access a deep storage pocket that has another 12V outlet.

For rear passengers there are two USB outlets and air vents, but only with air speed control. Between the two rear seats there is a fold down arm rest with two cup holders, the cup holders though are surrounded by black gloss plastic and I think this would scratch very easily. My children really like the shape of the door handle and the window control and the fact that they had multiple pockets in the back of the front seats to store a variety of items.

The rears seats have plenty of leg room, even for adults. For the children there are three rear tether/two ISOFIX child restraint points. The seats are 60/40 split folding and have a one touch electronic folding mechanism for when you need to carry longer items.

I also really liked that there was a large plastic step plate for children to step on when getting into the car, rather than carpet that would get worn over time. The carpet mats are easily removed and have a grippy surface on the underside so that they stay in place. There is also an additional carpet over the transmission tunnel that has Velcro to hold it into place.  I really like this feature because as parents know the carpet on the transmission tunnel can take hiding from children clambering over it every day and it ends up looking very tatty after a few years.

The boot has a powered rear tailgate and is a good size that would handle a small pram and the weekly shop. There are four hooks for hanging shopping bags on and four tie down points for securing loads. There is also another 12V outlet, which would be great for a car fridge. In the base of the boot is a full sized spare wheel and considering the off-road capabilities of the Forester this is a good feature. The Forester can also tow up to 1,500kg with a braked trailer and 750kg with an unbraked trailer.

The new Forester has yet to receive its ANCAP safety rating, but previous models were 5-star rated. It has dual front, dual front side, dual curtain and driver’s knee airbags. Plus all Forester models have the EyeSight Driver Assist system. This includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Emergency Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Brake Assist, Pre-Collision Braking System and Pre-Collision Throttle Management. All of which should make it more difficult to have one of those annoying nose to tail bingles or a more serious accident.

The Forester also has a Driver Monitoring System that alerts the driver if they become distracted or drowsy. It’s very quick to tell you to keep your eyes on the road, which meant not as much car-perving for me without being told off by the Forester.

The Subaru Forester 2.5i-S AWD is priced at $41,490 plus on-road costs. It has a 5 year/unlimited km warranty, 5 year/62,500km capped price servicing program and 12 months roadside assistance. It’s the 2018 Drive Car of the Year for Best Small SUV and I can see why. There is a lot to like about the all-new Forester, but I think it could do with cleaner lines in the design of the dash and surrounds.

To test drive the all-new Subaru Forester visit you preferred Subaru Dealer.

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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