Crossover & Midsize

Few Cars Have Evolved as Much as the Subaru Forester

It’s in our nature to want to make things bigger and better. Well, not always bigger. Sometimes smaller is better, as is the case with the Subaru Forester. Over the years, it has seen several evolutions as the carmaker continues to redefine what makes a great vehicle. Consumer Reports is thrilled with the changes made to Subaru‘s small crossover SUV.

Subaru Forester: From station wagon to small SUV

The Subaru Forester was officially born in 1998. It was based on the ever-popular Subaru Impreza, so many consumers who were ready to jump from sedan to SUV found it attractive. This design continued until 2002, and it got a redesign in 2003.

The next generation of Subaru Foresters lasted from 2003 to 2008. While this generation was praised for its roomy interior, standard all-wheel drive, and smooth ride, critics slammed it for too much road noise and a basic interior. The poor fuel economy was also unpopular with consumers and critics alike.

For 2009, Subaru decided to redesign the Forester again. It still had the well-known station-wagon look to it, but smoother lines meant it lost the boxy shape the Forester had become known for. Gone were many of the road noises, and the back seat was made roomier. This generation ended four years later.

In 2013, the Forester gained increased visibility, more room, and better fuel economy. It couldn’t compete with a sports car, but that wasn’t what it was designed to do. For consumers looking for an off-road vehicle that wasn’t huge, the Forester was the way to go. This redesign came to an end in 2018.

The most recent redesign of the Forester came in 2019. Subaru took everything that made previous generations great and amplified it. While Subaru focused on keeping things simple, it didn’t overlook consumers’ desire for features such as safety, excellent infotainment systems, and a comfortable interior. The Japanese company gave consumers everything they wanted in the 2019 model, except too much road noise.

The Forester’s popularity has never waned

RELATED: How Reliable Is the Subaru Forester?

Drivers dislike some vehicle models more than others. This can be due to looks, recalls, or another automaker releasing something that was simply better. The Subaru Forester has never had those growing pains, however.

It has maintained its popularity over the years, and many owners are more like devoted fans who won’t drive anything else. Whether you need a daily driver, want something for off-roading, or yearn for that perfect road trip vehicle, the Subaru Forester is sure to meet your needs.

The Forester is so popular, in fact, it can go toe-to-toe with the BMW X5. Though the Forester is assuredly not a luxury vehicle, the two share a lot in common. Both are great off-road vehicles, offer 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and the same safety equipment. The only thing you’ll miss on the BMW X5 are the relatively expensive payments.

Does the 2020 model live up to its heritage?

Critics seem to be torn about the 2020 Subaru Forester. Though it comes with standard AWD, the predicted reliability scores are rather low. 

Regardless, the 2020 Forester still holds a soft spot in critics’ hearts. According to Consumer Reports, “Over its various iterations, the Subaru Forester has had a winning formula. This popular small SUV delivers a combination of a roomy interior, excellent visibility, commendable fuel economy, simple controls, a comfortable ride, and responsive handling.”

It might not be perfect, but the 2020 Subaru Forester still has all the things that made its past models so popular. Whether you buy new or used, the Forester is an exceptional vehicle to drive.