• Comfortable and relaxed
    • Radar cruise control
    • Goes further than you think
    • Engine is a bit anaemic
    • CVT requires a change of driving behaviour
    • No rear air-conditioning
    5 Star

    About the Subaru Forester

    Hammer purchased this Subaru Forester new for $41,500 (including all on-road costs). Hammer would buy this car again because: “The Forester has been a great choice for me. Living regionally I wanted something that would cruise comfortably over regional roads for long distances, but also be a practical family car – with a full safety pack – plus the ability to go to the snow and go on back gravel roads.

    In the five years I have had it I can’t see the changes in the new models being so dramatic that I need to sell this to go buy the new one, or a competitor. Although admittedly I have yet to test drive them”

    How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

    I haven’t had any issues with reliability. The car feels well built and doesn’t feel like it has faded much in the 5 years and 85,000km I have owned it.

    A small decider for buying this car was that it was Japanese and coming from a family of Toyota and Subaru owners I thought I should be on the right money when it comes to reliability, as no-one has had any issues with theirs!

    There was a recall on the air conditioning unit that was done, however I didn’t really notice the difference in the before and after.

    What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

    I have enjoyed owning the Forester. It’s always hard trying to predict life three or five years in the future and it has lived up to every challenge we have put to it.

    It was up to travelling over the snowy mountains on an unsealed road in a snow storm to now becoming our family car, safety hauling children and associated bulky paraphernalia anywhere we need.

    I would strongly consider buying another one based on my experience with this car.

    How has the purchase and aftercare experience been with your car?

    I was lucky when I bought the car in that Subaru was offering a five-year warranty and capped-price service prior to it being rolled out permanently. This gave me a lot of assurance

    I have followed the logbook servicing and although it’s a pain to get done every six months, I don’t mind if it keeps me driving hassle-free. There are plenty of Subaru dealerships and it’s a common enough car.

    I have found our local Subaru dealership to be great with service, price, communication and follow up. I really can’t fault them.

    I was lucky when I bought the car in that Subaru was offering a five-year warranty and capped price service prior to it being rolled out permanently. This gave me a lot of assurance.

    I had a rubber CV boot get an unfortunate small tear but that was easily fixed and was detected at a service before any damage was done. I think this shows that they were being thorough when doing the service.

    Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

    I think I was lucky when buying as it was the end of a model run before the MY18 update and the dealership was probably trying to move it.

    A definite bonus of this car over some of the competitors at the time was that it had a full pack of safety features in some of the lower range models, and I didn’t have to go to the top model to get things like collision-prevention assist.

    I especially liked that this car had radar cruise control, which has been very handy on long weekends traveling in traffic back from Sydney or Melbourne. I think it allows you to be more relaxed and can enjoy the scenery instead of watching the bumper of the car in front or your speedo the whole trip.

    Other things I like are the full-time AWD giving assurance and security on any surface. It grips on snow well, and the X Mode handles mud and slippery hills better than I could have imagined for a medium SUV.

    The rear doors open almost 90 degrees, which makes putting kids into baby seats much easier.

    I wouldn’t have optioned for the sunroof but I often drive with the blind back to let in the natural light and I don’t think I could go back now. It feels very light and airy in the cabin with it.

    I like that is has a full size spare (probably a country thing).

    I think the only thing I wish it had is rear air conditioning and fold in mirrors.

    What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

    The engine is… adequate. I would like a bit more power to help haul a family of gear on holidays up the mountains or overtaking but I think it’s nitpicking. If I had opted for the XT Premium I would have had to pay extra for premium fuel, higher insurance and would probably have had a to pay for a speeding fine or two!

    The economy is pretty impressive really. I average 7.2L/100km using 91 RON on a mix of country and regional city roads.

    I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of the CVT but it does have i’s merits. If you treat this car like a relaxed cruiser then the CVT is fine and works well in that situation.

    I just had to change my driving behaviour to suit the car. It’s probably something that gets missed by some who hate it as they try to drive it like a turbo hatch.

    It does have a bit of annoying lurch off the start at times but once going the movement is very smooth. When cruising the back roads and highways it hums along nicely, barely noticeable. I was worried based on reading reviews that it would be a drone and bug me but I only notice it when I really push the car.

    What do you think of the technology in your car?

    The Subaru EyeSight system is great! I particularly like the radar cruise control.

    I find myself turning the lane warning off most times due to the roads I drive but it has been helpful at times alerting me that I have drifted when a little distracted from a baby in the car, or being tired.

    Some of the screens are a bit gimmicky and I don’t use them.

    I was a bit skeptical about the X Mode but since I have used it I am now a believer. If you want a SUV that really can do impressive things off-road, give it a test.

    What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

    This is a standout for me. I think good tyres are a big factor and having a 55 profile certainly helps. I have always spent well to get good quality tyres. I am currently running Bridgestone Dueler HP Sport, the OEM for the Forester S5. I got 65,000km out of the original Bridgestone H/Ls.

    The ride comfort of this car is brilliant and it handles as you would expect a relaxed SUV should. I travel on gravel roads frequently as well as on B and C back roads which can be full of potholes and ruts. None of these seem to bother the Forester and it feels sure-footed the whole time.

    It has a surprisingly short turning circle which makes it very manoeuvrable around towns and in shopping centres which is an unexpected bonus

    Do you have any additional comments about your car?

    For me, is fits the brief of being the best mix of things I need at a value I can’t go past.

    I think it will be hard to beat, but I look forward to reading the reviews of the next big SUV test and trying them to see if they suit my circumstances.

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    Overall Rating

    Ride & Handling9.5
    Price & Features9.5
    Purchase & Aftercare9.5
    Performance & Economy7.8
    Ownership Experience10