- New Car Test Drive
The Forester might not look it, but it’s pretty sporty. The Subaru Forester is quicker and better handling than a Honda CR-V or Nissan Rogue. It brings a good amount of fun to its capable and versatile utility.
The base 2.5-liter isn’t so quick, but it will have enough acceleration for most people. We prefer the 6-speed manual transmission to the CVT with this engine, because the CVT in the 2.5 isn’t as sophisticated as it is in the 2.0 turbo. The shift linkage isn’t as tight as it might be, and the throws a bit long and truckish, but still, the six-speed manual gets the most out of the engine’s torque.
In the Forester 2.0XT, Subaru’s SI-Drive system offers Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp modes, to alter throttle and CVT response. Sport Sharp enables the CVT to shift through eight snappy steps, using paddles on the steering wheel. Sport and Intelligent mode are programmed for six steps. This CVT is the least annoying we can think of.
Forester’s good handling is enhanced by the stout turbo engine. The electric power steering is well tuned and nicely weighted, with a quicker ratio for 2017. The body scarcely leans, for a tall utility vehicle. The ride is comfortable and not harsh on big bumps.. The 2.0XT Touring adds torque vectoring, which dabs the brakes on the inside rear wheel in corners, helping the car rotate. The Mazda CX-5 might still be better on the pavement, but it can’t match the Forester on unpaved trails, so if you ever go there, you’re ahead with the Subaru.
Forester’s relatively rugged capability on trails is enhanced by 8.7 inches of ground clearance, with approach and departure angles that are quite impressive for a small SUV.
The mechanical all-wheel drive makes the Forester fun and predictable on dirt or snowy roads. For more offroad security, there’s an available X Mode (with hill descent control) that moves the power between the left and right wheels, in addition to the front and rear wheels. This puts the Subaru up there on the sophistication level of Jeep and Land Rover.