The Eleftherious, a CHOICE voting member family, took us up on the offer to trial the five-seater Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. The 2.5i-S reviewed here is a feature-packed luxury variant of the Forester - and comes with a premium price to match.
On their weekend test drive they ventured to the far North Shore of Sydney, took a trip into the city and did their weekly grocery shopping.
The Eleftheriou family says:
The high seat height makes getting the kids in and out of the car really easy. It has plenty of head room as well, so we didn't bang our heads on the ceiling when buckling the kids in. We think the rear seating would be tight, if not impossible for a family with three kids, but with just two it's fine. Disappointingly, the rear lacks separate air-conditioning controls as well as chargers for all the digital toys kids have these days.
Child car seat anchors are easy to locate on the back of the seat, so the anchor straps didn't intrude into the boot space. The adjoining rear seat belt buckles are of different types, which we think is clever as it means you can't muck up buckling.
There's enough luggage room for a load of groceries but we still found it a little short on space. The full-sized spare tyre also makes the boot space a little higher than we're used to, but we prefer having a proper spare.
There's a lot of leg room in the rear seats, even for a full-sized adult with the front seats pushed all the way back - impressive. We like the features such as remote tailgate opening and closing, the sound system and touchscreen - though some things are a little distracting such as the massive fuel economy gauge.
There are also loads of safety features such as lane drift assist, but the fact that some of them are false alarms can be annoying. One feature even warns you that the car in front has moved when stopped at lights or in traffic. Happily some can be turned off when you don't need them.
We would have liked all the doors to be keyless entry rather than just the front two, especially with kids.
On the plus side, it has a great tight turning circle, and the rear camera and big rear view mirrors make it a breeze to use in a parking lot.
While the steering is well weighted, it's not as communicative as we would like, especially in the centre. The fuel economy is pretty good for a car of this size and the automatic CVT (continuous variable transmission) is the best we've seen in the last year or so. The Forester has respectable performance for a large and heavy car. Its ride is comfortable, and it goes over bumps easily.
The Forester's interior is very pleasant, plus there's decent rear storage and visibility is good. Its front seats are comfortable, but the leather is slippery and we'd like to see some more side support. The engine is noisy, even when idle. There's also substantial road noise on coarse surfaces and wind noise above 90km/h.
This model comes with plenty of bells and whistles. For example, the active cruise control maintains the distance between you and the car in front of you; it slows down the car, speeds it up when the other car moves faster, and even stops it if the car in front of you stops - very smart!
The Eleftherious family liked this car and would consider buying it, although it lacks some of the rear-passenger options they're looking for. While the car is a pleasant ride, the premium price tag should mean it comes with more comfortable seats for long-distance trips.
Cost: from $49,063
Fuel usage claim vs measured per 100km: 8.7L vs 8.1L
Acceleration to 100km/h: 10.5s
Braking distance from 60km/h: 14.4m
ANCAP safety rating: 5 stars out of 5