If you're after the security of a four-wheel drive but you don't want a full-blown SUV, this could be just the ticket. The Forester offers all-wheel drive traction and enough ground clearance for some light off-roading, but it isn't as obvious as a conventional 4x4. Even better, complete reliability is guaranteed - just make sure you can afford the fuel bills.
10/02: The second-generation Forester arrives, with a choice of normally aspirated or turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engines.
2/04: The special edition Forester XLn arrives, with sat-nav and leather trim.
9/04: The Forester XT debuts, with a turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol engine.
3/05: The special edition Forester S appears, with sportier interior trim than standard.
5/05: A Prodive Performance Pack is now available, which boosts power to 252bhp.
8/05: The Forester gets a facelift with more power and revised suspension plus a refreshed front end design.
Subaru Forester (2002-2007) Checklist
- Gear linkages can play up, so check that you can get all the ratios. Clutches can also be weak, so make sure there's no slip.
- The Forester is popular for towing, especially among caravanners; if there's a tow bar fitted, make sure the clutch and brakes haven't worn out.
- The generous ground clearance and four-wheel drive means off-roading is sometimes undertaken by Forester owners. That's why you must check the car's underside for damage.
- The leading edge of the aluminium bonnet gets chipped very easily, so keep an eye out for paint damage or smal dents.
- Build quality
- 4WD traction
- Well equipped
We Don't Like
- No diesels
- Thirsty petrol engines
- Dated interior