By Peter Perrotta
If the 2021 Subaru Forester were a football player, it would most definitely be an all-purpose running back.
You know, the kind of running back that could not only pick up some tough yards when needed, but could block and catch passes as well – a good all-around utilitarian player.
For me that’s what the Subaru brand is all about. They provide you with a good-looking, rugged crossover with a tried-and-true four-wheel drive system able to perform well off-road or in the snow and mud.
Inside Subaru ergonomics are designed for practicality so they work well there – they are generally comfortable and able to handle a good amount of cargo.
Moreover, pricewise they won’t bust your wallet. So, all around, they check all the necessary boxes.
I recently put the 2021 Subaru Forester Sport to the test for one week of driving adventure and came away with generally what I expected.
The fifth generation Forester comes in five different trim levels: base, premium, Sport, Limited and Touring.
I drove the Sport model for one week which came in an attractive Dark Blue Pearl color with orange trim accents in the interior.
For the most part, this Forester is a joy to drive. It handles reasonably well in all kinds of weather. It has ample cargo space for a compact crossover. It’s comfortable and is fairly smooth to drive and its interior ergonomics are well designed and are fairly easy to operate.
However, if you are looking for the “Wow” sizzle factor this may not be the crossover for you. While this Forester is well designed for many different functions, for me it’s a bit conservative in its approach.
The editors at Car and Driver seem to concur. They gave the 2021 Forester high marks for being “thoroughly practical” and having a roomy interior and being a “comfortable cruiser”.
But, Car and Driver handed the Forester low marks for having “slow acceleration times” and “boring” exterior styling. It also said that the base model was “quite basic.”
I didn’t find this Forester to be slow, though. Powered by a 2.5 liter Subaru boxer engine that puts out 182 horsepower at 176 pound feet of torque, this Forester is quick enough to handle most driving situations well.
Now, this is not a performance-type vehicle – like a BMW X1 or X3 – but for what it is, I felt it was adequately powered and handled at an above average grade.
Let’s be honest. The type of consumer a crossover like the Forester is going to attract is going to bring to the table a much different demographic than the BMW or Mercedes crowd.
The Forester is for the active lifestyle crowd who have a kid or two and a dog and want to go kayaking in the mountains on the weekend. For that, this is an excellent all-around vehicle and should be high on your list if that is what you are seeking.
The Sport Forester I drove carries a base sticker price of $29,395. It also has an option package for $1,645 and a $1,050 charge for destination and delivery, so the bottom-line sticker price came in at $32,090.
The option package included an upgraded Subaru Starlink 8-inch touch screen multi-media system and a 576-watt 9 speaker Harman/Kardon sound system.
So, for the base price of $29,395 on the Sport Forester you get a ton of standard equipment. I think, for the money, the Forester offers a good value.
The EPA fuel consumption ratings on this Forester come in at 29 miles per gallon overall – 33 mpg in highway driving and 26 around town.
The EPA estimates that it will cost you about $1,400 per year for run the Forester as it uses about 3.4 gallons of gas per every 100 miles driven.
On the government’s 5-star safety ratings crash test, the Forester scored an impressive 5 out of 5 – the highest rank.
It received a 5-star rating in the frontal crash test as well as the side crash test and 4 stars in the rollover test.
The Forester scored a 6 out of 10 on the EPA’s fuel economy and greenhouse gas rating and a 6 out of 10 on the smog rating.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. For questions and comments he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.