THE SUV SPACE SAVER

One of the seg­ment pi­o­neers raises the bar with out­stand­ing safety and prac­ti­cal cabin de­sign

NewsMail - - MOTORING - GRANT ED­WARDS

Blaz­ing your own trail is a tough task with the flood of SUVs on the mar­ket.

Subaru was one of the orig­i­nals with the Forester, and while the 2018 vari­ants don’t stray far from the orig­i­nal brief, it sur­faces as one of the best in the genre.

Piv­otal to its es­ca­lat­ing po­si­tion among tight com­pe­ti­tion is stan­dard-set­ting safety and ex­celling in the area which was the orig­i­nal in­spi­ra­tion for SUVs — space.

VALUE

Base model 2.5i vari­ants start from about $37,600 drive-away, which comes with strong lev­els of equip­ment.

Stan­dard gear in­cludes a six-speaker CD stereo with dig­i­tal ra­dio and full blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, 6.5-inch touch­screen, dual-zone air­con, 4.2-inch LCD driver dis­play with dig­i­tal speedo, push-but­ton start, three 12-volt power jacks and three USB points (two in the back).

In­fo­tain­ment was once a black mark against Subaru. Not any more. The touch­screen is sim­ple to nav­i­gate, and pro­vid­ing ex­tra bou­quets for sim­plic­ity are smart­phone mir­ror­ing apps Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto which pro­vide bril­liant in­te­gra­tion with your de­vice.

The cabin looks up-mar­ket, still busy around the wheel with var­i­ous tog­gles and but­tons, with the hard wear­ing plas­tics re­stricted to places rarely touched.

War­ranty cov­er­age is shorter than many ri­vals at three years/un­lim­ited kilo­me­tres, but ser­vic­ing costs are rea­son­able at $1277.23 for three years with main­te­nance an­nual or ev­ery 12,500km (that’s an im­prove­ment from six months not so long ago).

Those want­ing some ex­tra bling have a heap of ac­ces­sories to choose from, like stain­less steel cargo steps, all weather seat cov­ers, mud guards, awning kit, sil­ver sill plates and var­i­ous cargo car­ry­ing op­tions for all your sport­ing equip­ment.

SAFETY

Rarely is this a seg­ment which in­spires too much ex­cite­ment. The ad­vances have been bril­liant, with the lat­est must-have in­clu­sion au­tonomous emer­gency brak­ing which can ap­ply the brakes au­to­mat­i­cally if the driver doesn’t re­act, but Subaru has some cool ex­tra in­clu­sions in the Forester.

On the mid and top-spec ver­sions is an in­frared LED cam­era that mon­i­tors the driver. When pro­longed eye move­ment from the road is de­tected it beeps — ha­bit­ual phone users be­ware. It’s out­stand­ing tech­nol­ogy, and works most of the time and even when you’re wear­ing sun­glasses.

All new Foresters also come with a rear view cam­era, blind spot mon­i­tor, lane change as­sist which warns you if you are wan­der­ing from your lane, as well as a radar cruise con­trol that main­tains one of three pre-set dis­tances from the ve­hi­cle in front, rear cross traf­fic alert and tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing.

DRIV­ING

Solid and de­pend­able, the 2.5-litre four-cylin­der petrol en­gine is the only driv­e­train choice.

Do­ing the job with­out fuss, it’s not quick, nor is it slug­gish. Part­nered to a con­tin­u­ously vari­able au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, the per­for­mance can be flus­tered if you push hard.

Off-road­ing abil­ity is bol­stered with im­proved en­try and de­par­ture an­gles, tow­ing re­mains at 1500kg with a tow ball rat­ing of 150kg, but it’s pri­mary du­ties will be haul­ing gear and sport­ing equip­ment.

There is some body roll in the cor­ners, with ride height of 220mm that’s a given, yet grip re­mains con­fi­dent with the Bridge­stone rub­ber and all-wheel drive.

Vi­sion is out­stand­ing for those up front, and it feels like you’re al­most sit­ting in a glasshouse.

Those in the back can also ap­pre­ci­ate the di­men­sions with am­ple space for three adults across the pew. Head and legroom is gen­er­ous, while the boot of­fers an awe­some space for a wide-range of equip­ment — and in a rare move you even get a full-size spare.

Fuel con­sump­tion should be about eight litres for ev­ery 100km us­ing reg­u­lar un­leaded.

HEAD SAYS

Be­ing “sporty” is more about per­sonal per­for­mance rather than the car. I can fit in by bike, board and the kids’ gear and I’m not in­ter­ested in the on-road fash­ion show.

HEART SAYS

Com­mon-sense rules the roost with im­pres­sive in­ter­nal space and do­ing a lot of things well make it love­able all the same.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES MAZDA CX-5 GT FROM $43,950

The seg­ment top-seller Doesn’t have the same in­ter­nal space as the Subaru, but it’s pretty lithe cour­tesy of a a 140kW/251Nm 2.5-litre/4-cyl/six-speed auto/all-wheel drive sys­tem. Safety is close, although it doesn’t have the eye wan­der­ing anal­y­sis, and it has a bet­ter war­ranty.

TOY­OTA RAV4 GXL FROM $39,260 drive-away

Backed by the same Ja­panese build qual­ity, it also lacks the cabin prow­ess of the Forester. Un­der the bon­net is a 2.5-litre 4-cyl, 132kW/233Nm AWD. Safety tech is solid but in­fo­tain­ment drops be­hind, over­all it’s de­pend­able and prac­ti­cal.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.