DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: The 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium looks a bit tall on the outside, but get in and you’ll think you’re in the Popemobile. There’s a ton of glass, to the point the sunvisors are extra long in an attempt to cover enough windshield area to justify their existence (unfortunately, they don’t slide when flipped to the side so I was frequently blinded while traveling with the sun to my left). Seriously, this thing’s like a modern AMC Pacer, except with the addition of a huge glass moonroof. You are in the fishbowl.
Anyone familiar with current Subaru products will be instantly at home behind the wheel of the Forester (as long as they’re not shy, anyway). The familiar flat-four rumble is present, and the car’s CVT offers decent feel and NVH, at least as far as continuously variable transmissions go. The car is very stable and planted in any kind of reasonable driving situation -- again, a Subaru hallmark. It’s also quiet, at least until it reaches freeway speeds, at which point wind noise starts to overpower the stereo and conversations. Considering the Forester’s upright stance and 93 square miles of thin glass, its quietness at lower speeds is pretty impressive.
As for its “premium” designation, I’m not sure what in the Forester qualifies it as such. There are plain cloth seats (heated at least), hard black plastics throughout, no automatic climate control, no automatic headlights, a barely usable rearview camera and no navigation or satellite radio. I guess all those are “Limited” features, but a $27.5K MSRP puts the Subaru in a dogfight with better trimmed Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 competitors (though there’s more parity once AWD is factored in).
If you like Subaru style and need a truly usable crossover, there’s a lot going for the Forester. Budget a few hundred bucks for window tint, though.
Ride quality in the 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium is fair, and at the end of the day it's and off-road-capable vehicle.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: The big change on the Forester came last year with a new body, more cargo room and deletion of the torque converter automatic. And this 2015 model carries them along.
I can’t get over how much better these CVTs are now that Subie has tuned them for excitement instead of sleep insomnia. Power is instantaneous from throttle tip-in and doesn’t stop until you let off the pedal. The sound is still a little weird, but we’re even getting used to that. It makes an average-powered four banger feel like an above-average powered four banger.
The Premium trim is looking like a pretty good deal with the rearview camera, color screen, all the goodies. I do wonder if these cars will be as bulletproof as the Subies of yore. What’s it cost to replace a CVT, anyway?
There is plenty of room for four large-sized adults and plenty of cargo space for food, luggage or golf clubs. Taking a foursome to the club would be a no-brainer in this car.
Obviously, it comes standard with Subaru’s all-wheel drive system and that cool little dashboard graphic that shows what tires are working. Unfortunately, I didn’t encounter any weather in my nightly drive, but I bet this would be a trooper in one of Michigan’s surprise blizzards.
My favorite Forester in terms of looks is probably from the second generation, but this sheetmetal is right behind. It’s still mostly square, but you can tell there was some attention paid to aerodynamics. Give me a black or white one, though.
And, hey, Subaru even offers a stick shift in the base model if you can’t stand the CVT, even if it’s a good one.
We can't get over how much better the CVT is in the 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium.
EDITORIAL INTERN BRAD WILEY: Subaru has its CVT down pat, and the 2015 Forester is just another example of the engineering shining through. This compact SUV received a full redesign just last year, and the changes are making all the difference. It looks good, too.
Ride quality is fair, though it’s not like rolling around in a bed of pillows; it’s an off-road-capable vehicle at the end of the day. Acceleration is great, and the 2.5-liter H4 offers more than enough power to get around town. Having had a bit more time in the Forester, we would have enjoyed seeing how well it could navigate a two-track. And the standard all-wheel drive keeps this Subaru a step above the competition.
The interior has changed in this fourth-generation Forester. Added sound-deadening returns a much quieter ride and the soft-touch surfaces add in a premium feel, but it is quickly consumed by a sea of hard plastic trim panels. Cargo and storage space continues to take precedence, and the Forester is no lackey. A serious amount of gear can be packed in with more than enough room to haul passengers comfortably. It’s a no-brainer for avid outdoorsmen.
Like Andy points out, driving the Forester is like spending time in a fishbowl. Window tint is a necessity if you want any inkling of privacy.
The 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium is equipped with a 2.5-liter H4 pushing out 170 hp with 174 lb-ft of torque.
Options: Package 14 including all-weather package including heated front seats, heated side mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, eyesight driver-assist system, pre-collision braking system, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane sway warning, pre-collision throttle management system ($1,295); auto dim mirror compass ($199)
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