Tag Archives: Forester

2018 Subaru Forester Review – New Car Review

I’m a newbie when it comes to CVT gearboxes. My first experience of one was in my recent test car, the 2018 Subaru Forester. In Ireland, the Forester costs from €36,995 which makes it a much pricier alternative to the 2018 Mazda CX-5 and 2018 Nissan X-Trail. However, both of the latter SUVs can be had with a regular, automatic gearbox and having experienced the CX-5 with its 6-speed auto, it’s rather good. But Subaru has always been a bit out there so instead of giving us a trusty automatic, they have given us a CVT. *Deep sigh* OK, let’s do this.

CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission. While it is an automatic, it doesn’t have gears but rather steps or stages. Instead of gears, or cogs, there are pulleys. One turned by the engine and the other pulled by the rest of the transmission to the wheels. This transcribes to a seamless and smooth gear change but, when driven like any other car, the engine uses most of the rev range before changing up a gear. This is annoying not only because of the high revs but this translates to a 9.6l/100km fuel economy figure. So in order for you to drive the Forester as Subaru has intended, you must drive at a snail’s pace.

But the Subaru isn’t just all about the CVT. Thanks to its EyeSight feature, it has one of the best adaptive cruise control systems I’ve used. Eyesight is how Subaru say “safety”. It acts as lane recognition and emergency brake assist also. By monitoring other motorists around you, the binocular-like sensors at the top of the windscreen help to keep you out of trouble.

The Forester, back in the day, was a boxy, quirky Japanese estate. Now, keeping up with trends, it is more of an SUV. The exterior’s tall, awkward design translates to great head room in the front and rear and a boot space of at least 505l and up to 1,565l with the seats flat. A decent sized glovebox and a huge centre console cubby hole mean that the Forester has plenty of space all round. The heated leather seats mean that motorway journeys were comfortable and not to be dread.

Taking the SUV off road with X-Mode means that this family practical package can become, not hard core but, off road capable. Understandably, there are very few places where it is free reign for you to tear around in your off roader but I have my spots and I took the 2018 Subaru Forester “soft-roading”. While I found it capable here, I didn’t challenge it. However, I was informed by Subaru when I dropped the Forester back that when they did the official launch, the off road course instructors that navigated the journalists around said that it was just as capable as their Land Rover Discovery 1 and 2s. Although I find this hard to believe, I wasn’t there so I have to take their word for it.

Overall, the Forester is a decent package. Coming in at €38,995 for this 150hp, 198Nm Boxer petrol engine with the CVT, it is well equipped. I would recommend the Eyesight safety system, for sure. What I would not recommend is the CVT. For your own sanity, until Subaru discover the conventional automatic gearbox, opt for the 6-speed manual.