By Mike Torpey on 2017-04-30 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Subaru Forester 2.0D
SACRIFICING substance for style may have won plenty of fashionable SUVs an admiring glance or two.
It's a safe bet though that the Subaru Forester won't have been within a muddy field's width of any catwalk - it's not that sort of vehicle.
Sure, the fast-expanding area of the car market it inhabits is becoming both more congested and image-conscious by the day, but the Forester sticks more to the philosophy of 'handsome is as handsome does'.
Subaru has shaped the latest Forester around the serious SUV buyer's top priorities - like a high and commanding driving position, bags of interior space and cargo capacity plus ease of entry and exit for adults and children.
And of course high ground clearance and all-wheel drive provide the off-road capabilities the range is known for.
There's a choice of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines and the latter is the one to go for due to its smooth and economical turbocharged Boxer powerplant.
Okay, the tested version never let you forget it was a diesel; there was plenty of low gear clatter from Subaru's six-speed manual gearbox which isn't a patch on the company's Lineartronic CVT transmission.
But the Forester is a car you come to appreciate and enjoy more and more. In fact 350 miles of mixed motorway, country and urban driving during a return trip to the Cotswolds saw the Subaru post an average return of 49.5mpg - just a fraction off the official figure.
On faster routes the Forester is both swift and smooth with lots of punch while at the same time showing good balance and assured handling on rural roads.
Inside, there's a factory-fit seven-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system along with voice control and Bluetooth.
You also get good quality materials including a piano black central fascia plus metallic highlights around the dashboard and tactile if traditional controls.
An added bonus, to my mind at least, is the increasingly rare treat of a CD player.
And if shifting mountains of clobber is a regular occurence then fear not - the Forester can swallow up just about anything a family may need to throw at it thanks to a load area that expands to 1,592 litres with the rear seats down.
Subaru Forester 2.0D XC
Mechanical: 147ps, 1,998cc 4-cyl boxer diesel engine driving four wheels via six-speed gearbox
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 49.6
Insurance Group: 25
C02 emissions: 148g/km
Bik rating: 31%
Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles
Choose from one or more of the options to find the car for you.
Based on your search find the dealership
nearest to you.