By Mike Torpey on 2022-11-05 - 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 XE
AMERICAN businessman Bert Lance achieved a measure of notoriety as an adviser to US President Jimmy Carter, but he will be remembered for something far more long-lasting.
Bert was the person credited with popularising the phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" which he was quoted as saying in a business magazine during 1977.
Applying that adage to the motor industry has worked well for several car companies in the intervening years, none more so than Japanese brand Subaru concerning its adventure SUV the Forester.
It's a model that's been around for a quarter century and while its dynamics, technology and equipment has continually evolved over that time, the design has remained on the conservative side.
Let's be honest, potential SUV buyers aren't going to be blown away by the Forester's styling, they probably wouldn't give it a second glance.
That would be a mistake, a very big mistake in fact, because this is a hybrid vehicle deserving of serious consideration.
Since its debut in 1997 the Forester has achieved a sales figure of 357,000 in Europe, so while it is established as a safe, fun and reliable package it's also still something of a well-kept secret.
What we really like about the Forester is that it's a no-nonsense car, one that stands by the philosophy of ‘handsome is as handsome does'.
And Subaru has scaled this vehicle around the priorities of the serious SUV buyer - things like a commanding driving position, plenty of interior space and headroom, an excess of cargo capacity and ease of entry and exits for all shapes and sizes.
It also cuts something of a lone furrow in that it sits in a niche of its own - sure there are plenty of SUVs for buyers to agonise over, but none offer the complete package of the Forester.
And that includes Subaru's Permanent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and X-Mode drive set-up with its Normal, Snow/Dirt and Snow Mud settings plus Hill Descent Control that comfortably deal with rough and rocky terrain
Now there's a refreshed version offering even more capability, new safety features, better convenience and improved dynamics.
Among the upgrades is the latest fourth generation EyeSight driver assist tech. It comprises a front view camera to monitor a 180-degree area in front of the car that would normally be in the driver's blind spot plus a side view camera to help drivers squeeze through narrow spaces.
The safety suite also has no less than 11 safety functions and includes the likes of auto emergency steering, adaptive cruise control with lane centring and lane departure prevention that recognises a dividing line like grass or a road edge.
Forester fans get a choice of three models, starting with the XE Lineartronic at £37,895, and all are powered by a 2.0-litre E-Boxer petrol engine paired with an electric motor and CVT auto transmission.
It's an enjoyable and smooth car to drive, if a little revvy under acceleration, and well balanced though not especially economical. Our own fuel return over 200-plus miles of mixed urban and motorway driving was 32.5 miles per gallon compared to the official Combined figure of 34.7mpg.
Inside, there's plenty of stowage including both bottle and cup holders, loads of headroom, ample space for three across the back and a huge boot with powered tailgate.
Our top spec XE Premium version commands a £3,000 hike over base level but brings in the likes of soft leather upholstery, 18-inch diamond-cut alloys, a panoramic sliding glass sunroof and silver roof rails as well as the comprehensive level of standard kit that comes with every model.
Subaru describes the e-Boxer Forester as being ‘evolved to explore' and while that may just be a soundbite, this a reliable and tough workhorse that's certainly up for the challenge.
Subaru Forester XE Premium e-Boxer Lineartronic
Mechanical:150bhp, 1,995cc, 4-cyl petrol engine plus electric motor driving four wheels via Lineartronic CVT transmission
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