The Subaru Forester makes most sense if you regularly tow to out-of-the-way campsites and need a reliable car that will pull a caravan off a muddy pitch. However, on tarmac there are better tow cars.
The back of the car fidgets and bobs when towing, and the Forester took a long time to pull the caravan straight after sharp steering inputs. We’re not talking about big swaying motions, just an unsettled feel that isn’t relaxing for the driver.
Despite this, the Subaru actually coped very well with the lane-change test, only sliding slightly at the rear in wet conditions. The brake test wasn’t as impressive, though, taking 14 metres to stop car and caravan from 30mph in wet conditions. That’s the worst stopping distance of any car in the middle weight class.
You‘d think a diesel 4×4 would take a hill start in its stride, but the clutch and throttle needed to be carefully balanced to pull cleanly to the top of the 1-in-6 slope.
The Subaru picked up a respectable score for practicality; the boot was large enough for a full load of luggage bar the Aquaroll, but the handbook warns against using the compact spare tyre when towing.
Subaru’s five-year warranty is a definite plus, but the diesel falls short of its most efficient competitors in terms of economy and emissions.