I was VERY eager to test the Subaru Forester for BabyDrive as we have one as our family car!! It's not as clean and modern as the shiny showroom car tested here though!! Ours, Gump, is old and battered and has carried us and our memories around Australia a few times since we bought him eight years ago! Our pre-baby selves have cheered him over sand dunes, held our breath down slippery liquid dirt roads and slept on top of him in our roof tent in some of the most remote and beautiful locations!! He is also the one we brought our baby girl home in and the one she has peed all over the seats of during toilet training, has squished monster crackers into the seats and she also fondly calls him Gump too! Heart melt!!
Oh! Enough of the reminiscing!!!! Let's see how the new one holds up as a BabyDrive!!
The Subaru Forester stacked up as a pretty good BabyDrive, and fitted three child seats easily in the back seats: The Britax Maxi Guard Pro in the central seat, with the rear facing Britax Graphene on one side and Britax Unity infant capsule on the other side. There are three top tethers in the seat backs that are easily accessible through the boot and within clearly labelled, plastic guides. The ISOFix are in the two outer rear seats, and although they are not within plastic guides and are concealed behind flaps of seat fabric, I still found them easy to connect to.
With rear-facing child seats installed, the legroom was still really good in the front and a 184cm driver could still sit in front of them.
Storage was quite good inside the Subaru Forester; the door bins were all well-sized to hold a large refillable water bottle, the cup holders in the back held 600ml and smaller vessels well too, but the front ones were not so practical and disposable and reusable coffee cups both rattled around as they weren't held securely. There was a convenient well in front of the gear lever that I found good for a phone and glasses as there was no glasses case in the ceiling and the glove box was not enormous either. The central console storage box had a phone tray in the top but it wouldn't hold phones bigger than my old iPhone SE!
The boot of the Forester didn't look like it was very big but it was actually quite deceiving! It fitted 13 shopping bags when empty which was a fair amount and held all three Mountain Buggy strollers with differing amounts of shopping bags alongside them.
The boot floor was nice and flat, suitable for an emergency nappy change but the floor nearest the opening had a sharp slope down to it, which I found made the capacity it could hold smaller. If it had been flat to the edge I could have got more shopping bags into the boot.
I found the media system in the Forester to be a little dated to use and there was no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, although I am told that the new model due in September will have both, as well as a media system overhaul and update! We shall see!
The media screen is quite small but the reversing camera image is quite clear and you also get a second screen up on the dashboard that gives you a view down the left side of the car, which I found useful when parallel parking against the kerb!
The Forester has no parking sensors as standard though, they are an expensive optional extra which is surprising in this day and age!
I found it an enjoyable car to drive, but there was a bit of road noise and a strange whirring sound to the engine which I found a bit of a sensory overload during my test drive. I did find the in-built sat-nav was easy to use and I was able to mute the voice announcements within the screen settings.
Overall the Forester was a good BabyDrive, the storage and media system let it down a little and I still prefer our old workhorse Gump!!
The Subaru Forester scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2013 and has seven airbags as standard.