When I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, my dad was what is now referred to as an “early adopter.” It seemed like we always had the latest gadget or gizmo around the house; we had the first portable tape player and the first remote-control television on our block, and we also had one of the first Turbo Hoover vacuums. What was the Turbo Hoover, you ask? Well, it was an upright vacuum with a handle that had about an inch of give forward and backward. When pushed forward, the vacuum’s turbo would kick in, propelling it ahead and, in the process, yanking my arm out of its socket. When pulled back, the Turbo Hoover would back over my toes at high speed. The Hoover’s not-so-saving grace was a red button on the handle that would turn off the turbo feature. Of course, once you pushed the button, you realized the Turbo Hoover weighed about 45 pounds. If you had thick orange shag carpet and used a Turbo Hoover without the turbo engaged, you’d wind up with some big guns.
The 2007 Subaru Forester powerfully reminds me of our old Turbo Hoover vac. The first tip off was the scoop on the Forester’s hood. If it only had a light inside, it would look just like a vacuum. After driving the Forester, I now know what it would have been like to be a dust mite riding atop that spastic vacuum. The two beasts have more in common than a Cyclops-looking front end – there’s also herky-jerky, uncontrollable acceleration. Add a sticky gearshift, and I’m swept back to my youth doing chores, because it’s a chore to drive this manual version of the Forester, people. My new policy is that any car that reminds me of gruntwork should be left in the dust.
I wish, dear readers, that the list ended there. Alas, no. When I try to imagine how loud it would be to ride inside a vacuum, I just hop in the Forester and I have my answer. There is so much road noise, my 4-year-old (yes, my 4-year-old) complains that the car is too loud. I keep trying to roll the windows up because it sounds as though they’re all cracked about a centimeter, but they’re already rolled up. I can’t stop the noise!
Speaking of unstoppable noise, I hear a lot of complaints from the backseat of the Subaru. There are no easily accessible cupholders for the kids to use, and the only storage pocket is on the back of the passenger seat. I whine a little bit, too, about the uncomfortable driver’s seat. It feels as though the cushion has packed out even though there are only 6,000 miles on my test car. What’s up with that? And why can’t my kids and I have a little more legroom? I mean, as long as everyone’s complaining…
On non-vacuum-related issues, the Forester has one (almost) saving grace: There’s a plastic insert in the cargo area that unfolds to create nifty, organized space for grocery bags, shoes and whatever other stuff I choose to stow in its netted bins. I can fold it down easily if I need more room, which makes it incredibly handy. The unhandy thing is that when it’s closed, the hard plastic keeps anything from resting on it quietly. You can’t put anything in the trunk without at least part of it sitting on the slick plastic, so essentially everything you put in the back slides around. Totally annoying.
I don’t mean to be harshin’ on the Forester so bad, but I am really quite let down by this car. I do like Subarus, and I had hoped the Forester would compensate for its dippy exterior with a nice ride for the family, but that’s not the case. My husband asks to drive most of the cars I test even though he knows he can’t, and I have to shut him down every time. He didn’t even ask to try this one. He grew up with a Turbo Hoover, too. Enough said.
*For more information on the Subaru Forester and its safety features, visit Cars.com.
LET’S TALK NUMBERS
Latch Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): None – Some
Base price: $25,995
Price as tested: $26,730
Engine: 2224-hp, 2.5-liter H-4
Fuel: 20/27 mpg
Ground Clearance: 8.1″
Turning Radius: 17.4′
Cargo space: 32.0-57.7 cu. ft.
NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Driver’s side: 5 Stars
Passenger’s side: 5 Stars
Front occupant: 5 Stars
Rear occupant: 5 Stars
Rollover resistance: 4 Stars