Now in its fourth year, the 2012 Subaru Forester is still a handsome and well-proportioned crossover. Its relatively square corners and tall windows maximize interior space on a compact footprint, positioning it exactly halfway between a "tall station wagon" and a more truck-like small sport-utility. The combination works well, and the Forester isn't as aggressive looking or awkwardly tall as some of its competitors, despite ground clearance of almost 9 inches. The front end styling especially is just rounded enough to maintain a family resemblance to other Subarus while keeping the Forester distinct and recognizable.
Inside, the 2012 Forester has a modified version of the swooping central console and dash design pioneered a few years earlier in the larger Tribeca crossover. The design of the center stack and controls is upright, but the top horizontal portion of the dash smoothly flows into the doors. Parts of it are somewhat plain, reflecting the practicality of this all-purpose vehicle, but it's well suited to the understated buyers who value the Forester for its ability to handle kids, stuff, and a host of outdoor gear, boats, and anything else.