In its fifth and final year, the 2013 Subaru Forester remains a handsome, nicely proportioned, and sensibly styled crossover, to some. Absent the swoopy accents and flaring lines of some of the competition, the Forester looks like what a compact crossover did a decade ago: upright, sturdy, and capable without being overbearing. The tall windows and square corners give the most interior volume in the least road space, and it sits exactly between "tall wagon" models and tougher, truck-like sport utilities.
Despite its almost 9 inches of ground clearance, the Forester isn't awkwardly tall or overly aggressive looking--as are a few of its competitors. And its distinctive front end is a familiar site in the Subaru-heavy precincts in mountain towns, snowy regions, and much of New England and the Pacific Northwest.
Inside, the dash design swoops gently down to a center console, a restrained version of the style pioneered several years ago by the large Subaru Tribeca crossover. The top dash surface flows into the doors, but the central controls and stack stand upright before they connect to the console. Many of the surfaces are quite plain, whether in dark textured plastic or flat silver trim, but it's a practical scheme that lends itself to tough use and easy cleaning. The Forester's interior should handle kids, sports equipment, cats and dogs, muddy camping gear, small boats, and anything else you can throw at it--no matter where you choose to take the car.