By now, the Subaru Forester is a well-known and instantly identifiable sight in cold-weather and more rugged regions of North America. Its shape is clearly that of a tall wagon with SUV ride height, and Subaru has thankfully ignored the fashion for swoopy designs and racy-looking utility vehicles.
Instead, the 2016 Forester is a handsome vehicle, a slightly less boxy but still evolutionary take on the previous generation that keeps easy access and outward visibility as its priorities. A few design themes, including sculpted body sides and the taillight shapes, are shared with the current Subaru Impreza. There are fewer exaggerated creases, just modest fender flares, and the grille and front lamp units taper and sweep further around the car than before.
The hood line is slightly higher than before, with a more chiseled front end slightly let down by a profusion of details in its lower front end, including an aggressive airdam on turbo models that brackets the front end like dewlaps. Turbo models lose the hood scoop, too, meaning they're more sophisticated in appearance at first glance.
Moving inside the Forester, the instrument panel shares its relatively simple layout with the larger Legacy mid-size sedan and Outback crossover utility. It's further forward, and lower, giving more openness to the front-seat areas. Materials throughout the interior have been upgraded, with a mix of matte and soft-touch surfaces accented with matte-finish metallic trim. Larger multi-information screens for 2016 top a center console that contains simple, intuitive climate and audio controls and sweeps into a center console with an armrest, the inevitable cup holders, and a variety of storage bins.