The Inside

The Forester's dash sits higher against the windshield than you'll find in many SUVs, which gives the cabin a more carlike feel and a lower perceived driving position. Thanks to the large side and rear windows, however, overall visibility remains excellent.

A height-adjustable driver's seat is standard, but the steering wheel in most models only tilts, and its adjustment range is limited. You have to upgrade to the turbocharged model to get a telescoping wheel, which allows drivers of varying sizes to position themselves a safe, comfortable distance from the steering wheel and its airbag. It's an unfortunate omission, seeing as both the CR-V and RAV4 have telescoping wheels across all trims.

Interior quality is good, if occasionally inconsistent. The materials vary: The upper dash panels have an upscale finish, but some of the plastics lining the glove compartment look grainy and cheap. If you like silver plastic, your day has come: The stuff has spread like foreclosures in Tampa. Here it adorns the center controls, dash, steering wheel, gearshift and doors. The steering wheel has a satisfying grip, but I found the blue-and-white gauges a bit tacky. Other controls, from the turn signals to the window switches, show sturdy construction, and overall fit and finish is respectable.

    See also:

    Windshield washer
    To wash the windshield, pull the wiper control lever toward you. The washer fluid sprays until you release the lever. The wipers operate while you pull the lever. NOTE The windshield washer fl ...

    Driving tips
    Do not drive with your foot resting on the clutch pedal and do not use the clutch to hold your vehicle at a standstill on an upgrade. Either of those actions may cause clutch damage. Do not d ...

    Skip channel selection
    When in the SAT mode, press the following button continuously (type A, B and C audio)/briefly (type D audio) to change to the channel selection mode. Type A and B audio: Type C audio: Typ ...