Roominess & Cargo

Front-seat legroom and headroom was fine for me (about 6 feet tall), even with the panoramic moonroof that comes on most trim levels. The seats have slight side bolsters that come in handy during spirited driving, and the seatbacks provided adequate back support during my several hours behind the wheel.

Thanks largely to a wheelbase that's 3.6 inches longer, backseat legroom has increased more than 4 inches over the previous Forester, and that's a lot when it comes to legroom. The doors open a few degrees wider, too, and I found the resulting backseat comfortably roomy. One caveat: A large floor hump crowds foot room. The CR-V and RAV4 have virtually flat floors.

A low lift-over height and wide opening make the cargo area's 33.5 cubic feet of volume easy to access. The 60/40-split rear seats fold flat in one simple step, extending volume to a maximum of 68.3 cubic feet. Those figures compare favorably with the segment, especially when you consider that each SUV that beats the Forester has a corresponding annoyance: The RAV4 has a cumbersome, sideways-opening rear door; the CR-V requires you to tumble the second-row seats forward and secure them in place; and the Outlander's tumbling seats are a pain in the neck to fold back into place. On the space-versus-impediments index, the Forester scores high.

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