The Forester won't seduce you with its looks, lacking the high performance posturing of the Impreza WRX, the imposing bulk of a proper off-roader or the sophistication of an Audi Allroad. However its compromises are also its strength, for it is far better to drive than almost any off-roader and more practical than most normal cars. It won't deal with serious off-road driving, but will cope with towing jetskis out of the water or traversing muddy fields.
The biggest downside is the lack of any diesel option. A new 2.5-litre engine was added in 2004 and the range was facelifted later that same year.