A dark blue 2021 Subaru Forester is shown driving past a field after leaving a Subaru Forester dealership.

Why the Subaru Forester is Superb for Student Drivers

My family walked into the Subaru Forester dealership looking for an education. My wife and I had always driven Hondas and Toyotas, but our son had heard that Subaru made some of the safest cars on the road. You see, this visit to the Subaru Dealership was to buy him his first car. He had gotten his driver’s license last year and would need a car for college. We also wanted one we could use this summer while his kid sister learns to drive. While we had previously been motivated to find cars and SUVs that were the roomiest in their class, now we were putting safety first since our kids would be driving this car. We were in for quite an education, but luckily the friendly salesman at Subaru was happy to make the learning curve a lot easier for these two concerned parents to climb.

Test-Driving a Forester

The salesman took down our information and then suggested that we take a test drive in a 2021 Subaru Forester. I had read that J.D. Power has ranked Subaru Number 1 in brand loyalty for two straight years, but I felt we needed to see things for ourselves. We gave the salesman our driver’s licenses and our daughter’s learner’s permit and then followed him outside.

The first thing we noticed was the rugged good looks of the Forester. This SUV looks longer and sleeker than our Honda CR-V, with the same amount of ground clearance. We got in, buckled ourselves up, and got ready to go.

I drove first, immediately seeing the overhead lights to remind everyone to buckle up. We also heard the instant chimes to remind us as well. I immediately noticed the responsive acceleration of the Forester. You don’t have to step hard on the gas to get this to go. Next, I began to make a number of tight curves, noticing the excellent cornering of this Subaru. This car really held its line. The steering was much tighter than I’ve found on the Honda and Toyota vehicles I’ve driven. This is important since my daughter tends to work the wheel too much, while my son has the opposite habit, often driving us right into potholes.

My wife went next, and she was impressed with the Subaru Forester as well. She found it to handle really well. This is because of the standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Unlike most other all-wheel drive crossovers that are built on a front-wheel drive platform and are therefore only part-time all-wheel drive, the Subaru Forester is built to be all-wheel drive from the ground up. As a result, there is more overall stability in the Forester than other vehicles in its class. My wife actually found a sizable puddle during her test drive and found the traction to be exceptional, giving us a sense of how our Forester would perform in inclement weather.

My kids took their turns and seemed to drive better than they ever had in our Honda CR-V and Pilot. My wife didn’t have to use her hand motions to remind the kids to keep the car steady, to brake well in advance of stop signs, and, especially, to slow down. The salesman also seemed to appreciate that the Subaru Forester helped my kids drive better as well. At the end of our test drive, the Forester helpfully reminded us to check the back seat and to have a great day.

A close up shows the knobs and buttons for X-mode drive selection in a 2021 Subaru Forester.

Choosing the Right Forester for Our Student

With our son starting college next year, we wanted to find the Forester model that emphasized safety as opposed to speed or luxury. As a result, while we loved the Forester Sport trim, it didn’t make sense to give a new driver paddle shifters. I know he loves Grand Prix racing, but first, he has to get through four years of college. As for luxury, while we all loved the leather seats on the Limited and Touring trims, we were concerned that he might have some issues keeping them clean. The cloth seats on the model we test-drove were very comfortable and made more sense for a student driver. So, we chose to buy a 2021 Subaru Forester Premium with the available power rear gate and the blindspot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert features. Our goal was to make sure that we took full advantage of Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist technology.

Safety is Standard on Subaru

Subaru has earned its reputation for safety, applying innovation to improve the lives of drivers and their passengers. The EyeSight Driver Assist Technology uses a pair of cameras mounted in the front windshield just below the roofline to help act as an extra set of eyes. This system comes standard on all models of the 2021 Forester and includes four different safety features.

The pre-collision braking system works to prevent collisions with vehicles in front of it. If you are too close, you will get a warning from the system, and if it detects the car in front slowing down or stopping, it will apply the brakes. Pre-collision throttle management works in the same way, giving you the ability to maneuver around a stopped vehicle. This system will even let you know if the vehicle in front of you has moved, just in case you’ve dozed off while sitting in traffic. Finally, lane departure and sway warning alerts you if you are drifting out of your lane. These alerts are especially helpful to keep a new driver like my kids.

Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering will be especially helpful when my son has to drive himself to college. His school is a good five-hour drive from our home, and when he’s on the interstate, he can engage the Cruise Control to maintain a safe speed. With Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control, you set a speed for your Forester and let the system do the rest. If it detects a slower-moving vehicle in front of you, it will reduce the speed of your Forester. Once that vehicle has departed, the system will resume the speed you originally set. In addition, it will give you helpful nudges on the steering wheel to keep you centered in your lane.

We also opted for the additional safety features on our Forester Premium. Blind spot detection with lane change assist advises you of the presence of vehicles on the left and right-hand sides of your Forester. If the coast is not clear to change lanes, the lights on the side view mirror will flash yellow. This light will turn off as soon as there is no one in the blind spot, and it is safe to change lanes.

Rear-cross alert works in a similar way. When you put your Forester in reverse, the rear-vision camera will appear on your Subaru Starlink screen, and the system will engage. If the system detects a vehicle about to pass behind your Forester, the alert will sound, and the yellow lights on your side-view mirrors will flash. This has already come in handy a few times in the local supermarket parking lot.

All of these features have helped make the 2021 Forester a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with the Forester scoring a Superior for front crash prevention. It also got a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which conducts crash tests on all new passenger vehicles.

A close up shows the infotainment screen with EyeSight driver assist monitoring in a 2021 Subaru Forester.

Providing Peace of Mind for the Subaru Parent

The 2021 Subaru Forester Premium also comes with the optional My Subaru apps that work in conjunction with the Subaru Starlink safety and security features. This provides you with a number of great features. First, you can remotely start your Forester, which can come in handy on very cold winter days as well as hot and humid summer days. You can also lock your Forester remotely if you think you forgot to do so when you parked. It also has a vehicle locator, so you can know where your Forester is at all times.

If you are a parent like me, then the best feature is that you can set driver alerts for each driver in your family. This helps me track how my son and daughter are driving, making sure they aren’t speeding and letting me know where they are driving the Forester. No wonder the Forester was named one of the Best Family Cars of 2021 by Parents Magazine!

Off to College in a Subaru

We still can’t believe our son is heading off to college in September. Still, we are glad he will be driving there in a Subaru. Now the only issue is that we will miss our Subaru Forester, almost as much as our son!