Forester a perfect Winnipeg pothole pounder


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One of the proudest moments in my career as an automobile journalist occurred a couple of years back when my stepfather bought a Subaru.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/04/2022 (295 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One of the proudest moments in my career as an automobile journalist occurred a couple of years back when my stepfather bought a Subaru.

My mom, Isabelle, and stepdad Jim Ketcheson (Ketch) had been buying bad cars up to that point at an alarming rate.

In fairness, the Dodge Caliber they had before pulling the trigger on their new Subaru Crosstrek wasn’t the worst vehicle they’d ever owned.

Not even close.

Even alongside an AMC Hornet, a Pontiac Sunbird and a Chevrolet Cobalt, the dubious distinction of Ketch’s crappiest car is resoundingly reserved for the Lada Signet he bought brand new for the princely sum of $4,995 in 1986.

In what has since become one of my favourite automotive quotes, he grinned at me once and said, “I should have known it was a bad sign when I spotted the welder in the car’s tool kit.” He was kidding of course — the sheet metal on that Lada was so thin a welder would have melted it like butter.

Sure, he went through a Jeep phase back in the day and owned a Comanche and a Cherokee, both of which were generously passed down to me in the late 1980s and early ’90s, but other than those two gems, his rolling resumé has been littered with duds that have done little to evoke emotion, have only been remotely reliable and have had abysmal residual value.

The truth is, even though their kid is car-crazy, my folks, who are retired, really only need a car for basic transportation and have always simply wanted something reliable and affordable that may actually be worth something when it comes time to trade it in.

Many of you out there surely feel their pain.

Which is why, in a roundabout way, I’m here to tell you that if you don’t really care about cars, but absolutely need a car, and live in Winnipeg — the car you need is a Subaru.

In this instance a 2022 Subaru Forester, preferably in green.

First off, owning an all-wheel-drive vehicle in Winnipeg is always a good idea. It may not be snowing right now, but we both know it will snow here again. Then spring brings pothole season. Not a problem for the Forester. In fact, of the roughly 500 or so new vehicles I’ve tested over the years this is the top pothole pounder of them all.

Stellar suspension

It was already showing signs of a stellar suspension early on in my week-long test drive, but it totally proved this while on my daily commute, which includes a stretch of Pipeline Road. Currently near where this ragged road connects with the Perimeter Highway there is a series of potholes that are better described as craters. In my Silverado truck it is best to crawl through the hazards like a mountain goat, slow and steady. Behind the wheel of the Forester, however, the gas was mashed and it glided across that obstacle course of suspension-slaughtering muck and asphalt without so much as a shudder.

It’s no secret why Subaru’s handle potholes so well, the Forester features a four-wheel fully independent suspension system originally engineered and fine-tuned for rally competition. The design allows each wheel to move independently, reducing the angle required to absorb bumps and maintaining tire contact on uneven surfaces. This, in turn, creates greater comfort, safety, stability and control. It’s really quite remarkable how well this Subaru softens the street.

Another welcome treat with a Subaru Forester is how simple the infotainment is. I’ll leave it to Kelly Taylor to get technical about all the available features, but for me it is the ease of use that is appealing here. Unlike many cars that require an engineering degree to master the complicated technology, the Forester has what is best described as the flip-phone of dashboards. Simple, to the point, big enough fonts to see without reading glasses — and a nice sounding stereo to boot.

And lastly, my final endorsement on the Forester concerns your wallet. Even on the used market anything Subaru is always highly sought-after, and when it comes time to trade-in or sell your Subaru it will still be worth a pretty penny.

There is, however, a bit of a rub. Normally I recognize that auto ownership is entirely subjective, but let’s be honest here, there is nothing sexy about a Subaru Forester. It’s not ugly, but it does look a lot like other SUVs in its class and does little visually to stand out from the crowd.

Fear not though, thanks to that superlative suspension, the simplicity of its technology and the value it offers, it is easy to overlook the Forester’s mundane curb appeal.

Think of it like a sensible pair of shoes — the ones with Velcro.

Willy Williamson

Willy Williamson
Travel/Homes/Autos Editor

Paul “Willy” Williamson joined the Free Press editorial team in 2007, turning his back on a career as a corrections officer. His motor has been running non-stop ever since.

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