The Subaru Forester has benefited from a midcycle refresh and has come back as a strong competitor in its class of SUVs. While not so sophisticated as the Outback, the Forester brings a lot to the table worth talking about. Subaru has delivered a cheap SUV that gets the job done with a smile on its face. Rather than its previous reputation for being a budget car, the Forester now comes equipped with enough features to make it a great choice at its price point.

There are some solid reasons to consider this model if you’re in the market for an SUV, and we’re about to dive into three of them. The Forester is rugged, it has a great approach to interior space and visibility, and its performance is impressive, but not in the ways you would assume.

RELATED: 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

Legendary All-Wheel Drive Traction With Excellent Gas Mileage

Blue 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
A front 3/4 shot of a Subaru Forester Wilderness in the woods

Subaru has taken a modest approach when looking at the Forester’s engine. They have put their standard naturally aspirated 2.5-liter flat-four-cylinder boxer engine in the compact SUV and called it a day. Unlike the Outback, this car doesn’t even benefit from a turbo option of the engine and only outputs 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. If you’re looking for something with a bit of pep in its step then we’d suggest you look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for something reliable, practical, and efficient, you’re in the right place.

What the Forester lacks in oomph, it makes up for with its symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Whilst the Subaru’s CVT system is fairly controversial, with people claiming that the power hangs at higher speeds, the automaker has made great effort to improve the system and it shows.

The hanging is far less of an issue in the Forester, even less so as you’re not likely to be going very fast. This means that the driver can enjoy the benefits of the system a lot more; the benefits being that the compact SUV is far more fuel efficient (delivering a combined 29 mpg and 26 mpg on the Wilderness trim), a variable gearing system that changes seamlessly to adapt to the environment you’re in, and a smoother ride as there is a lack of big gear shifts.

The engine in the forester may not be the most impressive and it may not deliver speed, but every bit of that power is utilized to create a smooth ride and allow the driver to feel comfortable in all driving conditions. The updated 3,000-pound towing capacity, unique in this class of SUV, is a testament to how well Subaru has designed the power and drivetrain on this vehicle.

RELATED: New Subaru Forester STI Sport Isn't Any Faster, But It Will Probably Handle Better

A Simple Yet Feature-Packed Cabin Interior

2023 Subaru Forester dashboard
A shot of the dashboard in the 2023 Subaru Forester

One of the biggest draws with the refreshed Forester is the space you get inside. In the cabin you’re met with a very practical and simple approach. Everything about the Forester is designed to work in a non-complicated way, even down to the design. The finish on all dashboard and door panels may be a textured plastic, but none of it feels cheap or like its going to break easily. The seats are wide and anyone would find them comfortable no matter the size.

The infotainment system continues the approach of simplicity. It isn’t the most advanced system, but it gets the job done. With a 6.5- to 8.0-inch display, you have plenty of screens. The Forester now comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is a huge plus. Another exciting feature is that onboard Wi-Fi is available on a 4GHz LTE connection. All-in-all, despite its simple approach, you’re not really missing out on any features you’d really want at this price point.

Blue Subaru Forester Wilderness
Joe Parker / TopSpeed
A side-view shot of a 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

The absolute most appealing thing about the cabin, however, is the visibility. The driver seats are positioned in a way that makes you feel almost as if you are sitting on top of the car, meaning you have a full range of visibility and there will be no surprises when driving in tricky terrain. Whilst there is no third-row option of this compact SUV, you still get plenty of room and even the biggest of people should still find the rear seats unoffensive. At 28.9 cubic feet, the cargo space is immense, allowing you to stack and store as much as you could possibly want from a vehicle in this class.

RELATED: Why The Subaru Outback Is Better Than Any Other SUV

The Rugged Forester Is Genuinely Capable Yet Affordable

2023 Subaru Forester Wild Horizon Blue Pearl
2023 Subaru Forester Wild Horizon Blue Pearl, back-side profile parked on a gravel Off-Road patch

The Forester definitely suffered from a lack of style in some of its previous models, looking a bit drab. Gone are those concerns. While it still doesn’t exactly have the looks or the grace of a Mazda CX-5, the Forester certainly has its own appeal. The Forester Wilderness in particular, takes on a more aggressive, more rugged-looking demeanor offering up an impressive 9.2 inches of ground clearance.

Its new 17-inch wheels definitely add to this persona, giving it higher clearance and more aggressive-looking stance, which also obviously helps the Forester in terms of approach angles as well. Unlike so many other pretend SUVs, the Forester comes with Subaru's X-Mode system, which is genuinely competent off the pavement and you can switch between four available drive modes.

Coming to the prices, available across six trims, the base model starts at just over $27,000, it’s a little cheaper than any of its competitors. You’re not paying much more for the Premium model, the trim with the most bang for its buck, at only $30,620. For the price, you’re getting a brilliant SUV that’s going to give you exceptional space and reliability. As is the case with Japanese brands, Subaru's also hold their value well.

Subaru isn’t going for something that’s going to be the fanciest or give you the most in terms of features. They aren’t developing something that is going to be the most dressed up either. Instead, what they are giving you is a car that is going to get the job done and get it done without complaining.