Subaru had a long history of producing rugged four wheel drive road cars that became popular with farmers and country bound drives. But the rise and rise in the popularity of the off roader as a leisure and recreational vehicle often called the SUV (sport utility vehicle) did not encourage Subaru to follow the trend, despite having the right kind of transmission sitting in their parts bin. After some consideration, Subaru launched the Streega concept car in late 1995, which gave heavy hints as to what Subaru thought an SUV should look like. The result was the Forester, best described as an amalgam of SUV and estate car. Despite the substantial looks, the Forester was based on the chassis and running gear of the Impreza. Careful attention to space utilization meant the Forester was surprisingly roomy. The upright driving position and five seats made the Forester an exceptionally comfortable car over long distances, especially as it was capable of very refined running at motorway speeds, something that most conventional truck based SUVs were not really know for.
Although nowhere near as heavy as an ordinary SUV, the Forester was quite a weight machine, and the basic 122 bhp engine had to work hard, although at high revs the performance was remarkably good. Later, more powerful 160 bhp and 250 bhp versions were launched. The Forester marked the beginning of the end for the truck based SUVs that were so enormously popular in the USA at the time. Lighter, safer and more ecologically sound solutions like the Forester pointed the way forward.