One of the biggest complaints among drivers is that visibility is getting worse in cars. In the neverending pursuit of better crash test ratings and rakish aggressive styling, pillars are getting thicker, and the view out is getting ever more tank like. Some of the worst offenders include the Chevy Camaro and Toyota C-HR. But one car has miraculously bucked the trend: our long-term Subaru Forester.
I took it out for a night recently after a lengthy hiatus, and I was stunned by what I could see: everything! The Forester has shockingly thin pillars all the way around, even at the back. The tall roof facilitates equally tall windows. Add in extra low window sills and a high seating position, and the feeling is like being a fish in an aquarium. It makes merging lanes and parking a breeze. Not only that, but the cabin feels so airy and bright, especially with the Forester's extra-huge sunroof. It's a breath of fresh air, you know, if your eyes could breathe. Most of the rest of the segment has adopted the aforementioned thick pillars and low roofs that counter this freeing, open feeling. Look no further than the best-selling crossover in the compact class, the Toyota RAV4, which has prioritized an aggressive exterior design at the expense of having a comparatively claustrophobic cabin.
The Forester's amazing visibility doesn't come at the cost of safety, either. It's an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for getting the best-possible ratings for crash protection and prevention, as well as "Good" or "Acceptable" headlight ratings. NHTSA gives it a top five-star rating overall, and it has a low risk of rollover.
One other minor side note to all this: The Forester is a great vehicle for senior drivers. The visibility, and of course the good safety ratings are a big part of that, but there are other factors. I realized the Forester is really easy to get in and out of, almost like a minivan. The doors open wide, the floor is low, and the seats are at a comfortable hip height, so you simply step in rather than climbing up or lowering down into it. It's a small crossover that's easy to maneuver. The large cargo space would be handy if needing to bring walkers or wheelchairs around. And the standard all-wheel drive would be a nice extra layer of security in bad conditions. It's maybe not an exciting way to market the Forester, but it's true.