I was either looking into buying the Forester or the RAV4, and I'm very glad I went with this car. I drove a RAV4 4CYL as a rental car for a long duration. It had a comfortable ride, got great gas mileage for a small SUV, was well equipped, had good front and rear leg room, and the performance was surprisingly good for a 4CYL engine. Sounds like a great car until you come to the driving dynamics: it's boring. And let's not forget the rear horizontally opening door with the exterior mounted spare tire. I feel like I might accidentally swing the door in to my child's face if I'm not careful. The Forester is everything the RAV4 is plus monumentally better driving dynamics and overall value.
The handling and ride - wow. This small SUV is not only a fantastic car to ride in, it's an even better driver's car. The Bluetooth system (standard on the premium models) is versatile because it can not only be used conventionally to make and receive phone calls, it streams music from your phone. The windshild wiper de-icer comes in handy. The H4 engine is silky smooth, and provides good power in all sorts of driving. This car is also handsome looking and utilitarian at the same time, something that is drastically different from the RAV4. You want to get this thing dirty on a mountain trail, but at the same time, you want to take it to an evening event with friends (if you clean it first!)
While I love this car, there are a two items that need to be improved. First is the transmission. It's completely outdated. My 1998 Corolla had 4 gears, and that was built 14 years ago! Hopefully Subaru is delaying the implementation of a new transmission because the one that comes out is going to be absolutely phenomenal (or so we hope). On the upside, this gearbox is very refined as gear shifts are undetectable, and anything is better than a CVT. Also, this engine makes a great sound at higher RPMs, so less gears is not all bad news. The stereo's treble is, plain and simply, not great. I would suggest buying the Subaru tweeter kit. It's very easy to install and makes a HUGE difference.