Look-a-like Retro: 1997 Subaru Forester and…

Let me be the first to admit – I love the original Subaru Forester. I love its boxy styling, complete with a very Mini-esque upright windscreen, I love its classless appeal, and the fact that it looks just as well when covered in mud as it does just after a good scrub. And while Subaru has taken the model in a very different direction since the first generation, turning it into a pretty standard Toyota RAV4 / Honda CR-V competitor, the original Forester was quite an influential car – along with its larger Outback brother, it was one of the original “raised wagons” that are proving so popular today. And just the other day I realized that the Forester bares a striking similarity to another Japanese car from that era…

The 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser. Now, one could argue that many Japanese cars from this time look alike, and there is a lot to that. Still, to my eyes there is no denying just how much the Forester and Land Cruiser look like a smaller and larger cars from the same carmaker – they have a very similar light treatment at the front, a similarly upright windscreen, similarly pumped wheelarches (even if they’re executed a bit differently) and overall a very similar shape. In the end, though, to me the Forester is the better-looking of the two, hands down, especially that the 1998 “J100” Land Cruiser was to me a step back from the original and butch “J80” model from the early 1990s. 

  1. So Toyota copied Subaru, not the other way around. Although, like you said, it’s quite common for Japanese cars to look alike. A recent example is the 2009 Honda Insight and the 2003 Toyota Prius.

  2. Toyota owns part of Subaru’s parent company and they share development of some models. Maybe this was the case here.

    1. @Rick M – you’re absolutely right, and I’ve been meaning to write an article about Subaru’s success for a while now. Any opinions/Ideas to incorporate in the article are welcome 🙂

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