I think the Forrester is an EXCELLENT alternative to an SUV. Just as much passenger and cargo room, but better gas milage, acceleration, handling and braking. They don't look that bad either, IMO. And unlike very, very many SUVs, they have 4WD! If you need a family mover, it's certainly not a bad choice at all.
not that i am much of a brand loyalty type, but the forester redesigned for 03 looks much sharper than the previous years. the wife wants to look at the toyota highlander, the honda pilot. I hope she decides on the forester, it looks much cooler than the competition and is the only one that you can get in a manual transmission.