The Subaru Forester is a compact crossover vehicle and is sometimes called a crossover utility vehicle. While it is often called a SUV, the Forester uses a car chassis and unibody construction, meaning the frame and body are not separate. This classifies the Forester as a crossover, not a SUV.
The term crossover describes vehicles with properties of both a SUV and a car. SUVs have a truck chassis with a separate body, or body-on-frame design. Crossovers have a car chassis and a solid, or unibody, construction, but they have SUV features such as four-wheel drive and high ground clearance. Crossovers are generally smaller than SUVs, but several larger models have a unibody design. They include the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Nissan Pathfinder. Smaller crossovers such as the Forester are called compact crossovers.
The Subaru Forester is one of the earlier vehicles in the crossover market and was first manufactured in 1997. The term compact SUV is also commonly used to describe vehicles such as the Forester, and in general usage, they are interchangeable. Subaru refers to the Forester as an SUV, as do several other car-rating and used-car valuation services such as Edmunds. By definition, however, the Forester falls into the category of a crossover.