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Subaru Forester 2022 review

The Subaru Forester is an Aussie favourite.
EXPERT RATING
8
The Subaru Forester has been updated, but you wouldn't know by looking at it.

The Subaru Forester is a well-known SUV that most people probably assume is pretty good, because it’s been around a long time and there are lots of them about, so it must be doing something right.

But there are so many mid-sized SUVs around now, like the Kia Sportage, the Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-5. So, what’s the truth about Subaru's Forester? Is it good value? What’s it like to drive? How safe is it?

Well, the new one has just arrived, and I have the answers to those questions and more.

The Subaru Forester is a well-known SUV. (Image: Richard Berry) The Subaru Forester is a well-known SUV. (Image: Richard Berry)

Subaru Forester 2022: 2.5I (awd)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.4L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$35,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

Look, I don’t want to lose you this early in the review, but the next few paragraphs are going to sound a bit like gobbledegook, and I blame that on Subaru for giving the individual grades in the Forester range unimaginative names. But it’ll be worth sticking around because I can straight up tell you now the Forester is good value, like really good value...

The entry grade in the Forester range is called the 2.5i and it lists for $35,990 and comes with dual-zone climate control, an eight-inch media touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 6.3-inch display for vehicle info, and a smaller 4.2-inch screen in the instrument cluster, cloth seats, a proximity key with push button start, plus tinted rear windows, LED headlights and daytime running lights and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The next grade up is the 2.5i-L for $38,390 and frankly it’s identical to the 2.5i except for one hugely important difference – it comes with more safety tech. If it was my money, I’d skip the entry grade and go straight to the 2.5i-L. Oh, and it also comes with heated seats.

The Forester is good value. (Image: Richard Berry) The Forester is good value. (Image: Richard Berry)

The 2.5i Premium is the next up the ladder at $41,140 and comes with all the features in the grades below but adds 18-inch alloys, premium cloth seats, sat nav, powered front seats, and a power tailgate.

Hang in there, we’re almost through this.

The 2.5i Sport for $42,690 has the Premium’s features but has 18-inch wheels with a black metallic finish, there are orange highlights to the exterior and interior trim, water-repellent cloth seats and a power sunroof.            

The 2.5i-S is the fanciest grade in the range at $44,190 – it’s the one I tested in the video at the top of this review. Along with all the features of the lower grades there are also silver 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo and X-Mode, which is an off-road system for playing in the mud.

Finally, there are the two hybrid grades – the Hybrid L for $41,390 whose feature list mirrors the 2.5i-L’s and the Hybrid S for $47,190, which has much the same standard features as the 2.5i-S.

2022 Subaru Forester

Explore the 2022 Subaru Forester range

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

This generation of Forester came into the world in 2018 and now Subaru says it’s given the mid-sized SUV a mid-life makeover. A generation tends to last for about seven years, so 2022 is halfway through, but as far as makeovers go the changes are from a reality-show transformation.

It’s in the headlight design where you can really see the difference. This new Forester now has headlights with a more pronounced LED ‘eyebrow’. Subaru also says the grille, bumpers and foglights have been restyled, although I can hardly see it. When the PR people at Subaru say the changes are ‘subtle’ you can be assured they are extremely minimal.

So, the Forester keeps its distinctive boxy, rugged looks, which, while not all that pretty to my eyes, do give the SUV a capable and practical feel that its rivals don’t have. I mean the new Kia Sportage is stunning, with its intriguing design, but it looks afraid of mud, and so does the Mazda CX-5, which favours form over function.

Nope, the Forester looks like it should be sitting on a shelf in an adventure shop, alongside carabiners and hiking boots. I like that.

The Forester keeps its distinctive boxy, rugged looks. (Image: Richard Berry) The Forester keeps its distinctive boxy, rugged looks. (Image: Richard Berry)

The Forester that stands out most in the range is the 2.5i Sport. This sporty grade was added a couple of years ago and gets bright orange pinstriping along the side skirts, while the cabin gets the same dayglo trim. 

Talking of the Forester’s cabin, it’s a plush, premium feeling place and the 2.5i-S I drove had layer upon layer of different materials on the dash with textures ranging from a mesh-like rubber to soft leather upholstery with stitching.

The cabin isn’t as modern as newer SUVs such as the Sportage, and there’s a busy feel to the design which is a bit crowded and confusing with all its buttons, screens, and icons, but owners will get used to this quickly.

The Forester is 4640mm end to end, which is about the length of your thumb shorter than a Kia Sportage. A more interesting measurement is the Forester’s ground clearance – it’s 220mm, which is 40mm more than the Sportage’s and that gives it better off-road capability. So, actually rugged and not just rugged looking. 

The Forester comes in 10 colours including Crystal White, Crimson Red Pearl, Horizon Blue Pearl and Autumn Green Metallic.

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

The Forester feels like it’s been created with practicality in the front of the designer’s minds. There are large doors, which open super wide for easy entry and exit, great rear legroom for even me, at 191cm tall, and a decent-sized boot with 498 litres (VDA) of luggage space to the cargo cover. That’s bigger than the Mitsubishi Outlander’s 477-litre boot but smaller than the Sportage’s 543-litre cargo capacity.

The boot comes in at 498 litres (VDA). (Image: Richard Berry) The boot comes in at 498 litres (VDA). (Image: Richard Berry)

Cabin space is good with massive door pockets, four cup holders (two in the rear and two up front) and a large centre console box under the armrest. Still, it could be better – the hidey hole in front of the shifter, which is obviously designed for a phone, is too small for mine and ever since I drove the new Toyota RAV4, with its innovative shelves carved into the dash, I wonder why all cars and SUVs don’t have them.

The Forester's boot is bigger than the Mitsubishi Outlander’s. (Image: Richard Berry) The Forester's boot is bigger than the Mitsubishi Outlander’s. (Image: Richard Berry)

All Foresters have rear directional air vents, which is excellent, and these, combined with the tinted rear glass and the two USB ports in the second row, mean kids back there will be cool and have power to charge their devices.

The Forester feels like it’s been created with practicality in mind. (Image: Richard Berry) The Forester feels like it’s been created with practicality in mind. (Image: Richard Berry)

Proximity unlocking and push-button start mean you don’t need to get the keys out and this is also standard on all Foresters.

All Foresters have rear directional air vents. (Image: Richard Berry) All Foresters have rear directional air vents. (Image: Richard Berry)

Finally, the chunky roof racks are also on every grade and you can buy cross bars ($428.07 fitted) through Subaru’s enormous accessories department.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

You can get the Forester with a straight petrol engine or a petrol-electric hybrid system.

The straight petrol engine is a 2.5-cylinder four cylinder making 136kW and 239Nm.

The straight petrol engine is a 2.5-cylinder four cylinder. (Image: Richard Berry) The straight petrol engine is a 2.5-cylinder four cylinder. (Image: Richard Berry)

You might know already that Subaru uses ‘boxer’ engines, which are rare in that the pistons move horizontally to the ground rather than up and down vertically as in most engines. There are advantages to the boxer set up, mainly the fact that it keeps the car’s centre of mass low, which’s good for stability.

The hybrid system combines a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 110kW/196Nm with an electric motor producing 12.3kW and 66Nm.

Both power trains use a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which is super smooth, but makes acceleration feel sluggish.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

This is, quite simply, one of the best driving mid-sized SUVs for the price. Yes, the CVT makes acceleration feel lacklustre, but that is the only downside.

The ride is comfortable, the handling is good, and the steering is spot on. Great visibility, excellent ground clearance of 220mm and a superb all-wheel-drive system make the Forester hard to beat.

The ride is comfortable. (Image: Richard Berry) The ride is comfortable. (Image: Richard Berry)

I drove the 2.5i-S with the 2.5-litre petrol engine. I have driven Subaru’s hybrid previously, however, and can tell you that it tends to offer more oomph in acceleration thanks to the extra and instant electric torque.

Perhaps the only other negative point was the brake pedal in my 2.5i-S, which seemed to need a decent amount of pressure from me to pull the Forester up quickly.

The braked towing capacity of the petrol Forester is 1800kg and for the hybrid it’s 1200kg.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

According to the official ADR combined test that aims to replicate a combination of open and urban roads, the 2.5-litre petrol engine should use 7.4L/100km while hybrid petrol-electric Forester with the 2.0-litre engine should use 6.7L/100km.

My test of the 2.5-litre petrol, which combined urban commutes into the city, as well as forays onto dirt trails and country roads, returned 12.5L/100km. So in the real world, the Forester - even the hybrid version - isn’t particularly fuel efficient.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   9/10

The Subaru Forester was given the maximum five-star ANCAP crash rating in 2019.

All grades have AEB, which can detect cyclists and pedestrians, and there’s also lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance, rear cross traffic alert (with braking on all grades above the entry car), and blind-spot warning as well.

For child seats there are three top-tether mounts and two ISOFIX points in the second row.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

The Forester is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended at 12 month/12,500km intervals and over the course of five years works out to be $2400. That’s quite expensive.

The hybrid’s battery is covered by an eight-year/160,000km warranty.

Verdict

The Forester is now one of the older SUVs among its rivals, such as the Sportage, Tucson, Outlander and RAV4, but it’s still the best to drive of that lot, and the best value.

Sure, it’s not as modern and good looking as the Sportage and doesn’t have a third row of seats like the Outlander, but the Forester is still practical and has a tough look.

Pricing guides

$41,590
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$35,990
Highest Price
$47,190

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.5I (awd) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $35,990 2022 Subaru Forester 2022 2.5I (awd) Pricing and Specs
2.5I Premium (awd) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $41,140 2022 Subaru Forester 2022 2.5I Premium (awd) Pricing and Specs
2.5I Sport (awd) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $42,690 2022 Subaru Forester 2022 2.5I Sport (awd) Pricing and Specs
2.5I-L (awd) 2.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $38,390 2022 Subaru Forester 2022 2.5I-L (awd) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Price and features9
Design7
Practicality9
Engine & trans7
Driving8
Fuel consumption7
Safety9
Ownership8
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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