Review - Subaru Forester

By Alexi Falson on 24 Feb 2022
image for Review - Subaru Forester Midsize SUVs remain one of the leading choices for the Australian car-buying public, and within that segment, there’s a range of vehicles that are more suited to the urban jungle, rather than the great outdoors.

The Subaru Forester separates itself from the crowded lineup of midsize SUVs with a more rugged approach to styling, combined with Subaru’s iconic symmetrical all-wheel drive platform, that offers more adventurous versatility for growing families. 

With that in mind, just how capable is the latest Subaru Forester, and how does it compare to its main rivals in the mid-size SUV lineup? Let’s find out. 

Starting Price: $35,990

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Subaru Forester - 2.5i (AWD) Specifications

Model Date 2022
Series MY21
Variant 2.5i (AWD)
Drive AWD
Engine DIRFI
Engine capacity 2498
Engine configuration DUAL OVERHEAD CAM / 16 valves
Engine RPM 5800 / 4400
Cylinders F4
Torque 239
KW 136
Fuel tank size 63.0
Fuel usage specs 7.4 / 0.0
CO2 168
ANCAP security rating 5

For more details and other variants, check Subaru Forester car page.

How Much Does It Cost?

The Subaru Forester lineup kicks off from $35,990 for the entry-level Forester 2.5i, with prices rising to $38,390 for the Forester 2.5i-L, and up to $41,140 for the Forester 2.5i Premium. 

From here, the Forester range moves to the Hybrid L variant, which is priced at $41,390, up to the Forester 2.5i Sport - priced at $42,690 - then to the Forester 2.5i-S, priced at $44,190, with the range-topping Forester Hybrid S priced at $47,190. 

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What Features Does the Subaru Forester Have?

Subaru’s entry-level Forester 2.5i comes riding on a set of 17-inch alloys, and receives LED headlights and fog lights, keyless entry & start, a reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, active cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, electric folding rear seats, a 6.3-inch driver’s display and an 8.0-inch infotainment system fitted with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB+ digital radio. 

Opting for the 2.5i-L and Hybrid L adds a set of heated front seats, adaptive high-beam LED lights, front and side cameras, a driver monitoring system and reverse autonomous emergency braking. 

Stepping up to the 2.5i Premium adds a set of 18-inch alloys, as well as power-electric seats, metal driving pedals, a satellite navigation system and sports mode for the drivetrain, while the Forester Sport receives a panoramic sunroof, LED fog lights and the choice of orange or grey highlights inside the cabin. 

Finally, the range-topping Subaru Forester 2.5i-S and Hybrid S variants come packed with an eight-speaker premium sound system from Harman Kardon and a full leather upholstery.   

Range Features: 

  • 17-inch alloys 

  • LED headlights 

  • Reversing camera 

  • Active cruise control 

  • Keyless entry & start 

  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever 

  • Electric folding rear seats 

  • 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 

  • Heated front seats (2.5i-L & Hybrid L)

  • Front and side cameras (2.5i-L & Hybrid L)

  • Reverse autonomous emergency braking (2.5i-L & Hybrid L)

  • 18-inch alloys (2.5i Premium)

  • Powered boot lift (2.5i Premium)

  • Sport mode (2.5i Premium)

  • Satellite navigation (2.5i Premium)

  • Panoramic sunroof (Sport) 

  • LED fog lights (Sport) 

  • Orange or gunmetal grey interior highlights (Sport)  

  • Leather upholstery (2.5i-S & Hybrid S)

  • Eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system (2.5i-S & Hybrid S) 

Subaru Forester Colours 

The Subaru Forester is available in a choice of Crystal White pearl, Crystal Black silica, Ice Silver metallic, Brilliant Bronze metallic, Crimson Red pearl, Magnetite Grey metallic, Autumn Green metallic, Horizon Blue pearl, Cascade Green silica and Dark Blue pearl. 

Some colours may only be available on certain trim levels, so be sure to check if your variant can be optioned with your preferred colour. 

Is it Comfortable to Drive? 

While it might sit in one of the most competitive segments of the market, the Forester does well to match the driving comfort on offer from its peers, while offering drivers added confidence of a rugged chassis and all-wheel drive platform. 

Power in the Forester is supplied by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit producing 136kW/239Nm, while the hybrid receives a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit paired with a 12kW/66Nm lithium-ion battery, both of which put power to the ground via a CVT automatic. 

This automatic transmission feels like you’re driving with one long gear ratio, which makes every day driving a smooth and linear process. The Forester is not what you’d call rapid, but neither are its peers. Instead, it provides a smooth and comfortable driving experience around town that remains easy to drive, park and navigate tight city streets, while remaining relaxing on long distance trips. 

You also benefit from a permanent all-wheel drive platform as standard, whereas some of the Forester’s competitors might have either a front-wheel drive, or an all-wheel drive on demand system. Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system ensures that the Forester remains planted at all times, giving the driver a nice sense of confidence across a range of terrain and driving situations. 

While the Forester excels in the urban jungle, perhaps the biggest advantage of the platform is how well it drives on the rough surfaces that often dominate country B-roads. When you leave town, the suspension works wonders at ironing out bumps, while the AWD system provides the driver with all the traction they need. 

The Forester can also be pushed into some light off-road driving, and is rated with a braked towing capacity of 1,800kg for petrol models, and 1,200kg for hybrid variants, meaning it can go further than its soft SUV rivals thanks to its rugged and versatile platform. 

Is it Practical and Spacious? 

Inside, Subaru has been working away at ensuring the latest Forester is its most refined creation yet, and the results are impressive. 

The cabin receives a modern design that offers the driver and front passenger a heap of space and a great view out of the front windshield. There’s also a fully-adjustable steering wheel and seat for you to find your preferred seating position for those testing long journeys. 

Entry-level variants receive a premium leather touch for the steering wheel and gear lever, while higher-spec models receive interior highlights and a full leather upholstery in the case of the flagship. 

Regardless of which variant you pick, you’ll be glad to know that the Forester retains a practical cabin, with a heap of storage options in the door bins either side, inside the large folding armrest, behind the gear lever, a sunglasses stash up top, and behind the set of cup holders.

Moving to the rear of the cabin, the Forester offers a second row of seats that are perfectly suited to the needs of all growing Australian families. Even with a tall driver in the pilot’s seat, there’s more than enough space in the second row for a tall adult passenger, which is a promising sign for a midsize SUV with family-friendly aspirations. 

Rear passengers gain their own set of air vents, which is a nice touch, as well as a pair of USB chargers to keep your kids topped up and entertained on long holiday road trips. 

Passengers in the second row have access to more than enough headroom, even in models receiving a panoramic sunroof, while the doors open nearly 90-degrees for easy access to the second row. This makes the process of installing baby seats an exceptionally simple task, with a set of ISOFIX anchors and top tether mounts that are easy to access and utilise. 

Finally, the Forester has a boot with 498L of storage in petrol variants, which increases to 509L in the hybrid lineup, increasing to 1,768L and 1,779L with the rear-seats folded down. While these figures aren’t groundbreaking for the segment, they do match a number of important rivals, particularly when you factor-in Subaru’s addition of a full-sized spare tyre. 

Overall, then, it’s clear to see that Subaru has retained all the family-friendly hallmarks of the Forester name, ensuring it can meet the demands of your family, no matter how tall your kids are getting. 

Is it Safe? 

The Subaru Forester has been awarded ANCAP’s maximum five star safety rating, scoring 94% for adult protection, 86% for child protection, 80% for vulnerable road user protection and 78% for safety technologies. 

As standard, the Forester lineup features autonomous emergency braking and steering, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane-departure and lane-keep assistance, blind-spot monitoring and an adaptive cruise control system as standard, while higher-spec variants receive reverse autonomous emergency braking and driver fatigue monitoring. 

Is it Fuel Efficient?

The Subaru Forester petrol lineup is rated at 7.4L/100km on a combined cycle, which is fairly standard for the segment, and begs the question of whether a turbocharger could one day be added to the engine to increase power while reducing fuel economy. 

The Forester Hybrid is rated at 6.7L per 100km on a combined cycle, which is somewhat underwhelming for a modern hybrid engine, but returns a healthy fuel economy figure for the size of this vehicle. 

Our Verdict: Is the Subaru Forester Worth it?

Whether or not you plan on putting the Subaru Forester to the test on weekends and holiday road trips, it remains a great option for families looking for a comfortable, feature-packed, safe and adaptable midsize SUV. 

It remains one of the leading options within the segment for buyers looking for an effortless urban commuter that isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty on the weekend. There are few midsize SUVs that offer the same amount of adaptability as the Forester platform does, and as a result, we highly recommend adding it to your shortlist.

On that note, if you’re in the market for a new car, you can get a free quote and see how much OnlineAuto can save you on your next car, or call us on 1300 719 925 

Five Specs You Need to Know

  1. Five star ANCAP safety rating 

  2. Five-year/unlimited KM warranty; eight-year/160,000km warranty for hybrid battery

  3. Fuel economy of 7.4L/100km (petrol) and 6.7L/100km (hybrid) 

  4. 498L of boot space in petrol, increases to 509L in hybrid, including full-sized spare tyre

  5. Three and five-year servicing plans available from $1,269 - $2,413


  • Comfortable suspension for city streets and rough country roads 

  • Confidence of a permanent all-wheel drive system 

  • Cabin space and practicality 

  • Significant amount of safety equipment as standard 


  • Some buyers are weary of CVT automatics

  • Underwhelming fuel economy figures 

  • Engine performance is acceptable, but far from engaging  

OnlineAuto Rating: 9/10

Subaru Forester Competition

Subaru Forester

Ford Escape
Hyundai Tucson
Mazda CX-5
Toyota RAV4
Kia Sportage


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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