Review - 2023 Subaru Forester

By Alexi Falson on 07 Aug 2023
image for Review - 2023 Subaru Forester
Overall Rating
out of 10
  • Spacious, practical cabin design great for tall drivers & passengers
  • Suspension handles country roads and light off-roading without breaking a sweat
  • Long safety equipment list, even for base model
  • Uninspiring engine performance
  • Mediocre fuel economy figures in hybrid form
  • Braked towing figures drop to 1200kg in Forester Hybrid
    • 63L
    • 168
    • 5800 / 4400
    • 5 star
    • Automatic
The Subaru Forester has become one of Australia’s go-to options for a practical SUV package that isn’t afraid to get its toes dirty thanks to an adventure-ready platform.

In its latest form, Subaru has added some more hybrid options to the Forester lineup, as well as updating the technology package to fight off some of its toughest rivals in the midsize SUV segment.

Just how good is the latest Subaru Forester, then, and how does it hold up against its midsize SUV rivals? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Subaru Forester Competition

Subaru Forester

Nissan X-Trail
Toyota RAV4
Mazda CX-5
Hyundai Tucson
Kia Sportage

Starting Price: $37,890

OnlineAuto Savings: Enquire now

How Much Does It Cost?

The Subaru Forester lineup kicks off from $37,890 for the entry-level Forester 2.5i, with prices rising to $40,290 for the Forester 2.5i-L.

From here, the range moves to the 2.5i Premium which is priced at $43,090, with the Forester Hybrid L priced at $43,290.

Stepping up to the 2.5i Sport brings the price up to $44,840, while the 2.5i-S is priced at $46,340, and the range-topping Forester Hybrid S is priced at $49,340.

Keep in mind that these prices are before on-road costs, and are subject to change.

How Much Can OnlineAuto Save You?

You could save by hiring one of OnlineAuto’s car buying experts to assist you in finding the best value model for you.

Subaru Forester - 2.5i-L (AWD) Specifications

Model Date 2023
Series MY23
Variant 2.5i-L (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
CO2 168
ANCAP security rating 5

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

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 active cornering LED headlights, fog lights, cloth upholstery with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, 6.3-inch multi-function display and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, as well as Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system.

Upgrading to the Forester 2.5i-L and Hybrid L adds a set of heated front seats, front- and side-view cameras, driver monitoring, rear autonomous emergency braking and adaptive high-beam lighting.

The Forester 2.5i Premium comes riding on a set of 18-inch alloys and receives a powered boot lift, metallic driving pedals, eight-way power-adjustable seats and a satellite navigation upgrade.

The Forester Sport receives a sunroof, LED fog lights, interior highlights and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, while the range-topping Forester 2.5i-S and the Hybrid S pick up leather upholstery and an eight-speaker sound system from Harman/Kardon.

2023 subaru forester interior

Range Features:

  • 17-inch alloys

  • Active cornering LED headlights with fog lights

  • Cloth upholstery with leather-wrapped steering wheel & gear lever

  • Dual-zone climate control

  • Adaptive cruise control

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

  • EyeSight driver assist system

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

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

  • 18-inch alloys (2.5i Premium)

  • Powered boot lift (2.5i Premium)

  • Panoramic sunroof (Sport)

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

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

Is the Subaru Forester Comfortable to Drive?

There’s a very small list of cars that can compete with the Subaru Forester on a mix of everything from town, country and even off-road driving.

The Subaru Forester range comes powered by a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder, while the hybrid lineup receives a 2.0-litre four-cylinder paired with an electric motor.

The amount of power on offer is perfectly acceptable for the segment, though it’s unlikely to inspire due to the CVT automatic transmission that behaves as though you’re accelerating with a single, elastic gear.

It’s a fairly unexciting engine and transmission combination, though it gets the job done of slingshotting you up to speed competently.

“While the engine’s performance is mundane, the four-paw traction and capable suspension make it a perfect option for smooth city streets and rough country roads.” Glynn - OnlineAuto Car Buying Specialist

Around town, the Forester is civilised and exceptionally easy to drive thanks to the large windows, lightweight steering and the tight turning circle that makes light work of congestion and smaller car parks.

Where the Forester as a complete package really begins to shine, though, is when you leave the smooth city streets and hit rougher Australian B-roads, the same roads that would unsettle a number of its rivals.

Not the Forester, though, which navigates bumps and road irregularities with confidence thanks to its confident suspension setup and the added traction of Subaru’s AWD system.

2023 subaru forester rear

This makes the Forester a particularly user-friendly and comfortable package for Australian buyers, which remains refined around town while staying comfortable enough for a long holiday road trip.

Is the Subaru Forester Good Off-Road?

The Subaru Forester is a genuine light off-roader, offering some of the best versatility from a practical midsize SUV on the market.

Without getting too bogged down in the numbers, the Forester’s 220mm of ground clearance and impressive approach and departure angles of 23.5 and 25.4 degrees, respectively, give it some serious capabilities when sealed roads stop.

To help you out of a tough spot, Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system offers a great amount of traction, combined with the X-Mode that can split torque between the wheels and has modes for climbs, descents and slippery surfaces.

Is it Fuel Efficient?

If fuel efficiency is a key priority, you’ll want to opt for a member of the Forester Hybrid range, which returns an average of 6.3L per 100km on a combined cycle.

The rest of the Forester range returns fuel economy figures of 7.4L/100km on a combined cycle, which is pretty much on par for the midsize SUV segment course.

Is it Practical and Spacious?

For years now, the Subaru Forester has been a family chariot, arguably, one of the original SUVs that helped to popularise the segment here in Australia.

As a result, Subaru knows just how important space and practicality inside the Forester is, and the company has worked to ensure the latest is also the greatest when it comes to comfort.

Up front, the driver and front passenger have some of the best visibility and headroom in any midsize SUV you’ll find on sale, which helps quite a lot when it comes to getting acquainted with the Forester’s cabin.

The large windows offer a great view of your surroundings, while the added light helps to keep the cabin feeling airy and spacious.

The execution of the Forester’s cabin is quite restrained, bordering on boring in some parts on entry-level variants, though the layout is straightforward and user-friendly, with an 8.0-inch display joined by a number of physical buttons for quick inputs.

“The Forester’s cabin is one of the most spacious in the midsize SUV segment, with the best visibility and headroom in its class.” Craig - OnlineAuto Car Buying Specialist

There’s no shortage of storage areas in the front of the cabin, with a large tray hiding behind the gear lever, sizable bottle holders on either door sill, storage inside the folding armrest and a pair of cup holders up front.

Move to the rear of the cabin and the good news for any family buyers is that the Forester has some of the most ample leg and headroom figures of any midsize SUV, making for a great road trip companion.

Those seated in the rear of the cabin pick up their own set of air vents, USB ports, as well as a set of ISOFIX anchors and top tether mounts for child seats, storage behind the front seats and large door bins.

Finally, the Forester rounds out its impressive practicality package with a large amount of boot space, totalling 509L in the Forester Hybrid and 498L in other variants, making it an extremely family-friendly SUV.

Is it Safe?

The Subaru Forester has picked up a five-star ANCAP safety rating, scoring 94% for adult protection, 86% for child protection, 80% for pedestrian protection and 78% for safety assist.

As standard, the Forester is well-equipped with safety features, including autonomous emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alerts, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure alerts with lane centring, emergency steering and adaptive cruise control.

Opting for any variant above the entry-level 2.5i adds driver attention alerts and reverse autonomous emergency braking.

Our Verdict: Is The Subaru Forester Worth it?

While the Forester doesn’t trump its rivals comprehensively, when it comes to Aussie buyers purchasing an SUV that is fit for nearly every Australian road condition, it’s hard to walk past the Forester.

2023 subaru forester

Thanks to its incredibly spacious and practical cabin and versatile platform, the Forester feels very much at home here on Australian roads, and for that reason, is well-deserving of a spot on your adventurous yet practical SUV shortlist.

If you’re tossing up your best options within the wide world of midsize SUVs, reach out to one of our car buying specialists who can help take the stress out of the process and find you a great price.

Five Subaru Forester Specs You Need to Know

  1. Five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty

  2. Eight-year/160,000km warranty for Hybrid battery and high-voltage parts

  3. Five-star ANCAP safety rating

  4. 6.7L/100km fuel economy (hybrid) rises to 7.4L/100km in non-hybrid Forester variants

  5. Hybrid’s 509L boot space drops to 498L in petrol models


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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