2023 Subaru Forester

2023 Subaru Forester
2023 Subaru Forester Rear Angle View
2023 Subaru Forester Dashboard

2023 Subaru Forester Review: Almost A Great All-Rounder

by Martin Pretorius

With a reputation for good reliability, versatility, and even some moderate off-road chops, the Subaru Forester is one of America's favorite compact SUVs. Because it goes up against formidable rivals such as the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-50, and Honda CR-V, Subaru regularly updates the Forester to keep it competitive against a wide array of ever-improving opponents.

The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder Boxer engine soldiers on in all Foresters, delivering 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque into a CVT before distributing it to all four wheels, so high performance is clearly not a priority in this SUV.

Fortunately, the Forester's ground clearance of at least 8.7 inches allows it a measure of off-road ability that most of its rivals can't match, and its comfort-biased suspension tuning gives it a smooth and refined ride quality. Add a comprehensive standard spec sheet, a long list of driver aids, and a competitive price to the equation, and the case for the Forester becomes even stronger.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 7 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 10 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 8 /10
  • Reliability 10 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
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2023 Subaru Forester Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2022 Forester?

Seeing as the new Subaru Forester SUV is still fresh after its 2022 facelift, this model goes into 2023 with only one minor change. Subaru says that the outboard position rear-seat head restraints are now larger. This has been done to meet the latest safety requirements from the IIHS that relate to whiplash protection.

Pros and Cons

  • Comprehensive driver-assistance suite is standard across the range
  • Standard AWD
  • Wilderness trim is surprisingly convincing off-road
  • Spacious cabin and plenty of cargo room
  • Well-made interior with plenty of standard equipment in higher trims
  • Only one engine is available, and it's not a fun one
  • CVT is not to everyone's taste
  • Lackluster acceleration

What's the Price of the 2023 Subaru Forester?

The base model of the Subaru Forester starts at $26,395 before a $1,225 destination charge. The Forester Premium Starts at $29,395 while the Sport is $30,965. The Limited trim starts at $33,075, the new Wilderness costs $34,020, and the top Touring variant has a base MSRP of $36,495. If you spec this model with all available accessories, a fully loaded model will reach the $38k mark, which is not too bad considering how much the base model costs.

Best Deals on 2023 Subaru Forester

2023 Subaru Forester Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.5L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
2.5L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
2.5L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
2.5L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
2.5L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2023 Subaru Forester Trims and Specs

2023 Subaru Forester Handling And Driving Impressions

With only one drivetrain available regardless of the trim level, the driving experience in the Subaru Forester is largely similar across all model grades. The Forester employs a 2.5-liter, direct-injected boxer (flat) four-cylinder engine, and its outputs look reasonable on paper at 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. In true Subaru fashion, power is distributed to all four wheels, so unbreakable traction is a given. However, it's the bit between the engine and the AWD system that drains any drop of enthusiasm from the package, because Subaru still offers only their polarizing Lineartronic CVT in the Forester.

Performance is rather muted, ambling from a standstill to 60 mph in around eight seconds at best, before eventually topping out at about 115 mph. At least efficiency is good, as evidenced in our review of the Subaru Forester's gas mileage returns.

Handling is about what you'd expect for a high-riding compact SUV, with plenty of body roll and early-onset understeer being the order of the day. The steering is also quite uncommunicative regarding the state of grip under the front wheels, but its responses are linear and direct, making it easy to place and confidence-inspiring on mildly winding roads.

There is an upside to this laid-back suspension tuning that will appeal to prospective buyers, however, and that is a very compliant ride quality. Larger bumps can lead to lots of body motion, but general driving reveals ride comfort of the first order. For a family car with some go-anywhere capability, that is more important than leech-like road grip through the bends, so the Forester's decidedly un-sporty demeanor is actually spot-on for its core market.

Verdict: Is The 2023 Subaru Forester A Good SUV?

Apart from its dreary engine/transmission combination, the 2023 Subaru Forester is right up there with the best in its segment in the USA. If buyers can overlook the lackluster performance, Forester owners will be more than happy with the spacious interior, generous cargo bay, comfortable ride quality, surprising off-road capability, and extensive list of driver assistance- and safety equipment. All Foresters from the Premium trim upwards are also well-equipped for the money, and decent efficiency should contain running costs as well.

There are rivals with better acceleration and more driver involvement, though, so driving enthusiasts with a need for a fun family SUV should also look at Subaru Forester competitors like the turbocharged Mazda CX-50 or Honda CR-V, which may not have as much off-road ability but offer similar or better attributes in other respects.

What 2023 Subaru Forester Model Should I Buy?

Each of the Subaru Forester trims has the same powertrain and similar capabilities, so the choice will come down to what features you like. Since you already have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, navigation isn't all that necessary. However, we do think the bigger infotainment screen is a help when driving. As a result, we recommend going for the Sport trim with its optional package that adds a better sound system, the bigger screen, and a power tailgate. This gives you a good mix of features along with a reasonable price of under $34,000, including the destination charge. However, the new Wilderness is an interesting alternative, not least for its significantly improved off-road ability, but also because it's the only trim to offer high-capacity roof rails, a 3,000-pound towing capacity, and a front-view monitor, at the expense of worse fuel consumption.

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