by Karl Furlong
As one of Subaru's top-selling vehicles in the USA, the all-new Forester is a crucial product for the brand. Its mix of compact size, dirt-road capabilities, and unpretentious design has endeared it to thousands of Americans through the years. This sixth-generation Forester retains the brand's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and familiar 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine but boasts superior technology, a fresh design, and a stiffer chassis that promises better dynamics and ride quality. With over 2.6 million Foresters sold in this country over the last three decades or so, the new one is a refinement of a recipe that has worked brilliantly for Subaru.
See trim levels and configurations:
2.5L Flat 4 Gas
Revealed at the 2023 Los Angeles Auto Show, the release date for the 2025 Subaru Forester in the USA is set for spring 2024.
The price for the 2025 Subaru Forester lineup has yet to be announced, but we don't expect a drastic increase from the current model, especially as the mechanicals are largely similar. For reference, the 2024 Forester starts at $27,095, and it increases by another $10k or so for the top-spec model. Our guess is that the new one will will cost around $29k to start.
Compact crossover rivals for the Forester include the Mazda CX-50 and Honda CR-V; these start at MSRPs of $30,300 and $29,500, respectively, for the 2024 versions. Traditionally, these competitors have been a touch more refined, but the Forester has had the edge in rugged capability.
The exterior of the Subaru Forester has a smoother, more premium air than the model it replaces. It's still more of a rugged aesthetic than vehicles like the CR-V, though, with black cladding around the wheel arches and rear lower bumper area.
In front, the new LED headlights merge with the revised grille to create a shield effect. The updated Subaru star emblem also makes an appearance. We'd argue that the redesign of the SUV is most successful from this angle, compared to the rather gawky headlights of the previous Forester. Elsewhere, the front/side/rear underguards have a color finish based on the trim level, and the vehicle features strong shoulder lines.
The front wheel opening has an air outlet at the trailing edge, allowing air to exit from the wheel well more effectively. This improves driving stability by lessening lift on the front tires. Speaking of wheels and tires, the base trims have 17-inch alloys, and these increase to 18- and 19-inch items on upper trims.
The rear styling has also been finessed, with new taillights that flow neatly into a black strip running across the tailgate's width. For the first time on any Subaru, a kick sensor-activated hands-free power rear gate is available.
Colors for the new Subaru Forester SUV have not been announced yet, but the pictures feature examples in white (with interesting bronze wheels and trim) and gray. We're sure that more colors will be available.
Dimensions for the Subaru Forester have not been disclosed, but it retains the helpful 8.7 inches of ground clearance of the current model. The 2024 model has length/width/height specs of 182.7/71.5/68.1 inches, respectively, and we don't expect a big jump in size for the new version.
Curb weight should also be similar - it ranges between 3,454 and 3,620 pounds on the 2024 Forester.
It may come as a disappointment to many that the engine in the new Subaru Forester still isn't turbocharged. The 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder mill produces 180 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, with power actually slightly down on the previous model's 182 hp. This engine comes with the Lineartronic CVT transmission. On Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring trims, a manual mode with paddle shifters is available, mirroring the effect of a conventional eight-speed automatic. AWD and active torque vectoring are standard.
Based on the previous Forester, the 0-60 mph time will stay at around the eight-second mark. Subaru made no mention of another Wilderness trim, which previously had the best towing capacity of 3,000 lbs. Other 2024 trims can only tow 1,500 lbs, a likelier figure for 2025 equivalents.
The revised AWD system is said to deliver more agile handling and faster responses. On the Premium, a standard X-Mode assists with wheel control on inclines and slippery surfaces, while Sport trims and up have a dual-function X-Mode that boosts capability over a range of off-road surfaces. Incline start assist is standard.
Knowing that the 2025 Forester isn't the sort of car to enamor the STI brigade, Subaru put a lot of energy into refining the driving experience. The CVT is said to be smoother and quieter, while better sound dampening results in a 39% drop in the rate of noise attenuation from the roof. The chassis, stiffened by 10%, and stronger welding techniques with more structural adhesive, result in improved body rigidity. In turn, this makes for a smoother ride and quieter interior.
Gas mileage claims have not been made, but the 2024 Forester's EPA-rated figures of 26/33/29 mpg city/highway/combined could carry over. Assuming the same 16.6-gallon gas tank, the new Forester should be able to cover about 480 miles on a full tank.
Hybrid rivals like the Honda CR-V (up to 40 mpg combined) are more economical, but the Forester should be thriftier than the base Mazda CX-50 2.5L (27 mpg combined).
Subaru isn't one for flashy interior designs, and the new Forester doesn't change that. Functionality is once again a key focus of the cabin, with big buttons for the volume and climate control system, even when specified with the new, large 11.6-inch touchscreen interface. On base models, dual seven-inch displays are standard, with the top one dedicated to connectivity functions like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and the bottom one reserved for vehicle settings and climate control. With the larger interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are wireless.
The front seats in the Subaru Forester's interior have a more supportive design said to minimize fatigue. They also have slimmer shoulder areas, boosting visibility from the driver's seat. Where many other automakers chase flash and bling, this is one of several thoughtful touches incorporated into the Forester's practical cabin. The contoured dash elements and trim pieces, for example, are designed so that daily use doesn't damage them. A dark headliner conceals potential scuffs, and the pillar designs aid visibility. The dual-zone climate control, standard across the range, has been optimized to focus on occupied seats instead of the entire cabin when operational.
Available features include wireless phone charging, heated seats, and ventilated front seats for the Touring. On the safety side, the SUV can be equipped with a surround-view monitor, automatic emergency steering, and the DriverFocus distraction mitigation system. Emergency stop assist takes over if the driver becomes unresponsive when using adaptive cruise control, another first for the Forester. This function will not only stop the car automatically, but it will activate the hazards and unlock the doors, too. The basic EyeSight safety suite is standard, with enhanced smoothness of operation.
With the second-row seats folded, the cargo space in the Subaru Forester measures 74.4 cubic feet, almost identical to the 74.2 cubes in the 2024 base Forester. No figure was provided for cargo space behind the second row, but the same 28.9-cube number should be achievable. Subaru says more cargo carrying options will be available, in addition to the standard roof rails, once again making the Forester perfect for outdoorsy types.
The most popular competitors of 2025 Subaru Forester: