The dog owners' vehicle of choice looks sharper than ever, but is that enough?
Few vehicles embrace the original idea of a crossover like the Subaru Forester. The focus is on a car-like driving experience but with the practicality of an SUV and the rugged ability to get off the beaten track without having to fork out for the most expensive trim. The Forester is now entering its sixth generation for the 2025 model year, continuing the legacy of Subaru's best-selling vehicle for the last 30 years.
Like the 2024 model, the 2025 Subaru Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter boxer engine hooked to a symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and rides on the Subaru Global Platform. However, it comes with a slew of upgrades that Subaru believes change the Forester enough to call it an all-new model. On the outside, there's new styling with functional aerodynamic improvements; on the inside is a new interior, and underneath the Forester's new skin, the chassis has been drastically strengthened. The result, Subaru claims, is a more stylish, better driving, and more comfortable Forester running its latest EyeSight Driver Assist Technology as standard across the trims.
A lot has changed, but the new Forester is instantly recognizable through its proportions and sits with a ride height of 8.7 inches. Subaru calls it a "sleek new style," but there are way too many angles to justify the word sleek here. The new grille merges with the headlights to form the impression of a single design piece Subaru describes as "a shield." The new wheel arches add more angles to the car, while a more upright rear window improves cargo space. Front, side, and rear underguards are standard throughout the range, with the finish color matched according to the trim level. In the case of the white Forester below, it's the sport trim, and the bronze wheels are specific to that trim.
Along with the rear window, another change that has a genuine impact is the new air outlets on the back of the wheel openings to help air exit and reduce lift at the front of the car at higher speeds.
According to Subaru, the new front seats are more supportive and help minimize fatigue on longer drives, while the shoulder areas are slimmed down to help over-the-shoulder visibility. Also updated for comfort is the HVAC system, which focuses on the occupied seats rather than the whole cabin - and should help fuel economy as it's a more efficient approach. Subaru also understands that most Forester owners will be using their car a lot, so interior elements are designed not to show wear or damage, and the headliner is dark, so scuffs won't show if it is scraped by loading cargo.
The lift-over height for the tailgate is wider for 2025, so it's easier to load up in the back. With the 60/40-split rear seat down, there's 74.4 cubic feet of usable cargo space in the back. Back there, you'll also find new heavy-duty utility hooks - three on each side of the cargo space and two on the rear gate.
Standard on the 2025 Forester is a dual 7.0-inch infotainment screen system running the latest Subaru Starlink system that features Android Auto and Apple Carplay, SiriusXM, All-Access Radio, HD Radio, and Travel Link. Also available is the Starlink 11.6-inch Multimedia Plus system with wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The available Starlink Multimedia Navigation adds voice-activated navigation via TomTom and SiriusXM Travel Link - which comes with a free three-year subscription).
Subaru's pursuit of safety steps up again for 2025, with the Forester getting the latest EyeSight driver assist technology that Subaru says works quicker and smoother than before and with a wider field of view and uses a new electric brake booster. As a result, it can identify objects cyclists and pedestrians at intersections sooner and alert or react appropriately quicker. Reverse automatic braking and blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert are also available, and are prerequisites to get Automatic Emergency Steering. The DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System is standard on Touring trim.
Subaru also includes a new feature: Emergency Stop Assist. Using the driver attention detection system above, it activates if the driver becomes unresponsive to warnings, bringing the car to a halt while activating the hazard lights and unlocking the doors.
Powering the new Forester is a 2.5-liter boxer engine making 180 hp and 178 lb-ft through a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), which means complaints of being underpowered will carry on into the new generations. Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring trims will have a manual mode controlled by steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which will still be pointless on a CVT transmission as there are no gears to change.
Subaru's 2.5-liter engine is a solid, reliable workhorse, though, and works well with the brand's excellent symmetrical all-wheel drive standard throughout the range. Active Torque Vectoring and Subaru's SI-Drive performance management system are also standard, but you'll have to step into Sport and up for the dual-function X-MODE for improved off-road ability. Then, it's up to Premium trim for the driver-selectable X-MODE with Hill Descent Control for more control in slippery conditions.
For the first time, Subaru is offering a hands-free power liftgate, but that won't be standard throughout the range. Steering responsive LED headlights with auto high-beam functionality are a standard feature and a valuable one for negotiating dirt roads late at night. Optional features will include a wireless phone charger and an all-weather package with heated seats, mirrors, and wipers. The Touring trim will now come with ventilated front seats.
The new Subaru Forester looks like a step up, but there are some small disappointments. Wireless charging should be standard in a new generation of any car now, as should wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay, not optional as they are here.
We're also not entirely enamored with the engine/gearbox choice, although we'll reserve full comment for when we get behind the wheel. Hopefully, there will be an option for Subaru's 2.4-liter turbo engine later for those wanting a bit more get-up-and-go.
Deliveries commence in spring 2024, with full pricing to be confirmed closer to the time.