Good (As Always), But Some Failings

Subaru Forester owners want to hike, kayak, camp and ski. And, they want to do it all with their compact SUV being a part of their activity journey, keeping them safe along the way. The 2025 Subaru Forester is designed to accommodate those wants and needs.

Sporting a new, upright appearance with a stronger stance, Subaru aims to take on the biggest sellers in the SUV market, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, with its new Forester generation.

The model’s engineers and designers took on the chief complaints about the previous generations of Forester and refined them, making an SUV that is safer, stiffer and better insulated. It benefits from the recent redesign of the Subaru Crosstrek, making the glass-heavy Forester quieter and more comfortable for long days behind the wheel, and succeeds on those accounts.

Power delivery, cooling, and gear ratios have been updated for the new generation. Subaru has also made adjustments to the powertrain to increase reliability.

The interior has also gotten a full overhaul. Higher-quality materials line the cabin and touch points where arms and hands sit are better padded. The dashboard is more interestingly sculpted, for a Subaru.

Subaru has pulled enhancements from its established lineup, giving Forester technology from the Wilderness trim level in the previous generation for wider availability in the 2025 SUV.

For the new model year, Subaru sells the new Forester in base, Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring trim levels.

The last-generation Forester Wilderness continues to be sold alongside those versions. A new version of the Forester Wilderness is expected in the coming years.

During a day of test drives around the Missoula, Montana countryside, Newsweek had the opportunity to test Forester Premium and Forester Sport, solid mid-grade options that are high-percentage choices for customers. Only 6.5 percent of Subaru Forester buyers opt for the base model.

When it comes to Forester, there aren’t engine options in this generation – all models come equipped with the company’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer power plant that delivers 180 horsepower (hp) and 178 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque.

Power allocation is as expected for a Subaru. It won’t knock a driver’s socks off and turning onto a higher-speed roadway from a side street, with the need for rapid acceleration, will leave one wanting, and wishing that the loud noise from the continuously variable transmission (CVT) would pipe down.

Choosing which Forester to buy comes down to what you really need. If you’re likely to encounter any deep snow, as we did during the drive up and down sizable mountains in Montana, you’ll want one that is equipped with dual-function X-Mode, which adds drive modes to allow easier escape from deep snow and mud conditions.

This is especially important if you’re someone in the northern United States who doesn’t change out their standard all-season tires for snow tires in the wintertime.

2025 Subaru Forester
2025 Subaru Forester front view. The 2025 Subaru Forester is available with an around view monitor.

Subaru of America

On the way down the mountain, the Forester Premium tester, without these modes and wearing the all-seasons, was a fan of yawing from side to side in ruts, even at low speed, and getting more than a bit squidgy on the way in and out of the areas around Garnet, Montana, where snow still sat despite the spring date on the calendar.

This generation Forester rides smoother than the last, taking trails in stride and not passing along all the bumps to the cabin that would have made their way in, in previous versions of the SUV.

The interior of the Forester takes from the Crosstrek and stands enhanced with new design that emphasizes a more modern look. Nothing here will surprise anyone that has looked at a Subaru in the last five years, which is a part of its charm, in some circles.

This generation’s seats are more comfortable than the last, which were far, far more comfortable than the generation before that.

As Forester has become more mature and higher-quality, the SUV’s infotainment system appears more immature in its appearance than ever before. It also doesn’t help that automakers like Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet have enhanced the looks and operational functionality of their system over the last few years to make them more visually appealing and intuitive than ever.

Where Forester wins is on safety. Standard all-wheel drive is where it starts, and other systems like lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic high beams deliver confidence-inspiring operation.

Pricing for the 2025 Subaru Forester starts at $31,090, with an $1,395 destination fee added on. It goes up to just over $41,000 when fully equipped. That pricing is in line with the competition, and wholly unobjectionable in today’s market.

Subaru has packaged the Forester well for buyers, but it lacks something key that the RAV4 and CR-V have, a hybrid powertrain option. RAV4 is offered in gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions while the best CR-V is the hybrid one. That may be a reason for Subaru’s environmentally-focused potential buyers to cross-shop the other models.

Additionally, while the interior of the RAV4 is not as nice as the Subaru, but Honda’s is more stylish than both. CR-V’s infotainment system is worlds easier to use and better to look at, and its all-wheel drive is just as good as Subaru’s in ice and snow, if not better.

As good as Forester is, competition is getting stiffer, and in some ways, Forester is falling behind.