HIGHS

Good at most everything that matters to crossover buyers, spacious cabin, relaxed ride and handling.

LOWS

Lethargic acceleration, uninspired design, few luxuries come standard.

VERDICT

In its quest for automotive domination, Subaru engineered all the fun out of the Forester.

Overview

Subaru's adventurous brand image and practical nature converge perfectly with the 2020 Forester SUV. It's similar in size to the Outback station wagon but offers a little extra ground clearance for when hauling your kayak by hand down to the shoreline is too much trouble. Cargo space is excellent and the simplistic interior design will speak to the sensible car buyers looking for something that's well-made but not particularly flashy. There's a reason Subaru sells so many of these compact SUVs—they're easy to love and hard to fault. We'd like a bit more oomph from the powertrain and more engagement behind the wheel, but for the majority of buyers, the Forester's four-cylinder engine, continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), and standard all-wheel drive will be perfectly adequate.

What's New for 2020?

The Forester was all new for 2019, so Subaru hasn't made many changes for 2020; however, there are a few new features that buyers might find interesting. The standard adaptive cruise control system gains a lane-centering feature, the tire-pressure monitor now displays the pressure in each tire, an LED lamp illuminates the license plate on all models, and a rear-seat reminder alerts the driver to check the back seat upon exiting the vehicle if the rear doors were opened prior to the start of the trip. Premium models now come standard with the contents of last year's All-Weather package—heated exterior mirrors, heated front seats, and a windshield wiper de-icer—and touring models get LED cargo-area dome lights.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

- Base: $25,505

- Premium: $28,405

- Sport: $30,005

- Limited: $32,105

- Touring: $35,605

While the Limited and Touring trims are much fancier, we think the Premium model offers the best mix of value and features. The exterior upgrades—17-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, and body-color sideview mirrors—make it look less like a rental car and the interior includes luxuries such as a panoramic sunroof, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, reclining rear seatbacks, an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot, and a six-speaker sound system. Subaru hasn't yet released pricing for the 2020 Forester, so we've estimated pricing for now.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

All Forester models are powered by the same 2.5-liter flat-four-cylinder engine that makes 182 horsepower and can tow 1500 pounds. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) routes the engine's power to Subaru's trademark all-wheel-drive system. At our test track, our 2019 Forester Touring test vehicle required 8.5 seconds to reach 60 mph—not exactly thrilling performance, but it'll meet the needs of most buyers. Those looking for more oomph should check out the Honda CR-V or the turbocharged versions of the Mazda CX-5 and the Kia Sportage. For an SUV without any sporting intentions, the Forester's handling is competent. The ride is compliant and refined, the steering is accurate, and the brakes are adequately strong for emergency stops.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

With EPA fuel-economy ratings that match much of the compact-crossover segment, the Forester will likely satisfy buyers seeking efficiency. In our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, our Forester Touring test vehicle missed its highway-fuel-economy rating by 1 mpg, returning 32 mpg. However, that figure matches the result that the CR-V Touring and the Toyota RAV4 Adventure delivered.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

The Forester's cabin is a straight-forward, frill-free affair with a good driving position and great outward visibility. Our Touring model's interior was nicely finished with caramel-colored leather on the seats, door panels, and dash; textured plastic trim layered on the rest of the cabin looked and felt of high quality, too, while glossy-black plastic on the center stack and the chromed and matte-metallic plastic trims spruced things up quite well. The back seat is plenty spacious (there is no third-row option), and even adults should find the bench seat a comfortable perch for road trips. We fit 11 of our carry-on suitcases behind the back seat and a whopping 23 with the back seats folded. That's more than either the CX-5 or the RAV4 could muster, but the CR-V maxed out at 25 carry-ons with its rear seats stowed.

Infotainment and Connectivity

All Forester models come standard with a touchscreen infotainment system using Subaru's latest Starlink interface. Base, Premium, and Sport models come standard with a 6.5-inch display, but a larger 8.0-inch unit is optional on the Sport and standard on the Limited and Touring models. Two USB ports are provided for front-seat passengers; two more are optional and reside on the back of the center console, giving rear-seat passengers a way to juice their smartphones. Navigation is available only on the Limited and Touring, but for those who decide to stick with a lower model, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are both standard and can provide turn-by-turn directions broadcast from the user's device. Onboard Wi-Fi via a 4G LTE data connection is standard on all but the base Forester.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The Forester earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for 2019. All models come standard with Subaru's EyeSight suite of camera-based driver-assistance features. Key safety features include:

- Standard automated emergency braking

- Standard adaptive cruise control

- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

The Forester's warranty is basic, and buyers will be paying out of pocket for maintenance visits. Rivals such as the Sportage and the Hyundai Tucson—both of which offer a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty—and the RAV4—which offers two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance—provide more value here than the Subaru.

- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles

- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles

- No complimentary scheduled maintenance


Vehicle

EPA Classification

Small Sport Utility Vehicles 4WD

Drivetrain

All Wheel

Engine

Engine Order Code

NA

Engine Type and Required Fuel

Regular Unleaded H-4

Displacement (liters/cubic inches)

2.5 L/152

Fuel System

Gasoline Direct Injection

Maximum Horsepower @ RPM

182 @ 5800

Maximum Torque @ RPM

176 @ 4400

Cooling System Capacity (quarts)

NA

Transmission

Transmission Order Code

NA

Transmission Description

CVT w/OD

Number of Transmission Speeds

7

First Gear Ratio (:1)

3.60 - 0.75

Second Gear Ratio (:1)

NA

Third Gear Ratio (:1)

NA

Fourth Gear Ratio (:1)

NA

Fifth Gear Ratio (:1)

NA

Sixth Gear Ratio (:1)

NA

Seventh Gear Ratio (:1)

0.56

Reverse Ratio (:1)

3.69

Final Drive Axle Ratio (:1)

3.70

Transfer Case Gear Ratio, high (:1)

NA

Transfer Case Gear Ratio, low (:1)

NA

Clutch Size

NA

Fuel Economy and Range

EPA Greenhouse Gas Score

NA

CO2 Emissions, 15K mi/year (tons)

6.1

Range, city/highway (miles)

431.60 / 547.80

EPA Fuel Economy, combined/city/highway (mpg)

29 / 26 / 33

EPA Fuel Economy Equivalent (for hybrid and electric vehicles), combined/city/highway (MPGe)

N/A / N/A / N/A

Fuel Tank

Fuel Capacity / Gas Tank Size

16.6

Aux Fuel Tank Capacity (gallons)

NA

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (inches)

105.1

Length (inches)

182.1

Width, without mirrors (inches)

71.5

Height (inches)

68.1

Front Track Width (inches)

61.6

Rear Track Width (inches)

61.8

Minimum Ground Clearance (inches)

8.7

Rear Door Opening Height (inches)

NA

Rear Door Opening Width (inches)

NA

Liftover Height (inches)

28.4

Interior Dimensions

Passenger / Seating Capacity

5

Total Passenger Volume (cubic feet)

107.8

Front Head Room (inches)

40.2

Front Leg Room (inches)

43.3

Front Shoulder Room (inches)

58.2

Front Hip Room (inches)

54.1

Second Row Head Room (inches)

37.7

Second Row Leg Room (inches)

39.4

Second Row Shoulder Room (inches)

57.2

Second Row Hip Room (inches)

53.6

Cargo Area Dimensions

Cargo Space/Area Length Behind First Row (inches)

73.1

Cargo Space/Area Length Behind Second Row (inches)

35.7

Cargo Space/Area Length Behind Third Row (inches)

NA

Cargo Space/Area Width at Beltline (inches)

51.2

Cargo Bed Width Between Wheelhousings (inches)

43.3

Cargo Bed Height (inches)

32.4

Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row (cubic feet)

70.9

Cargo Space/Area Behind Second Row (cubic feet)

28.9

Cargo Space/Area Behind Third Row (cubic feet)

28.9

Steering

Steering Type

Rack-Pinion

Steering Ratio (:1)

NA

Turns, lock to lock

NA

Turning Diameter / Radius, curb to curb (feet)

35.4

Turning Diameter / Radius, wall to wall (feet)

NA

Suspension

Front Suspension Type

Strut

Rear Suspension Type

Double Wishbone

Front Shock Absorber Diameter (mm)

NA

Rear Shock Absorber Diameter (mm)

NA

Front Anti-Roll Bar Diameter (inches)

NA

Rear Anti-Roll Bar Diameter (inches)

NA

Brakes

Brake Type

4-Wheel Disc

Anti-Lock-Braking System

4-Wheel

Front Brake Rotors, diameter x thickness (inches)

11.6

Rear Brake Rotors, diameter x thickness (inches)

11.2

Rear Drums, diameter x width (inches)

NA

Wheels and Tires

Front Wheel Size (inches)

18 X 7

Front Wheel Material

Aluminum

Front Tire Size

P225/55HR18

Rear Wheel Size (inches)

18 X 7

Rear Wheel Material

Aluminum

Rear Tire Size

P225/55HR18

Spare Wheel Size (inches)

Compact

Spare Wheel Material

Steel

Spare Tire Size

Compact

Towing

Maximum Towing Capacity (pounds)

1500

Maximum Trailer Weight, dead weight hitch (pounds)

1500

Maximum Tongue Weight, dead weight hitch (pounds)

150

Maximum Trailer Weight, weight distributing hitch (pounds)

1500

Maximum Tongue Weight, weight distributing hitch (pounds)

150

Weight Information

Base Curb Weight (pounds)

3531

Total Option Weight (pounds)

0.00

Maximum Payload Capacity (pounds)

NA

Curb Weight

NA

Electrical

Cold Cranking Amps @ 0° F

NA

Maximum Alternator Capacity (amps)

NA

Mechanical

Engine: 2.5L 4 Cyl DOHC 16V w/VVT -inc: Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS) variable valve
timing

Transmission: Lineartronic CVT -inc: 7-speed manual shift mode, hill descent control (HDC) and
X-MODE: dual mode system

3.70 Axle Ratio

GVWR: 4,891 lbs

Engine Auto Stop-Start Feature

Transmission w/Driver Selectable Mode

Paddle-Shift Control Switches

Full-Time All-Wheel

Battery w/Run Down Protection

Towing Equipment -inc: Trailer Sway Control

Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers

Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars

Electric Power-Assist Speed-Sensing Steering

16.6 Gal. Fuel Tank

Single Stainless Steel Exhaust w/Polished Tailpipe Finisher

Permanent Locking Hubs

Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs

Double Wishbone Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs

4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front And Rear Vented Discs, Brake Assist, Hill Hold Control
and Electric Parking Brake

Brake Actuated Limited Slip Differential

Exterior

Wheels: 18" x 7.0J Black Finish Aluminum Alloy

Tires: 225/55R18 98H All-Season

Steel Spare Wheel

Compact Spare Tire Mounted Inside Under Cargo

Clearcoat Paint

Express Open/Close Sliding Glass Panoramic 1st And 2nd Row Sunroof w/Power Sunshade

Body-Colored Front Bumper

Body-Colored Rear Bumper w/Black Rub Strip/Fascia Accent

Black Bodyside Cladding and Black Wheel Well Trim

Black Side Windows Trim and Black Front Windshield Trim

Body-Colored Door Handles

Body-Colored Power Heated Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding and Turn Signal Indicator

Fixed Rear Window w/Variable Intermittent Wiper and Defroster

Deep Tinted Glass

Variable Intermittent Wipers w/Heated Wiper Park

Galvanized Steel/Aluminum Panels

Lip Spoiler

Black Grille

Liftgate Rear Cargo Access

Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks

Roof Rack Rails Only

Perimeter/Approach Lights

LED Brakelights

Fully Automatic Projector Beam Led Low/High Beam Daytime Running Auto-Leveling Auto High-
Beam Headlamps

Front Fog Lamps

Entertainment

Radio: Subaru Starlink 6.5" Multimedia Plus System -inc: AM/FM stereo HD Radio w/single-disc
CD player w/MP3/WMA/CRR/RW file capability, multi-touch gesture high resolution display, 6.5"
LCD screen, voice activated controls, Bluetooth audio streaming connectivity, hands-free phone
connectivity and hands-free SMS text messaging connectivity, iPod control capability, rear-vision
camera display, SiriusXM All Access radio and Travel Link (subscription required), smartphone
integration: AHA, Android Auto, CarPlay and Pandora, Starlink cloud applications: refer to
subaru.com for app availability, dual USB input ports, 3.5mm auxiliary input jack, 6 speakers and
body color roof mounted antenna

Radio w/Seek-Scan, Clock, Speed Compensated Volume Control, Steering Wheel Controls and
Radio Data System

2 LCD Monitors In The Front

Interior

Heated Front Bucket Seats -inc: 10-way power driver's seat w/2-way power lumbar support and 4-
way manual front passenger seat adjuster, height and tilt adjustable front head restraints and driver and passenger front seat back pocket

8-Way Driver Seat

Passenger Seat

60-40 Folding Bench Front Facing Manual Reclining Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat

Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column

Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer

Power Rear Windows

Mobile Hotspot Internet Access

Leather/Metal-Look Steering Wheel

Front Cupholder

Rear Cupholder

Valet Function

Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, 2 Door Curb/Courtesy, Illuminated Entry,
Illuminated Ignition Switch and Panic Button

Proximity Key For Doors And Push Button Start

Remote Releases -Inc: Power Cargo Access and Mechanical Fuel

Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls

Distance Pacing w/Traffic Stop-Go

Automatic Air Conditioning

HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts and Console Ducts

Locking Glove Box

Driver Foot Rest

Full Cloth Headliner

Cloth Door Trim Insert

Interior Trim -inc: Metal-Look Instrument Panel Insert, Metal-Look Console Insert and
Chrome/Metal-Look Interior Accents

Leather/Metal-Look Gear Shifter Material

Sport Cloth Upholstery -inc: orange stitching

Day-Night Rearview Mirror

Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Illumination, Driver And
Passenger Auxiliary Mirror

Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 3 12V DC Power
Outlets

Front Map Lights

Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting

Full Carpet Floor Covering -inc: Carpet Front And Rear Floor Mats

Carpet Floor Trim and Vinyl/Rubber Mat

Cargo Area Concealed Storage

Roll-Up Cargo Cover

Cargo Features -inc: Cargo Tray/Organizer

Cargo Space Lights

FOB Controls -inc: Cargo Access

STARLINK Safety and Security (Subscription Required) Tracker System

Smart Device Remote Engine Start

Instrument Panel Bin, Driver / Passenger And Rear Door Bins

Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature

Power 1st Row Windows w/Driver And Passenger 1-Touch Up/Down

Systems Monitor

Trip Computer

Outside Temp Gauge

Digital/Analog Display

Seats w/Cloth Back Material

Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints

Front Center Armrest and Rear Center Armrest

Perimeter Alarm

Engine Immobilizer

3 12V DC Power Outlets

Air Filtration

Safety

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

ABS And Driveline Traction Control

Side Impact Beams

Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags

EyeSight Pre-Collision Braking

EyeSight Lane Keep Assist Lane Keeping Assist

EyeSight Lane Keep Assist Lane Departure Warning

Tire Specific Low Tire Pressure Warning

Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags

Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags

Airbag Occupancy Sensor

Driver Knee Airbag

Rear Child Safety Locks

Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and
Pretensioners

Warranty

3 Basic Years / 36,000 Basic Miles

5 Drivetrain Years / 60,000 Drivetrain Miles

5 Corrosion Years / Unlimited Corrosion Miles

3 Roadside Assistance Years / 36,000 Roadside Assistance Miles

Crash Test Results

Overall Rating

5/5

Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating

5/5

Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Driver

5/5

Frontal Barrier Crash Rating Passenger

5/5

Overall Side Crash Rating

5/5

Side Barrier Rating

5/5

Side Barrier Rating Driver

5/5

Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat

5/5

Side Pole Rating Driver Front Seat

5/5

Combined Side Rating Front Seat

5/5

Combined Side Rating Rear Seat

5/5

Rollover Rating

4/5

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