With a rugged look and a practical cabin, the 2023 Subaru Forester is a compact crossover with outdoorsy street cred. Its driving demeanor isn’t as satisfying as rival SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and the Volkswagen Tiguan, but it’s a quiet and comfortable ride that will get you to your next camping destination without protest. Hauling your gear is easy in the Forester too, as its large rear cargo area is accommodating for larger items and the rest of the cabin is dotted with thoughtful storage cubbies. All-wheel drive is standard but the 182-hp flat-four engine fails to give the Forester much kick. Except for the too-spartan base model, the Forester comes generously equipped and all models come with Subaru’s suite of driver-assistance features as standard.
What’s New for 2022?
Following a styling refresh last year, the Forester sees no changes whatsoever for 2023. It’s still offered in value-oriented base and Premium trims, as well as rugged Wilderness and high-end Touring models.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
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 side-view 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.
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 Forester Wilderness test vehicle required 8.0 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 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 (26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway), the Forester will likely satisfy buyers seeking efficiency. In our 75-mph 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 Toyota RAV4 delivered. For more information about the Forester’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Forester’s cabin is a straightforward, 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.
The Car and Driver Difference
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 optional, 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.
How to Buy and Maintain a Car
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
All models come standard with Subaru’s EyeSight suite of camera-based driver-assistance features. For more information about the Forester’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
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
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $33,945/$36,015
Options: Audio and Navigation package, $1850; engine skid plate, $220
DOHC 16-valve flat-4, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 152 in3, 2498 cm3
Power: 182 hp @ 5800 rpm
Torque: 176 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
continuously variable automatic
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.4-in vented disc/11.2-in vented disc
Tires: Yokohama Geolandar A/T G015
225/60R-17 99T M+S 3PMSF
Wheelbase: 104.9 in
Length: 182.7 in
Width: 72.2 in
Height: 68.9 in
Passenger Volume: 108 ft3
Cargo Volume: 27 ft3
Curb Weight: 3659 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 8.0 sec
1/4-Mile: 16.3 sec @ 86 mph
100 mph: 24.1 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 8.7 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.3 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.9 sec
Top Speed (C/D est): 115 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 181 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.77 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 22 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 28 mpg
Highway Range: 460 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 26/25/28 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
More Features and Specs