The latest version of one of my favourite and most-recommended vehicles.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens. There are always more photos at the end of my reviews.
Pricing: 2022 Subaru Forester
Base price (Premier trim): $40,595
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $42,495
The Forester has been with us for a while. Subaru has always marketed it as an SUV-type product, and frankly it has been more capable than most crossovers it competes with. The generation of Forester that launched in 2014 was one of my favourite and most-recommended vehicles. I’ve always liked its sensible nature and its ability to balance utility, sport and fun.
Let’s have a closer look at the latest version.
Anyone who has seen a Forester will feel right at home with the newest one – its styling is absolutely evolutionary. It retains many visual cues including that boxy shape and the ground clearance. Subaru has added a few dressy touches to this top Premier trim – a bit of chrome here and there, silver roof rails and accent pieces all the way around and handsome 18-inch rims. Oh yes, and my review sample’s dark green paint was stunning.
Headlights, foglights and tail-lights are all LED.
The cabin is standard Subaru fare, which is to say it’s excellent in terms of quality, ergonomics and comfort. The two-tone brown and black colour scheme looks fantastic, and I love the variety of contrast-stitched panels as well as the cool “geometric” dimpled trim pieces.
The lovely heated steering wheel feels great in hand. The power-adjustable leather-upholstered seats are heated and very comfortable – they do offer a reasonable amount of bolstering as well.
Subaru’s two-screen system remains in play – the upper one is small and is purely for information – the driver can cycle through a lot of different information on it.
Front and centre is the 8-inch touchscreen which takes care of the vehicle’s navigation, phone function and the excellent 9-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, as well as plenty of vehicle settings. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are integrated nicely. And if you want a nifty flashback to a decade ago, the system comes with a CD player as well.
There is a ton of driver assistance technology, much of it based on Subaru’s EyeSight system. You get blind spot monitoring, a back-up camera with washer, high beam assist, rear cross traffic alert and automatic reverse braking, lane centring and lane departure warning, pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and much more. It all works together very nicely, with perhaps one exception – I found the driver distraction mitigation system to be a bit too vigilant. It barely lets you take your eyes off the road, and then there’s a loud audible and visual warning. I can see the value in this feature of course, but if you’re looking around at addresses on houses trying to find a new place, it will drive you crazy.
The handsome colour scheme continues to the back, so rear passengers get to enjoy a lovely space as well. Getting in is a breeze as the rear doors open very wide. There are three seats across, the outboard ones being heated, and although the middle position straddles a little floor tunnel, it’s certainly spacious enough to accommodate a third adult.
All passengers have a wealth of leg and head room, and the rear seats recline as well. The large sunroof doesn’t quite come all the way back, but it does let more light in than a solid roof. I like the low beltline, which allows for great views out of the back seats. The rear of the console houses two USB charging plugs and adjustable air vents. The middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with cupholders, and there are two sets of anchors for child seats.
There’s an open bin under the centre stack, along with two USB plugs, an auxiliary plug and a 12V port. It’s a bit of an odd space because you have to squeeze by the gear selector, and there isn’t enough space to put your phone in width-wise while plugged in – and having the phone sticking out length-wise would be a mess too.
Under the armrest is a bin, along with another 12V plug.
The trunk has a power liftgate, and is nicely sized at 762L. The Forester always adds a ton of useful utility too – there are bag hooks aplenty, serious tie-down points, a removable, retractable tonneau cover, remote rear seat folding releases and a significant amount of underfloor storage can be found under the trunk liner. To say this trunk is easy to live with is an understatement.
Fold the rear seats down (they split 60/40) and you’ll end up with a huge 1957L cargo space.
And finally, a shout-out to Subaru’s roof rails – they are always rock solid and beautifully integrated.
Under the Hood
The Forester’s motivation comes from a 2.5L 4-cylinder boxer engine that puts out 182 HP and 176 lb.ft of torque.
The Forester’s power is routed through a CVT and on to all four wheels using their Symmetrical Full-Time All-wheel Drive system.
Fuel economy is rated at 9.0/7.2 L/100 km (city/highway) – strangely, we ended up with a somewhat horrifying 13.0 L/100 km average after our week and a half in the Forester. Granted, it was bitterly cold for most of the time, and it was mostly slow commuting around the city with only a couple of highway/freeway sprints, but still…. I had wished for better mileage than that.
On paper, the Forester’s numbers aren’t particularly impressive – of note, this is the only powertrain available across the entire Forester line. It actually does fine during everyday driving – it has enough get-up-and-go for most situations. I’d say it never feels underpowered, but there are situations where more power would be nice – pulling into fast-moving traffic can get interesting and passing takes a bit of time to build up the necessary momentum and it sounds like the engine is under great protest during these heavy-throttle instances. If it were an option, Subaru’s outstanding 2.4L turbo engine would be the perfect fit here.
The CVT is excellent and always has the engine in the right spot. Its “gears” can be shifted manually using the gear selector’s manual mode or the shift paddles. In this mode, the transmission acts like a 7-speed.
Subaru’s all-wheel drive system is perhaps one of, if not the, best in the world. I’ve always been of this opinion and the new Forester helps support that on an ongoing basis. The traction abilities of the Forester, paired with winter tires, are astounding. It is difficult to trip this vehicle up, even in the worst driving conditions. Nothing fools this system, and it just grabs and goes. It is so impressive! And equally so in how invisible it is when you don’t need it.
On the console is Subaru’s dual-mode X-MODE dial, allowing you to select alternate driving modes for some soft-roading terrain.
The suspension is fantastic – it combines a great, comfortable ride that easily soaks up big hits with surprisingly agile handling, even with the Forester’s exceptional ground clearance.
I found the Forester to be smooth and quiet in terms of road, engine and wind noise – occasionally the automatic fan would simply get too loud after a while when it was desperately trying to heat the car in bitterly cold winter temperatures. The brakes are powerful and very easy to work with, and will allow for mucking around with some dicier terrain as well.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was pretty high. She likes wagon-type vehicles with rear liftgates, and she felt this one was a sensible ride. She enjoyed driving it too, saying it feels quite refined inside and out.
I agree with her. The Forester shows maturity for Subaru. The classy interior caught my attention for its style, the vehicle is easy to drive and park, it offers tons of space in both rows and for cargo, and it can easily go anywhere any other SUV can. It remains a highly recommended vehicle for me and I find it to be a good value as well.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Subaru Canada.
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