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Base model shown as 2020 CVT
2020 Subaru Forester CVT - front view

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Top Features of Base Model

  • Good passenger and cargo room.
  • Excellent safety technology.
  • Standard all-wheel drive.
  • Comfortable ride.
Pro Review

Subaru Forester: Everything You Need to Know

About the Subaru Forester:

The Subaru Forester is a compact sport-utility vehicle. It is one of the most popular models in the Japanese automaker's lineup. It is an affordable option known for its excellent crash test performance. The Forester offers substantial cargo room, which brushes up against several much larger SUVs in terms of practicality and ease-of-use.

The Subaru Forester prioritizes advanced safety technology and like every SUV in the Subaru line-up, includes standard all-wheel drive. This trait makes the Subaru Forester a common choice in northern climates facing treacherous winter weather.

What’s New in the 2019 Subaru Forester?

The all-new 2019 Subaru Forester has been moved to the brand's Subaru Global Platform, which brings with it a host of updates to features, capability, and styling.

The 2019 Subaru Forester offers a 1.2 inch increase in wheelbase, positively impacting rear seat passenger room (which is 1.4 inches greater than the previous year). The rear cargo opening is 5.3 inches wider.

There's an extra 1.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear row folded forward, bringing the total to 76.1 cubic feet. This is more than enough to haul home big box store purchases or handle hardware store supply runs.

Other intriguing improvements to the 2019 Subaru Forester include:

  • An updated 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine generating 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque.
  • A standard continuously-variable automatic transmission helps the Subaru Forester return fuel efficiency figures of 26-mpg in city driving and 33-mpg on the highway (a modest boost over the older model).
  • Standard EyeSight driver assistance safety features across the board.
  • A new Sport trim intended to appeal to enthusiasts.
  • Improved cabin quality and styling in the top-tier Touring trim.

What Does the 2019 Subaru Forester Compete With?

The 2019 Subaru Forester competes with the following SUVs:

The most popular version of the 2019 Subaru Forester is the Premium trim. Standing a step above the base model, it includes a good mix of comfort and convenience features (such as a panoramic sunroof, a power driver's seat, automatic climate control, and touchscreen infotainment) while avoiding luxury pricing.

The Subaru Forester has a strong following among buyers who enjoy the great outdoors. The vehicle offers substantial room for hauling bikes, kayaks, and camping gear. Its all-wheel-drive provides added traction security. It’s a strong choice for families forced to deal with harsh winter weather.

Exterior Design of the 2019 Subaru Forester

The 2019 Subaru Forester features an evolutionary take on the styling of the older generation SUV. But the differences are minor and may only be noted when parked side-by-side.

Primarily, the 2019 edition offers sharper sheet metal angles, a more aggressive front-end treatment, and a larger grille. The Forester retains the box-like, upright glass-and-pillars that have long defined the Forester's design playbook.

LED headlights are standard on the 2019 Subaru Forester, but if you want alloy wheels, you'll have to order the Premium trim, which comes with 17-inch rollers.

The Subaru Forester Sport is the most visually distinctive of the family thanks to its blacked-out grille and matching 18-inch rims. It also has orange splashes on its roof rails, along the bottom of its door sills, and the lower edges of its front and rear bumpers.

The Limited and Touring add exterior chrome, with the latter getting its own unique 18-inch rim design.

Overall, the Subaru Forester is quite pleasing to the eye. It offers a more distinctive appearance than several of its rivals including its in-house peer, the slightly larger Subaru Outback.

Interior Style in the 2019 Subaru Forester

The improvement in interior room for the new Subaru Forester is a welcome addition to what was already one of the most spacious compact SUVs available. It's easy to load five passengers into the Forester.

Even with a full complement, there’s ample cargo space available immediately behind the rear row of seating. There’s also a larger center console and additional storage cubby up front for the current model year.

Another plus for the 2019 Subaru Forester is its commanding driver's seating position. Combined with its large windshield and side glass, it’s easy to see the road ahead and around the Forester.

Subaru made an effort to add detail to the new Forester's cabin. This includes a focus on using softer plastics throughout the dashboard, center console, and door panels.

The dashboard is better-organized and retains its easy-to-use character for the most important controls such as heating and entertainment..

Sport models continue their orange flair throughout the interior. Heated seats put in an appearance on most trims. The Touring combines leather upholstery with heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel. LATCH attachments are included as standard.

What Technology Comes in the 2019 Subaru Forester?

The new Subaru Forester makes a substantial statement about safety technology on all models, while higher trim levels provide modest luxury equipment.

The 2019 Subaru Forester provides the following available interior and tech features:

  • 8.0-inch LCD infotainment system
  • Dual automatic climate control
  • 6.3-inch multifunction dashboard display
  • Rear USB ports
  • Navigation

The 2019 Subaru Forester comes standard with:

  • Android Auto / Apple CarPlay
  • Automatic engine start/stop
  • Automatic climate control
  • 6.5-inch infotainment system
  • EyeSight active safety

What Kind of Safety Features are in the 2019 Subaru Forester?

The 2019 Subaru Forester delivers a strong set of safety features as standard equipment, including the advanced EyeSight system.

Subaru EyeSight uses a set of stereoscopic cameras mounted at the top of the windshield to monitor the road ahead. It provides the following driver's aides:

  • Automatic braking. If EyeSight determines that a collision is imminent, it can apply the brakes and bring the Forester to a stop.
  • Lane keep assist. The cameras keep an eye on the road markings and alerts you if the vehicle leaves its lane.
  • Adaptive cruise control. EyeSight monitors traffic ahead and maintains a safe distance between the next vehicle and the Forester.

Starting with the Premium model, you can add an optional blind spot monitoring system (standard on Limited and Touring, with Touring adding automatic rear braking).

The Forester Touring introduces a unique 'DriverFocus' system using special cameras to track the driver's head and eye movements in a bid to detect fatigue or distraction and warn of possible danger.

What is the 2019 Subaru Forester Like to Drive?

The 2019 Subaru Forester is one of the more interesting SUVs in its class from behind the wheel. Despite not being positioned as a sporty model, the Subaru Forester's suspension setup provides decent feedback on curvy roads.

Its all-wheel drive system gives confidence-inspiring grip in all weather conditions. It’s also comfortable over long distances. Excellent visibility and EyeSight reduces stress on pilots during longer road trips.

Power from its 4-cylinder engine is average. Its continuously-variable automatic transmission offers a smoother experience than the year before. The Forester Sport doesn't kick in any extra grunt to get things going.

Last year's turbocharged XT model is no longer available. But Subaru introduces the Sport Sharp setting for its SI-Drive mode selector, which features more aggressive settings for the throttle and virtual shift points built into the gearbox. Combined with the Sport trim's paddle shifters, it adds a surprising level of engagement to the daily drive. The harder you push the Subaru Forester, however, the noisier its engine gets, which might be off-putting to some buyers.

All versions of the Subaru Forester, save the base, comes with X-Mode, offering extra capability when driving off-road. Although not a traditional 4x4, the excellent 8.7 inches of ground clearance found with the Forester gives it a respectable level of obstacle avoidance when off the beaten path.

Should I Buy a 2019 Subaru Forester?

An important component of the Subaru Forester's value proposition is that it offers all-wheel drive as standard equipment at a price that is comparable to the front-wheel drive versions of several of its direct competitors.

If additional winter traction is important to you, the Forester is a compelling choice. It's also a good buy for families seeking to maximize practicality and safety, given its excellent reputation in each of these areas.

Should I Buy a Used Subaru Forester?

The previous generation Subaru Forester (2013-2018) is quite similar in terms of styling and general form factor. Only a slightly smaller cabin separates it dimensionally from the most recent model.

Two major factors should be considered when shopping used. The first is that fewer older Foresters came with the EyeSight system, which may put off safety-minded drivers.

The second is the existence of the turbocharged Forester XT, which significantly improves acceleration and performance even compared to the 2019 edition of the vehicle.

Overall, a recent used Forester is a good buy, but the XT is especially appealing for driving enthusiasts who want to combine fun with practicality.

How Much Does the 2019 Subaru Forester Cost?

The 2019 Subaru Forester starts at an MSRP of $24,295, a figure that will stretch to just under $35,000 for a Touring model. As an entry-level all-wheel drive option, there's considerable value to be had with the Subaru Forester.

Pros and Cons of the 2020 Subaru Forester


  • Strong list of standard advanced safety equipment
  • Enormous cargo area
  • Comfortable seating for adults in both rows
  • Sport model legitimately fun to drive
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Improved passenger compartment design


  • Engine can be noisy when pushed
  • No more XT model drops Forester performance considerably
  • Blind spot monitoring not included as part of EyeSight
  • Incremental styling update might have neighbors thinking you're driving last year's Forester
Model History

The History of the Subaru Forester: 31 years of Forester

The Subaru Forester was introduced to the American market as a 1998 model. It firmly established its mix of SUV-like angles with car-like handling and comfort, providing a riff on the raised-wagon look of its sister crossover, the Subaru Outback. This template would carry the Forester through its next two redesigns, before growing in size and capability for 2008.

The Subaru Forester would develop a reputation for performance in addition to the substantial practicality offered by its box-like design, thanks to the inclusion of the XT model.

The Forester XT borrows components from the Subaru WRX hatchback and sedan, giving it a turbocharged four-cylinder engine to go with its grippy all-wheel drive system. The 2019 model represents the first time in more than 15 years that the XT model has been absent from the Subaru Forester line-up.

Specs & Key Features of the 2020 Subaru Forester


Body Style
Sport Utility
2.5L 4 Cyl DOHC 16V w/VVT
182 hp
Lineartronic CVT
Passenger Doors
Passenger Seating
All Wheel Drive
City MPG

Key Features

  • Air Conditioning
  • Android Auto
  • Audio
  • Bluetooth
  • CD Player
  • Cruise Control
  • LCD Monitor
  • LED Lights
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Remote Keyless Entry

More Features

  • Engine: 2.5L 4 Cyl DOHC 16V w/VVT -inc: Dual Active Valve Control System (DAVCS) variable valve timing
  • Transmission: Lineartronic CVT -inc: low shift mode
  • 3.70 Axle Ratio
  • GVWR: 4,891 lbs
  • Engine Auto Stop-Start Feature
  • Transmission w/Driver Selectable Mode
  • Electronic Transfer Case
  • Full-Time All-Wheel Drive
  • 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
  • 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
  • Wheels: 17" x 7.0J Steel w/Full Wheel Cover -inc: Silver finish
  • Tires: 225/60R17 99H All-Season
  • Steel Spare Wheel
  • Compact Spare Tire Mounted Inside Under Cargo
  • Clearcoat Paint
  • 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
  • Black Power Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding
  • Fixed Rear Window w/Variable Intermittent Wiper and Defroster
  • Variable Intermittent Wipers
  • Galvanized Steel/Aluminum Panels
  • Grille w/Chrome Bar
  • Liftgate Rear Cargo Access
  • Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks
  • Fully Automatic Aero-Composite Halogen Daytime Running Auto-Leveling Headlamps
  • Perimeter/Approach Lights
  • LED Brakelights
  • 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 for app availability, dual USB input ports, 3.5mm auxiliary input jack, 4 speakers and body color roof mounted antenna
  • Radio w/Seek-Scan, Clock, Speed Compensated Volume Control, Steering Wheel Controls and Radio Data System
  • 1 LCD Monitor In The Front
  • Front Bucket Seats -inc: 6-way manual driver's seat height (pump lever type) and 4-way manual front passenger seat adjuster, full width seat fore/aft adjustment lever, height and tilt adjustable front head restraints and passenger front seat back pocket
  • Driver Seat
  • Passenger Seat
  • 60-40 Folding Bench Front Facing Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat
  • Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
  • Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
  • Power Rear Windows
  • 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
  • Remote Releases -Inc: Mechanical Fuel
  • Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
  • Distance Pacing w/Traffic Stop-Go
  • Automatic Air Conditioning
  • HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts
  • Locking Glove Box
  • Driver Foot Rest
  • Interior Trim -inc: Metal-Look Instrument Panel Insert, Metal-Look Console Insert and Metal-Look Interior Accents
  • Full Cloth Headliner
  • Cloth Door Trim Insert
  • Urethane Gear Shift Knob
  • Cloth Upholstery
  • Day-Night Rearview Mirror
  • Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/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
  • Cargo Area Concealed Storage
  • Cargo Space Lights
  • FOB Controls -inc: Trunk/Hatch/Tailgate
  • Instrument Panel Bin, Driver / Passenger And Rear Door Bins
  • Power 1st Row Windows w/Driver 1-Touch Up/Down
  • Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
  • Systems Monitor
  • Trip Computer
  • Outside Temp Gauge
  • Digital/Analog Display
  • Seats w/Cloth Back Material
  • Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
  • Front Center Armrest
  • Perimeter Alarm
  • Engine Immobilizer
  • 3 12V DC Power Outlets
  • Air Filtration
  • 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 Options for the 2020 Subaru Forester (4)










Roadside Assistance



Available Trims for the 2020 Subaru Forester (5)

MSRP Starting at
Premium CVT
MSRP Starting at
Sport CVT
MSRP Starting at
Limited CVT
MSRP Starting at
Touring CVT
MSRP Starting at

Safety Ratings for the 2020 Subaru Forester

US NHTSA Crash Test Results

Results shown are for the 2020 Subaru Forester CVT:

Overall Rating
Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
Overall Side Crash Rating
Side Barrier Rating
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole Rating Driver Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Front Seat
Combined Side Rating Rear Seat
Rollover Rating

Dynamic Test Result

No Tip

Risk of Rollover


Rollover Note

Dynamic (moving) test results (Tip or No Tip) and measured rollover-related properties determine vehicle's risk of rollover in single vehicle crash and its rollover rating. The Rollover Resistance Rating utilizes a "fishhook" maneuver which is a series of abrupt turns at varying speeds to see how "top-heavy" a vehicle is.


Male: Average sized adult male dummy in 35-MPH crash into fixed barrier. Rating is evaluation of injury to head, neck, chest, legs. Female: Small-sized adult female dummy in 35-mph crash into fixed barrier. Rating is evaluation of injury to head, neck, chest, legs.