2020 Subaru Forester

By June 8, 2020

The 2020 Subaru Forester is an all-wheel-drive compact crossover with excellent capability, efficiency, space and value.

For 2020 it adds a more advanced active lane control system, and a rear-seat reminder.

Every Forester is powered by a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter flat-4 paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), with all-wheel drive. Most Foresters are equipped with an “X-Mode” for driving off-road, and ground clearance measures 8.7 inches.

The EPA rates the 2020 Forester at 26 mpg city, 33 highway, 29 combined.

The NHTSA gives the Forester a five-star overall rating for safety, while the IIHS gives the Forester its Top Safety Pick+ award.

Automatic emergency braking is standard across the Forester lineup, along with adaptive cruise control and active lane control.

Model Lineup

The 2020 Forester is available in base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring trim levels.

The base costs $25,505 to start, including destination. It comes with cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, a split-folding rear seat, 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, and at least one USB port.

The Forester Premium costs $28,405 and adds heated front seats, alloy wheels, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a panoramic moonroof, and an off-road drive mode. Two packages can add blind-spot monitors and keyless ignition ($795) or a power liftgate, blind-spot monitors, and keyless ignition ($1,395).

The Forester Touring costs $35,605 and adds leather upholstery, paddle shifters, power-adjustable front seats that are heated and cooled, a driver-attention monitor and recognition system, 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment, Harman Kardon premium audio, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and 18-inch alloy wheels. It adds another level of safety with rear cross-traffic braking.


Since the Forester is all about function, it’s a box—with a lot of glass, so outward vision is excellent, thanks also to its tall stance and low window line. But it’s not as square as it used to be, with headlights that are swept-back high on the front fenders and a sharpened nose. At the rear, the wide hatch has a slight wedge shape, separating the C-shaped taillights.

The Sport model looks a bit more spirited, with colored exterior accents and unique wheels


The cabin is also about function, but it introduces some fashion, in particular with the orange-and-black trim of the Sport. Both the base cloth and the Limited leather upholstery feel durable, rather than soft. There are plenty of storage bins. The base screen is 6.5 inches, measured diagonally, and supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone software.

Subaru’s infotainment system, called StarLink, is big and bright, and the touchscreen can be seen in direct sunlight. There can be some lag in the software. The Touring model adds native navigation.

The front seats are spacious, with a commanding view ahead, although a wide center console eats into hip room. The cloth seats have vinyl bolsters.

The rear seats are relatively cavernous for a compact crossover, with 40 inches of leg room. The rear bench is wide and accommodating, with enough shoulder room for three abreast, and plenty of leg room.

Behind the second row, there is 35.4 cubic feet of cargo room with a wide hatch for easy loading of big boxes and especially bicycles. That space grows to 76.1 cubic feet with the seats folded flat. The liftgate can be power-operated and hands-free in top models.

Driving Impressions

All Foresters are powered by a 182-hp 2.5-liter flat-4 that drives all four wheels via a CVT. The cabin is relatively quiet, but noise coming from the busy engine can’t be entirely kept out. At least the CVT does a good job of moving into higher steps to keep the revs down at cruising speed. It stays in the lower steps for responsive acceleration from a stop. The Forester weighs 3,500 pounds, relatively light for an all-wheel-drive SUV, and that helps keep it quick and nimble.

Out on the highway, the Forester is calm and collected, with an easy drivability. It corners with security, despite some body lean, thanks to brake-based torque vectoring that improves grip. The Sport drives with no more sportiness than any other model; the trim is totally cosmetic.

Offroad, the Forester is attentive and confident off-road, with 8.7 inches of ground clearance that clears most trails. All Foresters beyond the base model get an off-road mode that includes hill-descent control, which is not only for offroad, but adds safety to steep downhill icy roads.

Final Word

As a compact crossover SUV, the 2020 Subaru Forester has everything but visual distinction. It has enough power and a smooth and well-programmed CVT, with all-weather and off-road capability. It makes a superb family vehicle, with outstanding safety, fuel economy, cargo space and convenience (remember those bikes), and a roomy back seat (don’t forget the kids).


—By Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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