2025 Subaru Forester Review: Not quite new, but thoroughly improved

2025 Subaru Forester Review: Not quite new, but thoroughly improved

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On paper, the 2025 Subaru Forester is brand new, but compared to the legitimately overhauled Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson of recent years, this generation didn’t exactly start with a clean slate. That said, there were a wealth of changes and updates made that should amount to a Forester better able to keep up with those newer rivals while maintaining most of the unique attributes that keep Subaru loyalists so loyal.

While very little has changed under the skin, the looks are certainly different enough to cue double takes in the REI parking lot. There will be no mistaking the 2025 for a 2024, unless of course it’s a Wilderness model, in which case, well, it is totally the same as 2024. The outgoing off-road variant will continue to be produced alongside the new Forester until a replacement Wilderness is ready to roll.


But there is big news: A hybrid is coming! Just not soon and with details TBD. We have yet to drive the new 2025 Subaru Forester, but look for our first drive review coming in late April.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2025?

The 2025 Subaru Forester is being labeled as “all-new,” but that’s really stretching the definition of “all.” It uses the same Subaru Global Platform and 2.5-liter boxer-four as the outgoing model. It has the same wheelbase, height and track width, while only adding 0.6 inches to the length and 0.5 inches to its width. The cargo area expands by a whopping 0.7 cubic feet behind the raised back seat. Yes, that was sarcasm.

Despite the carryover platform, there are mechanical updates. The process of putting together the underlying chassis was improved, and it now utilizes more structural adhesives, making it stronger and stiffer than the outgoing Forester’s. Handling, ride and interior noise levels benefit, Subaru says. The steering is also enhanced with a version of the WRX’s dual-pinion electronic steering rack.

What are the Forester interior and in-car technology like?

The interior design may be new to the Forester, but it’s virtually indistinguishable from what you’ll find in the Outback, Crosstrek and Ascent. Apart from some dimpled surfacing on the passenger-side dash, you really can’t tell the difference. Admittedly, the included 11.6-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen (and the weird dual 7-inch screen setup of the base model) doesn’t leave designers much room to work with. Both of the available touchscreen infotainment systems are indeed new to the Forester, but again, old-hat for the Subaru lineup. Which means they’re pretty old-hat, period, at this point. For a new generation, “all” or not, the Forester probably could’ve used something to better stay relevant for longer.

This generation also gets a wireless phone charger, ventilated seats and hands-free power liftgate. The seats are also more supportive, according to Subaru, and have been slimmed down for better visibility and access to the rear seats. Little hooks have been added throughout the cargo area, including two in the roof at the base of the liftgate – those were introduced for, and had been exclusive to, the Wilderness.

How big is the 2025 Subaru Forester?

Since not much has changed in external dimensions, the 2025 Forester’s cabin is virtually the same size as its predecessor’s, lining up nicely with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson. Backseat space differs more between them, but they're all generously spacious and well within the realm of "family friendly." Since it was already one of the most spacious compact “SUVs,” we can see why Subaru didn’t bother messing with the formula. The 2025 also retains the old Forester’s generous rear side windows (visibility is exceptional) and the ample recline of its seat back.

In terms of cargo space, the Forester's 29.6 cubic feet (or 26.9 with its jumbo sunroof) seemingly falls nearly 10 cubic feet short of the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. But curiously, the Forester has consistently outperformed its specs in the real world. When we load it with bags, the Forester tends to keep up just fine.

It's also worth noting the Forester's class-leading ground clearance. At 8.7 inches, nothing can match it now that the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk has been discontinued, although the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road and Adventure comes close at 8.6. Remember, this is the base Forester, not a special off-roading trim; that’s where Wilderness comes in. The Forester's own special off-roading trim cranks things up to 9.2 inches and shaves off some bumper to further improve its approach angle.

What are the Forester’s fuel economy and performance specs?

A 2.5-liter naturally aspirated boxer-four carries over from 2024 and now delivers 180 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. That’s a decrease of two apiece — bummer. It’s still connected to a standard CVT, albeit with smoother and quieter performance, according to Subaru. Most trim levels have paddle shifters to select eight simulated ratios.

While we’d still like to see the turbo engine return, Subaru has not given us any indication that it’s going to happen. A hybrid version is on the way for certain, though. Expect more on that in early 2025 — one year after the gasoline model's launch.

The standard all-wheel-drive system has been revised to react quicker, improve handling and provide better control both on- and off-road. An X-Mode off-road driving mode is included on the Forester Premium, while the Sport and higher trims get two mode options based on terrain and traction.

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