2025 Subaru Forester: Buy Now or Wait for the Hybrid

Strong points
  • Excellent ride and handling
  • Surprisingly spacious interior
  • Outstanding visibility
  • Improved comfort and noise levels
Weak points
  • Modest power
  • Previous-gen Wilderness model
  • Disappointing screen graphics and responsiveness
  • Only one model under $40K (freight and PDI included)
Full report

Subaru doesn’t try to hide the fact that the last few years have been pretty tough for the Forester, which is one of the worst sellers in the most popular vehicle segment in Canada. While Toyota sold nearly 75,000 RAV4s last year, Subaru delivered a mere 7,000 Foresters. One of the reasons for that is apparently a lack of parts at the factory, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the company prefers to focus on the smaller Crosstrek and the more versatile Outback.

Of course, things will change with the arrival of the sixth-generation Forester in dealerships any day now. Subaru will ramp up its marketing efforts and turn the spotlight on its compact SUV, emphasizing the different ways in which the new Forester is a better product and deserves more consideration. Surpassing Honda and Toyota is hopeless, but we believe Subaru will succeed in attracting new customers while pleasing its loyal fanbase.

Function Over Form

Styling has never been a top priority with the Forester, each generation putting function over form and rubbing many shoppers the wrong way in the process. The folks at Subaru insist that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that practicality is more important on a daily basis, hence the boxy design, wide expanses of glass and generous overall cargo room—staples of the Forester since 1998. Messing up with all that would have been inexcusable.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

The 2025 Subaru Forester is available in six trim levels, but the rugged Wilderness is still based on the outgoing generation. A questionable move, for sure, although we understand the need for engineers to spend more time developing such a model. Look for a brand new Forester Wilderness to arrive for 2026 along with the hybrid variant we’ve been promised.

The latter will borrow many components from Toyota yet feature a boxer engine and full-time, symmetrical AWD system, so it won’t be a rebadged RAV4 or something like that. Even when it comes to improving fuel economy, Subaru wants to stay true to the Forester’s DNA. Incidentally, the Crosstrek is set to gain a similar hybrid system, also for 2026.

Subtle Evolution

The new Forester boasts the same exact height and wheelbase as its predecessor but stands 15 mm longer overall. Existing owners will find a familiar layout inside, with a driver’s cockpit borrowed from other Subaru products. This includes a traditional analog gauge cluster and a vertically arranged, 11.6-inch touchscreen with not-so-sharp graphics and disappointing responsiveness.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Once again, Forester drivers are going to enjoy excellent visibility and a commanding driving position. The front passenger in base and mid-grade models doesn’t get the luxury of a height-adjustable seat, however, which is a shame. On the bright side, the buckets have been revised for enhanced comfort over long trips. The ones in top-line Premier trim are even cooled—a Forester first.

The spacious interior is now quieter and we should all be thankful for that. Credit goes to the acoustic windshield, thicker front window glass, as well as extra noise-cancelling material in the firewall and front wheel wells.

Meanwhile, slight revisions to the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine result in more low-end torque. At 180 horsepower, output is down marginally (-2 hp), but peak torque is increased to 178 lb-ft (+2 lb-ft).

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Is the Forester Under-Powered?

Admittedly, the 2025 Subaru Forester could use more grunt. Sure, it proves relatively quick off the line, but it is no match for many competitors during hard acceleration. And no turbocharged mill is optionally available. The trade-off is more than reasonable fuel consumption at a combined 8.1 L/100 km—same as before despite a bunch of new safety systems adding weight to the vehicle.

Dynamically speaking, the new Forester continues to stand out with a capable AWD system ensuring great handling even in tough conditions, which we validated on some bumpy gravel roads. The suspension emphasizes a smooth ride yet retains enough firmness to make the chassis highly responsive in any scenario. On top of that, steering is precise and provides good feedback, elevating the sense of safety behind the wheel.

Overall, the Forester feels nimble and poised, so much so that we have to rank it among the most fun to drive compact SUVs out there. The turbocharged 2.4-litre turbo engine from the WRX would have been an awesome addition under the hood, obviously. The last time Subaru offered a Forester with forced induction, nearly 30 percent of customers in Canada went for it, but fewer than 10 percent did the same in the U.S., which is why the company kicked it to the curb.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Let’s Talk About Pricing

All-inclusive pricing for the 2025 Subaru Forester ranges from $36,163-$47,663, representing an increase of $1,345-$2,245 depending on the model. You’ll find the best value in the Touring or Sport (sitting respectively second and third on the Forester ladder), and Subaru expects these two models plus the Limited (at $2,000 extra over the Sport) to account for the majority of sales. By the way, the Forester Sport is the only one that offers a Sport driving mode and sport-tuned suspension, neither of which makes a real difference if you ask us.

With over 20 contenders to choose from, the segment is loaded, making Subaru’s job with the new Forester quite difficult. It would be hard to do worse, mind you, as the only rival with lower sales last year was the Jeep Compass. Make sure you check out the Forester if you’re in the market for a new compact SUV—unless you prefer a hybrid powertrain, in which case you should wait another year.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

News2025 Subaru Forester is More Expensive But Better Equipped, Too
The sixth-generation 2025 Subaru Forester will arrive in Canadian dealerships in just a few weeks and we can now tell you how much it costs. Unsurprisingly, prices have increased across the line following similar a move with the redesigned Crosstrek . The entry-level Forester Convenience is $1,500 more expensive than …
Previews2025 Subaru Forester: Five Things to Know
Introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the all-new 2025 Subaru Forester is redesigned inside and out, more technologically advanced and also more refined on the road, the company claims. Before we get the opportunity to drive one and share our first impressions, here are five things you need to …
TorontoAll-New 2025 Subaru Forester Makes Canadian Debut
The redesigned, sixth-generation 2025 Subaru Forester , which we first saw in Los Angeles last November, made its Canadian debut today in Toronto. The Car Guide was on hand to take another look at this compact SUV that will try to get out of the shadow cast by the smaller …