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2025 Subaru Forester First Drive: Small Changes but Forward Progress

2025 Subaru Forester | Photo: D.Rufiange
  • EPA Category: Compact SUV
  • Price: 33495 $ - 44995 $
  • Consumption: 9,5 - 9,5 L/100km
  • Warranty: 3 years / 60000 km

strong / weak points

  • Comfort and safety
  • Highly efficient all-wheel drive
  • Practicalities

  • Shrill gearbox under acceleration
  • Safety features often intrusive
  • Uninspiring front-end design
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Daniel Rufiange
The Forester evolves mildly for 2025, which is to be expected from Subaru.

•    Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2025 Subaru Forester.

Victoria, BC - The automotive industry is full of surprises, but it also has its share of certainties. One of them is that when Subaru updates a model, don’t expect anything radical. The Japanese automaker is mindful of tradition, put it that way. Not surprising really when you consider it boasts one of the most loyal customer bases in the industry. 

All that to say that this sixth-generation 2024 Forester looks and feels a lot like the old one. Subaru doesn't shake up its clientele too much. That's not a diss, it’s just a statement of fact.

2025 Subaru Forester, front
2025 Subaru Forester, front | Photo: D.Rufiange

2025 Subaru Forester: What's new?

This new generation isn’t devoid of new innovations and design tweaks. But there are no revolutionary changes. 

The styling has been revised, but the model is still plenty recognizable. The engine has been tweaked, but it's the same block. The chassis has been improved, but the driving experience is the same as we know and appreciate from this vehicle. 

In short, everything has changed, mildly, in continuity with the model familiar to consumers.

2025 Subaru Forester, in profile
2025 Subaru Forester, in profile | Photo: D.Rufiange

2025 Subaru Forester design - 7.0/10

In redesigning its model, Subaru wanted to retain what has always been its strength, namely big windows for great visibility and cargo volume. Mission accomplished.

The new design aims to accentuate the vehicle's width, with, for example, a grille that joins the headlights at the front (now positioned below the daytime running lights) and a strip that does the same with the rear lights.

2025 Subaru Forester, wheel
2025 Subaru Forester, wheel | Photo: D.Rufiange

Aerodynamics have also been reworked, with a host of small adjustments to improve air flow over the vehicles. Two examples: openings at the front improve tire grip and straight-line stability; fins at the lower rear ends reduce the yaw effect.

The 2025 offering also includes four new rim designs, ranging in size from 17 to 19 inches, depending on the model, as well as seven colours. Don’t expect anything flashy. 

The overall look is more modern, which should enable the Forester to age better in the coming years. The only reservation I have regards the front end, the presentation of which is ordinary and features a busy grille. From a distance, it's easy to mistake it for a Ford, and I’m not sure that’s the look Subaru is going for.

2025 Subaru Forester, interior
2025 Subaru Forester, interior | Photo: D.Rufiange

Interior
On board, the changes are mild, mild and mild. Subaru has not embraced the current fashion of replacing traditional presentations with ones dominated by screens and almost nothing else. On this point, good for them. The 2025 Forester still features an instrument cluster equipped with dials, and yes, a small screen containing driving-related information, such as the fuel consumption rating, for example.

2025 Subaru Forester, steering wheel, dashboard
2025 Subaru Forester, steering wheel, dashboard | Photo: D.Rufiange

The centre console houses a vertically arranged 11.6-inch screen (7.0-inch with the base Convenience version), a surface with which we've already become acquainted with other models from the brand. The overall look is tasteful, and with the higher-end versions, the quality of assembly and of the materials is up to scratch. 

The emphasis is on horizontality. The straight line formed by the dashboard, for example, is aligned with the design of the doors.

2025 Subaru Forester, seating
2025 Subaru Forester, seating | Photo: D.Rufiange

A notable change has been made to the front seats. They are more enveloping and comfortable than before. And to demonstrate just how family-friendly this model is, Subaru has responded to a request from families for a new seat shoulder. This has been truncated and rounded to make it easier for the front occupants (parents) to reach back to look after the children and hand them things. 

Particular attention has also been paid to soundproofing. Yes, it's a little quieter thanks to the addition of insulating materials and thicker side windows.

2025 Subaru Forester, drive modes
2025 Subaru Forester, drive modes | Photo: D.Rufiange

Technology in the 2025 Subaru Forester - 8.5/10

Subaru hasn't added any stunning new technology to its model, nor has it reinvented the way things are done. Rather, like the rest of the changes, it's about evolution. The Harman Kardon audio system is now available on more versions, starting with the Sport model. Type A and C USB ports are now standard in the rear. 

The new-generation EyeSight system, with wide-angle camera for enhanced surveillance, is standard on all models. Automatic emergency braking can now bring the vehicle to a complete stop if it detects that you are no longer in control.

2025 Subaru Forester, three-quarters front
2025 Subaru Forester, three-quarters front | Photo: D.Rufiange

Powertrain of the 2025 Subaru Forester powertrain - 7.5/10

Under the hood we find the same 2.5L naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engine as previous, though it’s been tweaked by Subaru’s engineers. Injectors, piston rings, camshaft, engine mounts, exhaust manifold and radiator are all new. The result? We lose two horses to 180, but gain two lb-ft of torque for a total of 178. Added to this is the work done on the continuously variable transmission, which has seen 80 percent of its components changed or improved. Maximum torque is delivered at lower rpm (3700 rather than 4400), for smoother acceleration and reduced vibration. 

Have you spotted a pattern here? Subaru has made a bunch of changes, all of which are mild and add up to a mildly discernable difference when you’re driving.

2025 Subaru Forester, three-quarters rear
2025 Subaru Forester, three-quarters rear | Photo: D.Rufiange

Driving the 2025 Subaru Forester - 8.0/10

So how does it feel to drive this “transformed” SUV? Soundproofing is improved, but not under hard acceleration, when the CVT's whine climbs to tantrum levels. The improved comfort of the seats is also noticeable. 

Otherwise, the ride is predominantly smooth, and the chassis transmits enough information for a proper connection with the road, the fruit of steering that benefits from a two-pinion steering rack inspired by the WRX. Forget any sporting pretensions, however; the Forester doesn't like nervous behavior behind the wheel.

2025 Subaru Forester, front end
2025 Subaru Forester, front end | Photo: D.Rufiange

Subaru explains that Stablex shock absorbers have been adopted for the Sport version, to improve stability and comfort, as well as reduce outside noise. Can you tell the difference at the wheel? Hardly. Imagine vanilla ice cream over here, French vanilla over there. 

But that's not the point. Forester buyers look for peace, space and security for the family. And that's exactly what they get. 

Fuel consumption
Official ratings were not announced at the event, but we did gather that they would be essentially the same as with the old model at 9.0L/100 km city and 7.2L/100 km highway.

2025 Subaru Forester, rear
2025 Subaru Forester, rear | Photo: D.Rufiange

2025 Subaru Forester prices in Canada

The offering includes five versions for 2025: Convenience, Touring, Sport, Limited and Premier. Here's the price list, without and with costs (transport, preparation, dealer, etc.).

  • - 2025 Forester Convenience - $33,495 ($36,333)
  • - 2025 Forester Touring - $38,495 ($41,333)
  • - 2025 Forester Sport - $40,995 ($43,847)
  • - 2025 Forester Limited - $42,995 ($45,847)
  • - 2025 Forester Premier - $44,995 ($47,847)

See: 2025 Subaru Forester Gets $33,495 Starting Price in Canada

Some of your questions about the 2025 Subaru Forester

Will there be a Wilderness version of the new Forester?
Yes, but not just yet. For 2025, Subaru will sell you an older-generation Wilderness model, as a 2025 product. There are no announced dates for the arrival of the new-generation Wilderness, but we can assume it will be for the 2026 vintage, barring a surprise. 

What about the promised hybrid version of the Forester? 
It will arrive in the spring of 2025. It will use technology developed by partner Toyota (which owns 20 percent of Subaru).

2025 Subaru Forester, Sport badging
2025 Subaru Forester, Sport badging | Photo: D.Rufiange

The final word
Subaru hasn't reinvented its Forester, but it has improved it so that it continues to represent the same thing for buyers as before: a safe, reliable and versatile SUV. 

Competitors of the 2025 Subaru Forester

  • - Chevrolet Equinox
  • - Ford Escape
  • - GMC Terrain
  • - Honda CR-V
  • - Hyundai Tucson
  • - Kia Sportage
  • - Mazda CX-5
  • - Mitsubishi Outlander
  • - Nissan Rogue
  • - Toyota RAV4
  • - Volkswagen Tiguan
 
Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists