Los Angeles, CA - Subaru today unveiled the sixth-generation model of its Forester SUV. The latter will make its debut in the spring of 2024 as a 2025 product.
As expected, the vehicle is easy to identify. It's familiar territory. Conservatism is Subaru's trademark when it comes to design, which is both its strength and its weakness. Those who like boldness will look elsewhere, but those already partial to the brand will be happy to stay loyal.
And the model's sales figures since its debut don't lie. In Canada, Subaru has sold 200,000 units of its Forester since 1998. South of the border, the automaker has sold some 2.6 million units of the model.
One out of every four Subaru vehicles delivered in Canada is a Forester. (That said, the Forester has relinquished its title as the country's most popular product to the Crosstrek.)
Crosstrek or no, the Forester remains the heart and soul of the company, even if it goes about its business discreetly. When it comes to defining the Subaru brand, it's the Forester that comes to mind.
It's an important product, then, and despite appearances, the extent of the redesign it has undergone is significant.
The Forester's design evolves with this sixth generation, but only to a modest degree. One element more than any other had to be preserved, namely the model's boxy shape, so all the fenestration is intact, which is an element that has always been appreciated by owners. A family vehicle par excellence, the Forester retains its functional aspect; this was the primary objective from the outset.
The company even had a theme animating the redesign: Ready for Adventure.
Take note that the proportions are essentially the same as those of the outgoing model. The little bit lost here (a slight narrowing of the width near the roof), is gained back there (a little more hip room). The same goes for load volume, which remains virtually unchanged at 2,107 litres once the second-row seats are folded down. It’s 2104 litres in the outgoing version.
The Forester’s front end has been redesigned, and whether you like it or not is up to you. The back end has been tweaked as well to produce a slightly more harmonious look. Hexagonal shapes, one of the Japanese automaker’s stylistic signatures, are omnipresent (look at the grille, the air intakes, the accents here and there).
The same goes for the interior, where this easily recognizable shape is used for the air vents, for example. For Subaru, it’S all about creating optimal harmonization in terms of overall design.
For the rest, there was a push to enhance the quality of the presentation, notably via the use of upgraded materials for a posher feel. Another small detail: Subaru reduced the size of the front seats’ shoulders, which increases visibility and makes access to the rear easier.
We should mention the EyeSight safety suite, the components of which (camera and radar) are glued to the top of the windshield. Basically, this is version four of the device, which comes as standard with a wider-angle camera. Emergency Brake Assist is new to the package this year; it becomes functional if adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist are activated. The vehicle is then able to come to a complete stop, activate its hazard warning lights and unlock the doors. If you have a subscription to Subaru's Starlink connected services, a call will be made to the emergency services.
Under the hood
Mechanically, at launch, the offering includes all of one choice. The 2025 Forester is, as before, powered by a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. It loses all of two horsepower to 180, while gaining all of two lb-ft of torque to 178.
These changes are dues to several mechanical components having been tweaked and improved. The same goes for the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which sees 80 percent of its components changed and refined.
And it goes without saying that the automaker's symmetrical all-wheel drive system is included on all versions. An automated system.
New for 2024 is the (eventual) addition of a hybrid variant that will borrow the latest-generation system used by Toyota. Subaru isn’t saying anything about when it will arrive, but it could well be before the end of 2024. Stay tuned.
Chassis and suspension
The mechanical changes don't stop there. Subaru has reworked the chassis and suspension components. So even though the new Forester is based on the same platform, we can expect it to behave differently.
The company has also improved torsional rigidity by 10 percent and used 27 meters of structural adhesive rather than 8, as with the current model. All this should result in greater body strength, while enhancing ride smoothness and soundproofing levels.
As for the chassis of the Sport version, it for the first time gets specific settings. The shock absorbers are calibrated differently, while the springs offer a firmer ratio. Subaru acknowledged this doesn't transform the Forester into a sporty beast. That's not the aim. But it will invigorate its on-road dynamics.
Aerodynamics have also been refined to improve fuel efficiency. Fuel consumption figures for this model are yet to be released, so we’ll have to see just how improved it is in real-world use.
At launch, the 2025 Forester will be available in five trim levels: Convenience, Touring, Sport, Limited and Premier. Wheel sizes are 17, 17, 18, 18 and 19 inches, respectively. The latter is a first for the Forester.
And what about the Wilderness variant, you ask? Subaru is currently saying nothing about it, but we understood that an announcement should eventually follow. The approach is a success in the Subaru range and it would be astounding not to see it return.
We won't go into too much detail about the equipment of each model, especially as we'll have the opportunity to come back to this when the model is launched. It's worth noting, however, that the standard equipment level of the base model has been seriously upgraded, with the addition of several new functions.
Even so, this will be the only variant to feature a dashboard equipped with two seven-inch screens, while all the others get the same vertically-arranged 11.6-inch unit seen on the brand's other models. Starting with the Touring version, the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto applications are accessible wirelessly, and users can charge their phone without a cable. USB-C sockets have been added at the front and rear.
At the top of the hierarchy, the Premier model offers ventilated seats, a surround-view camera and a hands-free, foot-activated tailgate.
We don't have pricing for the model yet, so impossible to judge at this point which trims might offer the bast value.
Historically, sales have been fairly evenly distributed across the range, as Subaru allows its dealers to order what the customer really wants, rather than seeing accessibility to certain base versions be more restricted.
The final word
Subaru is bringing evolutionary rather than revolutionary change to its Forester for 2025. It's exactly what fans of the brand have come to expect. Some would have liked more, but there's always a risk in stirring the pot too much with a flagship product like this.
Under the circumstances, the company probably made the right decision.