Subaru Forester Review 2022

Subaru Forester At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
It can’t offer the low running costs of many of its rivals, but for reliability, dependability and go-anywhere capability, the Subaru Forester is hard to beat.

+All-weather, all-terrain and all-season capabilities, practical and spacious interior, excellent equipment levels across the range.

-Cabin lacks the perceived quality of premium rivals, expensive to run especially the petrol versions, CVT auto gearbox is noisy and tiresome.

The Subaru Forester isn’t a great all-rounder. Instead, Subaru has focused on specific areas to make it the best in its field. A rather appropriate phrase, given the Forester’s all-wheel-drive technology. Forget all-rounders, the Subaru Forester is the SUV for all weathers, all roads and all conditions. Launched in 2013, the Forester was available with a choice of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines, but since 2019 it has only been available as a 2.0-litre hybrid.

The Subaru Forester isn’t a car that likes to be pigeonholed. It’s not really an SUV. It’s not even an estate car, at least not in the traditional sense. It’s a bit of both, but with the kind of go-anywhere spirit you only get with a proper 4x4.

It’s also exclusive. Although Subaru is a big deal in North America, the company occupies a tiny corner of the UK car market, with sales measured in hundreds rather than thousands. Not that this means that the Forester should be ignored. On the contrary, if you’re after a reliable, dependable and robust family car, the Forester makes a great deal of sense.

It’s a lifestyle vehicle for people who do proper lifestyle things, rather than those who have all the gear and no idea. You know the kind of people we’re talking about. Subaru Forester owners are knowledgeable outdoor types who don’t mind getting their hands dirty and their feet muddy.

Which is why the Forester comes with a hard-wearing cabin that’s been built to withstand years of abuse. Slam a mountain bike on the roof, stick your hiking boots in the luggage area, and allow your dog to shake itself dry in the back. It won’t matter, because there aren’t any soft-touch plastics or premium material to ruin.

You also get a boot large enough to rival an estate car, along with a cabin that offers plenty of headroom and legroom for four adults. The middle rear seat is fine for occasional use and children. You’ll also find loads of storage pockets, bins and compartments.

Although a pair of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines were available at launch, the diesel was dropped towards the end of the Forester’s production run, leaving just the petrol version. This was paired with a standard-fit CVT gearbox. A performance XT version was also available, offering hot hatchback levels of performance, assuming you could live with the running costs.

Which is one of the Forester’s biggest drawbacks. Although the diesel offers respectable fuel economy, the Forester is an expensive car to buy and maintain.

On the plus side, the cars are backed by a five-year warranty, which means the latest cars are still covered by the manufacturer’s guarantee. We should also point out that the Subaru has an excellent reliability record, so the Forester is unlikely to let you down.

This leaves you free to enjoy the Forester’s excellent off-road skills. Although it won’t rival a Land Rover when the going gets really tough, the Forester is superb on gravel tracks, rutted roads and wet fields. It’s also brilliant on winter roads, thanks to Subaru’s excellent all-wheel-drive system.

Through into the mix a generous level of standard equipment and you’ve got the hallmarks of an excellent family car. It’s not the cheapest car you can buy, but it’s likely to be one of the most reliable. It will also keep going long after your neighbour’s crossover has been rendered useless by a light dusting of snow. This is an all-weather and all-season SUV.

Ask Honest John

I only do short journeys but need to tow a caravan. Should I buy a petrol or diesel car?
"My normal commute is less than 10 miles to work so I use a petrol car, but I was thinking about getting a caravan. The caravan I like is 1700kg. Is there a suitable petrol car that will pull it? My budget is £20,000. Thanks."
It's a tricky one. A diesel would be much better suited to lugging a 1700kg caravan but you're likely to have DPF (diesel particulate filter) issues with regular 10-mile journeys. A Subaru Forester could be a good option - a 2.0-litre petrol with the Lineartronic gearbox is officially rated to tow up to 2000kg.
Answered by Andrew Brady
I'm having electrical issues with my new hybrid. What are my rights to return it?
"I bought a new hybrid Subaru Forester at the end of March and did a 150-mile trip just before lockdown. Two weeks into lockdown, the low voltage alarm went off. My local garage came out and replaced battery. Three weeks later it has the same problem, so the garage took the car away for two days and replaced with a larger battery. On every journey, the lane assist turns itself off. Last week, I did an 18-mile trip. All the safety features turned themselves off. After stopping, the infotainment screen didn't come back on so I lost all my information. On reaching home and locking the car, it beeped repeatedly before the alarm went off. Upon reading handbook it seemed to be a problem with the bonnet switch so I opened and closed hte bonnet and it looked okay. I've always had Foresters and never had any problems but I mo longer trust the car. What are my rights on returning for a refund? Thank you."
Subaru usually has a very strong reputation for reliability, but this is the second battery complaint we've received for the hybrid Forester. Like you, the owner found the hybrid failed to recharge its 12-volt starter battery sufficiently because the car was used mainly for short local trips. If the dealer is unable to fix the car then you may be able to reject it. For your legal rights, see:
Answered by Dan Powell
Should I buy a petrol 4x4 to tow a caravan?
"I'm due to change my 2008 diesel Honda CR-V and wanted another diesel 4x4 to pull my caravan with a laden weight of around 1250kg. I would now prefer a petrol 4x4, but cannot work out what I should look for. "
Diesels are generally better suited to towing than petrols, but your caravan is relatively small so you should be able to find something suitable. A Subaru Forester could be a good option. It has a towing capacity of 1870kg and is a very robust 4x4 that should prove reliable. Also consider a Kia Sportage with all-wheel-drive and the T-GDI petrol engine, which provides a maximum towing capacity of 1900kg.
Answered by Andrew Brady
More Questions

What does a Subaru Forester cost?