The Subaru Forester is a household name for Canadians and has been one of the brand’s best-selling vehicles in the country since it arrived in 1997.
At that time, the Forester was a new player in a burgeoning segment. The “car-like” crossover wasn’t really a thing in the late 1990s, which is difficult to imagine now as nearly one in every three vehicles sold in Canada is a compact crossover.
“When it launched in 1997, [the Forester] was a pioneer in the segment and it had standard all-wheel drive, exceptional visibility, lots of versatility and capability, car-like handling and strong fuel-efficiency,” says Evan Lindsey, car line manager for Subaru Canada. “At the time a lot of the competitors were truck-based SUVs.”
The 2025 Subaru Forester, revealed at the 2023 AutoMobility LA show on Thursday, has a fresh new design that’s meant to appear more premium and also improve aerodynamics. This not only makes the car more fuel-efficient, but the company says also enhances driving dynamics. “There’s a lot more sculpting in the side profile around the wheel arches and that enhances the stance of the vehicle, makes it look a bit more planted, a bit more rugged,” Lindsey tells The Globe and Mail. “It’s more aesthetically pleasing, which adds more of a premium feel, however we’ve maintained that low beltline and tall greenhouse, and inside we’ve maintained the interior dimensions and cargo capacity.”
The premium feel continues into the completely redesigned cabin, starting with more comfortable and supportive front seats and ample head and leg room. They’ve even modified the seat shoulders to make it easier for front seat passengers to interact with passengers in the rear.
Subaru says there’s been improvement in sound insulation including a 39-per-cent reduction of noise coming in from the roof, and the new vents blow air more quietly. There’s a 3-D design pattern on the dashboard and Subaru says there are a lot of hidden Easter eggs to be found throughout the cabin.
On base models, dual 7-inch centre screens are standard with a portrait-oriented 11.6-inch screen available on higher trims. With the large screen comes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a wireless phone charging pad. The gauge cluster is analog with a digital screen in the middle.
Power will come from a 2.5-litre boxer four-cylinder engine that will produce 180 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. While power outputs are similar, the engine internals have been overhauled and the CVT transmission has 80-per-cent new components to reduce vibrations and increase efficiency.
The new Forester is stiffer and should drive better than before with more than triple the amount of structural adhesives, a dual-pinion electronic power steering rack swiped from the WRX, a redesigned front and rear suspension and an available sport suspension. Subaru was quick to point out that the Forester with the sport suspension isn’t meant for carving corners, but can be considered a mild dynamic upgrade over the base trim.
An improved Eyesight version 4 (Subaru’s driver aid system) will be standard across the board and it uses a wide-angle mono camera for better detection of pedestrians and cyclists and operates more smoothly under a wider variety of conditions. If the driver was to become unresponsive behind the wheel, the new Emergency Stop Assist can safely bring the vehicle to a stop, activate the hazard lights and unlock the doors. If “STARLINK” is equipped (available for the first time on Forester) it will also place a call to emergency services. The Forester will also get a Surround View Monitor which provides a 360-degree overhead view of the vehicle and its surroundings. This function will come in handy when parking.
Subaru buyers are a loyal bunch and changing the car drastically might have proven detrimental, so the approach to the new redesign really takes this into consideration. “We’ve maintained all of those core attributes [with the new Forester] and made sure that the uniqueness of Forester; the greenhouse, driving dynamics, all those elements are maintained but again from a styling perspective and technology, and quality and refinement, we’ve really tried to push the needle forward to broaden its appeal and make it more competitive,” Lindsey says. “It’s a critical segment not only for the industry as a whole, but also for Subaru.”
Five trims will be available at launch: Convenience, Touring, Sport, Limited and Premier. Standard equipment will include alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, windshield wiper de-icer, Eyesight 4.0, USB C and A ports, next-generation infotainment and an integrated rear spoiler. An off-road enhanced Wilderness model will be offered at some point in the future.
Subaru also confirmed that a hybrid model will join the lineup, but couldn’t provide dates or any further information on it.
Expect to see the new 2025 Subaru Forester in dealerships by the spring of 2024.
The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.