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2025 Subaru Forester: First Drive and Detailed Review

2025 Subaru Forester First Drive
2025 Subaru Forester First Drive

The 2025 Subaru Forester has arrived, and yes, it is significantly redesigned this time around. This new version looks almost nothing like its predecessor, which is quite rare for this brand. Kudos to Subaru for taking some risks, although I must say there are some noticeable resemblances to Ford’s family of SUVs.

Despite my initial thoughts, the familiar shape that has made the Forester so popular over the years remains—the big boxy structure, nice and upright with massive windows.

2025 Subaru Forester First Drive
2025 Subaru Forester First Drive

There’s better outward visibility, especially with the rear 3/4 glass being a little bit lower. It might not sound like much, but every little bit helps in terms of outward views, making it that much safer to keep an eye on what’s going on around the vehicle.

As for the drive, it feels like a Forester, delivering more of the good stuff. This is one of the smoothest driving crossovers in its segment. It’s not exactly exciting, even in the sport trim that I am driving right now, but it is buttery smooth on these winding roads. There is a bit more road noise than I’d prefer, but other than that, it’s smooth, comfortable, and relatively quiet.

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One big disappointment at launch is the absence of a hybrid option. Subaru has been promising a hybrid powertrain for the Forester since it debuted, but it’s not ready yet. Subaru Canada’s rep says we can expect the hybrid Forester about a year from now.

For now, the only powertrain available is the same 2.5L horizontally opposed four-cylinder boxer engine as before. This unique engine style is virtually unchanged from the last model, offering 180 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque.

It does what you need it to—nothing more, nothing less. While it’s not exactly thrilling, it gets the job done. The days of the Forester XT are long gone, but this model is still surprisingly capable.

There are a couple of different drive modes in this sport trim. You get a sport sharp mode with a little more throttle response. The CVT does what it needs to, though it can get a little buzzy.

However, Subaru seems to have dialed it in better than most other brands. The tall shape of the Forester provides plenty of headroom in both the front and the second row, and there’s a ton of cargo room as well. While the cargo space isn’t spectacular, it’s adequate for families on the go. A family of four should find all the space they need in here.

When it comes to features, there’s a good amount of stuff, more than there was last time. For instance, the premier trim now includes ventilated front seats, keeping up with the competition.

However, the pricing has also kept up with some of the more expensive entries on the market. The base trim is relatively affordable at about $33,500 before freight and tax.

The Touring trim sees a big step up, costing $38,500. The sport trim I’m driving is priced at $41,500 and comes with some cool features like bronze accents instead of the previous orange ones, which I think look really cool.

Despite being a bit stripped out, the sport trim still offers heated front seats and an upgraded stereo. The massive 11.6-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability is a highlight, although it’s the same as the cheaper Touring trim.

The Limited trim costs $43,000, and the Premier trim is $45,000. While this is quite expensive for a crossover of this size, it does come with a range of advanced safety systems, including a new feature that stops the vehicle if it detects an unresponsive driver with the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist system active.

Subaru has equipped the Forester with three cameras behind the windshield to keep an eye on the surroundings. All the systems are typical Subaru—reliable and effective. Am I impressed with the 2025 Forester? Relatively speaking, yes.

However, I do wish Subaru had elevated the game a bit more because, while it is competent, there is nothing particularly spectacular or standout about it. It does not outperform the RAV4 or CR-V.

The hybrid powertrain, when it finally arrives, will be the key to truly putting the Forester over the goal line. Until then, the 2025 Forester is keeping up with the competition, but it’s not setting any new standards.

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