Introduced last year as the new generation, the 2020 Subaru Forester crossover SUV returned essentially unchanged. That’s good news for adventurous buyers. The Forester offers almost everything you might want, including rugged abilities along with comfort and technology at a good value. Very important for some buyers, all-wheel drive is standard.
For 2020, all Foresters come standard with the award-winning Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which has added a Lane Centering function and new Lane Departure Prevention. Also standard this year is the Rear Seat Reminder. Designed to help prevent child and/or pet entrapment, the system will alert the driver to check the rear seat before exiting the vehicle.
There is only one drawback here: the 2020 Subaru Forester is not very eager to drive. The main cause is a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Sure it delivers impressive fuel economy, but it also lacks power. The acceleration is slow, either from a stop or pulling ahead of slower cars on the freeway. And unlike most of its competitors, more powerful engine options are not available.
Still, the 2020 Subaru Forester has a personality. Its high safety score is a plus point. As well as a large number of standard equipment for prices that compete well against rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5.
Like the exterior, the 2020 Subaru Forester cabin is evolutionary. The design of the center stack, instrument panel, steering wheel and seats will be immediately familiar to owners of the previous generation. At first glance, the most significant change is to the central touchscreen — both the 6.5-inch and 8-inch displays are larger than their previous counterparts. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto appear for the first time on the Forester and are standard on every model.
Take a closer look, and you’ll find that the numerous small tweaks make the cabin feel a bit more functional and stylish. Textured soft-touch plastics cover the dashboard and feature contrast stitching for a premium effect. Orange air vent and console surrounds and stitching help differentiate the midtier Sport model from others, while additional faux leather trim on the top Touring version makes the cabin look that much more luxurious.
The front seats are shaped well and offer a better range of adjustment than before. The previous Forester had seats that some found uncomfortably high, but drivers of all sizes will have no problem with the revised chairs. A wide pedal box and a vast amount of headroom ensure that even tall passengers have plenty of space to stretch out. The front headrests even feature an adjustable tilt feature for greater comfort.
The rear seat bottoms are fairly flat, and the seatbacks cannot be adjusted from their single upright position. Although there’s plenty of legroom in the back, the elevated seating position means that taller rear passengers might brush their hair against the headliner. On the other hand, if you’re not that tall, you’ll likely enjoy the commanding outward visibility and the ample under-thigh support.
It’s not the largest in the segment, but the 2020 Subaru Forester cargo area is impressive. Behind the rear seat is 35.4 cubic feet of room (33 cubes with the sunroof), more than most competitors but a few cubic feet shy of the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. And the sunroof-less Forester boasts the largest cargo area in the compact crossover category thanks to the 60/40-split rear seats, which fold nearly flat to expand cargo space to 76.1 cubic feet (70.9 cubes with the sunroof).
Every 2020 Subaru Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter SUBARU BOXER engine and equipped with Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. The direct-injection engine produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a standard Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission). In Sport and Touring models, the CVT features a manual mode that simulates a 7-speed automatic transmission via shift paddles. The powertrain delivers up to 33 mpg highway fuel economy. This powertrain offers up to 1,500-lb. towing capacity and standard Trailer Stability Assist.
Standard driver-selectable Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-DRIVE) adds more flexibility for driving conditions, allowing the driver to tailor the vehicle’s throttle characteristics by choosing between Intelligent and Sport modes (Sport Sharp on Forester Sport). Intelligent mode helps smooth out accelerator inputs for fuel saving, while Sport and Sport Sharp modes tune the throttle response to emphasize performance. There’s also an off-road mode that revises the shifting and all-wheel drive to better handle slippery, unstable surfaces and even features a hill-descent control function.
182 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
176 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/33 mpg
Test Result (Touring)
Zero to 60 mph: 8.5 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 23.7 sec
Zero to 110 mph: 31.8 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 9.0 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.9 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.6 sec @ 86 mph
Top speed (drag limited): 127 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 168 ft
TRIM LEVELS & PRICING
The 2020 Subaru Forester will be offered in five trim levels when it arrives at retailers this fall: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring. Pricing on the Forester begins at $24,495.
Forester is known for its legendary value, and the 2020 model is no exception, equipped with a long list of standard features that includes: SUBARU STARLINK Multimedia system with high-resolution touchscreen, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and STARLINK apps, audio and Bluetooth control switches on the steering wheel, dual USB ports in the front center console, power windows with auto-up/auto-down on driver’s window, power door locks that automatically lock when the vehicle is in motion, power side mirrors, multi-function display with digital clock, outside temperature and fuel economy information, remote keyless entry, security system with engine immobilizer, and combination meter with color LCD. New for 2020, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System has been upgraded with automatic individual wheel I.D. registration.
The entry-level Forester comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels with 225/60R17 all-season tires and 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS. The exterior has body-color door handles and front, rear and side underguards. For added convenience at night, welcome lighting activates when the driver approaches or exits the vehicle. The Base trim offers an option package with 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels in silver finish and roof rails for an MSRP of only $600.
Now standard on the 2020 Subaru Forester Premium trim, the All-Weather Package includes heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and windshield de-icer. On top of Base, the Premium adds 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels in black with machine finish, roof rails, roof spoiler in matching body color, dark tint privacy glass and a panoramic power moonroof as standard. For improved off-road performance, the Premium trim offers standard X-MODE with Hill Descent Control. The Premium interior is upgraded with leather-wrapped steering wheel with silver stitching, center dash panel trim in black with silver metallic finish, high-grade combination meter with color LCD, high-grade multi-function display, and chrome inner door handles. Additional interior features include a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, center console rear seat a/c outlets, cargo area cover, off-delay operation on all power windows, available Wi-Fi hotspot, and the latest SUBARU STARLINK Safety and Security services. The Premium is priced from $27,395.
The Premium trim offers more optional equipment including dual USB ports in the rear center console, Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Keyless Access with Push-Button Start. Also available is a power rear gate with automatic close & height memory.
The 2020 Subaru Forester Sport adds unique appearance elements and enhanced standard equipment and is priced at $28,995. Gloss black exterior accents on the fog light trim, rear gate and front grille along with black-finish 18-inch wheels and a rear roof spoiler give the Forester Sport a rugged look. Orange accents on the black underguards and roof rail mounts and an orange SPORT badge add a modern, youthful touch. The exclusive interior is a unique dark gray material with orange stitching and accents throughout the cabin.
The Forester Sport exclusively employs a version of SI-DRIVE with Intelligent and Sport Sharp modes and the Lineartronic CVT features a 7-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle-shift control switches. The Sport trim offers Dual X-Mode for increased capability in a wider range of environmental conditions. Building on the standard equipment of the Forester Premium trim, the Sport also features a high-grade, sport design combination meter for the instrument panel, high-grade multi-function display, LED fog lights, High Beam Assist, exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, Keyless Access with Push-Button Start and All-Weather Package. LED cargo area lighting and an additional LED light on the inside of the rear gate provides better illumination for loading and unloading cargo.
The Sport trim offers optional equipment including Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and a power rear gate with automatic close and height memory. Also available is the 8.0-inch Multimedia Plus system and Harman Kardon® premium sound system with nine speakers and amplifier.
The 2020 Subaru Forester Limited get 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels in black with machine finish, exterior mirrors in matching body color with integrated turn signals, fog lights with chrome accent trim, Keyless Access with Push-Button Start and All-Weather Package. The Limited comes equipped with additional driver assist technology including Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, High Beam Assist and LED Steering Responsive Headlights. The interior is distinguished by perforated leather-trimmed upholstery, silver metallic with gloss black finish center dash panel trim and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever handle. The Limited comes with additional convenience features including Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control with voice activated controls and dual USB ports in the rear center console. A power rear gate with auto close and height memory is also standard. The Forester Limited models begin at $31,095.
The Limited offers optional equipment to further enhance safety, comfort and entertainment. Available Reverse Automatic Braking can apply the vehicle’s brakes if an obstacle is detected while reversing. The available heated-steering wheel complements the standard All-Weather Package. Also available is the 8-inch Multimedia Navigation system and Harman Kardon premium sound system with nine speakers and amplifier.
The top of the model line Forester Touring offers additional features over Limited including CVT with 7-speed manual shift mode and paddle shift switches, Reverse Automatic Braking and 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation system with Harman Kardon premium sound system. The standard DriverFocus safety system has an added convenience feature of recognizing up to five drivers and remembering their seat and exterior mirror positions as well as climate settings. The exterior of the Touring is distinguished by unique 18-inch alloy wheels in black with machine finish, chrome exterior door handles, satin chrome exterior folding mirrors with integrated turn signal and LED fog lights with chrome trim. The flagship trim level also has silver metallic finish mounts on the roof rails and on the front, rear and side underguards as well as chrome badges. The interior offers a choice of exclusive Black or Saddle Brown perforated leather trimmed upholstery, 10-way power driver’s seat with 2-position memory (includes power lumbar support), 8-way power front passenger seat and heated rear seats. New for 2020, the Touring model adds new LED cargo-area and dome lights with off-delay as well as rear gate light. The 2020 Touring is priced from $34,595.
TECH & SAFETY
SUBARU STARLINK In-Vehicle Technology provides hands-free connectivity and entertainment through the vehicle’s multimedia or navigation system. All STARLINK Multimedia systems for the 2020 Subaru Forester offer a high-resolution touchscreen, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Aha, Pandora, and STARLINK apps, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming connectivity, AM/FM stereo, Rear Vision Camera, single-disc CD player, SiriusXM All Access Radio (4-month free subscription) and SiriusXM Travel Link (3-year free subscription) and HD Radio as standard. The 6.5-inch Multimedia system is standard on Base, Premium and Sport trims. The 8.0-inch Multimedia Plus adds voice activated controls for phone and Near Field Communication to the list of features and is optional for Sport and standard for Limited. The top-of-the-line 8.0-inch Multimedia with Navigation adds voice- activated navigation powered by TomTom and over-the-air map updates is an option for Limited and standard for Touring.
The Forester offers an in-vehicle WI-FI hotspot to allow families to maximize the capabilities of the STARLINK Entertainment Anywhere Kit that includes two 9.7-inch iPad 32GB Wi-Fi models, Harman Kardon Bluetooth headphones and OtterBox Defender Series iPad cases. The kit is available to all Subaru owners for purchase through a Subaru retail facility. With an MSRP of $970, the kit is a great value.
For safety, security and convenience, SUBARU STARLINK In-Vehicle Technology offers three connected services packages that are among the most affordable in the industry. The STARLINK Safety Plus package includes SOS emergency assistance, enhanced roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, maintenance notifications, monthly vehicle health report and diagnostic alerts (3-year free subscription). For even greater peace of mind, the STARLINK Safety Plus & Security Plus package adds remote engine start with climate control and heated seats, stolen vehicle recovery service, vehicle security alarm notification, remote lock/unlock, remote horn and lights, remote vehicle locator and parenting features including boundary, speed and curfew alerts. The STARLINK Concierge package adds the convenience of in-vehicle assistance with restaurant and hotel reservations, purchasing tickets for sporting/theater events and scheduling service appointments.
MSRP + Destination & Delivery ($1,010)
Alloy Wheel Package + Roof Rails
BSD/RCTA + Keyless Access & Start
BSD/RCTA + Keyless Access & Start + Power Rear Gate
BSD/RCTA + RAB + Multimedia Plus
BSD/RCTA + RAB + Multimedia Plus + Harman Kardon Amp & speakers + Power Rear Gate
Nav + Harman Kardon Amp & speakers + RAB + Heated Steering Wheel