What’s New in the 2020 Subaru Forester?

If you’re shopping for a crossover, you’re probably already familiar with the Subaru Forester. A year after launching a new generation, the venerable crossover has undergone relatively few changes for the 2020 model year. Fortunately, that’s not a bad thing. Starting at just $24,495, the 2020 Subaru Forester is a great choice for drivers seeking a refined balance between off-road adventure and everyday practicality.

Performance Specs

While the 2020 Subaru Forester is available in five trim levels, each model features the same powertrain. It starts with a 2.5-liter boxer engine rated at 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission that channels power to Subaru’s famed Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system. This innovative system automatically directs power where it’s needed most, significantly improving performance in adverse conditions where traction is poor.

Sliding behind the wheel reveals Subaru’s flagship crossover to be a bit of a mixed bag. The boxer engine and symmetrical drivetrain offer smooth acceleration and a more balanced ride. However, there’s just not a lot of pep in the Forester’s step. The absence of more powerful engine options is also slightly disappointing; particularly for drivers who may not prioritize the crossover’s efficiency or sure-footed performance in foul weather. It’s rarely an issue during everyday driving, but a sportier model would have offered a little more excitement.

Nonetheless, the Forester is clearly a crossover that was built with utility in mind. The slightly underpowered engine may leave something to be desired, but the powertrain is well-engineered to handle nearly any terrain or weather conditions. With a superb 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the compact crossover’s boosted stance adds versatility and grants outstanding visibility from the cabin. Better still, the elevated perch is hardly noticeable once you grip the wheel.

Everything is underpinned by the Subaru Global Platform, making the Forester feel surprisingly solid and refined. The ride is calm and quiet, the steering is responsive, and the brakes feel appropriately powerful.

The sum of its parts may not be especially exhilarating for adrenaline junkies, but the 2020 Subaru Forester is built to take you anywhere you choose to go.

Fuel Economy

While the Forester may not break new ground in terms of speed and acceleration, Subaru’s decision to skimp a little on horsepower has undeniably paid off at the pump. Regardless of trim level, the 2020 Forester boasts excellent fuel economy numbers that include 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. In mixed driving scenarios, the capable crossover musters a combined efficiency of 29 mpg.

This level of efficiency is especially impressive considering the Forester’s all-weather performance and ability to travel off-road. Among competing models equipped with AWD, only hybrids can top the stately Subaru’s overall economy. This advantage is owed in part to the symmetrical powertrain built around Subaru’s boxer engine, which minimizes vibration and mechanical wear and allows for more efficient power generation. As an added bonus, the Forester offers an interior that’s considerably more spacious than you might expect in a fuel-conscious compact crossover.

Safety Features

Simply put, few vehicles on the road are better at keeping you safe than the 2020 Subaru Forester. That should come as no surprise for a brand that’s known around the world for its superlative safety and crash test performance. In fact, the Forester is one of four Subaru models to earn the 2020 Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS.

Bolstering the Forester’s safety performance is a full suite of Subaru EyeSight driver assists. Now standard on all trim levels, the EyeSight package includes systems for forward collision warning and mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane centering. Optional safety features include blind-spot detection, lane-change assistance, and reverse automatic braking.

For more protection, the Touring trim adds Subaru’s DriverFocus system and adaptive headlights.

Entertainment Features

The Forester’s Base, Premium, and Sport trims feature a 6.5-inch touchscreen powered by Subaru’s Starlink infotainment interface. An upgraded eight-inch screen is standard on Limited and Touring models.

Aside from the base Forester, all other models are equipped with 4G LTE connectivity and built-in Wi-Fi. Although Subaru’s navigation system is restricted to the Limited and Touring models, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are baked into every Forester.

Pros

  • Go-anywhere versatility that balances off-road capability with a quiet, comfortable ride.
  • Roomy interior with plenty of space for both passengers and cargo.
  • Comes standard with Subaru’s excellent EyeSight driver-assist package.

Cons

  • Less dynamic and stylish than some of its competitors.
  • Relatively few standard luxury features for its class.

The Bottom Line

There’s a lot to love about the 2020 Subaru Forester, but it clearly isn’t meant for every driver. How you feel about the aggressively practical crossover will likely depend on how you intend to use it. Ultimately, Subaru’s latest offering continues to carve out a unique niche in a highly competitive class.

It may not get your blood pumping, but the 2020 Subaru Forester is proof that pulse-pounding power and stunning aesthetics aren’t everything. It remains a clear winner for weekend warriors, delivering pragmatic performance while allowing you to indulge your more adventurous side.

Whether you’re heading out for a weekend hike or hitting the trail for a bit of off-road fun, there may be no more practical way to enjoy the great outdoors than with the Forester.

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