2022 Subaru Forester

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
September 16, 2021

Buying tip

For just under $30,000, pick the Forester Premium—and spend the extra grand for blind-spot monitors and a power tailgate.

features & specs

CVT
Limited CVT
Premium CVT
MPG
26 city / 33 hwy
MPG
26 city / 33 hwy
MPG
26 city / 33 hwy
MSRP
$25,195
MSRP
$31,875
MSRP
$28,195

The 2022 Subaru Forester rains value down on crossover-SUV drivers, and safety’s a very close second.

What kind of SUV is the 2022 Subaru Forester? What does it compare to?

The 2022 Subaru Forester fits like the cross-trainer of crossover SUVs. A mid-size five-seat wagon with standard all-wheel drive, it’s spacious, safe, and serious competition for the likes of the Ford Bronco Sport, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V.

Is the 2022 Subaru Forester a good car?

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It’s useful beyond compare, and it’s a great bargain, too. We give it a TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2022 Subaru Forester?

Subaru adds a Wilderness trim level to the lineup, which also includes base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring editions. A new front end stamps its face with more grille, and some versions get free automatic emergency steering.

Otherwise, there’s little changed to one of our most highly rated family vehicles, and a prior two-time Best Car To Buy winner. The Forester’s outfitted simply, with a wagon body dressed in interesting details like the brown-butter leather in Touring versions and the Fila-esque trim on Sport models. 

It’s built for work, though its 182-hp flat-4 and CVT don’t conspire to inspire much off-the-line speed: It accelerates adequately, with a fair amount of noise. It’s the ride and the resilient behavior on and off road that draws us to the Forester. It’s tuned to cruise through corners as if it were warming up with deep knee bends; it ambles over rocky dirt paths with X-Mode traction controls and up to 9.2 inches of ground clearance without feeling wobbly. It’s a mud slugger, but it’s anything but profane on the street.

It’s ready to meet your friends, too. Subaru reserves five seats inside, lifts the roof to open up all kinds of head room, and installs hinges to fold down the rear seats to open up the cargo hold to more than 75 cubic feet of things—from mountain bikes to Welsh dressers.

It does it all with nearly faultless crash-test scores and exceptional outward vision—which helps us understand why blind-spot monitors remain an option on base trims.

How much does the 2022 Subaru Forester cost?

It’s $26,320 for a base Forester with 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We’d buy the $29,320 Forester Premium for its bigger touchscreen, power driver seat, and available power tailgate and blind-spot monitors.

Where is the 2022 Subaru Forester made?

In Lafayette, Indiana.

6

2022 Subaru Forester

Styling

Subaru’s tweaked the wagon with a fresh grille and a more pronounced front end.

Is the Subaru Forester a good-looking car?

It’s on a styling journey, for sure. Subaru’s taken the basic wagon body and tweaked it this year with a fresh grille and a more pronounced front end. Exciting? Eh. It’s more interesting, though, and with the well-designed interior, it’s a 6 here.

It’s difficult to hide the prosaic station wagon lurking under the Forester’s rugged details, and Subaru doesn’t try. Function sits up front here, though in this generation the Forester’s roof pillars have stayed slim and grown more graceful. On most cars the blocky new front end would come off as synthetic, but the Forester’s always underplayed its off-road cred: no more, especially in the stilted Wilderness model. At the back, the taillights bracket a blacked-out trim strip, and read a little like the shelving kits from IKEA that work so well in dorms. We get it: it’s a bargain.

The Forester’s cockpit helps it nudge to a 6 here; it’s really a half-point above average for the interior and exterior each. Nothing dramatic awaits those who open its doors, but what’s there is arrayed logically, and upholstered in durable-looking materials. The Forester’s the pragmatic one, even in the Subaru family; it may as well come in a Toughskins edition. It does offer sport and luxury trims with leather or black-and-orange synthetic skins, but even in its ritziest versions, feel free to bring on the hiking boots. The Forester’s wash-and-wear cabin is down with the dirt.

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6

2022 Subaru Forester

Performance

Like the bigger Outback, the Subaru Forester can tackle almost any road.

Is the Subaru Forester 4WD?

Yep, every version comes with all-wheel drive.

How fast is the Subaru Forester?

Traction is the Forester’s focus, not speed. Its flat-4 works well enough with its CVT, and it picks up a point for its ride, for a 6 here.

The Forester powers up a 2.5-liter flat-4 and ships its 182 hp to all four wheels via a CVT. Excitement isn’t on the menu, but the powertrain’s willing to work hard if you’re willing to ignore its notable volume. The Forester weighs just about 3,500 lb, which helps it to 60 mph from a standstill in about eight seconds. For a slightly more scintillating level of turbocharged performance, you’ll have to step up to an Outback or an Ascent.

Ride and handling write a brighter story. The Forester brims with attentive and confident road feel on every surface, even where there’s no road at all. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance, decent all-season tires, and an off-road mode on most models that helps extract even better traction by changing throttle, shift, and hill-descent controls, the Forester negotiates most obstacles with canny ease. (Wilderness models get a half-in more ground clearance and different tires; we’ll update here once we’ve driven one.)

Capable off road, the Forester’s more than livable on pavement. It’s calm and collected, and delivers reliable handling in every scenario we’ve put it through—thanks in part to some high-minded programming that can move power around between all its wheels to tighten corners. It rarely gets irritable or confused by the road surface; it just maintains an even keel as gently leans into bends and absorbs the worst of the road with its anything-but-radical independent suspension.

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8

2022 Subaru Forester

Comfort & Quality

The Forester crams more room into a smaller space than you’d imagine.

The Forester has a cargo hold the size of some walk-in closets. It’s efficiently laid out, and has very good front seats. It’s an 8 here.

Those thickly bolstered but not confining front seats earn the extra point thanks to a wide range of adjustment. All kinds of bodies fit in the Forester’s front seats, and its wide and tall doors abet easy access, too. The driving position’s swell, and some versions have power adjustment in front, as well as heating.

The rear seat boasts nearly 40 inches of leg room, and the seat itself can swing three people for short trips, though it doesn’t slide on a track like the bench in some rivals. 

The rear seats do fold down to expand the Forester’s practical packaging. Some 35.4 cubic feet of space can become 76.1 cubic feet, with just two front passengers aboard. 

The Forester’s basic, in the right ways. Lower-priced versions wear natty but durable cloth upholstery, and even the Limited and Touring Forester’s leather looks more sturdy than soft.

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9

2022 Subaru Forester

Safety

Safety is second nature in the 2022 Forester.

How safe is the Subaru Forester?

Though it doesn’t have all the latest advanced driver-assist features, the Forester does have a nearly spotless crash-test record. It’s a 9 for safety.

The IIHS gives the Forester a Top Safety Pick+ award, in part due to its adaptive LED headlights. The NHTSA says it’s five-star strong, and finds just a single four-star flaw in its scores, for rollover resistance. 

Every Forester has adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic emergency braking; automatic emergency steering factors into those systems on Premium models and above. Blind-spot monitors are an inexpensive option on the base versions: buy them, though the Forester’s glassy cabin offers excellent outward vision. 

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7

2022 Subaru Forester

Features

The Forester remains an exceptional value.

Standard features earn a point here, as does exceptional value, but the 2022 Forester’s 3-year/36,000-mile warranty is middling, its standard touchscreen’s small, and options are few and far between. It’s a 7 here.

The Forester can be configured in base, Premium, Sport, Sport, Wilderness, Limited, and Touring versions. The base $26,320 Forester comes with automatic climate control, 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, adaptive LED headlights, and a split-folding rear seat. Its 6.5-inch touchscreen can serve out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it’s small and less easy to use than rival systems as a result. 

Which Subaru Forester should I buy?

We like the $29,320 Forester Premium. For another $3,000 it gains a panoramic sunroof, a power driver seat, heated front seats, and a special off-road drive mode. We’d spend a grand more for the optional power tailgate, keyless start, and blind-spot monitors, too.

How much is a fully loaded Subaru Forester?

The $36,420 Forester Touring tackles premium SUVs with its leather upholstery, heated and cooled power front seats, 18-inch wheels, and heated rear seats. It also upgrades to Harmon Kardon audio and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. For a superior interface, you’ll need to buy a pricier Outback and order the available portrait-style 11.6-inch touchscreen.

Review continues below

5

2022 Subaru Forester

Fuel Economy

Wilderness models drop the Forester’s EPA numbers.

Is the Subaru Forester good on gas?

The Forester trades some fuel economy for standard all-wheel-drive traction, but still earns a 5 for gas mileage. 

All versions save for the Wilderness earn EPA ratings of 26 mpg city, 33 highway, 29 combined, in range with the similarly sized Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. But the Forester doesn’t come with hybrid power, as those crossovers can. Instead the Forester now has the Wilderness model; its higher ground clearance doesn’t play as well with the wind, so gas mileage falls to 25/28/26 mpg.

Review continues below

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$25,195
MSRP based on CVT
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6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 9
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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2022 Subaru Forester Pricing Insights

  • 2021 Forester selection holding up; 2022s coming soon
  • Lease: From $229/mo
  • Rebates: No factory rebate; dealer discounting possible
  • Finance: From 0.9% APR
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