Subaru Forester
(2018 - 2022)

  • Intelligent packaging in terms of practicality
  • The security of Symmetrical all-wheel drive
  • Many have been well cared for
  • Excellent range of features
  • Concerns surrounding reliability
  • Levels of fit and finish not what they used to be
  • A used Outback may make more sense
  • Interior design very busy and not
    wearing that well
Overview

The initial Impreza based Forester first appeared way back in 1997, representing Subaru’s take on a compact crossover SUV, and in the ocean of soft roading SUVs out there, the Forester built its reputation on being one of the more rugged and capable alternatives with symmetrical all wheel drive, a boxy shape and Subaru’s reputation for making ultra reliable vehicles.

Since then has transitioned through five generations, bringing us to the current SK Forester, which first appeared here in Australia in 2018.

Initially only available here in Australia with a 2.5-Litre non-turbo engine, a 2.0-Litre Hybrid engine joined the range during 2019 with both power plants sending their drive through all four wheels, via a 7-speed CVT.

In Terms of trim specs, the range here in Australia initially consisted of four variants kicking off with the 2.5i then 2.5i-L, 2.5i Premium and this, the top spec 2.5i-S, while a Sport variant joined the team late in 2020.

Meanwhile the Hybrid models were split between the base spec L and higher spec S.

A pretty substantial mid-life update was bestowed upon this generation for the 2022 model year, featuring updates both cosmetically and mechanically.

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What goes wrong

In terms of the exterior, there have been a few reports that the OEM windscreens can crack quite easily. Obviously it generally only happens when small rocks or pebbles hit the the glass.

However the problem is, some aftermarket windscreens can play havoc with the safety cameras and sensors, requiring any replacement windscreen to be an OEM part. The problem with that is that, for some owners, the windscreen may crack multiple times.

There are a few sporadic reports of the electric windows being faulty or not working at all.

And there are a few complaints that the Reversing Camera can be very unclear at night.

Inside there are reports that the airbag indicator light can turn on sporadically.

Also that the air conditioning can be faulty or fail all together due to issues with the compressor. The repair for this requires much of the dashboard to be removed and this will become expensive.

The A pillar is known to rattle and the seat belt can squeak where you clip it in. The good news is a pool noodle cut to size fixes this.

And most concerning for left hand drive markets is that there have been reports of Steering Problems, specifically a loss of power steering, harshness or rattles. The good news is there has been a recall addressing this and these problems haven’t seemed to effect Foresters in right hand drive markets.

Mechanically, if you had asked a mechanic or service technician 10 years ago, are Subarus reliable? Most would’ve said yes, they’re not too bad. But ask a mechanic these days you’ll most likely get a different answer.

Over the years things like, head gasket issues, CVT transmission complications, and wheel bearings failures have just become way too common.

The FB25D (the direct injected version from 2018 onwards) so far isn’t too bad in terms of reliability, however it is early days.

Oil consumption has been an issue as have oil leaks. Also being direct injection, they are prone to clogged up inlet systems so Subaru’s upper cylinder cleaning process (which is basically a spray-in chemical cleaner), is now needed more than ever. Interestingly, Subaru have been doing this for years.

Gone is the timing belt of the older generation Foresters so overall serving costs are much lower.

There’s not a great deal of information around about problems with the FB20 mild Hybrid, which doesn’t really mean they don’t have problems.

Currently in Australia they simply have not sold as many hybrids when compared to non-hybrid and this can lead to a whole other set of problems related to poor or non-existent ongoing factory support and availability of parts in the long term.

The CVTs yes, are still problematic with many issues with shuddering, noisy operation and catastrophic failures even at relatively low mileage.

From 2019 onward in Australia Subaru have a 5-year warranty so many of these problems are still covered. Plus, even outside of warranty periods, Subaru are still covering some issues with the CVTs however that’s not going to be the case for ever.

If you have this generation of Forester or you’re looking at buying one, you can mitigate the likelihood of CVT failure by ignoring the “”fill for life”” recommendations and serving them at least very 50,000km.

Model range, pricing & features

2.5X

  • Price when new: $37,890
  • Price used: $37,000 - $45,000

Introduced in 2022 as a special edition, the 2.5X differs from the 2.5i (originally the base model) with a 7.0-inch Alpine infotainment system fitted vs the Subaru 8.0-inch infotainment system and one less USB port up front. However all other specs remain the same for the 2.5X compared to the 2.5i.

Standard features:

17-inch alloy wheels
Full-size spare wheel
Body coloured mirrors and door handles
Privacy glass – rear door, rear quarter and rear windscreen
Rear mud guards
Rear spoiler
Wheel-arch mouldings
5-star ANCAP safety rating (tested 2019)
Driver and front passenger airbags
Front side airbags
Front curtain airbags
Driver’s knee airbag
3-point (lap sash) seatbelt for all occupants
Height adjustable seatbelts for driver and front passenger
Seat pretensioners and load limiters for for driver and front passenger
ISOFIX points for rear outboard seats
Child seat anchor points
Headrests for all occupants
Active head restraints for driver and front passenger
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Brake assist
Electronic stability program (ESP)
Traction control
Active torque vectoring system
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
Rear cross traffic alert
Blind spot monitoring
Lane change assist
Lane sway warning
Emergency lane keep assist
EyeSight Assist Monitor
Brake light recognition
Lead vehicle start alert
Speed limiter
Adaptive cruise control
Reversing camera
Rear camera washer
Electromechnical brake with auto hold feature
Auto start-stop feature
Tyre pressure monitoring system
LED headlights
Auto headlights
LED daytime running lights
Rear LED stoplight
Blue interior illumination
Intermittent wipers
Rain sensing (auto) wipers
Rear wiper
DataDotDNA security system
Engine immobiliser
Electric side mirrors
Heated side mirrors
Manually foldable side mirrors
Electric windows, front and rear with driver’s and passenger’s auto up/down feature
Proximity entry
Push button start
Power steering
Steering wheel – tilt (up/down) and telescopic (reach) adjust
Leather steering wheel
Leather gear knob
Dual-zone climate control
Rear air vents
Manually adjustable driver and front passengers seats
Driver’s seat – manual seat adjustment
Cloth seat trim
4.2-inch LCD trip computer screen
6.3-inch LCD multi-functional display
7.0-inch LCD Alpine infotainment system
6-speaker sound system
AM/FM radio
DAB+ digital radio
CD player
MP3 compatibility
Bluetooth connectivity – phone and audio streaming
Apple CarPlay – wireless
Android Auto – wireless
AUX (3.5mm) input
Front USB inputs – 1x
Rear USB inputs – 2x
12V power outlets – 3x
2x cup holders – front
2x cup holders – rear
2x bottle holders – front
2x bottle holders – rear
Centre console storage
Glovebox
Front seat map pockets
Vanity mirror for driver and front passenger
60:40 rear folding seats

2.5i

  • Price when new: $33,490 - $37,890
  • Price used: $25,000 - $43,000

The 2.5i is the entry-level model to the Forester range receiving a wide variety of of safety, comfort and infotainment features as standard when launched in 2018. The 2.5i model is powered by a 2.5 litre 4-cylinder Boxer engine, mated to a CVT transmission.

An update in 2022 added a 8.0-inch (previously 6.5-inch) infotainment screen, two (formally one) USB ports at the front, retuned front coil springs and dampers as well as new aluminium engine mount brackets.

Standard features:

17-inch alloy wheels
Full-size spare wheel
Body coloured mirrors and door handles
Privacy glass – rear door, rear quarter and rear windscreen
Rear mud guards
Rear spoiler
Wheel-arch mouldings
5-star ANCAP safety rating (tested 2019)
Driver and front passenger airbags
Front side airbags
Front curtain airbags
Driver’s knee airbag
3-point (lap sash) seatbelt for all occupants
Height adjustable seatbelts for driver and front passenger
Seat pretensioners and load limiters for for driver and front passenger
ISOFIX points for rear outboard seats
Child seat anchor points
Headrests for all occupants
Active head restraints for driver and front passenger
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Brake assist
Electronic stability program (ESP)
Traction control
Active torque vectoring system
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
Rear cross traffic alert
Blind spot monitoring
Lane change assist
Lane sway warning
Emergency lane keep assist
EyeSight Assist Monitor
Brake light recognition
Lead vehicle start alert
Speed limiter
Adaptive cruise control
Reversing camera
Rear camera washer
Electromechnical brake with auto hold feature
Auto start-stop feature
Tyre pressure monitoring system
LED headlights
Auto headlights
LED daytime running lights
Rear LED stoplight
Blue interior illumination
Intermittent wipers
Rain sensing (auto) wipers
Rear wiper
DataDotDNA security system
Engine immobiliser
Electric side mirrors
Heated side mirrors
Manually foldable side mirrors
Electric windows, front and rear with driver’s and passenger’s auto up/down feature
Proximity entry
Push button start
Power steering
Steering wheel – tilt (up/down) and telescopic (reach) adjust
Leather steering wheel
Leather gear knob
Dual-zone climate control
Rear air vents
Manually adjustable driver and front passengers seats
Driver’s seat – manual seat adjustment
Cloth seat trim
4.2-inch LCD trip computer screen
6.3-inch LCD multi-functional display
6.5-inch LCD touchscreen infotainment system
6-speaker sound system
AM/FM radio
DAB+ digital radio
CD player
MP3 compatibility
Bluetooth connectivity – phone and audio streaming
Apple CarPlay – wired
Android Auto – wired
AUX (3.5mm) input
Front USB inputs – 1x
Rear USB inputs – 2x
12V power outlets – 3x
2x cup holders – front
2x cup holders – rear
2x bottle holders – front
2x bottle holders – rear
Centre console storage
Glovebox
Front seat map pockets
Vanity mirror for driver and front passenger
60:40 rear folding seats

2022 updates:

8.0-inch LCD touchscreen infotainment system
Retuned front coil springs and dampers
New aluminium engine mount brackets
Front USB inputs -2x

2.5i-L/Hybrid L

  • Price when new: $35,490 - $43,290
  • Price used: $27,000 - $51,000

The 2.5i-L adds key safety assist features in the Forester comprising of front view camera, reverse automatic braking, auto-high beam and side view monitor. Models prior to 2022 also got two USB ports over the one in the 2.5i and heated front seats.

A 2022 update added an 8.0-inch infotainment system.

Additional Features:

Front view camera (front view monitor)
Reverse automatic braking (RAB)
Side view monitor (SVM)
Auto high-beam (adaptive driving beam)
Front USB inputs – 2x
Heated front seats

2022 updates:

8.0-inch LCD touchscreen infotainment system
Retuned front coil springs and dampers
New aluminium engine mount brackets

2.5i Premium

  • Price when new: $38,490 - $43,090
  • Price used: $28,000 - $54,000

The 2.5i Premium is the middle tier model in the Forester range adding 18-inch alloy wheels, electrically folding side mirrors (and auto-dipping), memory settings, sports pedals, SI-Drive, 8-way electrically adjustable front seats, premium cloth upholstery and satellite navigation.

Additional Features:

18-inch alloy wheels
Chrome type window sills
Electrically folding side mirrors
Auto-dipping electric side mirror (passenger side)
Memory settings: side mirrors, driver’s seat adjustment
Sports pedals
Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive)
8-way electrically adjustment of the front seats
Premium cloth upholstery
8.0-inch LCD touchscreen
Satellite navigation
One-touch folding rear seats
Powered rear tailgate

2022 updates:

Retuned front coil springs and dampers
New aluminium engine mount brackets

2.5i Sport

  • Price when new: $41,990 - $44,840
  • Price used: $42,000 - $53,000

The 2.5i Sport was introduced in 2021 and added a range of costmetic enhacements to the Forester range including 18-inch black alloy wheels, black styling package as well as LED front fog lamps, electric sunroof and sport seats.

An update in 2023 added an auto-dipping rear view mirror.

Additional Features:

18-inch black alloy wheels
Black front grille
Front, side and rear under guards with orange highlight
LED front fog lamps
Electric sunroof
Grey colour trim
Sports seats

2022 updates:

Retuned front coil springs and dampers
New aluminium engine mount brackets

2023 updates:

Elecrochromatic (auto-dimming) rear view mirror

2.5i-S/Hybrid S

  • Price when new: $41,490 - $49,340
  • Price used: $32,000 - $62,000

The 2.5i-S model is the top-of-the-range model in the Forester range and adds LED front fog lamps, electric sunroof, leather upholstery and an 8-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system.

An update in 2023 added an auto-dipping rear view mirror.

Additional Features:

Silver mirror surroundings
Silver side cladding inserts
LED front fog lamps
Electric sunroof
Leather upholstery
8-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system

2022 updates:

Retuned front coil springs and dampers
New aluminium engine mount brackets

2023 updates:

Elecrochromatic (auto-dimming) rear view mirror

 

Should you buy it?
Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 years/unlimited kms
5 years/unlimited kms (from January 2019)

Servicing:

12 months/12,500kms

Tech specs

Body style:

5-door SUV

Engines:

2.5 litre 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed (boxer) petrol (2.5X, 2.5i, 2.5i-L, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i-S, 2.5i Sport)
2.0 litre 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed (e-boxer) petrol hybrid with 12.3kW electric motor (Hybrid L, Hybrid S)

Power:

136kW – 2.5 litre 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed (boxer) petrol
110kW – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed (e-boxer) petrol hybrid with 12.3kW electric motor

Torque:

239Nm – 2.5 litre 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed (boxer) petrol
196Nm – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed (e-boxer) petrol hybrid with 12.3kW electric motor

Transmission & drivetrains:

7-speed continuously variable transmission (CVT), all-wheel drive (AWD)

Fuel consumption:

7.4L/100km

Length:

4625mm

Width:

1815mm

Height:

1730mm

Kerb weight:

1563-1656kg

Towing (braked/unbraked):

1500kg/750kg
1800kg/750kg (from 2021)

Disclaimer

Information correct as of November 25, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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