2020 Subaru Forester


#3 out of 15 in Compact SUVs

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2020 Subaru Forester Performance Review


Performance: 7.3

The 2020 Subaru Forester's performance is highlighted by a smooth ride, stable handling, excellent ground clearance, and outstanding fuel economy. While it doesn't earn many accolades for its four-cylinder engine, this SUV has reasonably adequate acceleration in most situations.

  • "The ride quality is well judged, providing comfort that's balanced by enough control to keep the Forester from leaning too much through quick curves. That's impressive, given the almost nine inches of ground clearance. Cornering talents are enhanced by a torque-vectoring system that attenuates individual wheel speeds for optimum stability. The electrically assisted steering might seem a little heavy at first, but it only takes a few minutes to become acclimated." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The suspension setup for all trim levels is remarkable—pliant over uneven farmland pavement, and confident on the slithering Blue Ridge Parkway. It feels distinctly upmarket, riding nicer than crossovers with heftier price tags and more premium badges. As added bonuses, changes to the steering and brakes are equally spot-on. Steering is more than quick and balanced enough for the chassis and tires, providing adequate feedback." -- Automobile Magazine (2019)
  • Under the hood, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine … is a little more powerful than last year, but it doesn't feel much gutsier in the real world. With light to moderate throttle application, the Forester can feel quite sprightly. But the engine runs out of steam when you ask for more. Merging onto the freeway or overtaking at higher speeds will require some planning." -- Edmunds (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The Forester is a good pick if you value fuel economy over zero-to-60 sprint times. It has enough power to easily get up to speed in the city or out in the countryside, though it sometimes takes a moment to respond when you press the throttle.

Only one powertrain is available for the 2020 Forester: a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a continuously variable automatic transmission. Where the Forester really shines is in regards to fuel economy. Its rating of 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway is one of the highest in our compact SUV rankings.

  • "Although few potential Subaru buyers will be deterred, a CVT is never the transmission of an enthusiast's dreams. They tend to drone and react slowly. That said, the unit in the new Forester is about as good as a CVT gets. It's quiet in operation and will shift between its simulated ratios in accordance with throttle action." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Forester is now powered by a single drivetrain that provides adequate performance. A little more low-end grunt would be welcomed for peppier around town driving, but acceleration in the 2019 Foresters feel about on par with almost everything else in the segment. The Forester's CVT has been revised for the 2019 model and it does behave a bit better than before. Off the line there is less of a rubber band feeling, and the CVT seems more responsive when asked for more power at cruising speeds." -- Left Lane News (2019)
  • "Winding mountain roads, for example, demonstrated that ditching the turbocharged engine option was ill advised. … Around town and on freeways, the 3,588-pound Forester Touring was just zippy enough to feel safe. Passing power, however, is unimpressive. … Frequently, I noted a momentary delay in transmission response when pressing the acceleration pedal, like the CVT was trying to decide which ratio would be best for responding to my request for more oomph. Once the software had sorted things out, the Forester occasionally surged forward with less smoothness than expected." -- New York Daily News (2019)

Handling and Braking

All-wheel drive is standard in this Subaru. In most rivals, this system is an upgrade that costs a few thousand dollars. Every Forester except the base model comes with hill descent control and X-Mode, a system that enhances grip on slippery surfaces.

The Forester is smooth, composed, and balanced. Its steering is light and accurate, and the brakes provide strong stopping power. Most reviewers find it has very little body roll when going around turns.

  • "We also like the composed, comfortable ride. Body roll isn't as tightly controlled as in some other crossovers, so a deliberate approach is advised when navigating mountain roads. This Subie would be a great road trip car. …" -- Edmunds (2019)
  • "… the Forester resists body roll more than ever in the corners staying flat throughout, turns in with greater accuracy and perfect weight, and just feels lighter and more agile on its feet than its predecessor. Brakes have also been enhanced and deliver grippier bite earlier on in addition to greater stopping power." -- Forbes (2019)
  • "The ride quality is excellent on the revised suspension. A more rigid body and heavy use of structural adhesive ensure the ride is comfortable and free of excessive noise, harshness or annoying vibrations. Body roll is almost nonexistent. Steering is effortless but you still feel like you are the one driving; it's not a numbed-out experience. Subaru redesigned the steering to reduce the delay between input and response and added torque vectoring for better cornering. Brakes are smooth and controlled." -- Motor Trend (2019)
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2020 Subaru Forester

MSRP: $24,495 - $34,595

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