The Forester is the best-selling model for Subaru. The compact SUV gets a new Wilderness trim for 2022 which gives the Forester more ground clearance and other features to up its off-road capability.
Base Price: $32,820
As Tested: $36,015
Mileage: 25 mpg city/28 mpg highway/26 mpg combined
The Forester also gets some exterior tweaks for 2022. It was last redesigned in 2019.
The five-passenger Forester comes in six trims: base, Premium, Sport, Wilderness, Limited, and Touring. The Forester starts at $25,195 which is reasonable considering that it’s one of a few in the class that comes standard with all-wheel-drive. The top-of-the-line Touring trim starts at $35,295 which is on the high end for a compact SUV.
All trims get the same engine: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, paired with a continuously variable transmission.
The Forester isn’t the sportiest compact SUV, but it has sure-footed handling and a smooth ride. Acceleration is fairly quick from a stop, but rather leisurely at faster speeds. You’ll want to plan ahead for merging and passing on the freeway. Steering and brakes are responsive, and the Forester grips the road when cornering with little body roll. Visibility is good all the way around.
The Wilderness trim is better equipped than its siblings for outdoor adventures. It gets trucklike ground clearance of 9.2 inches (compared to 8.7 inches for other Forester models), all-terrain tires, an upgraded suspension, a 180-degree front view monitor, front skid plate, and a front bumper that increases the approach angle by 3.5 degrees to 23.5 degrees. The cabin gets Subaru’s StarTex upholstery which is water resistant so no need to worry about getting the seats wet or muddy.
When properly equipped, the Wilderness model can tow up to 3,000 pounds compared to 1,500 pounds for other Forester trims.
Fuel efficiency is decent for the class. The Wilderness trim gets slightly worse gas mileage than other Forester trims. EPA ratings for my tester are 25 mpg city and 28 mpg highway with a combined rating of 26. I got 26 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The Forester has one of the roomiest cabins among compact SUVs and it’s quiet, too. Materials are of high quality. The StarTex upholstery and all-weather floor mats in the Wilderness trim look nice and are functional, too – no need to worry about spills or mud from your adventures in the great outdoors. Seats are comfortable and supportive, and even taller passengers in both rows enjoy plenty of leg- and headroom.
Standard features on all Forester models include a rearview camera, automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, infotainment system with 6.5-inch touchscreen, four-speaker audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, USB ports, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and a rear-seat reminder.
Available features include push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, reclining rear seats, infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, six-speaker audio system, nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, additional USB ports, Wi-Fi hot spot, and a panoramic moonroof.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and lane centering assist.
Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, reverse automatic emergency braking and driver drowsiness monitoring.
The Starlink infotainment looks a little old school with basic graphics but it’s user friendly. Menus are sensibly laid out and the touchscreen is easy to see and reach. The system responds quickly to touch and voice commands.
The Forester has more cargo space than most small SUVs. The Wilderness trim has 26.9 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place, and 69.1 cubes with the second row folded. The big and wide opening makes it easy to load and unload large, bulky items. One-touch folding rear seats and a power liftgate are available.
Smooth ride, poised handling
Decent fuel efficiency
New Wilderness trim boosts off-road capability
Spacious, comfortable cabin
User-friendly infotainment system
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Not as sporty as rivals
Infotainment system could use updating
My tester starts at $32,820. The Option Package with the Subaru Starlink eight-inch infotainment system, navigation, satellite radio, nine-speaker Harmon Kardon premium audio system, reverse automatic braking, and power rear gate is $1,850. Aluminum engine under guard is $220. Destination fee is $1,125 bringing the grand total to $36,015.
The 2022 Subaru Forester is already the most popular Subaru and delivers standard all-wheel-drive, a spacious and comfortable cabin and a smooth ride. The new Wilderness trim makes the Forester even more appealing to anyone who wants a capable off-road vehicle.