The Subaru Forester is the kind of car that doesn’t have any known enemies. In all conceivable ways, it is a polite, enjoyable compact SUV that has been holding its own since its 1997 debut. It’s equipped with “just right” levels of technology, comfort and convenience features, power, and performance to have made millions of drivers happy over the past quarter-century. And according to popular rumors, it’s about to experience a major refresh. So with that news looming on the horizon, should prospective drivers head to their Subaru Forester dealer now… or wait until we know more about the 2024 edition?
If you have some time to plan for your next vehicle, consider waiting until Subaru makes an official announcement. Since this article was written after the 2024 Impreza press release but before any official news about the 2024 Forester has leaked, it wouldn’t make sense to repeat some of the myriad unfounded rumors. Instead, let’s look at what makes the 2023 Forester a solid choice for folks who aren’t necessarily willing to risk the wait.
Is There Really Going to Be a 2024 Forester Redesign?
Based on the updates Subaru has made to many of its vehicles, including the announcement of the 2024 Subaru Impreza, many experts believe that other vehicles in the Subaru stable will also receive mega-makeovers. Additionally, the Forester’s last generation began in 2019. Following Subaru’s five-year update cycle, that means it’s due for an update for the 2024 model year. That being said, the Forester just got a mid-cycle refresh in 2022, much of which carries over to the 2023 model year. Some feel that the recent refresh and extensive updates to the Impreza may delay an all-new Forester model. All we can do for the time being is focus on the 2023 Forester, which continues its tradition of being an enjoyable compact SUV.
The 2023 Subaru Forester: A Lot to Enjoy
The task of narrowing down all that the Forester has to offer to a number-one favorite feature is extremely difficult, mainly because there are so many excellent offerings. For many drivers, the standard Symmetrical all-wheel drive is the top selling point. “Compact SUV” tends to be a segment where most vehicles include an optional all-wheel drive or one “off-road” trim that comes with standard all-wheel drive. The Forester takes that one step further with standard 8.7-inch ground clearance and an advanced all-wheel drive system that makes every vehicle off-road ready.
For others, it might be the award-winning EyeSight suite of safety and driver assistance features, including Subaru’s pre-collision braking system, pre-collision throttle management, lane keep assist, and advanced adaptive cruise control, EyeSight uses a set of cameras to help drivers keep an eye on their movement and surroundings.
Others still swear by the Forester’s 2.5L 4-cylinder BOXER engine. Providing a modest 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, this engine isn’t treading on any race car’s toes. However, it is one of the most economical options in its class, offering a modest 26 MPG on the city streets and 33 MPG on the highway. Yes, even with standard all-wheel drive.
Actual Off-Road Chops
There’s a trend in the small SUV community to have at least one “rugged” trim. In many cases, this includes all-wheel drive, all-terrain tires, and all-weather floor mats. Most drivers agree that those are all valuable assets for a vehicle regardless of where it will be driven. But these features, while wonderful in their own right, don’t account for the extra features that make a vehicle truly off-road ready.
All 2023 Forester models offer an 8.7-inch ground clearance except for the Wilderness model, which gets a lift to 9.2 inches. All models include LED steering responsive headlamps, while folding side mirrors are standard across the lineup, though higher trims include integrated turn signals. The mirrors are heated on all but the Base model, as well.
The Sport, Limited, Touring, and Wilderness models include a CVT (Continually Variable Transmission) with adaptive control, manual mode, and dual-function X-MODE with a Deep Snow/Mud setting. An extra Low Speed/Low Ratio Gradient Control X-MODE option on the Wilderness trim provides drivers with even greater control on crawls and climbs.
The Forester Wilderness trim also includes an anti-glare hood, skid plates, water-repellent upholstery, a front-view monitor camera, and reinforced roof rails that can support up to 800 lbs when parked, essentially making it a traveling camp spot for those with rooftop tents. It’s also tuned to tow up to 3,000 lbs. If you pack just right, you may never need to return to civilization.
A Luxurious Top Trim
Granted, not every driver is lucky enough to be in the market for a Forester Touring trim. On the other hand, it is one of the more affordable top trims in the compact SUV segment, and has a lot of really cool technology on board.
Subaru’s DriverFocus technology is standard only on the Touring trim. Touted as a “distraction mitigation system,” DriverFocus uses cameras and sensors to detect when the driver might be paying attention to something other than the road. Visual and audio alerts then attempt to bring the driver back to the task at hand. DriverFocus has other benefits, too, such as including memory settings for up to 5 drivers, including not only driving habits, but their preferred seat position, climate settings, and exterior mirror position.
The Touring trim also includes an exclusive saddle brown upholstery, as well as heated front and rear outboard seats. The steering wheel is also heated, and the rear seats recline. Given that the Forester already has one of the most spacious interiors in its class, with 39.4 inches of rear seat legroom, this should prove to be a downright luxurious way to explore the world around you, especially with the right tunes playing through the premium Harmon Kardon sound system.
An All-Around Excellent Vehicle
Whether you choose to roll the dice and wait for the possibilities that may come with the 2024 version or head to your Subaru Forester dealer today to try out the various trims and options in person, you can find peace of mind in knowing that you are selecting a vehicle that has been admired by generations of drivers. With its combination of useful and plentiful standard equipment, economical fuel consumption, and all-terrain readiness, the Forester has rightfully earned its reputation as one of the most beloved vehicles on the road today.
According to Subaru, 97% of the Foresters sold in the past ten years are still being driven today. Without stopping to do the math, that means that there are likely hundreds of thousands of well-aged Foresters on the road, which is a testament to just how reliable these vehicles really are, embodying a balance of power, safety, and reliability. Regardless of which year or trim you select, the level of detail engineered into each Forester makes them a solid choice for a wide array of drivers, from the most safety-cautious of families to the most adventurous off-roaders, not that those two characteristics have to be mutually exclusive. It is a Forester, after all.