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2025 Subaru Forester

First Drive: Best generation yet?

The Subaru Forester is one of those vehicles I have previously recommended that my mom buy. So, you have to know I'm a fan. I like the safety, handling and driving position - and so do current owners. So, it should come as no surprise that thought is a new generation, the 2025 Subaru Forester isn't a complete rejiggering. It somehow manages to take what's right and make it even better.

2025 Subaru Forester overview

While the 2025 Subaru Forester is more of an evolution of style, it is a next-gen vehicle, and virtually everything is new. If it's not new, it's probably been updated.

For example, the engine, though it's not completely new, delivers more torque and a better torque curve. EyeSight, the stalwart Subaru safety suite, gets a wider field of vision. The frame is more rigid, and there are more sound deadening materials.

Plus, there are a few new Forester-first tech features.

But the 2025 Subaru Forester retains the upright stance and doesn't get any bigger. So, the end result is a nimble vehicle with excellent visibility and cool technology. What it still doesn't get is a digital driver's display, and that doesn't bother me. Frankly, it's not going to bother the Subaru acolytes either.

Like any vehicle, there are good things and bad things, so let's take a quick look at both sides of the equation.

The good stuff

Let's start with the new tech features. I've always thought the Forester needed an around-view 360-degree camera, and now you can get one in the top-tier Touring trim. You can also get a rear camera mirror in that trim. So, if you pack the cargo are to the roof, you still have a way to see out the rear of the vehicle. Another great tech feature that's optional starting on the Sport trim is the hands-free kick activated liftgate, which is easy to operate.

The infotainment system is also on the good list. For 2025, the Forester adopts the 11.6-inch vertical screen and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. While a lot of the HVAC controls are also embedded in the screen, I appreciate the fact that the high-touch temperature controls are hard buttons instead of touchscreen operations.

During the press preview, we spent about 7 hours in the vehicle, which is certainly enough time to discern if the vehicle is comfortable. Thankfully, the 2025 Forester is. The seats are firm and supportive without being overly stiff. Not to mention the fact that the highly adjustable seats combined with the tilt/telescoping steering wheel combine to create a really good driving position for tall and small drivers. While I can speak with confidence about the small part, my driving partner was taller than 6 feet, and he had a similarly good and comfy position.

The handling of the Forester is also really good. Whether you're on pavement or pockmarked gravel roads, this small SUV did really well. There was minimal body roll and the smoothness over the bumpy bits was a pleasant surprise.

Finally, the best thing about the 2025 Subaru Forester (IMHO) has to be the pricing. In a world where $48k is the average transaction price for a new vehicle, you can get an all-in Touring trim for about $40k. Complete pricing, including destination, plus key features are as follows:

Base ($31,090): This comes standard with AWD, EyeSight driver assist system, dual-zone climate control, 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, 17-inch alloy wheels, raised roof rails, LED steering responsive headlights, XM Satellite radio, a front USB port and 60/40 split-folding rear seats.

Premium ($33,390): This adds 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, panoramic moonroof, 11.6-inch vertical infotainment touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, wireless charger, 4 USB ports, heated front seats, passive entry, push-button start, reclining rear seats with armrest, fog lights and X-Mode. Options package available with power liftgate with foot activation sensor, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Sport ($35,890): This adds 19-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension, gloss black and bronze exterior accents, leatherette seats with bronze accents, low-profile roof rails, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, paddle shifters, side mirrors with turn signals and dual-function X-Mode. Options package available with Harmon Kardon premium audio, power liftgate with foot activation sensor and reverse automatic braking.

Limited ($37,390): This adds 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, power liftgate with foot activation sensor, power passenger seat, heated steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and raised roof rails. Options package available with Harmon Kardon premium audio, navigation, reverse automatic braking.

Touring ($41,390): This trim adds 19-inch alloy wheels, leather seating surfaces with suede inserts, Harmon Kardon premium audio, heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 2-position memory driver's seat, DriverFocus driver distraction mitigation system, 360-degree surround view camera, rear camera mirror, low profile roof rails, reverse automatic braking.

The bad stuff

I'll be honest, I had to stretch myself to find the bad things on the 2025 Subaru Forester. But if I had to pick nits, I'd start with acceleration. The 2.5-liter Subaru Boxer engine is fine. But I've always thought the Forester could benefit from a little turbocharging, and that remains true with the 2025 model. I understand why it isn't (price), but it doesn't stop me from wanting it anyway. At 180 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, the Forester just feels a skosh underpowered. But take that with a grain of salt coming from an aggressive Chicago driver.

The other thing that struck me as odd is the lack of vegan optioning. For an automaker that treads lightly, I would have thought there would be more than just the base model that doesn't have any leather, but nope. If you're vegan, the base trim is the only model available to you. Starting at the Premium model, you'll get a leather wrapped steering wheel, even if you don't have leather seats.

Outside of that, my other big beef is with the (surprise) wireless charger. I'm a firm believer that if an automaker can't make it work properly, they shouldn't include it. And the wireless charger in the 2025 Subaru Forester does not work properly. My phone kept sliding around in the space, so it never actually charged. Ever. No matter where I placed my phone, it would slide around and immediately stop charging. I know it's nice to say you have wireless charging, but if it doesn't work, it's added cost for no reason. I'd rather have a 360 camera or rear camera mirror as an option in a lower trim than a feature that doesn't work. But maybe that's just me.

The bottom line

Overall, the 2025 Subaru Forester is still a top pick in my book. It's safe. It's comfortable. It's smooth. It's priced right. It's built for someone with an active lifestyle, yet it has some nice amenities that bring it into the 2020s.

Would I still recommend it for my mom? Yep. So, I'd recommend it for you, too.