2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-L AWD review

  • Doors and Seats


    5 doors, 5 seats

  • Engine


    2.5i, 4 cyl.

  • Engine Power


    136kW, 239Nm

  • Fuel


    Petrol (91) 7.4L/100KM

  • Manufacturer



  • Transmission


    7 Spd Auto (CVT)

  • Warranty


    5 Yr, Unltd KMs

  • Ancap Safety


    5/5 star (2019)


Susannah Guthrie

It’s not the cheapest, techiest or most glamorous medium SUV, but the 2022 Subaru Forester is so darn practical you probably won’t care. 

  • Large windows make for fantastic visibility all round
  • Ride height and high hip point allow for excellent ease of access
  • Front and kerb-side camera are a boon for parking in tight spots

  • Interior packaging is visually overwhelming and lacks polish 
  • Throttle is sensitive at low speeds and can feel jumpy
  • Servicing costs are higher than rivals

There’s a certain stereotype that accompanies the Subaru Forester

You know the one –  a peace-sign-slinging, cargo-pant-wearing, ageing hippy with a swag in the boot “just in case”. 

It’s a stereotype Subaru’s competitors have happily toyed with over the years to great effect (refer to this Volkswagen ad that takes a direct swipe at Subaru owners). 

Boxy, determinedly practical, and often bearing a Sea Shepherd bumper sticker, the Forester has long been the medium SUV for no-nonsense pragmatists who might describe a Kia Sportage as “a little too try-hard”. 

Unfortunately, when you’re competing in a segment as overpopulated and competitive as the medium SUV space, trying hard becomes inevitable.

As such, in late 2021 a facelifted Forester landed in Australia, ready to face the burgeoning list of shiny rivals head on. The resulting car consisted of some very subtle styling tweaks, new active safety features and, well, not much else.

It’s by no means rewriting the SUV script, but the facelifted Forester stays true enough to its roots to retain loyalists, and offers just enough fresh equipment to potentially entice new buyers. 

The model I’m testing is the Forester 2.5i-L grade, which is one step up from the entry-level model and priced from $40,290 before on-road costs. 

Over and above the base 2.5i grade, the 2.5i-L adds heated front seats, a front-view monitor, driver monitoring capabilities, reverse AEB and adaptive driving beam (selective high-beam headlight masking). 

All non-hybrid Foresters are all-wheel drive and powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine and constantly variable automatic transmission.

The hybrid variants, meanwhile, pair a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor.

Get a great deal today

Interested in this car? Provide your details and we’ll connect you to a member of the Drive team.

So, how does our Forester – the sensible shoe of motoring – stack up?

Key details2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-L AWD
Price (MSRP)$40,290 plus on-road costs
Colour of test carMagnetite Grey Metallic
Price as tested$45,264 drive-away (Melbourne)
RivalsMitsubishi Outlander | Kia Sportage | Toyota RAV4

Getting into the Forester is a dream, with a high hip-point and doors that open wide to provide ultimate ease of access. Those used to sunken sedans or pint-sized SUVs might struggle to ever go back once they’ve sampled the effortless entry the Forester allows. 

Inside the cabin, things feel sturdy but a tad visually overwhelming. There are a variety of different materials used across the dashboard and doors, and the multi-tiered infotainment and driver displays are information overload. 

Once you settle in and digest your surroundings, you’ll likely appreciate the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshifter, which are substantial and comfortable to use, and the fabric seats, which are attractive, supportive and bear a pattern that should disguise dirt well. 

Electric adjustment is only available on the higher-spec grades, so you’ll have to make do with awkwardly vaulting yourself back and forth using the manual controls. 

On the plus side, the seats are heated, and work quickly and efficiently to thoroughly defrost your lower half on colder days. I found that the higher setting actually had me breaking a sweat. 

Dual-zone climate control allows you to set you and your front passenger’s perfect temperature and works efficiently, but I found the front demister battled on one of Melbourne’s colder mornings and resulted in a five-minute delay to my son’s daycare drop.  

Something to note: in the Forester’s larger sibling – the Subaru Outback – climate controls are accessed via the touchscreen, but I found the Forester’s physical buttons far preferable for ease of use. 

Sitting below the climate controls is a small compartment, presumably to store your phone and keys. Only problem is, it doesn’t fit larger phones like the iPhone 11, meaning your device will have to be wedged halfway. 

Headroom is a real highlight in the front and rear, but elbow room and knee room are also ample, and large windows lend the Forester a feeling of openness that adds to the back-seat passenger experience. 

ISOFIX anchor points are available on the two outboard seats, and there are three top-tether points, meaning you’ll only be able to squeeze two ISOFIX-compatible child seats in the back at once. 

Keep in mind, too, that the seat back folds 60/40, so access to the boot will be compromised with two child seats in play. Still, my Britax Graphene fit in the back without any issues, and access to my little one was simplified thanks to the Forester’s large door openings and high roof. 

In the boot, there’s 498L to play with. That’s not the biggest boot in the class, but it does feel like there’s a larger proportion of usable space thanks to the Forester’s high roof height.

As a result, taller items (like that chilli tree you just bought from Bunnings because, whether you like it or not, you’re living up to the Forester stereotype) may not need to be loaded on their side and can just slide straight in.

2022 Subaru Forester
Boot volume498L seats up

1768L seats folded

Infotainment and Connectivity

Back in the front seat: screens. So many screens.

The bulk of the Forester’s core operations are conducted via an 8.0-inch central touchscreen, which looks fine and works well, but is lacking the wow-factor graphics or streamlined utility of other brands. 

That’s paired with a second LCD screen buried high up in the dash that offers live updates on fuel consumption, climate-control temperatures, the time of day – you name it. When required, it’s also the spot where the front and side camera view displays when parking. 

Finally, a third LCD screen nestled between the speedometer and tachometer provides the driver with the status of things like the active safety features and the cruise-control settings. 

It’s all a bit convoluted and, while I managed to get the hang of it, it feels dated compared to the infotainment systems offered in rival models. 

Additionally, unlike some of its competitors, Subaru hasn’t yet embraced the idea of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there’s no wireless phone charger to be had either. 

DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity with voice commands and a CD player are all included in the package, but satellite navigation isn’t part of the deal until you hit the 2.5i Premium grade. 

Subaru’s full driver monitoring system is available from the base grade in the Forester, meaning the car will essentially watch you and let you know if you seem distracted or drowsy – and beware, it is vigilant. I was gently pinged to stay alert when checking my hair in the rear-view mirror at a red light. 

The Forester range receives a five-star safety rating from ANCAP, but was last tested in 2019, before a range of updates made scoring more stringent, and before the Forester range received its midlife facelift.

It scored highly for adult occupant protection, receiving 94 per cent, followed by child occupant protection at 86 per cent, vulnerable road user protection at 80 per cent, and safety assist at 78 per cent. 

Despite having an older ANCAP rating, the Forester’s safety suite includes plenty of modern highlights – most notably a thorough autonomous emergency braking system that operates in reverse, at intersections, and is capable of detecting both pedestrians and cyclists. 

The forward collision system will flash up a warning if it detects an upcoming obstacle in your path, and can be sensitive in narrow streets where it assumes you’re heading straight toward a parked car.

I had the rare and fortunate opportunity (please note the sarcasm) of testing the forward AEB system when a car pulled in front of me in traffic with no warning (cheers, mate). The car slammed the brakes on immediately – an impressive demo of what it’s capable of in an emergency.  

The Forester’s reverse camera is bolstered by an excellent forward camera to show the distance from the car in front, as well as a kerb-side camera that displays the positioning of your front wheel in relation to the edge of the road.

I actually found the combination of these three cameras to be more useful than an overhead view monitor, offering greater precision for parking and manoeuvring. 

Finally, the Forester’s active cruise-control set-up is intuitive and extremely easy to use while on the move, operated via steering wheel buttons, each with their own individual function – including a speed limiter, distance control and speed management. 

The Subaru Forester 2.5i-L starts at $40,290 before on-road costs, with a drive-away price north of $45,000.

Although the base-grade Forester 2.5i kicks off from below $40,000, the range still has a higher entry price than competitors like the Toyota RAV4 or Hyundai Tucson, which offer a starting price below $35,000 before on-road costs.

However, once you consider that those more affordable rivals tend to be front-wheel drive at the lower end of the range, the Forester’s all-wheel-drive capabilities across the range mean it’s more or less on par with its rivals when it comes to pricing.

Standard equipment from the base level is solid too – including tinted rear windows, dual-zone climate control, push-button start and proximity unlock, to name a few. 

Where it starts to fall apart is the Forester’s ongoing running costs.

Subaru’s standard warranty is five years and unlimited kilometres – not bad, but Kia, MG and Haval will do you two years better – and sticking to the Forester’s service schedule (every 12 months or 12,500km) will cost you around $1278 over three years, or $2422 over five years. 

That averages out to roughly $484 for every service visit over the course of the warranty period. 

Comparatively, three years of servicing for the Toyota RAV4 costs $690 – a little over half of the Forester’s servicing cost – while the Hyundai Tucson costs $957 for three years of servicing.

However, the Kia Sportage is comparable to the Forester, costing $1280 for three years of servicing. 

At a glance2022 Subaru Forester
WarrantyFive years / unlimited km
Service intervals12 months or 12,500km
Servicing costs$1278 (3 years), $2422 (5 years)

Another ongoing ownership cost to consider is the fuel. The Forester takes 91-octane unleaded, but on test was notably thirstier than advertised. 

While Subaru claims 7.4L/100km, my week of driving returned an overall figure of 11.7L/100km

The idle-stop system appears to not make much of a dent in this figure – plus the execution of the system is crude and makes the driving experience feel unpolished from a standstill.

Fuel UseageFuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed)7.4L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test)11.7L/100km
Fuel type91-octane regular unleaded
Fuel tank size63L

The driving position in the Forester, for me, is pretty close to perfect. You feel elevated from the road, but not too high that you’re disengaged from your surroundings. 

Visibility is exceptional, with large windows and mirrors minimising blind spots and obstructions. Active safety systems work effectively and attentively to fill in any blanks. 

Over every surface, the Forester feels stable and secure thanks to that all-wheel-drive system paired with impressive ground clearance of 220mm. 

Other medium SUVs like the Haval H6 or Toyota RAV4 have less than 200mm of clearance, making the Forester particularly well-equipped for those who need to regularly tackle dirt roads or rocky terrain.

Of course, it’s not a proper, full-time off-roader, but it certainly has more impressive all-terrain chops than some of its rivals. Around town, that ground clearance just makes parking and handling high kerbs and steep driveways easy. 

I personally found the suspension did a good job of cushioning the cabin from lumps and bumps, but found the car felt unsettled over consistently imperfect surfaces, like a cobbled laneway or suburban street littered with potholes.

The steering could easily be thrown off balance too – this wasn’t noticeable at freeway speeds, but when driving around suburban streets or tackling sharper corners, it felt a little unwieldy. 

The engine is perfectly well-powered for the size of the car, and you’ll never be left wanting when you need some extra grunt uphill. 

It can sound thrashy when you really put your foot down, but the seven-stepped continuously variable transmission is well-executed and doesn’t drain too much punch and response from the car overall.

At lower speeds, the throttle can be overly sensitive, which means you might find the car jumpy when parking and manoeuvring – a bit too eager to kick forward with even the slightest bit of pedal input. 

Key details2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-L AWD
Engine2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power136kW @ 5800rpm
Torque239Nm @ 4400rpm
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
TransmissionContinuously variable automatic transmission
Power to weight ratio89kW/t
Weight (tare)1526kg
Tow rating1800kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle10.8m

If you wear open-toed Birkenstocks with socks in winter for maximum comfort and flexibility, the Subaru Forester might be the perfect car for you.

Sure, you’ll pay a bit more for a lower-spec model (like the 2.5i-L tested here) than for some of its competitors – both at the dealer and then over the course of its life – and you won’t look quite as stylish at the school drop-off.

But you’ll be rewarded with solid safety credentials, a practical cabin, a capable driving feel, and the ability to glide in and out of your car without having to hunch, squat, duck or even so much as strain. 

Fuel consumption, infotainment and overall refinement could be improved upon, but who needs wireless CarPlay when you’re camping on the coast without a telephone pole in sight?

World peace, baby. 

Ratings Breakdown

2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-L Wagon

8.0/ 10

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Budget Direct

Insurance from

Estimate details

2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-L AWD review

Susannah Guthrie

Susannah Guthrie has been a journalist since she was 18, and has spent the last two years writing about cars for Drive, CarAdvice, CarSales and as a motoring columnist for several in-flight and hotel magazines. Susannah’s background is news journalism, followed by several years spent in celebrity journalism, entertainment journalism and fashion magazines and a brief stint hosting a travel TV show for Channel Ten. She joined Drive in 2020 after spending a year and a half at the helm of Harper’s BAZAAR and ELLE’s online platforms. Susannah holds a Bachelor in Media and Communications from the University of Melbourne and cut her teeth as an intern for Time Inc in New York City. She has also completed a television presenting course with the National Institute of Dramatic Art. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and her one-year-old son who, despite her best efforts, does not yet enjoy a good road trip.

Read more about Susannah Guthrie LinkIcon