Sharing its underpinnings with the well-reputed Impreza, the Forester is the crossover sibling of the same. It has garnered immense love from people mainly for its well-balanced proportions that explained its price tag pretty well. Not to forget, it was also considered as one of the safest and better-built vehicles of the segment too.
Last refreshed in the year 2019, Subaru hasn’t made any significant changes with the Forester lineup for 2020. Except for the revised feature-list, the Subaru Forester has been carried over as it is. Well, why not? It ticks all the correct boxes to be classified as a utilitarian.
With the prices starting at a modest $24k, the 2020 Forester challenges the likes of Nissan Rogue, Volkswagen Tiguan and the most popular - Honda CR-V. So, does the Forester have what it takes to overshadow these rivals? Let’s find out.
6.0/10 Engine and Performance
5.0/10 Fuel Economy
2020 Subaru Forester Features
The 2020 Subaru Forester has been segregated in five trims, namely, “Base”, “Premium”, “Sport”, “Limited” and top-of-the-line “Touring”. But for the “Base” trim, all other trims have been blessed with the necessary features that you’d look for in a car.
The “Base” and “Premium” trims have almost similar features but the latter builds on the base trim with a few extra features such as Rear AC vents, 10-way power-adjustable driver seat, 17-inch aluminum alloys, Singular mode X-mode and a few others.
The “Sport” trim, as the name suggests, focuses on adding some sporty accents to the vehicle. Some of these highlights include orange and black silica exterior accents, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, Dual functioning X-mode and many more.
The top-trims, “Limited” and “Touring”, build on top of the necessary features with some extra ones that further add the oomph factor to the cabin. Some of these include Powered Tailgate, Dual-zone automatic climate control, LED Steering responsive headlights and the list goes on.
Adds/Upgrades to Base
Adds/Upgrades to Premium
Adds/Upgrades to Sport
Adds/Upgrades to Limited
Automatic climate control system
LED Fog lights
Halogen Fog Lamps
Satin-Chrome exterior mirrors with automatic reverse tilt
6-way manually adjustable driver seat
Rear AC vents
Orange and Black Silica Exterior Accents
Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control System
2-position Driver Seat memory
10-way power-adjustable driver seat
Key-less access with push-button start
LED Steering Responsive Headlights
8-way power-adjustable driver/passenger seat
17-inch Steel wheels
Premium cloth upholstery
Roof Rails with integrated tie-downs
Roof-rails with silver accents and integrated tie-downs
Eye-sight driver technology
17-inch Aluminum alloy wheels
18-inch Aluminum Alloy wheels
Saddle Brown Leather Upholstery
X-Mode with hill descent control
Dual-function X-Mode with hill descent control
Blind-spot detection with Lane Change Assist
DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System
6.3-inch Multimedia Information display
Body-colored exterior mirrors with integrated turn indicators
Harman-Kardon 9-speaker Audio System
While the top two trims incline towards the fancier side, we believe that the “Premium” trim explains its worth the best, out of others. You get a host of standard features and if you’re not satisfied with them, you can always add some extra ones from the optional list including the more premium 9-speaker 440-watt Harman Kardon audio system and the bigger 18-inch alloy wheels.
2020 Subaru Forester Engine and Performance
While most of the manufacturers have resorted to the conventional inline-four setup in this segment due to its better fuel-economy traits, Subaru, on the other hand, decided to stick to their own flat-four setup. Following the same trend, the Forester features a 2.5L, flat-four unit, or as Subaru likes to address it - “H-4 setup”, that churns out a modest 182 HP of power at 5800 RPM and throws a force of 176 lbs-ft on the crank at 4400 RPM.
These figures are translated to the wheels by a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that powers all four of them. That’s right, each and every forester has been blessed with the Subaru’s legendary AWD system that is a pleasure to experience. Though it adds some extra weight, it also makes sure that your car sticks to the tarmac even in harsh conditions.
2.5L Naturally Aspirated H-4
2.5L Naturally Aspirated Inline-4
2.4L Naturally Aspirated Inline-4
CVT with Sport Mode
*2019 figures used for reference purpose
All the cars in this comparison are somewhat equally matched to each other, with the Nissan Rogue as an exception. It is the least powered vehicle of the lot while the CR-V and the Tiguan stack up head to head with each other. That said, the Tiguan’s class-leading torque figures kick in at very low RPMs enabling it to be a city-friendly driver. The Subaru just manages to hold its own in this comparison with mediocre results.
The Forester wasn’t created for performance and this gets even more evident with its acceleration figures. Even then, the flat-four setup under the Subaru’s hood propels it across the 60 MPH from stop in 8.5 seconds. If you go ahead for the quarter-mile mark, then the Forester will clear it in 16.7 seconds from a standstill. Though lousy, the Forester still remains to be amongst the fastest accelerating crossovers in the segment.
2.5L Naturally Aspirated H-4
2.5L Naturally Aspirated Inline-4
2.4L Naturally Aspirated Inline-4
When pitched against the competition, the Forester clearly overpowers the segment as far as 0-60 is concerned. In terms of quarter-mile timings, all of them consume the same time. The Tiguan however, sits at the last in this comparison.
The braking duties have been undertaken by 11.6-inch disc rotors at the front and the smaller 11.2-inch disc rotors at the rear. They enable the Forester to come to a halt from 60 MPH in an impressive 118 ft. Again, one of the best figures in the segment.
The brake pedal feels a bit squishy to depress but once you grab onto the bite, the braking feels confident. Also, the front end dives quite a bit under heavy braking applications but that’s acceptable considering its stature as a crossover.
Brake Rotors Front
Brake Rotors Rear
The CR-V, being the lightest contender in this comparison, emerges as the crown bearer for this comparison as it takes the least stretch of land to come to a halt from 60 MPH. The Forester isn’t much behind though. Considering that it weighs over 200 lbs more than the former, it is an impressive performance from the Forester. The Tiguan, being the heaviest of the lot, loses this competition clearly.
Ride and Handling
The first set of words to come out of your mouth once you get behind the Forester’s steering wheel would be “More Power”. That’s right! The flat-four setup under the hood needs time to build power for you. Although its AWD system assists as much as it can, but then this mammoth weighs over 3,000 lbs. All of this weight translates to a lousy accelerating car that needs you to first plan and only then execute overtakes.
Subaru designed the Forester to be a utilitarian that can maintain a calm composure and ensure comfortable long rides, and that, it does. The suspension is inclined towards the softer side but is adequately stiffened as per “Crossover” standards. This adequate stiffness enables spirited corner-carving but again, that’s only valid up to a certain limit. Go harsh on a corner and the Forester will make you regret it.
The steering feedback is numb altogether. There is conspicuous amount of oversteer too, but nothing to worry about since the AWD system handles it fairly well. You barely feel any connection with the road and it might upset the petrolhead in you. Yet again, you have to understand its priorities and that is to make sure your travel companions stay engulfed in luxury and comfort.
2020 Subaru Forester Fuel Economy
Fulfilling its duties as a utilitarian, the Subaru Forester can munch up to 26 miles in a gallon of fuel within the city limits. Take it out on the highway and this figure will escalate to 33 MPG. With a combined mileage of 29 MPG, the Forester emerges out as one of the most fuel economical vehicles in its segment. If you don’t push it too hard, then the Forester’s 16.6-gallon tank can ensure you cover at least 480 miles without having to worry about gas stations.
Emissions (Tons/yr of CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year)
The Forester stacks up exactly head-to-head with the Nissan to secure the first position of the lot. The Tiguan emerges out to be the least fuel-efficient contender here, despite having the smallest engine in the segment. The Honda CR-V grabs the second position, just ahead of the Tiguan. However, before you make judgments, let us tell you that we have compared the base trims of each vehicle. Apart from the base variant, all other CR-Vs feature a smaller turbocharged engine which trumps this competition with the best mileage figures of the lot.
2020 Subaru Forester Interior
The Forester series has always excelled in imparting utmost comfort to its passengers and the 2020 model further takes things up a notch now. The front seats of the Forester come wrapped in leather on the top two trims while the bottom three trims feature premium cloth trim. Frankly, the cloth wrapped seats much better and are more suited for summer. The leather tends to trap a lot of heat and could get cumbersome to sit on if parked in a sunny area. Though this discomfort is certainly eased by the integrated ventilating functions, the cloth trim is still better.
The rear seats of the Subaru have loads of room all around and we have absolutely no complaints with it. It is aptly cushioned and offers good thigh support. However, we think that the Honda CR-V strikes better proportions in the rear bench than the Forester. The middle passenger might not be happy due to the stiffened cushions, but the other two passengers can spend hours easily here.
First Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)
Second Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)
Third Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)
It’s the Volkswagen Tiguan that takes the lead due to its 7-seating ability. No other vehicle in this comparison can seat more than five. However, the Subaru Forester is the winner amongst the 5-seater SUVs as it offers the most space of the lot. It is then closely followed by the Nissan Rogue, leaving the CR-V for the last. On observing, it turns out that the Honda CR-V offers better space at the rear bench than the Nissan.
Subaru has been very generous in showcasing the Forester’s utilitarian counterpart even in the Cargo area too. With the rear seats up, the Forester offers a cargo capacity of 35.4 cu.ft which is just humungous for a 5-seater crossover SUV. Although its rivals offer better configurations, the Forester’s cargo area is the most convenient for loading/unloading factors, thanks to its high-lift tailgate and the low-set floor.
If you want more space, then like any other vehicle from this segment, you can fold the rear row down with the touch of a button to unveil a massive space of 76.1 cu.ft, which is also the most space offered by any vehicle in this segment.
Cargo Capacity (with the third row folded)
Cargo Capacity (with all rows folded)
The Tiguan loses this competition hands down, as its third-row takes up good space and hence it sits out of this comparison. With all the seats down, its the Forester that that takes the lead which is then followed closely by the Honda CR-V, however, its the Honda CR-V that takes the lead in terms of space behind the second row. Also, The Nissan Rogue stacks up head-to-head with it in the same regard.
There are three differently spec-ed touchscreen infotainment units on offer with the Forester lineup. The bottom three trims have been equipped with a 6.5-inch touchscreen unit that is mated to a 6-speaker setup which sounds mediocre as compared to the rivals. The base unit compromises with only 4-speakers though.
The second-to-top trim, “Limited” features an 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia display that is vivid and fluid in nature. The interface is user-friendly and intuitive. The third trim from the bottom, “Sport”, can also be upgraded to this system for some extra money. The top-trim, “Touring”, also features the same unit but it is equipped with complimentary navigation services. Also, it comes mated to a more premium 9-speaker audio setup from Harman Kardon that sounds phenomenal. It strikes the exact balance between bass and treble and it massages your ears nicely.
Some of the outstanding features are:
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Pandora and Aha app integration
Bluetooth audio streaming with hands-free feature
The Forester doesn’t disappoint with the goodies inside the cabin. It has been loaded with a ton of features that keeps up with the segment, some of these features are:
10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat
Heated front seats
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter
Heated steering wheel and front seats
Dual-zone automatic climate control
60/40 split flat-folding rear seats
2020 Subaru Forester Exterior
Last refreshed in 2018 and carried over exactly to 2020, the Forester has let go of its curvy and sleek appearance altogether. It is now accentuated with bold creases especially around the headlamps that impart an “eye-brow” effect to them. The overall look now has a certain SUV-like road presence. The front grill features some chrome accents which add more points to its premium scorecard.
The side view of the Forester isn’t very uplifting though. It still feels more like a beefed-up wagon than an SUV, that said, it is still better than its predecessor though as this time it is backed by a bold contour just below the windows that runs along the complete length of the car, not to mention, its fenders also seem massive, thanks to the big creases that highlight them.
The rear, just like the front, imparts an SUV appeal to the 2019 Forester. With upright C-pillars and tailgate, the 2019 Forester departs a massive road presence to the onlooker’s eyes. The chrome styling elements at the rear also add to the same.
The 2020 Forester is not the best in terms of dimensions here. It just barely manages to defeat the Honda CR-V in terms of wheelbase and is overpowered by the other two competitors here. However, the Forester leads in terms of the ground clearance with 8.7-inches. All in all, it’s the only 7-seater in the comparison that takes the prize - The Volkswagen Tiguan.
The Subaru Forester has been blessed with some signature design cues that set it apart from the segment in some way or the other. Some of these features are:
LED Steering Responsive Headlights
Windshield wiper de-icer with heated external mirrors
Satin chrome exterior mirrors with integrated indicators
2020 Subaru Forester Safety
The Forester lineup has always received maximum ratings in the crash tests organized by NHTSA and the IIHS. Although we do not have the crash test ratings for the 2020 model, the 2019 Subaru forester has been awarded “5 stars” by NHTSA pertaining to the build quality.
Having said that, the 2020 Subaru Forester has also been blessed with a plethora of safety features that are mostly offered as standard across all the trims. Some of these safety features are:
Automatic pre-collision braking
Advanced adaptive cruise control with lane-centering
Lane departure prevention
Driver monitoring system
Rear Cross-traffic alert
Blind-spot detection system
SUBARU Starlink safety and security services
2020 Subaru Forester Competition
2020 Subaru Forester vs Nissan Rogue:
The 2020 Subaru Forester is faster, more spacious and also costs less than the Nissan Rogue. Apart from its better fuel economy and slightly more cargo space, the Nissan Rogue is completely overshadowed by the Subaru. The Forester’s standard feature list is also bigger than the Rogue’s. Hence, we think if you can compromise slightly on the fuel economy front, then it’s the Subaru Forester that wins this battle hands down.
2020 Subaru Forester vs Volkswagen Tiguan:
The Volkswagen Tiguan is slightly more powerful and economical than the Subaru Forester. It is also the more spacious of the two, thanks to its third row that can incorporate two kids at least. In terms of robust build quality, the Subaru is quite up-to-the-mark but then the Volkswagen feels more solidly put together. Since they both can be bought for the same amount of money, we think that the Tiguan wins this battle for doing everything that the Subaru can, just better, of course at much lower fuel economy than the latter.
2020 Subaru Forester vs Honda CR-V:
The Forester’s main competitor- The Honda CR-V is a benchmark for this segment. It is one of the most sold vehicles mainly for its spacious interiors and a seamless shifting transmission that adds to the comfort factor of the cabin, apart from its added fuel economy. Both of these vehicles have been awarded maximum points in the crash test which is why it is no harm in choosing either of the two. Due to the more simple and better-appointed cabin and better reliability factor, we believe that the CR-V offers a better deal out of the two.
2020 Subaru Forester Final Verdict
The Subaru Forester has always been well-received by the people mainly for its versatile nature, its legendary all-wheel-drive and that grunty flat-four under the hood. All of these proportions combined together were unique and gave the Forester its identity. It is further backed by a long list of features and an impeccable build quality. If you can compromise a bit on the fuel economy front, then we think that the 2020 Subaru Forester justifies each and every penny that you spend on it, if not more.