Hi everyone, it's Peter, and today I'm excited to be introducing you to the 2023 Subaru Forester. I'm actually reviewing the base model, which I think is often overlooked - but it's so interesting to see how manufacturers balance features and costs, especially in a time when even "basic" models come with plenty of bells and whistles.
This year's base model is particularly compelling, especially if you're trying to keep expenses down - it's hard to find an entry-level car in this segment that's as well-equipped as the Forester. Sure, some might scoff at the hubcaps instead of flashy rims, but in my view, it's just a smart choice - they work well in any weather, and if you do want to swap them out, you can always upgrade.
Anyway, I can't wait to show you all the things you might not have seen in other reviews. There's truly so much to like about this car! Of course, there are also some potential drawbacks, which I'll discuss as honestly as possible. But I want to give a big shout-out to Jim Gilbert's Wheels and Deals for lending me access to their vehicles. And if you have any questions about this car or any other cars in its class, please let me know in the comments - I'm always checking back and happy to help you find the info you need to make the right choice!
Let's dive into this review – starting with the exterior. The Subaru Forester is built on the solid Subaru global platform and, since its inception, has been a unique combination of a taller version of the Impreza that's been styled as an SUV. It's all unibody, which was a novel idea back then because traditionally all SUVs were body-on-frame. The Forester has a "boxer engine". Unlike a regular inline four-cylinder engine, it has a lower center of gravity and offers a plethora of benefits, including superior power. Porsche uses the same type of engine for many of its models. The Forester's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system complements the boxer engine. You'll notice how this crossover SUV drives like a car, partly due to its low center of gravity.
But Subaru hasn't stopped there. They've equipped even the base model with features we'd typically associate with pricier trims. For instance, these LED headlights not only look sleek but are also reactive. You read that right. They're equipped with Subaru's steering system. This means they can turn with the wheel even on a base model, which is a rarity. There is a button in the dash that can turn it off. On that note, Subaru's Eyesight system uses two cameras on either side of the mirror that enable some impressive safety features. The mid and higher trim models aren't the only ones with these safety features.
The Forester brings a novel approach by including such remarkable features in its base model that many buyers would overlook when shopping for a new car. This approach caters not only to safety concerns but also to style and high performance.
The forward collision avoidance system in this model functions as a smart cruise control and features two cameras for excellent depth perception, unlike most competitors who rely on just a single camera and radar plate. A lane keeping assist system with markers ensures drivers stay on course, and the technology brings a suite of safety features as standard, previously reserved for only the highest trim levels. A low center of gravity engine and symmetrical all-wheel-drive produce impressive off-road performance and smooth handling. Despite being a base model, this SUV is equipped with all the features you'd expect and then some. With a real square opening, there's ample space for large items in the cargo area where you'll find a 12-volt port and multiple tie-downs. The car even has child tethers in every seat position. A convenient under-floor storage compartment is equipped with a spare tire, a feature worth highlighting in this vehicle's class. Subaru has thoughtfully included everything you need, without resorting to penny-pinching measures and upgradable enhancements are available for those who require extra utility.
The cargo space in the Subaru Forester is impressive. We'll begin in the backseat where you'll spot a few basic features, but it really shines in other areas. Starting with the trunk, even in the base model, you get a roof rack. Subaru is well known for their ability to carry everything from kayaks to mountain bikes and everything in between! So, if being an outdoorsy person is your thing, the base model is perfect to meet all your needs. Something that isn't always pointed out are the doors themselves. Not every small crossover includes this feature, where the door wraps all the way into the bottom. This unique setup ensures that your pants stay clean, as it keeps any salt-sprayed grime from sticking to your pants. It's these little details that Subaru gets right and makes you feel protected and safe.
In the backseat, you'll find both good and basic features. On the plus side, the base models don't cheap out on plastics, especially in the backseats. The armrest is soft and comfy, and there's a bottle holder in the door. However, there are some places where you'd expect and miss higher-end features. The missing vents, buttons for USB ports, and heated seats makes you wonder what you're lacking. While there are vents under the seats, extra vents are always welcome. On the other hand, there's a pocket on the passenger seat, which is something that's often missed even in pricier cars. One thing that isn't so great about the backseat of the base model is the missing center armrest. It's replaced by cup holders in the doors, which may not be convenient for everyone.
For kids, pets, and other passengers, the Subaru Forester is a great choice for its smart design and safety features.
The Subaru Forester boasts ample legroom and passenger capacity, delivering comfort and ease to drivers. Despite its smaller size, the vehicle's trunk is spacious enough for all your needs. The driver's seat is designed for those of taller stature, ensuring a comfortable ride for all drivers. Meanwhile, the low-set windows provide a sense of openness and airiness while also improving driver visibility, a key factor in modern-day crash avoidance technology. The Subaru Forester also offers an array of crash avoidance features, further emphasizing its commitment to safety. While the car lacks the convenience of a wireless key fob, the high-quality, heated cloth seats and ample interior storage make up for the minor inconvenience. If you're looking for comfort, safety, and modern features in a compact SUV, the Subaru Forester is definitely worth considering.
The adaptive headlights system, also known as steering reactive headlights, can be turned off if desired. Taking a wider angle view, you can see that this vehicle lacks a leather-wrapped steering wheel. As heated steering wheels are commonly made of leather, it's safe to say this one isn't heated. However, the heated seats work really well. Notice the button for the heated seat is right here. You can set it to high or low, and it'll stay at that temperature, avoiding the frustrating issue of seat heaters turning off in the middle of a cold winter drive.
Let's zoom back out. Starting up the engine, we can appreciate it's smooth and not as noisy as you might expect from a base model vehicle. The Forester is automatic only and features a CVT transmission, which is highly fuel-efficient and reliable. Subaru's reputation for poor fuel economy with automatic transmissions is a thing of the past.
At the center of the dash, a full-color display with a digital speedometer and fuel efficiency indicator make it easy to keep an eye on things. There's also a range of options available that you can scroll through. The blue light on the dash indicates the vehicle is warming up. You'll see it revving fairly high during this time. Once the light turns off, the revs drop, and the car is quiet as it continues to warm up.
Subaru handles their speedometers in a unique way: you'll likely be driving between two speeds, and the display is designed to make it both clear and easy to read. On higher trim levels, there will be a digital display for even more information. Don't worry too much about fuel economy when you're idling at the dealership -- notice that the distance empty figure is currently around 500 kilometers.
The display could be swapped for a cycling dashboard. Despite idling, good information remains, such as the car's efficiency at 9.5 liters per hundred kilometers, and outside temperature on either side. A stopped vehicle displays average speed, with a clear backup camera that follows manual wheel rotation. The base model features AM/FM and Sirius XM Radio, and a simple button layout with user-friendly manual climate control. The auto button sets temperature and fan speed, allowing intuitive control. Two USB ports and a 12-volt outlet, as well as a small area for phone storage, provide ample options for connectivity. The electronic parking brake is built-in, while the X-mode enables easy all-wheel drive manipulation and traction control.
The dual-mode X-mode provides a little extra off-road ability compared to the typical small crossover, and the cup holders and phone storage make it a practical choice. The steering wheel is comfortable to use and has all the necessary controls, including automatic headlights, audio controls, Bluetooth, and cruise control. The latter can keep you centered in your lane, adjust speed, and even help avoid collisions. The drive modes distinguish between fuel efficiency and performance, giving you control over your ride. There's no blind-spot warning, but the car's thin pillars and open design ensure excellent visibility. Overall, this car is a sturdy choice for anyone seeking a reliable and responsive ride.
The large, central window on your screen is more spacious and user-friendly, with considerably improved visibility. Let me show you a few more things - first, I want to show you the backseat. Even with me sitting behind myself (I'm a six-footer, mind you), I have tons of knee room. I can wear a top hat in here, and with the seat raised, there's still ample space. What's even cooler is that visibility is excellent even from a low position off the ceiling, unlike vehicles with taller hoods that can feel constraining. And, to adjust your visibility angles easily, you can simply raise or lower the seat. Plus, the steering wheel is fully adjustable, with tilt and telescopic functions. This car is so comfortable to drive, with all its safety features and smart cruise control making it an excellent option for long drives. Overall, I am thoroughly impressed with this vehicle.
Who is this car for, you might ask? Subaru vehicles are often marketed toward outdoorsy people like me - those who love throwing kayaks and bikes on the roof, and going camping. If you head to a campground, you'll notice that Subarus are far more prevalent than other vehicles. However, don't be fooled by the marketing hype - the Forester base model is perfect for anyone seeking a comfortable and practical car.
As you embark on a long road trip, having a vehicle equipped with advanced safety and tech features is crucial. For instance, headlights that steer with you and full LED lights that provide daylight-like illumination can help you identify obstacles or hazards more quickly. Along with its superior all-wheel drive system, the Subaru Forester is highly capable of handling slippery terrain, whether on-road or mildly off-road.
The base model may lack certain premium touches, such as heated steering wheels or leather seats, but it still offers a range of desirable features without breaking the bank. If you are drawn to the typical Subaru attributes, this vehicle checks all the boxes and then some. From its spacious sunroof to its user-friendly tech, the Forester remains an attractive option for anyone seeking a practical yet enjoyable driving experience.
Before signing off, I want to thank Jim Gilbert's Wheels and Deals for letting me explore their inventory. If you enjoyed this review, be sure to like and share, and let me know your thoughts in the comments. As always, I'm committed to bringing you the most informative car reviews, so stay tuned for more to come!
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