Opinionated at any speed . . . Silvio Calabi

Subaru Forester Premium

Tue, 07/09/2024 - 9:45am

It’s early July 2024, but this Forester is a 2025 model; it’s also radically different-looking, at least for Subaru, which tends to make changes at a glacial pace. Then again, “glacial pace” has quickened radically too, on our overheating planet, and Subaru is surely feeling pressure from its many competitors in the compact SUV market, which is also blazing hot.

Radically different for Subaru equates to a few squared-off edges and interesting folds in the sheet metal, and an interior that is no longer forgettably dowdy or, digitally speaking, indifferently functional. Our Premium-trim Forester comes with the available 12-inch (almost) multimedia touchscreen as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus Sirius XM with 360L, which can be set up for as many as five different listeners. it also has the latest generation of Eyesight, Subaru’s excellent driver assistance technology with binocular vision and depth perception, and the attendant active safety systems. There’s even Subaru’s first power liftgate—foot-operated and hands-free, no less.

But don’t imagine that this refreshed Forester departs from what made Subaru an underdog darling, particularly in regions with northern New England-style weather. S-AWD, Subaru’s full-time Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, for instance, is still with us after nearly 50 years. This means that the front and rear differentials are centered on their axles so the half-shafts—going out to the wheels—are the same length. This simplifies torque distribution and, Subaru says, optimizes traction and balance.

Subaru’s almost unique “boxer” engines are part of this system too: instead of arranged in line vertically or two-and-two in a Vee shape, the engine’s four cylinders lie flat, in pairs, and the pistons reciprocate horizontally, in opposite directions. This creates a pancake profile that drops the engine’s center of gravity, which also aids handling and balance.

(“Almost unique” because one other carmaker also builds motors this way: Porsche. They’re called “boxer” motors because the pistons look like two pugilists punching at each other, not because the engine is shaped like a box.)

The 2.5-litre motor is rated for 180 horsepower and 178 torques and the power comes on early in the RPM range. Paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable automatic transmission, this makes for smooth if modest performance at an average of about 29 miles per gallon. Subaru says it has stiffened the new Forester’s structure by 10%, which is welcome in such a tall and boxy vehicle.

Modesty, thy name is Subaru—and self-effacing New Englanders, particularly older ones, seem to appreciate this. The median age of Forester buyers reportedly hovers around 62, a demographic niche that values reliability, utility and ease of use over flash and dash. The Forester is notably easy to get into and out of, and sightlines all around are unobstructed. On the other hand, even senior citizens are web-savvy now, so Subaru has to meet their connectivity needs too, and why not throw in some extra creature comforts at the same time?

While we’re at it, why not see if some younger buyers might also be interested in a space-efficient and value-priced small crossover SUV with 1,500 pounds of towing capacity? As such, and at just $34,590, the ’25 Forester Premium is hard to beat.

Next week: Toyota Camry XSE AWD