Thanks to its high ground clearance, turbocharged engines and standard all-wheel drive, the Forester has long been popular with buyers who live in snowy areas or the beaten path. Now Subaru loyalists who enjoy the previous model, as well as all consumers who are looking for a small crossover SUV, will find more love with the 2020 Subaru Forester.
The Forester has grown since last year, giving its spacious cabin an even greater sense of space. Subaru also redesigned the dashboard, brought a new touchscreen infotainment interface and finally, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration.
Safety has long been a Subaru focus, and it’s increasingly being consolidated for 2020. The EyeSight system – which includes forward collision warning and line departure warning is standard on every trim, and features such as automatic reverse braking and blind-spot monitoring are available in most versions. There is also a Driver Focus system on the Touring trim, a head-tracking feature that sounds a warning if it senses the driver is not paying attention to the road. It also uses face recognition software to store memory settings for up to five drivers.
Still, there are several other popular models to consider, such as the sporty Mazda CX-5, the spacious Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. But given its wide range availability of advanced safety and technological features, sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems and spacious interior, the 2020 Subaru Forester should be an ideal option for anyone who wants a small crossover SUV.
TRIM LEVELS & FEATURES
The 2020 Subaru Forester is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in five trim levels: base, Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring.
The base Forester begins at $24,495 and comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels with 225/60R17 all-season tires, 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, body-color door handles and front, rear and side underguards. Inside, there’s remote keyless entry, power side mirrors, power windows with auto-up/auto-down on driver’s window, power door locks that automatically lock when the vehicle is in motion, security system with engine immobilizer, multi-function display with digital clock, outside temperature and fuel economy information, dual USB ports in the front center console, SUBARU STARLINK Multimedia system with high-resolution touchscreen, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and STARLINK apps, audio and Bluetooth control switches on the steering wheel and combination meter with color LCD. New for 2020, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System has been upgraded with automatic individual wheel I.D. registration. The Base trim offers an option package with 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in silver finish and roof rails.
The base Forester trim offers an option package with 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in silver finish and roof rails for an MSRP of only $600.
On top of Base, the Premium trim sold from $27,395. It adds 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in black with machine finish, dark tint privacy glass, a panoramic power moonroof, roof rails, roof spoiler in matching body color as standard. For off-road performance, the Premium trim offers standard X-MODE with Hill Descent Control. Inside, the interior is upgraded with chrome inner door handles, center dash panel trim in black with silver metallic finish, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with silver stitching, multi-function display, and a combination meter with color LCD. Additional interior features include off-delay operation on all power windows, a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, center console rear seat a/c outlets, cargo area cover, a Wi-Fi hotspot and the latest SUBARU STARLINK Safety and Security services. Also standard on the Premium trim is the All-Weather Package, which includes windshield de-icer, heated exterior mirrors and heated front seats.
The Forester Premium trim offers more optional equipment including keyless access with push-button start, Blind-Spot Detection, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist and dual USB ports in the rear center console. Also available is a power rear gate with automatic close & height memory.
The 2020 Subaru Forester Sport is priced at $28,995 and adds unique appearance elements and enhanced standard equipment. It includes black-finish 18-inch wheels, gloss black exterior accents on the fog light trim, rear gate and front grille and a rear roof spoiler. Building on the standard equipment of the Forester Premium trim, the Sport also features exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, High Beam Assist, LED fog lights, keyless access with push-button start, sport design combination meter for the instrument panel, multi-function display and All-Weather Package. The exclusive interior is a unique dark gray material with orange stitching and accents throughout the cabin.
The Forester Sport also exclusively employs a version of SI-DRIVE with Intelligent and Sport Sharp modes and the Lineartronic CVT features a 7-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle-shift control switches. The Sport trim offers Dual X-Mode for increased capability in a wider range of environmental conditions.
optional equipment for the Sport trim includes blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist and a power rear gate with automatic close and height memory. Also available is the 8.0-inch Multimedia Plus system and Harman Kardon premium sound system with nine speakers and amplifier.
The Forester Limited trim is upgraded with 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, exterior mirrors in matching body-color with integrated turn signals, fog lights, keyless access with push-button start and All-Weather package. The Limited also equipped with extra driver-assist technology including led steering responsive headlights, high beam assist, blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. The interior is distinguished by perforated leather-trimmed upholstery, silver metallic with gloss black finish center dash panel trim and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever handle. Other convenience features including dual-zone automatic climate control, dual USB ports in the rear center console, and a power rear gate with auto close and height memory. The 2020 Forester Limited models begin at $31,095.
Optional equipment for the Limited includes Reverse Automatic Braking, which can apply the vehicle’s brakes if an obstacle is detected while reversing, heated-steering wheel, an 8-inch Multimedia Navigation system and Harman Kardon premium sound system with nine speakers and amplifier.
At the top of the model line, the Forester Touring offers features a CVT with 7-speed manual shift mode and paddle shift switches, Reverse Automatic Braking and 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation system with Harman Kardon premium sound system. The exterior is distinguished by unique 18-inch alloy wheels in black with machine finish, chrome exterior door handles, satin chrome exterior folding mirrors with integrated turn signal, LED fog lights and chrome badges. The interior offers a choice of exclusive Black or Saddle Brown perforated leather-trimmed upholstery, 10-way power driver’s seat with 2-position memory and power lumbar support, an 8-way power front passenger seat and heated rear seats. New for 2020, the Touring model adds new LED cargo-area and dome lights with off-delay as well as rear gate light. The Touring is priced from $34,595.
Under the hood, the 2020 Subaru Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter flat-four engine that produces 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. It is a little more powerful than the previous year, but it doesn’t feel much robust in the real world. This boxer powertrain is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). In Sport and Touring models, the CVT features a manual mode that simulates a 7-speed automatic transmission via shift paddles.
Fortunately, the 2020 Subaru Forester ability to cross muddy terrain remains intact. With standard all-wheel drive and 8.7-inches of ground clearance, this Subie is more capable than other small crossovers if you want off-road activities. All except the base model come with the driver-selectable X-Mode system, which maintains the engine, stability control, brakes, and other parameters to maximize traction on wet surfaces. The X-Mode is equipped with a hill descent feature that allows the Forester to crawl down hills without the driver pressing the brakes. The Sport, Limited and Touring trim come with an additional X-Mode setting for increased vehicle stability.
With the application of light to moderate throttles, the 2020 Subaru Forester can feel quite swift. But runs out of steam when you ask for more. Getting into a freeway or overtaking at a higher speed will need planning. Unfortunately, the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is no longer available. At track testing, the 2020 Subaru Forester accelerates from 0 to 60 in 8.5 seconds, which is one of the slowest cars in its class. Fuel economy is improving slightly to 29 mpg combined (26 city/33 highway), making it one of the most fuel-efficient small crossovers.
182 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
176 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/33 mpg
Zero to 60 mph: 8.5 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 23.7 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 9.0 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.9 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 16.6 sec @ 86 mph
Top speed: 127 mph
Like the exterior, the 2020 Subaru Forester interior is evolution. The design of the steering wheel, instrument panel, center stack and seats will be immediately familiar to the owners of the latest models. The most significant change is the central touchscreen, both 6.5-inch and 8-inch screens are larger than the previous generation. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard in every Forester model.
Look more closely, and you will find many small changes make the cabin feel a little more functional and stylish. Textured soft-touch plastic covers the dashboard and contrast stitching for classy effects. The orange air vent and surrounding console and stitching distinguish the Sport version from the others, while the additional faux leather trim on the Touring model makes the cabin look much more luxurious.
The 2020 Subaru Forester front seats are well-shaped and offer a better adjustment range than before. In the previous generation, some found seats very high, but drivers of all sizes would have no problems with the new seats. The wide pedal box and generous headroom ensure that even tall passengers have plenty of room to lie down. The front headrest even features a tilt feature that can be adjusted for further comfort.
At the back, this is more a mixed bag. The rear seat is quite flat, and the seatback cannot be adjusted from its single upright position. There is plenty of legroom in the back, but a high seating position means that higher rear passengers might brush their hair on the headliner. If you are not that high, you will enjoy excellent outside visibility and sufficient thigh support.
Although not the largest in the class, the 2020 Subaru Forester cargo area is very impressive. Behind the back seat is 35.4 cubic feet of space, more than most competitors but less than the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Without a sunroof, the 2020 Forester has the largest cargo area in a category compact crossover, 76.1 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
The 2020 Subaru Forester is on sale and arriving now at dealers nationwide. Key competitors include the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.