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Auto review: Redesigned 2025 Subaru Forester reaches for horizons, but pack your patience

Casey Williams, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

Have you ever been to Montana? As I found for my first visit recently, it’s a big place — the kind of wide open, horizon-to-horizon, nestling mountains, and wide-open Interstates kind of place where you just want to drive, drive, and drive. Turns out, it was the perfect place to meet the redesigned 2025 Subaru Forester.

Given that backdrop, the Forester looks on the nose with a more wind-swept face wearing squinty headlamps that run from grille to fenders. It’s further distinguished by deep fender sculpting over available 19-inch wheels and taillamps that extend across the liftgate. It’s difficult to make a box look sleek, but designers did their best, and it’s a more handsome vehicle for the effort. There are two exhaust coves but only one tailpipe, so contain your excitement.

No matter your aesthetic, there’s a trim level with the right vibe. Drivers who just want a durable crossover with all-wheel-drive buy the Base, but those craving more can choose Premium, Sport, Limited or Touring trims. I especially like the Sport, which is enhanced by bronze accents and wipe-down faux leather seats. Touring editions feature Brown leather, Harman Kardon audio, digital rearview camera, wireless phone charging, a foot-activated power rear gate and heated seats all-around.

Unless you go Base, passengers confront a 11.6-inch tablet-style screen. Easily connect phones wirelessly through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Proper knobs for volume and tuning are appreciated. Dual-zone automatic climate control, power sunroof, ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel are optional. It’s probably time for Subaru to offer a digital dash, at least in Sport and Touring models, but there’s no beating the clarity of big analog gauges.

Smooth, capable and patient

On paper, the 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed “Boxer” four-cylinder engine produces 180 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque — plenty for a crossover this size, yet the continuously variable transmission requires patience to send power through the standard all-wheel-drive system. Clicking paddles to shuffle through eight pre-set gear ratios helps. Expect 25 mpg/32 mpg city/highway

 

Even on wide open Montana highways, I looked for straight downhill segments with plenty of space before passing. Pulling into traffic going uphill takes nerves, and that may be the case even freeways back home where the terrain is as flat as a griddle. I will say, though, that once the Forester is up to speed, the ride is serenely comfortable. There’s very little wind noise, and only under hard acceleration do you hear more than a murmur from the engine.

The Forester is remarkably capable too, given 8.7 inches of ground clearance and X-Mode that adjusts for terrain conditions and can even creep down steep includes. Enjoy a smoother ride and less steering vibration over rough roads. I spent most of my time in the Touring with softer suspension, but choose the Sport for a more engaging feel.

Subarus ace crash tests, but the new three-camera EyeSight system provides adaptive cruise, automatic braking, lane keep assist, and can even steer around objects in an emergency. Rear cross path detection, safe exit assist, and blind spot warning systems are available too. It can even slow the vehicle should the driver become incapacitated.

Subaru didn’t have to redesign the Forester, as the nameplate posted its best-ever sales month during March. The automaker knows its customers well, and I think they’re going to be very happy with the new Forester whether crossing wide-open Montana, taming Dallas traffic, or slicing Indiana cornfields. To keep it affordable, Base models start at just $29,695, rise through the Sport at $34,495, and tap out with the Touring’s $39,995.

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