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The Subaru Forester has scampered through snow, mud, and school pick-up drive-throughs since the 1990s. Subaru has gradually updated its compact SUV with each generation while keeping its core identity as a versatile runabout. The result is a Forester SUV with strengths and weaknesses alike. 

Subaru’s Compact SUV Continues Evolution 

Now after a quarter century, the 2023 Subaru Forester is more modern than ever, with all kinds of standard features. While Subaru fans love the Forester for sticking to its formula, it still has disadvantages. Here are two upsides and two downsides to the 2023 Subaru Forester.  

2 Important Strengths of the Subaru Forester

The 2023 Subaru Forester in green showing off its winter weather strengths.
2023 Subaru Forester | Subaru of North America, Inc.

The 2023 Forester has some crucial advantages. It still offers more rugged capabilities than many of its peers and has more technology than ever.  

Standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive gives the Forester an advantage

As usual, Subaru offers the new Forester with standard symmetrical all-wheel drive. It’s widely viewed as a benchmark in the industry and has helped Subarus like the Forester builds their reputations for outstanding snow performance. And it’s a genuinely mechanical all-wheel drive system – unlike some competitors’ computer-controlled variants.  

Impressive active safety tech helps driver confidence

The 2023 Forester rates highly for safety. U.S. News and World Report gave it a 9,3 out of 10 rating for safety – its highest scoring section. That high score is partially due to the Forester’s standard driver-assist technologies: 

  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering 
  • Forward Automatic Emergency Braking 
  • Adaptive Headlights with Automatic High Beams
  • Lane Departure Warning with Lane-Keep Assist
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Rearview Camera
  • Rear Seat Alert

 2 weaknesses to consider for the Subaru Forester

2023 Subaru Forester in blue sits on a forest road with late afternoon sun.
2023 Subaru Forester | Subaru of North America, Inc.

Capability and safety continue to buoy the new Forester. But there are disadvantages to the crossover as well. 

Forester’s weaker fuel economy than competitors a disadvantage

Subaru has long carried a reputation for disappointing fuel economy. The 2023 Forester sticks to that tradition. Per U.S. News and World Report, the Forester manages 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway – not bad. But its aging 2.5-liter Boxer engine barely matches more modern competitors while making less power. 

No turbo or hybrid engines available

Subaru doesn’t offer the new Forester with either a turbocharged or hybrid powertrain, missing an opportunity to compete with other crossovers. Electrification and turbocharging have helped SUVs and crossovers achieve impressive fuel efficiency while boasting power numbers once reserved for larger engines. Without either, the Forester risks falling behind competitors. 

Is the 2023 Subaru Forester a good SUV?

Its powertrain may not be as modern as its competitors, but the 2023 Forester remains a solid compact SUV. It sits in a sweet spot between the evermore car-like crossover market and more rugged (and less efficient) SUVs like the Ford Bronco or Jeep Wrangler. 

Whether the 2023 Forester is the best SUV for a given driver depends on balancing its strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, the confidence provided by standard all-wheel drive and excellent safety tech is hard to beat. On the other, a less refined driving experience may dampen commutes. The 2023 Subaru Forester is about weighing priorities in the end.  


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