Subaru Forester 2020 2.5i-s (awd)
Owner Review

20 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S (AWD) review

- shares

My wife has a car supplied with her job, so when it came time to replace her 2017 Subaru XV, the choice of cars was limited to the list provided by her employer. After reviewing the list of available cars, the choice was narrowed down to two; the Mazda CX-5 Maxx Sport and the Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. After test driving both cars, the decision was to buy the Subaru Forester 2.5i-S.

There are four models in the Forester range, the 2.5i, 2.5i-L, 2.5i Premium and sitting at the top of the range is the 2.5i-S. Except for some bigger wheels and a little bit of chrome, the models are indistinguishable from each other when viewed from the outside. First impressions are that the chunky exterior appearance may not be to everyone’s liking and is primarily carried over from the previous Forester model. This makes it hard to distinguish the new model from the old one, particularly when viewing both models from the front.

Standard features across the Subaru Forester range includes symmetrical all-wheel Drive, a 2.5-litre boxer engine with 136kW, CVT automatic gearbox, lots of airbags and the EyeSight Driver Assist technology. So with a single option for engine, gearbox and drivetrain, it is only the addition of more equipment that will distinguish the different models in the range. There is no turbo engine option now that the XT model has been discontinued, and you can no longer get a manual transmission.

The interior of the Forester is bigger than the XV we are replacing and the dash layout is almost identical, with its central-mounted audio system and two multi-function displays. The audio system comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and it is notable how much faster the audio system starts up. This is a vast improvement on the audio experience from the older XV. We are both iPhone users and the support for Siri is very good. Initiating Siri from the steering wheel control and using voice commands makes phone calls, music or navigation much simpler. The 2.5i-S is the only model to get the eight Harman Kardon speakers, subwoofer and amplifier, so you can crank up the sound.

The driver-assist features include Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assistance, Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Monitoring. The Driver Monitoring System can not only identify if a driver is getting drowsy or is not paying attention, but its facial recognition will also automatically adjust your seat and mirror position when you get into the driver’s seat. For us, this is a highlight feature of the vehicle, as we both have vastly different driving positions and we swap as drivers of the car regularly. There are three cameras, a reversing camera, front camera and one pointing down on the passenger side mirror. Being able to view different aspects of the car’s exterior whilst parking or reversing is a positive feature. Unlocking and locking the car is easy and you can leave the keys in your bag or pocket. Once your hand approaches the door handle, the car will unlock if the keys are within proximity. To lock the car, just touch the door handle and the car will lock, folding the exterior mirrors at the same time.

On first driving the car, it was noticeable how much more information is being displayed. Flashing lights in mirrors and the dashboard, warning displays in the multi-function screens and warning sounds provide a constant assault to the senses. It is not always clear why you are being given a particular warning and you often find yourself asking yourself what the warning is for. After some time, you get used to it. The multi-function displays provide a wealth of information, however, trying to use and navigate your way through the system configuration is not intuitive. I had to refer to the car’s manual and a few YouTube videos to understand how to set some of the car’s features, buried deep down in the menus.

The 136kW of the 2.5-litre Boxer engine gives a good bit of grunt and seems adequate for a car of this size. I have never been a fan of the CVT gearbox. As regular driver of a car with a manual transmission, I find any car with a CVT gearbox is like driving a car with a slipping clutch. If I was purchasing the car for my daily use, I doubt we would have chosen it. But this aspect of the car is not an annoyance for my wife and so didn’t impact on the choice of vehicle. For her, the range of colours is important and she feels that Subaru could offer a broader range. After much deliberation, she chose Jasper Green, though she doesn’t love it. The car is easy and comfortable to drive. It does come with a large sunroof which is a little noisy when fully open.

At a retail driveaway price (RDP) of nearly $48,000, the Subaru 2.5i-S is around $8,500 more than the base model Subaru Forester 2.5i, but the range offers many options to suit many budgets.

Like all Subaru’s, it has a 5-year warranty, which will easily cover the 3 years in which we will own the car.

We are yet to cover a lot of kilometres in the Subaru Forester 2.5i-S, but we have experienced a high level of satisfaction, particularly when comparing it to the base-model Subaru XV it is replacing. More power, a larger interior and superior level of equipment make this an enjoyable car to own, no regrets to date.