SANTA BARBARA, CA – Subaru Forester owners know what they like and they don’t want the company to mess with it too much.
The Forester has been one of the best-selling Subaru vehicles for nearly 30 years, with more than 2.6 million vehicles sold in the U.S. alone.
So the sixth-generation ’25 Forester doesn’t look radically different from the old one, says Bill Stokes, Subaru of America car line planning manager.
That said, there are a number of changes to the new midsize CUV including improved dynamic performance and ride quality, according to the company.
“It’s one of the most important vehicles in our lineup and a really iconic vehicle for us,” Stokes says during a media sneak peek of the vehicle ahead of its official global debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. “So, it's very important that we get this vehicle right.”
The Subaru Global Platform for the ’25 Forester has been enhanced with a 10% stiffer chassis. A full inner frame construction with stronger welding techniques and additional structural adhesive (from 26.2 ft. [66.6 cm] to 88.5 ft. [225 cm]) contribute to better body rigidity and lighter weight. These updates deliver improved dynamic performance, a smoother ride and a quieter cabin.
Most notably, Stokes is teasing the addition of a new hybrid coming late in 2024 joining the 2.5L Subaru 4-cyl. boxer.
“It's a fully next-generation system, so it is a substantial change from any previous hybrids we've had like the Crosstrek hybrid and Crosstrek plug-in hybrid,” he says. “So, there's a substantial amount of development going into that system.”
Production constraints are a factor in the delay of the hybrid, he says.
“We have to make sure we have enough production capacity to produce these (initial versions),” he says. "And then when we add more trims, like the hybrid options, we'll have to have even more production capacities. We have to build back up to the level where we were before and then try to add more.”
Subaru’s popular Wilderness trim level is also a likely addition later next year, he says.
Back to the changes, steering is enhanced with a version of the WRX’s dual-pinion electronic power steering rack, providing a more direct and natural steering feel and greater responsiveness.
Horsepower is actually down slightly in the new vehicle, to 180 hp vs.182 hp in the last generation. But 178 lb.-ft. (241 Nm) of torque arrives 700 rpm lower in the power band. The previous torque peak was 4,400 rpm and now it’s 3,700 rpm, Stokes says. That change will make it feel more capable, he says.
“The peak power number on a vehicle like this isn't super important because most people aren't going everywhere at redline,” Stokes says. “It's more about how much torque it has.”
Standard on all Forester models is a Lineartronic CVT with smoother and quieter performance. The Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring trims feature a manual mode with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters allowing the driver to control the transmission via eight preset ratios.