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2020 Subaru Forester Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2020 Subaru Forester Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: Base vs Premium vs Sport, Limited & Touring

What 2020 Subaru Forester Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

The compact SUV represents the ideal vehicle for a wide range of people. They are often capable family vehicles, but also make decent daily commuters. Even if you do not have a family, these SUVs have enough space for hauling gear and taking a turn driving the carpool.

Subaru has a well-earned reputation for making reliable vehicles that last for years. The Forester sits in the Subaru line-up between the Crosstrek and Outback and is one of its most popular compact crossover SUVs. It features standard all-wheel-drive and a great deal of advanced driver safety features. This vehicle started its fifth generation last year.

In 2019, this vehicle earned the title of Best Compact SUV for Families from U.S. News & World Report. It also is a top safety pick from the IIHS when it is equipped with the steering-responsive headlights. The vehicle sees the addition of more standard safety features in 2020, theoretically making it an even better buy. Perhaps even more impressively, Subaru reports that 97% of Foresters sold in the last decade are still on the road today, making it a great long-term investment.

The 2020 Subaru Forester is available in five different trim levels. The entry-level model has many features typically seen on upper trims of competitors, and each step up adds more. The following guide aims to lay out the differences between the trims, allowing you to better know which one is the best for your needs and budget.


Compare the 2020 Subaru Forester Base vs Premium Trims. What is the difference?

The entry-level Forester is powered by the same engine as the rest of the line. It is a 2.5L four-cylinder and it will give you 182-horsepower as well as 176 lb-ft of torque. The engine utilizes automatic start/stop technology to reduce idle time and increase fuel efficiency. Subaru says you can get up to 33 MPG with this engine, which is not bad for a vehicle of this size with all-wheel-drive. Working with this engine is a continuously variable transmission. The maximum towing capacity for the Forester is 1,500 pounds.

This trim sits on 17" steel wheels. It can be upgraded to aluminum-alloy wheels, but 17" is the maximum size. There are not very many other exterior features at this level. You do get LED headlights and the option of adding raised roof rails. The folding side mirrors on this trim are black.

Inside, this trim has cloth seats. The driver's seat has six-way power adjustment and the rear seats have the 60/40 split-folding feature. Like all trim levels, the entry-level Forester has impressive cargo space. You can fold your rear seats down to get 76.1 cubic feet of room.

You get automatic climate control, automatic on/off headlights, dual USB ports in the front row, and audio controls on your steering wheel. As for infotainment, this trim has a 6.5" screen that runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has Aha and Pandora app integration. This is the only trim level to have four speakers.

Safety features are where the 2020 Subaru Forester really shines. Standard across the board is the EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology package. This adds adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure with sway warning, and a pre-collision braking system. Other standard features on the base model include a tire pressure monitoring system, rearview camera, and daytime running lights.

There are several packages that can be added to the Forester base model. The Alloy Wheel Package includes both the fancier 17" wheels and the raised roof rails. You can add the Rockford Fosgate® Audio Upgrade Package to get an amplifier and upgraded speakers for your sound system. Other things that can be added through packages include a cargo net, fixed crossbar seat, and trailer hitch.

Available for the base as well as all other trims is the Entertainment Everywhere Kit. For roughly a grand, this will give you two 32 GB Apple iPads as well as two Otterbox cases for them. It also throws in two pairs of Harmon Kardon Bluetooth headphones, potentially making long family trips more harmonious.

The Premium trim level adds what is known as "X-Mode" to the Forester. This essentially is a type of upgraded traction control that increases the vehicle's performance for a variety of road conditions. Hill descent control is also added for this trim level. There is also a feature known as "dual function X-Mode" that adds settings for dirt, mud, and snow to the Forester. This is available on the Premium trim and standard on all levels above it.

For the wheels, the Premium trim level gets 17" aluminum alloy wheels with a black finish. There are no available wheel upgrades for this model. This trim adds a roof spoiler as well as body-color heated folding side mirrors. All Foresters from this trim level up also get a panoramic sunroof with UV glass. The roof rails become standard and you get the handy windshield wiper de-icer feature.

The seats get upgraded significantly for the Premium trim level. The front seats are heated, and the driver's seat goes up to 10-way power adjustment. Your rear seats also have the ability to recline. Adding to the luxury feeling of this trim is leather on the steering wheel and shift knob. Dual USB ports in the second row become an available option. Standard for this trim level and above is 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability.

This trim level gets two extra speakers. It also gets the addition of the STARLINK Safety and Security features. These include a monthly vehicle health report, automatic collision notification, SOS emergency assistance, and more. It also lets you start your vehicle with your smartphone and adjust the climate control settings. The Premium trim allows you to add blind spot detection as an additional safety measure. You can also add push-button start and a power rear gate.

For the money, the Premium trim level adds quite a few extra standard and optional features and is worth serious consideration.

Compare the 2020 Subaru Forester Premium vs Sport Trims.  What is the difference?

The Sport model is very similar to the previous two, mechanically speaking. It does get slightly larger front brakes, however. You get upgraded to 18" black finish aluminum alloy wheels. This trim level adds LED fog lights and integrated turn signals to the heated side mirrors. Rounding out exterior changes is the single chrome exhaust outlet.

Inside, this trim stands out thanks to its sport cloth upholstery with unique orange stitching. While all models have a multifunction display giving the driver a digital trip computer, the Sport is the first to add color. To help add to the sporty-feel of this trim, Subaru gives you paddle shifters. The previously optional dual USB ports in the back become standard here.

The cargo area gets more convenience with this trim due to its rear gate light and removable tray. This trim still comes with the 6.5" touchscreen seen on lower trims but does give you the option of upgrading to and 8" screen instead. The Sport is also the first trim to give you the nine-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system as an available option.

Moving onto safety, this trim will give you automatic high beam assist. It is the first model to give you the option of adding reverse automatic braking. With this feature, your vehicle has the ability to stop itself if it detects objects in its path when in reverse. This trim has no unique available add-on packages.

Going to the Sport trim from the Premium does not hit the wallet too hard and may be worth it for some of the upgrades.

Compare the 2020 Subaru Forester Sport vs Limited.  What is the difference?

For the Limited trim, the Forester gets the LED steering responsive headlights that help to make it a top safety pick. It does have fog lights, but they are not LED like they were for the Sport trim. Inside this trim, you get the addition of leather-trimmed upholstery. A heated steering wheel becomes an available option.

This trim level loses the paddle shifters found on the sport. It does gain a power liftgate as a standard feature. The Limited is also the first trim to upgrade you to dual-zone automatic climate control. It also gives you standard the larger 8" touchscreen to run your infotainment system.

Blind spot monitoring becomes standard on this trim, although reverse automatic braking remains an add-on. If desired, you can add the Harmon Kadon stereo, the reverse automatic braking, and navigation as part of a package.

The Limited trim definitely has a more luxurious feel than the trim levels that came before it, but not all consumers will find these upgrades necessary.

Compare the 2020 Subaru Forester Limited vs Touring Trims. What is the difference?

At the top of the Forester trim tree lives the Touring model. It regains the LED fog lights from the Sport trim and also has stylish satin chrome side mirrors with the turn signals built-in. On the inside, this trim gives your front passenger eight-way power adjustment for their seat. It also gains an incredibly handy one-touch power-folding rear seat. Those who share their car with another driver will love the two-position driver mirror and seat memory function.

A heated steering wheel becomes standard for the Touring. It also regains the paddle shifters previously seen on the Sport trim level. The same is true for the cargo-area rear gate light, which mysteriously went missing on the Limited trim level. One of the biggest upgrades for this trim level is the addition of standard navigation to the 8" infotainment system.

The Touring trim adds what Subaru calls the DriverFocus™ Distraction Mitigation System. This incredibly advanced system utilizes facial recognition software and infrared sensors to keep an eye on the driver's attention and fatigue levels. If it senses you have looked away from the road for three seconds, for example, it will beep at you. It can be programmed for up to five different drivers. Since the system is designed to recognize your face, it can also be set to customize climate, seat position, display, and more features of the vehicle.

A Touring version of the Forester has almost all of the features out there today and will appeal to safety conscious drivers.


Which Trim to Choose?

Since all versions of this vehicle have the same engine and come with all-wheel-drive, the decision boils down to which features you cannot live without. The base model has many nice equipment but lacks some of the advanced performance features that you would want out of a Subaru. At the same time, many people may find the driver focus system on the top-of-the-line Touring trim to be a bit on the intrusive side.

Any mid-range Forester is going to be a good choice. The Limited trim has the heated seats, added traction features, and plenty of available options. Unless you can't live without the 8" touchscreen, you might as well save some money and land on this trim level.

Save Money on a 2020 Subaru Forester:
Previous Subaru Forester Trim Configurations:

Compare the 2019 Subaru Forester Trim Levels